As I get ready to mentor at the August 2-4th, 2019 Minneapolis Climate Reality Training, I want to share with you a few reflections on being a Climate leader, from a dear Climate Reality friend, colleague and Climate Mama extraordinare – Monica Mayotte.
The Climate Reality training has given some of us the push we were looking for to challenge ourselves to take on more responsibilities and find new ways to tackle the climate crisis. Consider joining us at the next training, or the one after that; I feel strongly you will not regret it!
I can’t remember at which Climate training I first met Monica, but I was immediately impressed with her razor sharp focus and commitment to finding new ways to truly make a difference in her community and beyond. Monica, like most of the Climate Reality leaders I have met over my 12 years as a member of the Climate Reality family, is someone I know I can call at the drop of a hat, to ask for help and advice, to share a story or a laugh, and if I need to, to share a cry. Al Gore, in creating the Climate Reality Project (our leaders now number over 19,000) has founded an incredible family of climate leaders who hail from all walks of life, backgrounds and locations around the world. Monica’s story is one of many, and is a wonderful and hopeful example of how one person, committed to make a difference, really can!
The Climate Journey of One Amazing Climate Mama: Taking the lead on Climate Solutions
by Monica Mayotte, Boca Raton City Council member
My family’s first exposure to the climate crisis was in 2006 when the entire family went to the movies to watch Vice-President Al Gore’s first documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. We live in South Florida and it became evident that our region of the state was at the highest level of risk because of the climate crisis.
At the time, my children were 8 and 12 years old. It affected my son, the 8-year-old, the hardest. It was not my intention to frighten him, but that is exactly what happened. So, our family decided to make some immediate changes to alleviate his fears and let him know that he could make lifestyle changes to help the situation.
Some of the steps we decided he could take were:
- He and I started riding bikes to and from school
- He started a Stop Global Warming Club at his elementary school. He taught the club members about CFL lightbulbs (before LEDs were preferred), planted trees around campus, and started a recycling program.
- In 2013, we both attended a Climate Reality Leadership Corp training to learn more about the climate crisis and learn how we could teach our community about solutions.
- He made a few Climate Reality presentation to kids around town at our local library and at an Earth Day event.
In 2009, I was appointed to my city’s Green Living Advisory Board and eventually became its chairperson. The objective of this board was to educate our city residents on how to live a greener lifestyle. I had the privilege of lobbying on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. for federal climate change legislation with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby organization. This eye-opening experience made me realize that the only way to effect the biggest changes was to get elected officials to understand the crisis and do something about it.
With the Washington, D.C. experience under my belt, I realized I needed a louder voice to address the escalation of the climate crisis in my hometown. So, I decided to run for city council. After six months of campaigning, in March, 2018, I was elected to the Boca Raton City Council where I now create policy and direction to manage the city.
Since my election, some of our environmental accomplishments are:
- Hired a Sustainability officer
- Began the development of a Sustainability Action Plan
- Passed the following resolutions supporting:
- Federal climate change legislation
- Banning of seismic blasting off our coastline
- Reduction of single use plastics within city operations and encouraging residents to do the same
- Florida Friendly pesticide and fertilizer use to reduce the amount of chemical runoff in our stormwater system. This will help reduce the algae blooms and red tides Florida has be experiencing. These toxins get into our stormwater system and end up in our waterways that lead to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico which kills our precious marine life and cripples our tourism industry.
- We are still working on how to eliminate the use of RoundUp (glyphosate) in our city parks. It currently has been removed from our beachfront parks and we are still working on our remaining parks.
My hope is that my children see my commitment to our environment and follow in my footsteps as they become leaders in their own communities.
My son is now 21 years old and busy completing college in Rochester, NY. My daughter is 25 years old and lives in Aspen, Colorado, a city that is currently operating on 100% renewable energy. She enjoys the beauty of the Aspen area and embraces a sustainable lifestyle. My husband, a Florida native, and I live in Boca Raton, Florida. A beautiful, coastal community for those of all ages.
- Climate Reality Leadership Corps
- Citizens’ Climate Lobby – Boca Raton Chapter member
- Palm Beach County League of Cities Board Member
- Palm Beach County Water Resources Task Force member (awaiting appointment)