The atmosphere at our 4th annual Transportation Choices Summit yesterday was electric. Over one hundred advocates, experts, and community leaders came from all over California by plane, train, bike, and bus to the Embassy Suites in Sacramento, overlooking the beautiful Sacramento River and Tower Bridge.
Some Summit attendees had years of experience working in the land of transportation, land-use, disability rights, and climate policy; others were brand-new. But everyone shared the deeply held belief that California should be an affordable, healthy, and accessible place for everyone to live, work, and get around.
Who are some of the people who made our 2015 Transportation Choices Summit the best one yet?
If there was an award for “Most Modes of Transit Taken to Summit,” Lisel Blash, Jennifer Hammond, and Renee Goddard from Sustainable Fairfax would have swept. The three women started their day at 5:40 a.m. when they biked to the bus stop, rode three different Golden Gate Transit bus lines to El Cerrito BART, transferred to the Richmond BART station, and then caught the Amtrak train to Sacramento. They arrived at the Embassy Suites at 9:29 a.m., full of energy and excited to connect with other Summit attendees on their “Reduce by 2” campaign to reduce families’ driving by two car trips per week.
Others also traveled long distances to join us in Sacramento. First-time Summit attendee Ben Rockwell is a Long Beach resident and longtime advocate for disability rights and transportation. He came to the Summit to speak up for better paratransit options for individuals with disabilities.
Alexis Lantz and Natalia Gaerlan work for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Trust for Public Land, respectively. Alexis was drawn to the Summit as “an opportunity to learn about what’s happening around the state, and at the state policy level.” As a speaker at the breakout session, “Local and Regional Efforts to Improve Active Transportation,” Natalia was excited to share the successes of Los Angeles’ Green Alleys – a project to transform the city’s alleys from illicit dumping grounds into safe places to bike and walk. “It’s about connecting communities,” she said.
We also welcomed back some familiar faces from Summits past. Ruthee Goldkorn (left, with Michelle Rousey) wears many titles, including Principle of the No Barriers Disabled Access Consulting and Advocacy Services. She returned to the Summit for a second year because “there is more change to be made, more opportunities, and more work to be done.”
Our amazing opening, keynote, and closing speakers left us speechless.
Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (right, with me!) started off our day on the right note, sharing how his city of West Sacramento (also my hometown) has come to embrace a more sustainable, accessible, and progressive model of transportation and city planning.
Keynote speaker Dr. Manuel Pastor led a funny, informative, and inspiring presentation that focused on how we can make sure that equity remains at the center of sustainable growth. His answer: “Transit is a sweet spot. If done right, transit weds the concerns of equity, economy, and environment.”
State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins ended the Summit with a call to support California’s progressive legislation for affordable homes, jobs, and better transportation. Said Atkins, “I see politics as the way to get good policies done.” Hear hear! Before she left, Speaker Atkins (center) posed for a photo with TransForm Board Member Anu Natarajan, Executive Director Stuart Cohen, Steering Committee member Ted Jackson, and Board Member Heather Hood.
Right now the fields of greenhouse gas reduction, affordable homes, equity, transportation, and land use policy are converging in a momentous and important way. It seems obvious, then, that a better California requires us to break out of our silos and recognize the connections between these issues.
A better California depends on all of us working together. If our Summit is any indication (and we think it is!), we are in good hands.
If you couldn’t join us at the Summit, you can still be a part of this movement: send an email to your Legislator now and tell them to support SB 32 for a healthier, cleaner California!