Taking It To The Streets

“Think globally, act locally.” It’s a familiar expression attributed to many forward-thinkers, from the early 20th century Scottish town planner and social activist Patrick Geddes to David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth. 

For decades, our community has embraced the idea that making change on a local level influences the world beyond its city limits. Progressive Santa Monicans have promoted future-friendly housing policies, architectural innovation, advances in technology and communications and urban planning ideas that respond to regional changes.

As Santa Monica begins to feel the effects of the global climate change crisis -- hotter summers, longer droughts, and increasingly extreme weather events -- our focus on thinking globally and acting locally becomes especially urgent. Climate change represents a challenge to all generations, and we must be willing to meet that challenge with direct action. It is a fight we’re willing to take to the streets, literally.

Santa Monica’s expanding multimodal transportation options present a way each of us can make a real difference.

Santa Monica is a recognized leader in the struggle against climate change. As a city, we have been working toward a 15 percent reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions -- the chief cause of global climate change -- by 2015, measured against 1990 levels.

We’ll learn later this year if we’ve achieved that goal, but it’s clear that, even if we have, harder -- and sustained -- work lies ahead.

To get there, we will need to and be willing to make substantive changes in the way we regard personal transportation. The single largest source of GHG emissions in our city -- and the state -- is transportation. More than a third of GHG emissions come from personal vehicle travel.

Awareness of the ways we can lessen our dependence on fossil fuel-powered transportation is a first step.

A local non-profit, Climate Action Santa Monica (CASM) is working to raise awareness of ways to tackle the issue locally and assertively by hosting a series of public educational forums to urge Santa Monicans to take individual and community-wide action.

The group’s fifth public forum, “What a Way to Go – Bike, Bus Expo,” will take place on Sunday afternoon, November 22 at the Church in Ocean Park.

Focusing on Santa Monica’s transportation revolution, the forum will feature a keynote address, "Grand Overview of How Expo Revolutionizes How We Move in the City" by Santa Monica’s new City Manager, Rick Cole.

Cole has referred to Expo as the single most transformative change to mobility on the Westside since the construction of the I-10 freeway. When it opens next year, it will be the first time in more than a half century Santa Monica will be connected to the region by passenger train.

Additional presentations will be made by local and regional experts. William Selby, Santa Monica College Geography and Earth Sciences Professor, will address the causes and effects of the coming El Niño and provide an update on global climate change. Cynthia Rose, chair of the bicycle advocacy group, Santa Monica Spoke, will speak on the city’s evolving bike infrastructure and the new Breeze bike-share program, L.A. County’s first.

Aimee Wyatt of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus system will provide detail on Santa Monica’s new bus routes and Expo light rail integration, the biggest shift to service in the municipal agency’s 70 years. Tom Jasmin, Metro Rail Start Up Manager and Stacy Yamato, Metro Community Safety Director, will provide a County-wide perspective, focusing on Metro’s extensive light rail system and safety provisions.

Mayor Kevin McKeown and Councilmember Pam O’Connor will discuss the upcoming Paris COP21 Climate Summit, which they will be attending. O’Connor will represent Santa Monica as a member of the Local Climate Leaders Circle, a group of 12 mayors and local officials speaking out as champions for climate action in national and international policy forums.

CASM has become a significant resource for community members interested in learning about, and adopting, simple ways to fight climate change. With a focus on inviting people out of their cars by creating a city that is safe and comfortable for walking, riding bikes, and using public transportation, CASM’s November 22 forum will contribute to Santa Monica’s local efforts fighting global climate change.

For more information about the November 22 Forum, visit: http://www.casmtransitforum.eventbrite.com

Elena Christopoulos, Richard Brand, Grace Phillips, Stephen Rubin, Katharine King, Judy Abdo, Zachary Gaidzik, Craig Hamilton, Cynthia Rose, Cris Gutierrez, Laura Gillette and Bill Selby for Santa Monica Forward.