Badass Women in Green Profile: Tracy Gray on Becoming a Women in Green in Business and Using Buddhism to Inspire Hope in the Environmental Movement

by Devin Murphy

Badass Women in Green Profile: Tracy Gray on Becoming a Women in Green in Business and Using Buddhism to Inspire Hope in the Environmental Movement

This blog is a part of a four-part series highlighting our phenomenal Badass Women in Green recipients who will be honored at our ceremony on November 13 at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco, CA. You can purchase your tickets here.

Tracy Gray is a badass woman in green. The founder of The 22 Fund, an impact and growth equity firm focused on increasing the export capacity and accelerating growth of green Southern California companies, Tracy has successfully led the business community to advance their work in greening our economy. In advance of our upcoming awards benefit, we sat down with Tracy to listen and learn more about her climate story and what inspires her.

CLCV: What brought you into the fight for environmental justice/climate action?

Tracy: Ralph Nader…but not in a good way. My ex-husband runs campaigns and did a project for Nader back in the 90s. He educated Nader on the subject of environmental justice and recommended that he add this to his work. Nader said no. I realized then that the environmental movement (like feminism) was very white and very privileged so I never called myself an environmentalist and instead supported initiatives that connected the environment to people of color and underserved communities like the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and now my firm, The 22 Fund (The 22), the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and the nonprofit Clock shop.

CLCV: What environmental issue is most compelling to you and why?

Tracy: Hard to pin point one issue when we are in a climate emergency and I’m not a one issue kind of gal. I tend to look at things holistically and connect dots. Which is why I’m focused on building women’s wealth through my non-profit, We Are Enough (WAE). This “issue” has the greatest impact on the top SDGs. Over 40 percent of the SDGs target the climate crisis.

CLCV: What is your proudest accomplishment in your fight for climate justice?

Tracy: Honestly, I haven’t had a proudest accomplishment yet. Difficult to be proud when we are where we are.

CLCV: Where do you get hope and inspiration in this movement?

Tracy: The youth and people at the proverbial “bottom of the pyramid” (I hate that term). These are the people who are and will experience what has been done to our earth. They are coming up with different strategies and tactics to stop this craziness.

CLCV: What do you think is most important for our movement's leaders to focus on?

Tracy: Communicating the crises in a way that doesn’t sound political and speaking o the people who are going to be most impacted in a way that they can “hear.” Zen Master Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh says, to paraphrase, that “we need to meet people where they are” and I’m not sure we have done that as environmentalists when a study from the University of Pennsylvania “..found that the proportion of Americans who believe that climate change is human-caused ranged from 50 percent to 71 percent, depending on the question format. And the number of self-identified Republicans who say they accept climate change as human-caused varied even more dramatically, from 29 percent to 61 percent.” These are good examples to appeal to younger folks: https://time.com/5698615/great-thunberg-speech-remix/

CLCV: What role do all women need to play in this effort?

Tracy: We women need to control more of the levers of power. Unfortunately, in this country and world, money = the majority of power. So, we need to build the wealth of women at every economic level by investing in women owned businesses or with a “gender lens” on the public markets. This is the mission of We Are Enough. We women are 1.17x more likely to start a social impact business and 85% of our capital goes to our families and communities versus me at 30 -35%.

CLCV: What do you think is most significant about the work CLCV does?

Tracy: The Scorecard and holding politicians accountable, no matter what party. The climate crisis shouldn’t be a partisan issue. This is about the survival of humanity and all living things.

Before Tracy wrapped up, she left us with a power quote from a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk Thích Nhất Hạnh: “We need to change our way of thinking and seeing things. We need to realise that the Earth is not just our environment. The Earth is not something outside of us. Breathing with mindfulness and contemplating your body, you realise that you are the Earth. You realise that your consciousness is also the consciousness of the Earth. Look around you–what you see is not your environment, it is you.”

You can see and hear more from Tracy at our Badass Women in Green Awards on November 13 at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco. Read more here for more details.

Posted on October 28, 2019 in Groundswell Blog.

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