Global Green Room Staff Interview: Mary Luevano
I think the fact that as advocates at Global Green, we have greater credibility with policymakers because of our project-based work -- for instance, helping San Bruno homeowners rebuild green, developing and building the first LEED Platinum Development in New Orleans, advising on two net zero affordable housing projects in SD County. When we go to City Hall in LA (or anywhere), Sacramento or other state capitals or Washington, D.C., we bring a level of expertise and the kinds of anecdotes that almost no other environmental organization duplicates.
Who is your hero?
So many -- not sure where to start. Jane Goodall, Kathryn Graham, Gloria Steinem, former Congresswoman Jane Harman and so many others for being strong, articulate women who were pioneers and carved paths for future generations and never took no for an answer. My mom fits in that category as well and while not well known, she is definitely one of my heroes. Dr. Stephen Schneider is another one of my heroes for his passion and commitment to the science of climate change and making it accessible to large numbers of people. I admire Al Gore for his contributions to the modern environmental movement and raising public awareness about climate change unlike anyone had before him. I also consider all the people (men and women) who are raising children, working for a living, and contributing to their communities as heroes because achieving balance in life is not easy and should be more recognized.
What has been your greatest success?
One success that I am immensely proud of is the inclusion of language in California's Global Warming law (AB 32) that mandated the creation of a revenue stream for low-income communities (Section 38565 of AB 32). We were looking at ways to "democratize" climate change and knew it was important to get a place marker in early, but many people didn't view this as a high priority issue and it would have been very easy for low-income communities to be completely left out. Now, in hindsight, many groups are thankful that the language was included and some are using it as a springboard for specific programs to be developed which, I think, shows that we were ahead of our time.
What about a failure or challenge?
Hmm, many things come to mind. One memorable one was our attempt to get a green school mandate passed in California. A bill was introduced several years in a row and the question that always got us tripped up was, "How much do green schools cost?" We had a good answers that spoke to the longterm benefits (versus high first costs), but nothing seemed to convince legislators. Ultimately, the bill made it the Governor's desk but was vetoed. I learned a lot in that process, mainly that many people may want to do the right thing, but unless there is a solid economic argument to back it up, it may fail. Our silver lining was that we came back the following year after the veto and used a bond initiative as the vehicle to provide funding for schools that wanted to build green -- and that was successful.
Favorite book about the environment?
"Stuff" by Alan Durning. It is straightforward and an easy read, but is pretty eye-opening.
Favorite film about the environment?
I loved "Erin Brockovich" and "Avatar."
Favorite way to spend a free day?
Outdoors: at the beach, going for a swim, a ride or a hike, followed by food and drinks with friends!
If you had the power to make one global and green change, what would it be?
I've recently become a community gardener and become much more aware of the industrialization of our food supply. I think I'd eliminate all factory farms and industrial food operations and give everyone their own plot of land with which to grow or raise sustainable food products.