Welcome to our How Climate Resolve Stays Cool series! We want to pull back the curtain and introduce you to some of the team behind Climate Resolve — the people who are dedicated to combating extreme heat, the projects they’re working on, and the ways they stay cool.
HOW BRYN STAYS COOL
What do you do in your role at Climate Resolve?
I oversee our work on transportation and land use — trying to create better options so that Angelenos aren’t stuck with car dependence, soul-draining mega-commutes and horrible air pollution. We can do better than that. I also work on extreme heat issues. Climate Resolve is innovating on ways to cool down our urban environment. It’s a mix of policy advocacy, pilot project implementation, and working with researchers to make the case for change.
Why did you decide to work in climate change?
Whenever there’s something that’s out of balance, whether it’s pollution or something else that’s causing environmental destruction, it feels like a Batman signal to me — a call for something that needs fixing. In my childhood, there was waste at a local sports stadium that bothered me and needed fixing. And now, we have an urgent call to combat the steady stream of climate and air pollution that our current way of life keeps perpetuating.
Climate change is the pressing issue of our time and needs to be a central consideration in everything. So much of how we’ve built up our way of life can and should be adjusted to be more climate responsible.
Tell us a bit about Climate Resolve’s work with Metro.
Since the lead up to Measure M, we helped coordinate the EnviroMetro coalition. We wanted to see transportation investments look different than they have in the past. There’s a few central pillars — stop going in the wrong direction, like enough freeway-widening already, which leads to more traffic, smog and climate pollution. We want to see more protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes, bus shelters where they’re needed most, better pay for bus drivers, and more green infrastructure in our built environment. It’s a holistic space, too, so it also involves strategies for preserving affordability while adding amenities around transit investments.
How can a different approach to public transit help us mitigate extreme heat?
Transportation is our largest source of climate pollution, so the way things are now with people mostly driving where they need to go, and driving long distances, it’s only exacerbating the underlying mechanisms of climate change. The way climate change is manifesting locally is in more extreme, hotter and longer heat waves. By tackling that underlying source of climate pollution, we can lessen the impacts of climate change. Also, by addressing extreme heat locally and trying to cool down our urban environment, we make it more appealing for people to get out of the car and more hospitable to wait for the bus or to take a bike ride to where they need to go.
What has stood out to you about your public transit advocacy?
Unfortunately, many Angelenos see driving as their only option. There is a driver identity that’s pretty ingrained in the constituents that the Metro Board serves and it can make it tricky to try to redesign our roads to make them safer and more convenient for people not in cars. We need to reevaluate how our public space could be doing the most good.
Why is it important that we address the issue of extreme heat?
Extreme heat affects all of us. And it’s only getting worse and more severe as climate change impacts continue. The impacts of extreme heat are really felt most by those who can least afford to run air conditioning, or who are trying to do the climate responsible thing and take transit or walk or bike to where they need to go — they are most exposed to that extreme heat. If we don’t address extreme heat through comprehensive urban cooling solutions, we’re just headed towards a world of increasing disparity.
But we can make people’s lives better by making our cities more appealing to walk in, and a crucial component of that is urban greening and reflective surfaces that reduce the urban heat island. For me, the dystopian vision of us all living in air-conditioned bubbles is not something I can work towards. But the belief in a more livable, cooler environment, and that it’s possible and necessary, that’s what keeps me going.
What do you do to stay cool on extreme heat days in Los Angeles?
Personally, I have a few different strategies to keep cool. There was one Labor Day weekend that I went over to Catalina Island and I was snorkeling the whole time, just being in the water. It’s one way to cope. A more common strategy of mine is that I like to go on a hike and climb a particularly tall mountain, which may seem a bit counterintuitive. But higher altitudes deliver cooler temperatures and being surrounded by trees helps me feel like I’m not baking in an urban oven.
List the three things that are most important to you.
Biking is up there. It feels more natural to me and invigorating to bike somewhere and feel that breeze on my face — more than walking or being in a bubble of a car. Gardening is another thing I love to do — appreciating the cycle of life and noticing buds start to sprout. Appreciating the small things that add up to the big picture. And going through life and smiling at neighbors or fellow passengers on the bus, feeling a part of a larger community and connected to others.