March Great Story by Sam Ruderman, 2018-19 Sacramento and Sierra Climate Fellow
A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Shared Mobility Policy & Modeling Workshop hosted by the Local Government Commission and UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center. It was a full-day event consisting of interactive workshops with industry experts, and regional and local government agencies on the cutting-edge of shared mobility.
While I was excited for the event, I wasn’t sure exactly how relevant the content would be to my service projects. Ideally, I was hoping to be able to bring some novel ideas and information back to South Lake Tahoe, but I knew that would be easier said than done. The workshop turned out to be super interesting, and I really enjoyed listening to these transportation pioneers in what reminded me of a lecture setting (anyone else miss school?). But what stuck with me most as I walked back to my car at the end of the day wasn’t a transportation solution, or even a piece of information.
My favorite take-away from the workshop was just a quote from one of the panelists, Barbara Laurenson, who works for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. “The two things people hate most in this world,” she said, “are the ways things are now, and change.”
This quote really struck a chord with me, and I wasn’t alone. Other speakers echoed the remark throughout the rest of the day. Some even thanked her for offering up a new expression they could pack away for later use. I plan on doing the same, because I think the quote describes an issue that is so pertinent to the work that we do in the environmental realm. To many, the policies we support are not always flawless, and our work plans are often not perfect. Still, most of us are driven to push them because we genuinely believe they will contribute to a better world.
“Kids will be dropping these scooters all over the place!” a local Tahoe man complained at a recent City Council meeting during a discussion about Lime Scooters. Sure, he’s probably right. He will eventually have to summon up the courage to take that extra step around an electric transportation option that avoids spewing pollution into the air he breathes. And yes, he’ll have to see those damn solar panels off in the distance–those ones that are producing zero-emission, clean, and affordable renewable energy.
Sometimes it may be helpful to remind ourselves of this quote. I think it’s safe to say that in this field we will always be met by some opposition. People don’t like the way things are, but humans also don’t like the idea of change. While that local Tahoe man didn’t want to see scooters scattered around town, I’m confident he doesn’t want to see his local environment deteriorate either. It is in these moments of pushback, when we are working towards a better, more sustainable future, that we need to remember what we’re trying to do and why. No solution is perfect, but at the end of the day, we continue to persevere through our work because we care about our local community and environment at large.