grand challenge of LA as a global model of urban sustainability

Cassie Rauser

 

 

I said, “No, that’s not ambitious. That’s not acceptable.” I want it to be better. I want urban ecology to be incredible.

 

Dr Cassie Rauser is Director of UCLA’s Sustainable LA grand challenge.

Sam:

Welcome to “Sustainable Lens, Resilience on Radio,” a weekly show on sustainability topics brought to you by Otago Polytechnic. The show is co-hosted by Shane Gallagher and me, Samuel Mann. Shane’s not here tonight because I’m in Los Angeles at UCLA. Each week we talk with someone making a positive difference and we try to find out what motivates them and what it means to see the world through a sustainable perspective, through their sustainable lens. Tonight’s sustainable lens is that of Dr. Cassie Rauser. She is the director of UCLA’s sustainable LA grand challenge. We’ll find out what that means. Thank you for joining me.

 

Cassie:

Thank for being here and thank you for having me.

 

Sam:

We’ll come back to this but let’s start with an introduction to what the sustainable LA grand challenge is.

 

Cassie:

Sure. Sustainable LA grand challenge is a campus-wide research initiative. It was introduced by the Chancellor in 2013. It’s a little bit different than business as usual, as far as a research initiative goes for a campus because we are organizing the research and the faculty around a major ambitious goal in sustainability. That goal is, or those goals are, to transition Los Angeles the county to 100% renewable energy, 100% locally-sourced water and enhanced ecosystem health and human health and well-being by 2050.

 

Instead of everyone continuing to work in their silos on their sustainable and environmental issues, we’re really bringing the faculty together from across disciplines to tackle this major problem and to rally them around these ambitious goals.

 

Sam:

I read that part of the goal is to have a thriving in a hotter LA and be a global model for urban sustainability.

 

Cassie:

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

 

Sam:

That’s quite a big call for LA.

 

Cassie:

Well, sustainability for LA is a pretty big call, quite honestly. When I heard about the initiative, I wasn’t here at UCLA and I got a phone call and they said, “We think you might be great working on this project. We want to make Los Angeles sustainable.” I kind of laughed and I said, “Yeah, good luck with that.” LA doesn’t have a reputation outside of the LA area as a place that is sustainable. I think that it conjures ideas of smog and urban sprawl and actually a lot of very negative environmental ideas when in fact, LA is really quite fantastic.

 

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