Environment

The events of the past few weeks have underscored how much we all need to support the difficult work of dismantling systemic racism in our lives, relationships, coalitions, and work. As we grapple with a new understanding that witnessing racism in silence is complicity and as we come to a historic reckoning of seemingly subtle discrimination that manifests in sheer violence, we turn to local leaders for solutions.

This week the City of Menlo Park stepped up with a Proclamation recognizing Juneteenth [June 19 – an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, which has been celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s] and a Black Lives Matter resolution. It’s a historic moment for Menlo Park, thanks to strong leadership from Mayor Cecilia Taylor. The Black Lives Matter resolution in particular marks the beginning of long-needed reforms to be formulated.

The City Council is committed to “…collaborating with our community to seek the change that we desperately need; we must identify clear actions going forward.” And the City “…resolve(s) to:
1. Reform policing in Menlo Park so everyone can live their lives without fear.
2. Reform our land use policies to reflect one united city.
3. Prioritize climate action and empower the City’s environmental leadership, recognizing
that our most vulnerable residents are the most affected by this global issue.
4. Ensure that City services support all our residents, and everyone feels welcome.
5. Revise City policies and practices to promote inclusion and equity.”

These are all critical issues worthy of the city’s focus. The priority for Climate Action in this context, however, bears explaining. The issues of climate and racial justice are closely tied. Racist policies, such as redlining in housing, have led to communities of color and especially black people, being disproportionately impacted by air pollution from freeways and industrial sources – the same pollution that leads to climate change.

During the Council meeting on Tuesday, there was also a discussion of climate impacts in Menlo Park, showing how the Belle Haven neighborhood will be the hardest hit. In a detailed vulnerability assessment, the County estimates over $1 billion in property loss and potentially thousands of people displaced from Belle Haven due to flooding from rising sea levels.

The disproportionate flooding and displacement in Belle Haven is clearly an issue of climate justice, following the vastly unjust pattern of disadvantaged communities and the most vulnerable among us (elderly, children, and those with asthma and medical conditions) bearing the brunt of the climate and pollution impacts.

Menlo Park’s Environmental Quality Commission has been hard at work on a Climate Action Plan with bold measures and goals to help address this serious issue. Through the climate actions in the proposed plan, Belle Haven and all of Menlo Park will become healthier, more resilient, and have cleaner air.

The climate movement is not immune to systemic racism, but we can push back against those confines, by prioritizing justice, diversity, access, and equity above all else. We can stand up and use our voices to condemn racism, discrimination, and police brutality. We can fight racial injustices, structural inequities, and economic disparities.

The climate fight is urgent, but it cannot be won without racial justice. When the City of Menlo Park says Black Lives Matter, environmentalists stand with city leaders echoing and supporting this call for racial justice.

Author Diane Bailey is Executive Director of Menlo Spark

Photo courtesy of Menlo Spark was taken on Earth Day 2018 at the Boys & Girls Club in the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park. “We were teaching the kids about clean power, like the solar panels on the clubhouse roof, and helping the kids build solar ovens & then they used them to cook mini pizzas,” explains Diane. “Lauren Swezey, Sustainability Manager at Facebook is pictured with three BGC kids.”

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During COVID-19, it’s important to dispose of gloves, masks and medical waste properly

As concerns surrounding the coronavirus continue to grow, more and more people are increasing safety measures by wearing masks, gloves, and using disinfectant wipes in public. However, many aren’t disposing of these items properly causing more litter, public health and environmental hazards. As we take safety precautions to reduce our exposure and chances of getting […]

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It’s a celestial delight: The moon, a planet , a star – together in the night sky

InMenlo reader Roberta Morris tipped us to a treat if we look skyward at dusk and in the evening: “The moon and Venus …are both crescents. The star is Capella, the 3rd brightest star in the northern hemisphere sky (constellation is Auriga).” InMenlo contributing photographer captured the show last night near Hoover Tower at dusk […]

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Norbert the dinosaur wishes everyone “Happy Earth Day!”

Walking the hills of the Ladera neighborhood this morning, we were instantly cheered by Norbert the dinosaur’s Earth Day outfit. He was sporting butterfly wings and was holding earth in his ample mouth. And here’s a couple more ways to mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Nicole Kemeny, president of 350 […]

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Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary or Earth Day – here are ways to celebrate

That Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 seems perfect to me. April 22 is the day my father, John W. Hubbard, was born in 1911. There was no greater steward of the Earth than this man who walked the Pacific Crest Trail with a knapsack — or some such thing, the story has faded. […]

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Viewpoint: One year, 15 building codes, and a massive upwelling of community support to kick gas

When thousands of the world’s leading scientists are all saying the same thing, “The Climate Crisis is serious, and we need rapid and bold action to ensure a climate safe future,” how do you respond? You look at the biggest root cause of the Climate Crisis: burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, diesel and gasoline. […]

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Hear from the candidates for Senate District 13 at a Climate and Environment Forum

A non-partisan forum featuring candidates for the California District 13 State Senate race will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Menlo-Atherton High School Performing Arts Center (555 Middlefield Ave). It will include six of the District’s registered candidates: Josh Becker, Michael Brownrigg, Alex Glew, Sally Lieber, Shelly Masur, and Annie Oliva. They are running for […]

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Make appointment for free household hazardous waste collection event in Menlo Park on Jan. 11

Menlo Park residents are invited to make appointments to drop off their household hazardous waste materials at a special local HHW collection event January 11, between 8:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. (appointments required). Acceptable items include: acids/bases, aerosol cans, automotive supplies (car batteries, motor oil, antifreeze, break fluids, etc.), cleaning products, fertilizers, pesticides, flammable liquids, […]

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Holiday tree recycling available through Jan. 31 for Menlo Park resident

Menlo Park residents can place trees in the street for pickup as part of the City of Menlo Park’s franchise agreement with Recology San Mateo County. Crews will collect holiday trees placed curbside next to your green compost cart on your regular collection day through January 31, 2020. Please remember to keep trees out of […]

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Tonight marks the Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice is on Saturday, December 21, 2019 at 8:19 pm in Menlo Park. In terms of daylight, this day is 5 hours, 10 minutes shorter than on the Summer Solstice. In most locations north of Equator, the shortest day of the year is around this date. Photo of Fitzgerald Marine Preserve by InMenlo co-founder […]

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Test drive an induction cooktop – free – with new loaner program

The Menlo Park City Council approved a groundbreaking local energy ordinance September 24, 2019, that requires all new buildings to be electric (with some exceptions) effective January 1, 2020. The Reach Codes sparked discussions among Peninsula residents and encouraged many to learn more about induction cooktops. Now, Acterra, a nonprofit based in Palo Alto, has […]

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