<strong>Denise Fairchild</strong> image

Denise Fairchild is the inaugural President of Emerald Cities Collaborative, a national nonprofit network of organizations working together to advance a sustainable environment while creating a just, resilient U.S. economy. Dr. Fairchild has dedicated over 30 years to strengthening housing, jobs, businesses and economic opportunities for low-income residents and communities of color domestically and internationally. She founded the Community and Economic Development (CED) Department at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College and an affiliated nonprofit, CDTech, directed the LA office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and is credited with building the nonprofit housing and community development industry in the LA region.

Featured Writings and Talks

"Terrorism is Americans’ No. 1 concern. We have bigger problemsSalon; "Engaging Our Youth: Taking Climate Action to the StreetsHuffington Post; "What Can The Abolitionists Teach Us About Climate Change?" International Living Future InstituteDoubling Down on Community Resilience, Rooflines.org

Denise Fairchild on...

Expanding the movement:

"Often the environmental movement is seen as a middle class, white movement. But to this day, all the research points to the fact that low-income communities of color ­­care about, and want to do something about climate change, even greater than middle class, white communities."

Changing the economic mindset:

"How do we get out of the cultural mindset, that we have to have more stuff? [When] we have to produce more stuff, and we have to consume more stuff, that just continues to drive the conditions that cause climate change. That's the fundamental issue, that's the behavioral changes that need to be made at the personal level."

The role of government:

"I do believe the role of government is critical for mediating the climate change environment and helping individuals as well as markets perform and behave better."

How culture can help:

"It's a very critical part of a climate change movement to bring our artists and our culture into communicating values and ideas that are hard to dissect through scientists."

The limits of technology:

"We're finding some tools to help solve, to mediate, to mitigate some of the problems, but I don't think it's going to solve climate change."

Social justice movements:

"Black Lives Matter and Dreamers are working together with (Environmental Justice) communities and really beginning to see that the causes of poverty and pollution are really the same. It's the notion of an ethic where extraction at all costs is okay, that it is rooted in how we measure wellbeing."

The economic power of individuals:

"We have power with respect to money and how we use money, and I think it's not just the individual agency around withholding resources, but it's collective power as well."

Communicating the problem:

"I do have colleagues that work in rural communities, conservative rural communities. You can't talk climate change, but you can talk about environmental change, because they live it. …They see the environmental change, so we don't have to call it climate change. We can talk about what's happening in your backyard, in your approach to taking local initiatives, and then what can we do about it."

Moderator

Secretary David J. Skorton, M.D. image

Dr. David J. Skorton is the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian. Skorton, a board-certified cardiologist, previously was the president of Cornell University, a position he held from July 2006. He was also a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and in Cornell’s Department of Biomedical Engineering at the College of Engineering. An ardent and nationally recognized supporter of the arts and humanities, Skorton has called for a national dialogue to emphasize the importance of funding for these disciplines.

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Panelists

Jedediah Purdy image
Jedediah Purdy

professor of law Duke University and the author of After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene

Catrina Rorke image
Catrina Rorke

senior fellow for energy policy, R Street Institute

Mary Evelyn Tucker image
Mary Evelyn Tucker

co-founder and co-director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University