Global Green Room Staff Interview: Gina Goodhill Rosen
How fun and empowering it is. People always ask me, "Isn’t it depressing to work on policy at an environmental nonprofit? To have to think about environmental destruction all the time and to fight against oil companies?" I think it would be even more depressing to know these problems exist and to do nothing. Yes, it can be depressing, but more often it's inspiring and energizing to work on a bill or a law that would protect our planet.
Who is your hero?
I'm going to go with an obvious one here, but Rachel Carson is my lifelong hero, and embodies what it means to be a fearless environmentalist. In the 1960s, Ms. Carson wrote "Silent Spring," which warned Americans that the pesticides we so readily used were killing our songbirds on a massive scale. Despite fierce denial by chemical companies, Ms. Carson persisted. The book eventually led to the ban of DDT and other pesticides, and is often seen as the catalyst for the entire environmental movement.
What has been your greatest success?
Channeling my passion into a job. I'm lucky to work on issues that I care about and to work with organizations that I am proud to be connected to.
What about a failure or challenge?
Before coming to Global Green, I worked for a year and a half to pass a bill that would ban plastic bags in California. As part of a larger coalition, I organized a massive campaign that resulted in tens of thousands of supporters, thousands of media hits, deep legislative support, and more. However, the bill ended up failing by quite a lot of votes, and we later learned that the companies who make plastic bags paid legislators to vote against it. These companies spent millions of dollars in the last week of the campaign to kill the bill. The silver lining is that this same coalition has worked tirelessly since to pass city bans all across the state, which have been incredibly successful. It's still a huge disappointment, but a reminder that victory can be achieved in many ways.
Favorite green movie and book?
"Avatar" and "The Lorax" (get 'em while they're young!) I like books and movies that promote environmental values as part of larger story, rather than just hitting you with hard facts. Statistics about global warming and environmental destruction make people feel sad and helpless; stories that show characters taking action against these evils make people feel inspired and ready to fight.
Favorite way to spend a free day?
Yoga, farmers' market, reading, cooking a delicious dinner for my friends and family with the food I bought earlier at the market.
If you had the power to make one global and green change, what would it be?
My gut answer is to reverse global warming, but simply fixing the problem without changing global behavior or awareness means we'll be in a similar problem in 20 years from now. So instead, I would engrain in every single person the understanding that the earth is fragile, precious, and inexorably linked to each of us and to our children, and that what we do while on this planet matters greatly. It is in our immediate and longterm self-interest to maintain and sustain the earth. Hopefully, that insight will allow humans to reverse global warming on their own!