For as long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to environmental causes. This eventually led me to law school after I graduated from college, where I earned a law degree with a focus on environmental law. After graduation I moved to NYC and started working at a law firm; but I wasn’t practicing environmental law. I stuck it out for four years and then moved to a smaller firm for two years before finally admitting that I didn’t like what I was doing and took a job that focused on environmental policy (albeit still at a law firm).
At that time I heard about an environmental leadership class that focused on developing projects to improve the environment of New York City. I enrolled in the class and became part of a group that drafted model legislation to implement green jobs policy at the state level. To me, green jobs solved many problems at once—reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency, and putting people back to work. At the time, only a handful of states had passed legislation concerning green jobs, and none were on the East Coast. We spent many months on outreach, drafting, and lobbying for our bill. Finally, it was passed by both legislative bodies and awaited only the governor’s signature. Unfortunately, he vetoed the bill on the grounds that legislation was not necessary because the state was already implementing many of things our bill called for.
We were all very disappointed, but the silver lining is that all of us continue to be actively involved in the environmental field in some capacity: one of us works on renewable energy policy in Colorado, another is helping a large energy company invest in renewable energy projects, and I work for the NYC Council drafting and implementing laws that focus on reducing waste, improving energy efficiency, and otherwise improving the city’s environment.
I continue to care deeply about these issues and am happy that my day job is focused on ways to improve our city and the world around us. The Visionary resonated with me because it describes the desire for and the importance of focusing on things bigger than ourselves and our immediate gratification. That’s what I try to do in my work, and that’s what I think many of us are looking for.
~ Cullen Howe