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Ref: Partnership outreach to immigrant communities to help educate about climate change

New America Media

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'Environmental First Responders': Ethnic Media and PG&E Briefing

Event Sponsored by PG&E and New America Media
New America Media, Mark Schurmann, Posted: Oct 22, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO--Journalists from California’s ethnic media met with representatives from PG&E last week for a roundtable discussion on how to raise public awareness of carbon emissions and climate change and its impact on California’s new majority—ethnic communities. ?

“This is part of a broader effort by New America Media and Flex Your Power to build an informative news beat on energy and environmental issues in the ethnic media sector that also draws on the unique perspectives of California’s immigrant and ethnic minority groups,” said Sandy Close, executive director for New America Media. ??Reporters, editors and producers from 25 different ethnic media—including print, radio and TV—attended the round table, “underscoring a growing awareness and relevance of these issues to ethnic communities across the state,” according to Close. ??“PG&E is trying to address these issues in a way that won’t impact the economy or peoples lives,” said Steven Kline (bio), vice president of corporate and environmental affairs for PG&E. Responsible for the company’s environmental policies since 1998, Kline has noticed increased awareness about climate change over the last year. “Concern, if not understanding, has become much more immediate among the general population,” he said. ??Robert L. Harris (bio), PG&E vice president for environmental affairs, underscored his company's responsibility to California’s diverse ethnic communities. “PG&E is the only corporation to have a formal environmental justice policy," he said, while reminding all present that cars, not power plants, are the greatest source of carbon emissions in the state. ??“We think of climate change as being in the future,” said Wendy Pulling (bio), director of environmental policy for PG&E, “but the severe heat waves we saw this summer are what scientists are forecasting for the future in California.”??As scientific evidence linking carbon emissions and global warming accumulates, Close says ethnic media can play a crucial role as "first responders" to the unpredictable impacts of climate change.?

“PG&E is a corporate pioneer targeting the audiences of ethnic media with information on the issues,” Close said.??Last year, ethnic media in California mobilized millions of dollars for countries stricken by the Tsunami. That effort was repeated in the aftermath of the Pakistan/Kashmiri earthquake and again, closer to home, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.??Ness Ocampo, veteran radio reporter and news anchor for the "Filipino American Radio Show" on 1400 AM KVTO recounted the Filipino community's own experience with climate change and environmental disaster during the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991. ??"In the Philippines, we lost our days as ash from the eruption turned day into night. Filipinos in the Bay Area reacted immediately organizing on a grass-roots level. We reached out to community groups, provided information and collected donations. We had to do it in 98 different (Philippine) dialects," Ocampo said.??De Tran, from VTimes, a Vietnamese daily based in Santa Clara county, says that the Vietnamese language has no word for "greenhouse gasses." Conversation on energy conservation and the environment, he said, needs to be articulated in a way that can be understood by members of his community. At the same time he noted that, “In the old country, our people were environmental without even knowing it. We need to find ways to reconnect our folks with the old ways.” ??Eleanor Boswell Raine from the Globe Newspaper Group, an African-American paper based in Richmond, Calif., agrees. “There's a lot of mystique surrounding the issues that people may not understand. We need to use language that is relevant.”??Community editor Epee Rafanan of Pinoy Today and Philippine News Editor-in-Chief Lito Gutierrez suggested a series of PG&E-sponsored film nights (such as Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”) aimed at young people and an essay contest -- "How to convert your parents into energy savers" -- as a good way to reach older Filipinos. ??“High school students are a very influential factor in our community,” Gutierezz said. ??Other ideas brainstormed at the meeting ranged from “a must-know list for decoding your PG&E bill” attached to monthly bills to energy saving tips including PG&E newsletters and in-language refrigerator magnets. ??“Family is at the center of California’s new ethnic majority and California is our home, said NAM Chief of Staff Odette Keeley at the end of the roundtable. "We need to say, 'Look at what’s happening to your home, here is what you can do.'"

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