Just Transitions to Regional Sustainability: Rhiana Gunn-Wright to Discuss the Intersection of Climate Justice and Racial Justice at The Westport Library

Wed, May 24, 2023
EJ Crawford
Graphic for event: It’s All Our Backyard: Just Transitions to Regional Sustainability, with Rhiana Gunn-Wright

Climate change and the fight for racial justice are two of the most pressing issues of our time. And they are not independent events, but interconnected realities that impact how we interact with our natural world and how the changes in our natural world affect people everywhere.

On June 1, Roosevelt Institute Director of Climate Policy Rhiana Gunn-Wright will explore these interconnections between environmental justice and racial justice with the Westport community in a can’t-miss talk held at 7 pm in The Westport Library’s Trefz Forum. (Click here to register.)

In the talk, Gunn-Wright will discuss how to cultivate regional responses to the climate crisis, recognizing that environmental impacts cross town lines.

The event is part of a Lilly Foundation-funded initiative at the Saugatuck Congregational Church to “embrace our coastal community” and is the result of a community partnership featuring the Library, the Congregational Church, TEAM Westport, and Sustainable Westport.

“To reverse the climate crisis, we need to think and live regionally,” said Saugatuck Congregational Church Rev. Alison J. B. Patton, “recognizing our interdependence with neighbors across town lines and learning from those who have been most directly impacted by climate events and environmentally unsustainable practices. How do we ensure that all people and parts of our shared ecosystem can flourish?”

“This vitally important talk was inspired by Westport's commitment to becoming a sustainable, thriving community — economically, environmentally, and socially — and by our ongoing community-based efforts to dismantle systemic racism,” said Harold Bailey Jr., chair of TEAM Westport. “It is a significant opportunity for each of us to build awareness that the sustainability of our most distressed regional neighbors today could easily signal the sustainability of our own community tomorrow.”

Gunn-Wright leads the Roosevelt Institute’s research at the intersection of climate policy, public investment, racial equity, and public power. Along with her colleagues, Gunn-Wright aims to create a body of work that examines the role of economic policy and large-scale economic transformation in catalyzing just and rapid responses to the climate crisis. She also supports Roosevelt’s engagement with the Green New Deal Network and other partners in the climate movement.

Prior to joining Roosevelt, Gunn-Wright was the policy director for New Consensus, charged with developing and promoting the Green New Deal, and the policy director for Abdul El-Sayed’s 2018 Michigan gubernatorial campaign. A 2013 Rhodes Scholar, she has also worked as the policy analyst for the Detroit Health Department, acted as the Mariam K. Chamberlain Fellow of Women and Public Policy at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and served on the policy team for former First Lady Michelle Obama.

“We are remarkably fortunate to have such an esteemed expert as Rhiana Gunn-Wright here to discuss how climate justice and racial justice intertwine and impact each other,” said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer. “This is a timely and important event for Westport and the greater Fairfield County community as we all work together to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to grow and thrive — now and for generations to come.”

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