Honoring Lisa Hoyos, Climate Parents

Honoring Lisa Hoyos, Climate Parents

Below are remarks made about and by honoree Lisa Hoyos at CLCV's Environmental Leadership Awards in San Francisco on May 28, 2015.

Susan Frank, CLCV Board Member:

It’s not often that you get the call up from a former California State Senator to present an award on his behalf, but that is what I was asked to do tonight by Tom Hayden who was unable to be here. It helps that I have known Lisa Hoyos longer than possibly anyone else in this room other than her parents and siblings – I first met her when I was 16 years old. It’s a funny story, actually about how we met – much longer than two minutes will allow.

Suffice to say that when I met her on a Greyhound bus, with 40 other high school students from 4 western states bound for the United Nations in New York City, I had no idea that 32 years later, our paths would end up being so aligned. She was then, as she is now, a passionate human being with deep appreciation for the world around her, immense love for friends and family, and an immeasurable commitment to campaigning and leading.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure (yet) of meeting Lisa, she is the Director and the Co-Founder of Climate Parents, a national organization focused on mobilizing parents and families for clean energy and climate solutions. Her father John would say that her commitment to protect the environment started in 1st grade – I am not surprised to learn that she became a fighter early in life. She has been a campaigner in the labor, environmental and EJ movements in California for twenty-five years, most recently serving as the California Director of the BlueGreen Alliance and the former Apollo Alliance.

Lisa has run legislative and electoral campaigns with the national AFL-CIO and the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, and global justice campaigns with the Congress of South African Trade Unions in Johannesburg. She has worked with Greenpeace to fight toxic facilities in low-income communities and served as a committee consultant to the California Senate Natural Resources Committee under Senator Tom Hayden. Lisa is Latina and bilingual, and is committed to building a movement of parents and families for climate action that is ethnically and geographically diverse.

Tom Hayden, Former California State Senator:

To Sarah Rose, Susan Frank, all my friends here tonight, to the great Annie Notthoff of NRDC, to the other Lisa (the amazing Lisa Jackson) and of course to my friend and partner of many years, Lisa Hoyos. I am with you in spirit but apologize for my physical absence on this great night.

I remember the many campaigns for justice that are leading to our shared goal of climate justice as endorsed by Pope Francis and many leaders gathering in December for the United Nations climate talks. One of the thousands of warriors for justice and a safe environment whom I have been privileged to know is Lisa, whom you are honoring tonight.

She's a special one, a true Guardian Angel sent to save our precious world. She is also special because she comes from the Organizing Tradition on which the whole world depends. She has evolved and matured over the years. I might have been her boss and mentor, but she taught me everything about the immigrants’ rights movement and made me speak in broken Spanish to massive rallies around the world. I count on her, and many in her generation I have been fortunate to know, to take leadership in the climate change movement towards the goal of a California that is a renewable energy model to the country and the world. I love you Lisa, and my wife Barbara sends her love, and we hope to be arm in arm for many years ahead.

Lisa Hoyos, Environmental Leadership Award Recipient; Climate Parents Director & Co-Founder:

Thanks to my dear friend Susan and to Tom in absentia.  As he said, he’s here in spirit---and I’ll say more about him at the end.

I am really thankful for this award, and to be receiving it alongside such amazing and inspiring leaders as Annie Notthoff and Lisa Jackson.

I also want to acknowledge my wonderful family, who all teach me so much. My husband JB Tengco, and our boys Kai and Cruz, my parents John and Sylvia and my Tia Chela, and my father and siblings in law Lee, Kevin and Michelle. And my colleague at Climate Parents John Friedrich.

When Sarah Rose called to tell me about the award, I was really excited that I’d get to address this particular group of advocates and change makers that CLCV brings together every year. Because there’s a lot of power, energy and insight in this room.

There are two things I want to touch on tonight. I want to share a little more about the work of Climate Parents. And I want to offer up an idea that this award, and our work together in the climate and clean energy space, helped inspire. And I’ll volunteer to help make it happen (I already talked with Sarah about it).

First, Climate Parents.

How many of you are parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles? We’re a big constituency! Back in 2008 when my now ten-year-old and seven-year-old were 3 years old and 4 months old, I heard this story on NPR about what the world would look like in 2035 if we didn’t do enough to cut carbon pollution. It was mostly about systems collapse. Food systems, water systems, mass displacement. I did the math and realized that in 2035 my boys would only be in their late twenties! It was a lighting bolt moment for me, and I thought if all parents really understood this threat, they’d want to get involved in mobilizing for solutions, because along with loving our kids, it’s our core responsibility to keep them safe.

Since launching Climate Parents two years ago, we’ve been organizing in multiple states to expand clean energy policies, support the EPA’s carbon rule and to block dirty energy, like coal exports. And, also, to protect kids right to learn climate science in schools in red states from conservative politicians trying to block climate education. Here in California, we’re mobilizing to support the Governor’s executive order and SB 350, teaming up with many groups who are here tonight, and including another group in the Moms Clean Air Force. And the California PTA, which is now supporting climate action. Climate Parents is building and growing, and if you’d like to get involved, get on our list at climateparents.org AND please talk to me!

Before sharing that idea I mentioned, there’s some context I need to set. Everything that has been said about CA being a clean energy leader is true and inspiring. Compared to most other places in the world, we’re A students. But, it’s also true, that things are pretty dire on the climate front, and we need to keep leveraging our power and influence and technologies to help scale clean energy beyond our state and national borders.

Globally, there are five times more fossil fuels in reserves than we can afford to burn in order to stay below the 2 degrees Celsius of warming that scientists say we must in order to avoid very worst impacts of climate change---which, if you really delve into, look a lot like the movie Blade Runner. With the exception of Apple Computer, the world’s most powerful and wealthy multinationals are fossil fuel companies. And they’re relentlessly flexing their political muscle to extract and burn everything the can. President Obama—who has been leading on climate—just took a step backwards by granting Shell a permit to drill in the arctic in a reserve that climate experts say we shouldn’t touch. And, as those of us who continuously battle with the Western States Petroleum Association know, mobilizing against the fossil fuel industry is like playing a never-ending game of whack a mole.

So, we’ve got to be at the top of our game as a climate and clean energy movement. We’re a team, and if you look around this room, it’s full of teammates.

I recently read something that Nelson Mandela said that connects to California. He was reflecting on John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, which he read in prison. He said, “When I closed that book, I was a different man. It enriched my powers of thinking and my discipline, and my relationships.”

Reading those words from Mandela made me think about OUR relationships. That an important part of us being on the top of our game is better understanding the priorities and struggles of our different sectors and stakeholder groups---not just where they overlap as it relates to a particular bill or policy, but as a whole. If I’m a labor activist, or an EJ activist, or a Air Resources Board policy analyst, or a clean tech innovator, or a parent working for clean energy, what gets me up in the morning? Why do I devote my life to this work?

So, I want to volunteer to help put together one day, cross-constituency meeting that would bring labor, enviros and EJ, clean energy business and others allies. It would be on Friday in September or October after session ends and there’s a bit more breathing room. We would spend half the day doing a deeper dive on getting to know each other’s issues and priorities and vision better.

For the second part of the day, we’d bring in some of our most forward thinking and visionary experts on climate and clean energy and climate resilience. UCS can help us with that, and I know Adrienne Alvord is interested.

This is where the vision part comes in. Last month, Hawaii announced plans to get to 100% clean energy by 2045. Despite the fact that we’re much bigger, Stanford energy experts say we could do that here, maybe even sooner. How could we accomplish that, and how could we do it in a way that builds in equity and quality jobs and environmental sustainability at the front end? It would be great to explore that question together.

And regarding climate resilience, the drought is already squeezing us. What do the next 30 years look like and how to we plan for sea level rise and heat waves and wildfires in a way that is proactive? Our state agencies planning for these things already. Let’s brainstorm across sectors about how we can adapt as best we can in a way that protects our most vulnerable and expands equity and jobs.

After that, I envision a super fun happy hour. It’s just one day to get our juices flowing, and we’ll see where it goes from there.

I know most of you have heard of the TED talks. I sort of think of this idea as the “Tom talks” in honor of our friend former Senator Hayden, who is a cross-cutting, empathic warrior in the civil rights, anti-war and environmental movements.

I want to end with a toast to Tom, that we’ll capture on film and send to him while he recovers from his stroke. We also will have these get well cards right near the bar, so please sign one.

I have faith we can build our movement stronger in the way that reflects our justice values and protects our kids, and that will make Tom proud. When I say Tom Hayden, you say Viva. Then we’ll end on Si Se Puede. READY? Tom Hayden. VIVA Tom Hayden. VIVA.

Se puede?

Posted on June 1, 2015 in Groundswell Blog.

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