I’m wearing my RBG T-shirt and staring at my RBG action figure, gifts from my daughter, a true social justice warrior. Like me, she was raised to revere and honor women like Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It is a family tradition that follows at least four generations that I know of and we hold closely a favorite RBG quote, “What is the difference between a bookkeeper in the Garment District and a Supreme Court justice? …One generation.”
That quote encapsulates the ideals that RBG fought so tirelessly for, that a person’s potential is limited only by the social barriers that have been constructed. This quote also resonates with the generational fortitude of my grandmother, who arrived as an immigrant to the US in 1927 and was a riveter, building ships during World War II. Grandma Elsie was a proud woman, grateful for the opportunities moving to the United States afforded her. I keep my Rosie the Riveter action figure right next to my RBG action figure because to me, both women were pillars of strength who never forgot where they came from, and they always fought to improve the lives of those around them.
My other favorite action figure is still alive, my mother. Raised by this card-carrying NOW member and single parent in the 70s, I learned from a young age that Disney princesses were fake and there would be no knight in shining armor coming to my rescue. My mom taught us to be independent and respect everyone because equity should be a baseline, not an aspiration.
It’s no surprise then that Ruth Bader Ginsberg was one of my all-time heroes. Her death has led to one of my all-time moments of sadness. It’s not enough that 2020 is already a cluster of unimaginable tragedies. But the passing of RBG, 46 days before the most important election of my lifetime is enough to push me to the edge. The potential repercussions of losing such a brilliant, progressive mind from the highest court in the nation are beyond comprehension to me right now.
RBG exemplified speaking truth to power. She lived the values of fairness, honor, and equity that our constitution prescribes. Her brilliant mind and steadfast resolve towards fairness made her champion for many without a voice.
RBG was a notorious legend. Her sheer determination shattered barriers while her dissents raised consciousness for what is right. She was a defender of social justice, a powerful voice for gender equality, and a protector of women’s rights who shaped our democracy for the better. RBG inspired me to speak up against injustice, take a stand for what is right, and never let anyone underestimate what a person is capable of.
On the evening after her death, my daughter and a group of friends gathered at my home to honor RBGs life. We wore our “Not Fragile Like a Flower, Fragile Like a Bomb” shirts and toasted her legacy. My brilliant attorney friend Julia recounted RBG’s victories and dissents while my daughter spoke of her strength and evolution as a Justice who did not accept the status quo. We laughed, we cried, we hugged (COVID be damned) and we pinky swore that we would always “Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
I grew up climbing on granite slabs at Donner Summit, and the rock formations fascinated me. Everywhere I went in the mountains, I found myself mesmerized by the colors, textures, and stratigraphy lines that painted the landscapes. Having grown up in Northern California in an outdoors family, the concept of conservation was ingrained very early. “Respect the playground; if you want the beautiful places you love to remain intact, then do your part.” At that point in my life, I knew I wanted to do something that allowed me to be outside and in the field solving problems (or something to that extent). Naturally, I began my academic career pursuing a degree in geology.
Fire has always had a place in California. There was a time when the state had a well-defined wildfire season, when homeowners in California’s wildland urban interface could readily insure their homes, when wildfire smoke wouldn’t blanket the entire state at one time. Unfortunately, due to a century of mismanagement of our fire ecosystem and the growing impacts of climate change, that time has passed.
For fear of sounding like a broken record, I will skip over the detailed account of how my fellowship/life is not exactly as I expected it to be, thanks to the pandemic. It’s 2021 but you could also call it December 56th, 2020. It didn’t become a brand new world January 1st, we are still wearing masks, working from home in our sweatpants, and trying to avoid refreshing the news. At the same time, I have been pondering the beauty of my unexpected journey to CivicSpark and SBC.
Sierra CAMP, a program of Sierra Business Council, is currently undertaking a regional vulnerability assessment to examine how Sierra Nevada communities will be affected by projected climate changes. We have already seen the massive impact that climate change can have in its multiple forms on our communities in the mountains.
It may seem strange that a climate collaborative is hosting a panel discussion on recreation, economic recovery, and equity. What in the world does any of this have to do with climate change and adaptation? The answer is everything…
It was a seemingly straightforward question from a close friend of mine, “Why are these wildfires getting worse and what are we doing about it”? At some point during my stammering, convoluted, and completely uninsightful response I realized that my job leads me to dig so deeply into the nuanced details of issues like wildfire and climate change that I’m awful at explaining what the heck is going on to anyone outside of my professional bubble.