V Interesting

Bonus: Environmental Justice and the Climate Crisis

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Currently, the dominant framing of climate in our media and policy ecosystems centers stories, experiences, and thus solutions that serve privileged communities. The Hip Hop Caucus is working to help rewrite this narrative and center the climate movement in a justice framework. V asks Hip Hop Caucus’ Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer Liz Havstad why we need to stop thinking of the climate crisis as just an environmental issue, how to spot greenwashing on social media, and how you can get involved in the movement.

This episode is made possible in partnership with the Walton Family Foundation, a family-led foundation that tackles tough social and environmental problems with urgency and a long-term approach to create access to opportunity for people and communities. Learn more at waltonfamilyfoundation.org.

Thank you to Liz Havstad from the Hip Hop Caucus for participating in today’s discussion. The Hip Hop Caucus uses the power of our cultural expression to empower communities who are first and worst impacted by injustice. Learn more and get involved at hiphopcaucus.org.

Follow Hip Hop Caucus online at @HipHopCaucus on Twitter and @hiphopcaucus on Instagram.

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V Spehar, Liz Havstad

V Spehar  00:04

Hey, friends, it’s time for some real talk. As you know, the climate crisis is a massive issue facing our society and our planet. The same can be said, Of course for systemic racism. That seems pretty straightforward, right? I think we all agree on that. But if you consider that the climate crisis and systemic racism are very much connected, and that being said, climate solutions that are race neutral do not address the impacts of the climate crisis on people of color. But climate solutions that address racial inequity, ensure that they are, in fact real solutions that truly solve this crisis for everyone and our planet. One group doing incredible work in this area is the Hip Hop Caucus. The caucus is the only organization of its kind and size that is bipoc LED, working across multiple issue areas and bridging the gap between our communities and decision makers who can address the real issues they face. And as I said, one of the issues they are putting a ton of work in on is climate crisis. And that’s why I’m so excited to welcome Liz Hampstead to the show today. Liz is hip hop caucuses Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer. This episode is brought to you in partnership with the Walton Family Foundation. Hi, Liz, welcome to the show. So nice to finally meet you.

Liz Havstad  01:20

Hi. Great to be here. Thank you for having me.

V Spehar  01:23

So you are the Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer at the Hip Hop Caucus. Tell me a little bit about the organization.

Liz Havstad  01:30

Absolutely. So Hip Hop Caucus got started in 2004. Around the elections, that was the bush carry elections, mobilizing young voters to the polls. And at that time going, kind of going into that election season, there was a real understanding that we can’t let this type of effort to use the power of culture, to mobilize and organize folks, particularly the hip hop generation and hip hop culture. We don’t want that work to end after Election Day. So Hip Hop Caucus was founded to carry the work forward and have a multi issue approach that organizes communities builds power, through the power of our cultural expression. It continues to mobilize folks and elections and ultimately affect change our mission centers those who are first and worst impacted by injustice. And the goal is to strengthen social movements in ways that center the solutions that the folks who are on the frontlines of injustice see as the best solutions to our biggest problems.

V Spehar  02:36

So the Hip Hop Caucus has worked on voter rights and racial justice initiatives, which are things that I think probably first come to mind when somebody hears Hip Hop Caucus, but you also work a ton in climate change. Can you talk to me about the ways that the Hip Hop Caucus is involved with climate change?

Liz Havstad  02:53

Absolutely. So we we work intersectionally we work on climate and environmental justice, we work on democracy issues, we work on economic justice, and civil and human rights. And for us, racial justice is a lens for all of that work. But so is the climate crisis. Those two lenses together inform everything that we do. And the reason that is really our our journey into being a leader on climate started in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit in the Gulf, and we had done in 2004, of a bunch of voter mobilization work and organizing work and tapped into that network to respond in the immediate aftermath. But over the course of the first year, following Katrina, and the ways that we saw the completely unjust response, the ways that are our government’s response left folks behind the reasons that that the levees failed in, in New Orleans in the first place, resources, money being diverted from them from the Army Corps money diverted from those levees to the wars in Afghanistan. All these things added up to just a real clear understanding for the caucus, that Climate The climate crisis is going to be the central struggle and kind of connective tissue to all the issues that we’re fighting for the century to come. And we have to we have to be a part of that movement.

V Spehar  04:24

How would you describe environmental justice, maybe domestically, some initiatives you’re working on there?

Liz Havstad  04:31

So environmental justice is a framework is a framework of looking at our environment pollution, what’s happening through the lens of inequity, the unevenness in the ways in which we pollute the unevenness in terms of the benefits of our energy economy and where they go and don’t go. So what’s clear is in this fossil fuel economy in this dirty energy economy that we have existed in. There are communities that are paying the highest price, with their health, with their lives with exploitive labor and their livelihoods. And those are predominantly communities of color, and poor, poor communities. At the same time, then there’s the wealthy few who are hugely benefiting from the profits of our current energy economy. And so Environmental Justice says we need to address that it says that making our communities healthy and clean and livable, and our planet sustainable, has to stem from making healthy communities healthy and sustainable for all, which means we need to, which means that certain communities shouldn’t bear all the brunt of pollution, while other communities benefit from all the benefits of, of the money to be made and the energy that we need to live. And so that’s, that’s the framework for environmental justice, but it’s a framework that that we can use to understand the climate crisis, because that same pollution that we’re talking about is the pollution that’s causing the climate crisis, right. And the transitions we need to make to clean energy, right, are the same opportunities that we need to talk about giving everyone access to, right, so we’re making a fundamental shift in our energy economy, we’re making a fundamental shift across our society and how we function. And it’s actually an opportunity, to course correct from the really unjust ways that we’ve been operating to a much more just unhealthy, prosperous future.

V Spehar  06:46

I have maybe a niche question for the next one, because I live up here in Rochester, New York, Rochester back during the Civil Rights Movement, notoriously and evenly cut through the third ward with the interloop highway. And the third ward was predominantly black neighborhood, predominantly wealthy black neighborhood at that, and they cut this new highway straight through town that better connected the suburbs to the to the downtown office buildings and whatnot, but has for the last several decades, just polluted those neighborhoods just decimated the community that was built there. And now Rochester is trying to come back around and say, You know what, we’re going to close this part of the inner loop. And we’re going to redirect the traffic this way. And we’re going to make right for what we did. But what’s happening instead is a bunch of young folks are moving into this area and kind of gentrifying this space that was supposed to be held to be given back to the black community. What can we do that protects the community that was supposed to be protected in the first place as we continue to put these initiatives forward and, and not have what’s happening in Rochester happen other places?

Liz Havstad  07:53

It’s not really a niche question, sort of the question, and it’s a complex one, and I actually I take it back to so the phenomenon you’re describing, right, a highway cutting through a black or brown community in a poor community is, is a is the story of almost every city across this country. And it actually started in the 70s, in New York, in the Bronx, with the planning that they were doing there, the Cross Bronx Expressway was the first project of that era that then set the the blueprint for all the all other cities to follow. And, and actually, the connection there is at it was at that time, when they ran the Cross Bronx Expressway through a cut off, same thing always happens, cuts off so that folks can’t get back and forth. The businesses that are in the community don’t survive, right folks are pushed out, it becomes that that is when hip hop is born. It’s an incident that exact neighborhood through that, in in that adversity, that that hip hop is born actually read the 50 year anniversary of it. So this has been a 50 year that we’re seeing the 50 year impacts of those planning decisions, which kind of gets at what you’re talking about now, which is like, Okay, let’s try and correct to the planning. Let’s try reinvest in the communities that we’ve divested in, reinvest in the communities that we have really obliterated that we have run trucks and cars through, right that’s creating all this asthma. And then also, it’s an environmental justice piece, but it’s a climate justice piece because that’s the same pollution that’s causing the climate crisis. But as we do that, then we improve these communities they become nicer and now other folks with more money want to come in and take right that’s and that that cycle. This the solution to breaking that cycle is gentrification is really just a story of unevenness and the intention behind unevenness. It starts With unintentional divestment from communities in ways that lower the property values, why is that important, there’s no more land for us to go out and develop and find new land and make money off. So to create value and land, we must divest resources, lower the property values, which then creates the opportunity to come back around, reinvest, and increase those property values. That’s the cycle. And once you’re in that cycle, there’s not the solution isn’t to try and fight each stage of the cycle is to completely break it. Which means what we need to be looking at doing is even investment across the board at all times. Right. So and so I think the challenge there is, how do we just completely reimagine the way we plan? And how do we imagine it? And if we start to imagine it in ways that say, we can’t have no communities can be polluted, we must stop using fossil fuels, we must start using clean energy. That means that there won’t be that disparity right that public health disparity, those planning disparities will go away. So what to do on the micro it’s it’s a day in, day out fight, but holistically, it’s, it’s about a just a completely new framework and thinking about planning, investments, and ultimately, getting off of fossil fuels and onto clean energy.

V Spehar  11:39

Maybe doing a little bit of both, right, not just fixing it up for the next generation, but evenly fixing things up so that you know, the folks who live in West Rochester to use Rochester as my example, don’t feel left out by all this new cool stuff that’s happening downtown. And they’re like, Yeah, we had already got pushed out to the West, we still need sidewalks and help out here, leveling it up evenly, so that there’s not continual displacement. Now, for decades, there’s been a certain narrative being pushed by big environmental organizations about what kind of threat climate changes and how we should fight it. Can you kind of recap what that big narrative has been? And why in your opinion, it’s diminished global efforts to curb climate change.

Liz Havstad  12:16

Yeah, so there has been a at work, we’re at this 50th anniversary of hip hop, we’re at around a 50, around 50 years of the EPA of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, all these really critical, important things, huge, huge accomplishments, thanks to the environmental movement. The challenge that we’ve run up against, is that the way the modern environmental movement has kind of invested time, resources and energy has been siloed. Right. And particularly, as we enter has we’ve entered into this era of, of the climate crisis. And first recognizing in the 70s, this was going to be an issue and the slow crawl to kind of where we are now, which is it’s upon us, we’re experiencing it. Folks know, it’s here, what do we do about it? Climate had been framed as an issue versus as a lens that touches and affects every issue. And by looking at climate as an issue by which comes from a legacy of environmentalism, right, that, that really is just the idea of like, we rule the world, it’s our dominion, right? We are over this, our role for in terms of environmentalism is the environment is separate from us. And that’s where kind of the framework of a lot of conservation comes from we we conserve, and save this land over here and keep it nice. And then we can obliterate and do whatever we need to do to have all the conveniences that we think are important, we can pollute it. We can pollute these communities over here, we can do this. But environmentalism is keeping some land pristine and then doing whatever we want with it with the rest of it. Right. And we see where that’s led us to. And so and so by siloing, this climate crisis as an environmental issue, we allowed sort of a framework to be set up into to which you could be pro environment or not pro environment, right. Other issues could be more important. Those sorts of things versus looking at it as every everything that matters to us is going to be touched and affected by a warming planet. housing, education, our economy, criminal justice, every day in day out equity, public health, our energy systems, a warming planet, the what’s happening Right are our supply chains, our food systems, climate is not a separate issue. It’s, it’s so it’s the lens in which everything is happening. And I think that challenge that the environmental movement has left us with is building tremendous power and achieving really important things around clean air and clean water. But failing to build a movement, that is that is big enough and diverse enough to kind of overcome the ways in which fossil fuels are pitting our interests against each other, because we’re letting them.

V Spehar  15:56

How do you think we can use hip hop to fight it? I mean, if I think back to the 70s, and 80s, and the storytelling of hip hop music, and being anti violence and anti drug and trying to like, just talk about the things that were going so wrong in our lives, can we use Hip Hop now to tell the story to young people about how to fight for environmental justice and climate change?

Liz Havstad  16:21

Absolutely. I mean, I think the biggest environmental record of of that era was Marvin Gaye, merci, merci, me, I recommend everyone go back and listen to it. Right. But absolutely, hip hop is at this point, it’s, it’s popular culture, right, the power of it is immense. And the messages and the messengers of it are incredibly powerful. It’s also an identity, it’s a, it’s a lifestyle, it’s signals a collective power and organizing through that collective power. Right? Through that, that shared identity, those shared values. Is, is where the power is, with Hip Hop Caucus, we actually put out in 2014, leading up to the People’s Climate March, which was to build power going into the Paris Climate Agreement, we produced an album called home heal our Mother Earth, which is kind of the first climate album of that scale. At that time, it has common talking about trouble in the water, and actually kind of for foreshadows what then happens the next year, which is the flint crisis coming out, right? We have a Raheem DeVaughn. We have Elle Varner, we have Neo covering Michael Jackson’s Earth Song, like there’s so many amazing pieces on it. So that’s an example of, of inviting folks in to lend their, their their art, right to the movement. And that’s part of it. Right? How do we use expression and art to engage folks bring folks in with 60,000 folks took action, leading to the Paris climate agreement based off based off that that album, right. But then there’s the other part of it, which is hip hop as as a cultural identity as coming together organizing people organizing collective power, and the end the work and the potential there.

V Spehar  18:20

You gotta be careful, though, because oil executives have been reaching out to Gen Z and some musicians and trying to fake the funk, if you will, and get some people to write music or express themselves to favor the oil executives. Can you talk about that? Is it easy to spot poser content like that? Are they are they pretty slick with it?

Liz Havstad  18:43

Oh, I mean, they’re they are absolutely paying Tiktok influencers to promote greenwashing, right to kind of promote position themselves as as being part of the climate solution. Because they are doing some things that they say are part of the solution, yet they start they like will not stop doing the thing that’s causing the problem, which is extracting fossil fuels, processing it and using it right. And so they are they’re absolutely savvy from a from a PR perspective, right? This is nothing new in terms of what the oil industry is doing, that they are jumping on. Paying Tiktok influencers to push their message, right is to be expected because there’s a ton of influence there. There’s a ton of influence particularly of young folks and and the generations to come. I think that there as if you if you watch any of the content, you will see there are plenty of folks that call that content out right because if there is a generation that is using their voice and understands the the threat and who will be living with the threat, the longest of any of us that are here right now is Gen Z. So I think there absolutely is pushback to it. That being said, the legacy of the oil industry running very successful PR campaigns, right. Winning the narrative with those PR campaigns is a serious threat, the ways in which they they are pitting our side against each other with those PR campaigns. We Hip Hop Caucus is part of a campaign called Clean creatives, which you can look up, that is organizing PR professionals and executives, to put pressure on other PR, executives and professionals to not do business with the fossil fuel industry. And there are a set of PR firms really important powerful ones that are continuing to to take those contracts and continuing to market. Oil and gas as is as a force of good at in its current state. And it’s simply not. So it’s a little it’s a wild, wild kind of space to look at. But it’s really important because it’s how they win the narrative. And when they’re winning the narrative. They’re going to win the elections, when they’re winning the narrative, they’re going to win the votes, that it’s the way they maintain their social licence to exist, right, is by being on the front end of of these PR efforts that are incredibly sophisticated.

V Spehar  21:31

Well, I’m thinking of one right now. And I’m starting to I mean, I think I’m a smart person, but sometimes I get caught up in it too, right? Like I’m thinking of, I think it’s like Exxon Mobil talking about how they like save the butterflies in a certain area and like, a portion of their profits go to saving like rare butterflies. And I was like, that’s good. Maybe they’re listening to us. Maybe they are doing good. Now, they spent a couple 100 bucks to save a couple of butterflies and made a million dollar ad campaign about it.

Liz Havstad  21:56

And they were probably the reason the butterflies were going extinct in the first place. Right? Right. Yeah. It’s actually really deceiving because it does sound good. But then when you sit back and you think about it, you’re like, Oh, this is this is awful, but effective. And we we have to be what we need to take that challenge and be more effective, right? We need to be better storytellers, Betty better communicators. We need to we need to outflank them when it comes to when it comes to communicating. That’s the challenge.

V Spehar  22:31

And some of the stuff that we see out there. You know, we also have to be cautious of because we’ve seen things like, you know, climate protesters throwing soup at artwork or gluing themselves, their hands to Starbucks counter, some extreme protest is coming from the right place. And some, like you were just saying our PR stunts that are made to look the movement looks silly or unreasonable. And so if you’re seeing something out there that looks just completely crazy and totally unreasonable. And how could this be helping? It’s probably not it might just be to try and make you think that climate protesters are silly, stupid, punk kids, right? So how do we put forth a better narrative? How do we find the right resources to follow so that we don’t get distracted by all that kind of malarkey?

Liz Havstad  23:18

Yeah, I mean, I think I’ve been super encouraged about the particularly in the past five or six years or so it. But I think it’s also a generational shift. I think the ways in which the core tenets of activism, I think, have become much cooler than they maybe were right, a couple of decades ago. And I think that Gen Z is part of leading, leading that and I think a lot of that has to do with folks finding their voices online and being able to have platforms to have voices online and see each other connect build networks, to where the identity of activism can be better understood versus just framed as when the other side tries to make people look fringe, right, we can look at each other and be like, No, this isn’t French, like we’re the majority. We’re here. We believe in this. I think the ways in which we, we ensure our message is getting across through activism is to put forth and the voices of folks who are who are really living the frontlines of the crisis. And when they’re when they’re telling the stories of what’s really happening. And they’re standing up and we’re standing with them. And in some ways, we’re all on frontlines in different ways, right? If you if part of it is I think thinking through what are the ways the climate crisis is impacting me now. And, and and we all are using our voices in that those ways. I’m, I’m from a place that is going through constantly Wildfires and evacuations and things like that, right. So that that’s I’m on the front lines of that way right? Up in Rochester, you guys are dealing with different extreme weather situations and all this, right? All the things that are happening. But I think if we keep when we’re when we’re, when we’re concerned about effectively communicating, if we keep our center on what is really happening and people really telling the truth about what’s happening in their lived experience, that’s undeniable. Right? That can’t be that can’t be reframed as fringe crazies, because it’s not, because people are telling stories, and other folks are going to be like, Oh, my God, it’s happening where I’m living, too, you know. So, I think centering, centering those who are first and worse, impacted. And, and, and communicating. What they are telling us is, is I think, a strong way to not let the kind of games and distractions of the oil companies kind of undermine them.

V Spehar  26:26

How are you guys working with indigenous groups who are also oftentimes very active participants in water protection and climate change, to bring together even more voices to this fight?

Liz Havstad  26:39

Oh, there’s so many. There’s so many important pieces to that. We certainly were early on the ground working with folks in Standing Rock to oppose the Depo pipeline. And that mass mobilization, the largest mass mobilization, indigenous mass mobile was peaceful mobilization. In our, in our country’s history, right was so incredibly powerful. And the different angles of that, right, there’s the encampment and, and putting your, your physical self on the line, there was the divestment efforts to pull money out of Wells Fargo, which was financing the pipeline, and and then the global movement that came together and supported it. And following a a, a call to action that is that many Watsonian, which is water is life. And I think in terms of again, what is What is Centering us where what is the thing that we’re fighting for? And in what way and what is the solution. They told us there’s water is life, and this pipeline is going to destroy our water, its water, that literally 20 million people in the Midwest, right depend on. And without water, we do not live therefore this project cannot go forward. And it’s that kind of principle, right? The principle of set of seven generations that indigenous people bring to us, which is we do not make decisions based off of they’re here. And right now we need to make decisions, thinking about what is the impact for the next seven generations? What do we need to be doing for seven generations from now? Right? Using that principle for decision making, right, would completely change what this world looks like. And it’s indigenous leaders who are giving us that in terms of globally, right and who and what we need to do to protect land, from drilling from deforestation, that deforestation, right takes one of our most important natural resources in terms of keeping our climate safe, right trees out of the mix, all these sorts of things, indigenous sovereignty and control over lands. Indigenous Land Management is a climate solution, because the decision making over that land when it is about thinking of the principles that indigenous folks around the globe bring results in better decision making for what we do. And these are the ways in which we keep fossil fuels in the ground. We keep trees and forests they Amazon, right? That that is like the lungs of our planet intact to protect all of us is following indigenous leadership. So those are the ways in which we looked at again, we need to remake our systems. And there’s indigenous knowledge, right that it’s not actually reinventing the wheel. It’s returning to that. That will get us to a better place.

V Spehar  30:01

Now, to end a little bit on a good note, though there have been some wins for Gen Z and for young people in climate change in Montana. This is the first legal victory when it comes to a judge ruling in a youths favor as it relates to climate. So this group of kids sued Montana State Legislature, because in the Montana constitution, it says that each Montanan has the right to clean air, that is the constitutional right. And they said, Well, with all the pollution you’re doing, you’re infringing on my state constitutional right. And a judge sided with them. I mean, that’s incredible. Can you talk a little bit about some more of the wins we’ve been seeing as it results to climate change?

Liz Havstad  30:40

Absolutely. It’s a tremendous win. There’s about I think, six other states where chill, children are suing. Montana has this unique aspect in their constitution that paved the way but in terms of litigation strategies, we have to hit from every corner. So that isn’t important. When there’s on the there’s a suit similar suit in Hawaii right now, that’s gaining some traction. And I think the precedent that gets set is important. I think, though, the thing to remember is, there’s no one silver bullet, there’s not going to be one case, or one strategy or one fight, that’s going to do it. But that’s sort of the opposite optimism of it all as well, because it means that we can all kind of find our lane, in this issue. And in these fights, whether it’s supporting litigation, whether it’s supporting movement, building, whether it’s fighting for legislation, whether it’s going after the financiers, it’s turning people out in elections, all these sorts of things like it’s, it’s for the the PR professionals that are challenging their their peers to say, Stop taking this business, right, in every industry that you’re in, if you’re an architect, what are you doing to challenge your peers to be building greener right there, there’s there’s lanes, the the in terms of what the good that is happening, is in every space in place, there are ways and there are people leading on solutions that come from kind of every walk of life in every industry. And and I think that’s the that’s the good news. We see it with we are making transitions to clean energy that is happening we are moving towards and transitioning to electric vehicles, it is happening. The question is, are we going to do it fast enough? And what dirty tricks are the oil and gas industry going to do? Along the way to keep trying to extend their life? They’re putting forth false solutions like carbon capture to say, well, we will keep polluting, but when we build machines that suck the suck it out of the air, so it doesn’t pollute anymore? That’s not really an option. Like the opposite if you just stop polluting, right, if we just made the transition, you don’t need these machines that aren’t that aren’t going to work, right. So there’s that sort of thing. There’s right now big oil, knowing that they’re not going to have the same types of revenue from from gas and gas powered vehicles and from and from electricity, right. With those sectors transitioning, they’re setting their sights on petrochemicals, plastics, if they can increase sort of our demand for plastics, petrochemicals, that go in fertilizers, the petrochemicals that go in most of the clothes that we’re wearing, then they can make their money that way, right. So right now, we’re playing a little bit of Whack a Mole, we have a lot of strategies going, there’s a lot of wins, and there’s a lot of progress. But there’s also still a lot of maneuvers that industry has and are making. And that’s kind of where we need to sit, stay ahead, stopping there petrochemicals, moves and expansions, you know, continuing to march to transition to clean vehicles, clean energy, all these sorts of things.

V Spehar  34:01

And I, for my conservative listeners out there, I know because I’ve heard from you all that you guys don’t want the oil company speaking for you either. There’s a lot of folks who have written in or sent me a DM talking about how you would like one of these clean energy jobs or that it would be safer than the job that you and your dad and your grandpa had to do or that why aren’t they training us to be more innovative when it comes to even military technology that that could benefit from being a great testing ground for green spaces. And I know that we just watched the Republican national debate the first one, and something that I noticed that I was happy with while I wasn’t happy with a lot of what they said is when the vache Ramaswamy said that climate change is a hoax. He almost got shouted off the stage by the rest of the panel because they were so afraid of that talking point which has been so popular for so many years with the right but they know is a losing strategy that as soon as he said it you saw everyone including to say aunties and pence go up in a flurry. And we’re like, No, it’s not. It’s not that it’s a hoax, it’s that we have to be more innovative and like, I’m like, Okay, so at least seeing a little bit of fear coming from the place that used to just be so staunchly opposed to any kind of discussion about climate right? did bring me a little bit of peace and solace. Still a really far way to go. But again, it’s because conservative voters are similarly going to the polls and saying, like, Listen, man, I don’t want to live in a place. That is, that sucks. Because the air quality is so bad. And the jobs here are so difficult. I don’t want to live in a place where there’s not abortion access, I need to be able to control how many people are in my family, because financially, I can’t handle it, I need to be in a place where we’re we’re not constantly every single day talking about what books were banning, or what kids pronouns are, like, I do not care, I have bigger problems, I can’t deal with this. And that is really in part, I mean, the left has done it for years, but in part to the right thing, like we’re sick of this also. So this is not woke ideology. This is not like the left trying to tell you what to do with your time or not to use gas, we’re gonna be using gas and oil in some ways for quite some time. But there’s a lot of opportunity, money, safety jobs, and a better life in these new and innovative projects that that you should be a part of, and that you should push your local legislators and state legislators, state legislators to make sure that you’re a part of as well. I just saw that, you know, the Virginia governor’s like turning down green energy, money and jobs. And it’s like, why are you doing that, like the people of Virginia deserve a piece of that, right? It doesn’t, it shouldn’t just just be this like woke urban thing that like, oh, the kids in the city think this, like, a lot of this energy is going to be taking plastic place in the Midwest, offshore. And you can have a piece of it too, if we just keep learning, educating and not letting people lie to us. So Liz, I wanted to ask, before we leave, you know, what are some of the solutions you’re advocating for that we think could work that like the average person listening right now, maybe from West Virginia, or Indiana, or something could start doing in their neighborhood community right now.

Liz Havstad  37:03

So one of the big solutions is the IRA. Right? The biggest piece of climate investment we’ve had to date, there are opportunities to get resources for local clean energy projects, for climate solution projects, for everything from stormwater management, right to places that are dealing with chronic, what’s becoming chronic flooding, all these sorts of things. There’s a ways to bring investments, dollars to your communities right now, to help them go green to help them go solar, to all these sorts of things. So one of the things you can do is look into what are those opportunities, it may be opportunities that could run through local nonprofits, it could be opportunities that could run through local government, it could be opportunities that are could run through local businesses, and and figuring out those opportunities for your state, right through those resources, talking to local elected officials, officials, connecting with advocacy groups and connecting with groups in your community that are working on this, and helping to get some of those dollars to your community that are literally meant to clean the air, clean water provide jobs, right economic opportunity, there is the biggest investment we’ve ever made. Those dollars are on the table right now. And, and it’s on all of us to tap into that otherwise, it’s going to be the same folks going and getting it and it not resulting in the types of solutions that you want to see for your community. Because I think at the end of the day, right, the best climate solution is the solution that a community envisions for itself. And there is opportunity right now to get resources to pursue what that looks like. What’s the solar opportunity? What’s the community garden opportunity? What’s, what is the physical ways you want things to be changed in your community that’s going to pollute less, create more green space? Right? Create a safer place, and how do you get those resources? So I would absolutely say, figure out what the opportunities are and how you can plug into them, and help make your local community a better place. Make sure you vote. Make sure you vote for people who support climate action, right and talk to everybody about it. Use use your voice and get involved. It’s it. It seems like such a daunting problem and challenge and of course it is but locally led solutions and driving resources to locally led solutions is is is the best answer if we’re talking about Virginia, and the governor by redirecting those funds, the naval Northfolk base, it’s the biggest naval base in the world is going underwater right now, the biggest threat to our national security is the climate crisis, the Pentagon has said this, that naval base, you know why it’s going to be rendered. not usable is, is not even the pace at which the water is rising for the actual base to go underwater. It’s because when there’s a little bit of rain now, in that part of Virginia, all the roads flooded, well, if you’ve ever been there, you know, if once two or so roads get flooded, you cannot get on and off that base, how are they going to protect us if they cannot get to their jobs, or off, like back and forth? If something goes on, right? So I think that it’s it’s these things that we have to look at, like whatever your whatever your concerns are, whatever your fears are, whatever your hopes are, right? There is a way in which this extreme weather is, is a threat. But there are solutions that can not only get us out of this problem of this threat, but actually make the world a better place overall, once we get through it. So that’s what I would say.

V Spehar  41:27

I would also advise you all, if you ever wanted to live on a tree line street, you can include it in the inflation Reduction Act is the ability to plant trees. So there’ll be a local organization, wherever you are in Washington, DC, I know the organization is called KC trees.org, because I used to work with them. And the idea here is just what we can do by planting trees that our cities and towns, it’s a great way to deal with rainwater, it’s a great way to deal with air quality, it beautifies the space, it provides shade, that reduces the amount of heat that you’re experiencing while you’re in town. And there’s a ton of money to plant trees. So it could be something just as simple as that. But you only get that money if your town council person writes in for the little grant to get the trees. So you could just Google how do I plant trees in my town or in my city, information will come up, you can go ahead and grab those funds. There are so many things you can do when we think of climate change, we think of it as this huge daunting thing. Like where do we even start and it might just be with planting a tree and what a simple, wonderful thing to do. I know when I go to parks here in Rochester that are set up to flood on purpose to collect water, there’s another great park in Frederick, Maryland that does the same thing they put in creeks to collect water. And you see those huge old trees. That’s because somebody 100 years ago thought, I’m gonna put a tree here and maybe people will enjoy it. And that can be you. And then 100 years from now somebody else will enjoy the tree that you planted. Liz, it has been such a pleasure to have you today. tell folks how they can join your your work at the Hip Hop Caucus? Do you have to be cool and hip? Or can you be just any old regular guy and join the Hip Hop Caucus work?

Liz Havstad  42:58

You can be anybody and everybody you can you can sign up the hip hop caucus.org You can find us on social media and get involved please, please, please do we have a podcast called the coolest show on the climate crisis? Tune into that it comes out every Monday. But yeah, follow us online and you’ll start seeing all the stuff that you can plug into and do to get involved. And, and and hopefully also not not hopefully, definitely. There’s a lot of content and conversation that’s fun and joyful. And it’s not we don’t keep it doom and gloom, right. Because like if it’s not fun, like we’re done. And I think that the the conversations around the climate crisis can get pretty dark pretty fast. But there’s so much like fun and joy in it. And there’s so many good people doing amazing things and it just it. It’s fulfilling to be connected to it. So connect with us. Join hip hop caucus, find us online, and we hope to see you see you out there somewhere.

V Spehar  43:59

See you heard it here first you’re invited to the block party. We’re all coming.

Liz Havstad  44:02



Thanks again to Liz Hampstead from the Hip Hop Caucus for joining me today. The Hip Hop Caucus uses the power of our cultural expression to empower communities who are first and worst impacted by injustice. And as Liz said, you can learn more and get involved at hiphopcaucus.org This episode is brought to you in partnership with the Walton Family Foundation. That does it for today. Please leave us a five star rating on whatever platform you’re listening on. Follow me at @underthedesknews on TikTok, Instagram, youtube and Patreon. And guess what friends there is even more V INTERESTING with Lemonada Premium. Subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content, like illuminate of […] Westley answering your questions about appropriation versus appreciation. Subscribe now in Apple podcasts. V Interesting is a Lemonada Media Original. Our producers are Kryssy Pease, Kathryn Barnes and Martin Macias. Our VP of weekly programming is Steve Nelson. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittles Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Mix and scoring is by James Farber. Music by Seth Applebaum. Please help others find the show by reading and reviewing wherever you listen and follow us across all social platforms at @VitusSpehar, @underthedesknews and @LemonadaMedia. If you want more V Interesting. Subscribe to Lemonada Premium only on Apple podcasts and follow the show where ever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership.

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