How can we get more families involved in environmental justice?
The Climate Conversations team sits down with Zeyneb Magavi, a leader in Mothers Out Front in Cambridge, MA. Zeyneb wears multiple hats as an activist with Mothers Out Front, Research Director for HEET, and a member of the Gas Leaks Allies.
They discuss how mothers sharing a strong interest in protecting their children’s future cuts across boundaries, as well as how Mothers Out Front’s grassroots relationship building approach sets itself apart from other groups’ goal of securing a better future for their children through climate justice.
Also of wide interest is hearing about Mothers Out Front’s groundbreaking work with allies to address gas leaks through direct negotiation with three regional gas utilities. Finally, we hear about the campaign Mothers Out Front in Cambridge is soon to launch - “Bring Paris Home” - to motivate residents to make energy efficiency choices. How can relationship-based initiatives affect positive change?
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[00:00:00:00] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:00:00:28] SPEAKER 1: There's so many stories of moms and grandmothers saying I never thought of myself as a leader. I never thought of myself as someone who could speak in public. And then through Mothers Out Front, they find out that they actually are and they can. And we're growing the leaders that we need there to be in the world.
[00:00:21:11] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: How do you fix a gas leak?
[00:00:24:11] KURT NEWTON: Is that a rhetorical question, Rajesh?
[00:00:27:00] SPEAKER 2: It is but it's also the question that we will be addressing today with our guest Zeynab Magavi of Mothers Out Front and heat and I am Rajesh Kasturirangan.
[00:00:38:07] KURT NEWTON: I'm Kurt Newton
[00:00:38:27] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: And I'm Dave Damm-Luhr. We're really excited to hear what Zeynab has to say about things that are happening right here in our neighborhood in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
[00:00:47:08] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: And here in MIT's Office of Open Learning, we are Climate Conversations. I want to welcome Zeynab Magavi.
[00:00:58:15] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Thank you, it's really cool to be here.
[00:01:01:02] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: Great to have you here, Zeynab.
[00:01:03:00] Thanks, Thanks, I'm excited to talk.
[00:01:05:07] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So Zeynab, Mothers Out Front-- unpack it.
[00:01:13:01] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Well, it does start with mothers, right? Yeah, so it's a movement and it's a movement of mothers. And it's more than even an environmental movement, it's actually a movement of mothers mobilizing to protect their children's future. It's just about our kids' future.
[00:01:35:14] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Why would you want to protect your children's future?
[00:01:40:24] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
[00:01:41:07] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: Do we need to restart the conversation here?
[00:01:44:14] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Well, there's a lot of parables about like the mama bear and how ferocious they are. Yeah, climate change is a direct threat. And the more we understand that, the more we see it as a closer than we would like to believe threat to our children's future-- well-being, health, and political stability of the world.
[00:02:03:10] KURT NEWTON: And their children's children.
[00:02:04:22] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: And their children's children-- future generations. We have a lot of grandmothers involved. It's about care.
[00:02:09:28] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So how does Mothers Out Front operationalize this fantastic intent?
[00:02:16:13] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: So first of all, we're truly grassroots. We started about five years ago in our living room nearby with Cambridge and Somerville team starting and has moved community to community based in community teams. Until there were enough communities in Massachusetts that we needed a state team to connect them. Now, there are enough states, nine, that we need a national team to connect them. So we've grown very organically from the grass roots. It is entirely centered around moving swiftly and justly to a fossil fuel free future to protect her children
[00:02:51:07] CURT NEWTON: I'd like to hear a little bit more about the way you bring people in. The connection building approach, it seems really powerful.
[00:03:01:22] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Well, it is entirely relationship based. I mean, one thing I think we do really well is tell stories which is a really great way to communicate. So we actually have narrative training, and we learn to tell the story of what taking action means for us, and why we're doing it. And each mother or grandmother comes into it with a different story, but each usually comes concerned and sometimes a bit overwhelmed thinking they don't know what they can do.
[00:03:31:18] I think a lot of people in our society know to some extent what's going on, but they don't really know what to do. And it's such a huge problem. And so what we're basically offering is that we work together, and we each do a little bit of what we can do and together that makes something much larger and it builds. And that's the other thing is that it builds from these community teams, it builds power to the state, and we can affect change at the state level. And then hopefully, as we grow we'll also affect change at the regional and national level. We'll see.
[00:04:05:28] CURT NEWTON: I'll just offer a testimonial having been on the listening end of some of those stories. They are really affecting, deeply, emotionally.
[00:04:14:24] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: So let's try that out with you.
[00:04:18:15] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: You guys didn't warn me.
[00:04:20:06] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: So what led you to the present moment in which you're a leader of Mothers Out Front in Cambridge and elsewhere.
[00:04:25:15] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Right. About 14 years ago, I held my first my daughter.
[00:04:29:24] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Shouldn't it start with "once upon a time"?
[00:04:31:20] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Oh, once upon a time would be great. 14 years ago, I knew exactly, I held my first child. And those of you who are parents probably know that moment of looking in their eyes and realizing that this incredible miraculous little thing is actually relying on you to protect them, you took care for them. And it's intense. And I did my best. I like diapered and I put her to sleep or I tried to put her to sleep. I actually failed in that a lot. But it was about when she was two that I started finding out about phthalates and flame retardants in her mattress and other environmental exposures that I was unwittingly exposing her to. And I got really upset.
[00:05:17:29] CURT NEWTON: Why didn't somebody tell you, right?
[00:05:21:18] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: And I kind of went a little-- well, I got into it. And we were renovating a house, and I tried to do it all clean and healthy. And we searched every thing that went into the house. And I felt really pretty good about that, like I had controlled the indoor air of my home. But when I considered the outdoor air, I couldn't do anything about it. And I just kind of let that sit in my head until I met Mothers Out Front. And I kind of discovered through them-- through starting to go to meetings-- that actually I could, and only with a group. I mean, that's the power of it.
[00:06:01:13] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So what's Mothers Out Front's Theory of Change? Like how do you see yourself changing the world?
[00:06:07:13] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: The way I see it, it's a Theory of Change through collaboration, that grass roots building of power. And it's a Theory of Change through love and care. And I think it's a really powerful voice. If you've ever seen a politician have to debate slash argue with someone who's telling them that they love their children, they can't do it. It's a powerful voice.
[00:06:34:20] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: It's a voice that all of us need.
[00:06:37:21] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: So how is this different from the thousands of other organizations fighting for climate justice and action?
[00:06:44:04] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: I mean, there are a lot of differences and some I probably can't capture. But the organizational structure that we already discussed, the being grassroots and a network based not hierarchical. The way that we are organizing is it's actually very much like biomimicry. There's iteration and evolution and repetition that I think makes us much stronger, more resilient.
[00:07:09:20] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: So try things out and see how it works and then do it better next time?
[00:07:12:16] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Then we just keep going. Yeah. In fact, at the end of every meeting, we have pluses, deltas, and key learnings. And what that says is there's no pluses or minuses-- there's only deltas. So if something maybe needs to be changed, we discuss it.
[00:07:29:24] CURT NEWTON: Those of you who are less math inclined, delta being change, right?
[00:07:34:00] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yes.
[00:07:35:03] CURT NEWTON: Do it differently next time.
[00:07:36:01] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah, try something else.
[00:07:36:27] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Epsilon, being the other.
[00:07:38:29] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: We've really got this part right, but this part, we're going to keep trying and see if we can get it even better. And then there's the psychological safety. And I think that comes back to the gender. We really have a lot of norms that create psychological safety for people and allow them to grow and try things they've never tried. I mean, I think like half the time we're all doing something we don't actually know how to do. And it's OK and we laugh about it. There's so many stories of moms and grandmothers saying, you know I never thought of myself as a leader I never thought of myself as someone who could speak in public, and through Mothers Out Front they find out that they actually are and they can and it's totally brilliant. So yeah, we're growing the leaders that we need there to be in the world. It's like a twist on the Gandhi quote.
[00:08:31:18] CURT NEWTON: Yeah, so it's a theory of change that goes way beyond just climate change, it seems like, into--
[00:08:37:28] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah.
[00:08:38:09] CURT NEWTON: --developing people's full native capacity and getting it out there.
[00:08:42:28] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah. I mean, that's how it ends up happening.
[00:08:46:14] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: So do you find that there are mothers and grandmothers drawn to Mothers Out that might not otherwise be active, in terms of climate change?
[00:08:54:23] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: I would say a large proportion of the people who become active are not people who've been active in climate change or anything else.
[00:09:04:00] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: That's fabulous.
[00:09:04:24] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: They are concerned. I mean, the majority of the United States is concerned about climate change. But most people don't see themselves as activists. But they can be a Mother Out Front.
[00:09:15:16] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Fantastic. So, Zeynab, you came into Mothers Out Front and you started I would say, getting your hands dirty, but really your nose.
[00:09:28:00] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Right.
[00:09:28:19] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So how did you start doing the work on gas leaks?
[00:09:32:07] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: So first of all, we weren't the ones that started it. There were some amazing allies who are still working with us who got that first law passed-- I think it's 2014-- requiring the gas companies to report the leaks annually.
[00:09:45:05] CURT NEWTON: And this is State of Massachusetts?
[00:09:46:08] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: State of Massachusetts. So Mothers Out Front really saw Audrey Schulman and HEATS' visual-- she Google mapped that data-- and we saw that and caught on to the problem. The problem is that the natural gas distribution pipes under our streets are really old, and they're leaking natural gas, which is 97% methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas on steroids. So the actual climate impact of this leaked gas is so much bigger than anyone expected. And when we started to see the numbers as some more science came out, it looked like of all the gas coming into the state, 2.7% of that is just wasted into the atmosphere and it's a waste. It costs us money. And it's harmful to the climate. And it's equal to-- that entire amount-- is equal to 10% of the Massachusetts greenhouse gas footprint, which is just enormous for a small quantity.
[00:10:45:00] CURT NEWTON: In putting that in perspective, that wipes out a huge chunk of what we think we've reduced our emissions by.
[00:10:51:11] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah, and that's actually something that Audrey said when she-- she's like, oh my god, I have to work on this. And so it seemed like something that was doable like, OK let's plug the holes. So we started calling attention to it, Mothers Out Front in Cambridge, we organized a campaign to label all the gas leaks in Cambridge. We got a lot of media attention. Again, the utilities didn't love that. And it kind of started to build, and that that spread to other towns. And we were able to provide a lot of support for the next law that was to require the fixing of the largest leaks as a climate hazard, basically, because there had been some research by Margaret Hendricks showing that just a small amount of the leaks were half of all the methane. So we had an opportunity.
[00:11:37:12] So we saw it as an opportunity. We thought, OK, we can go after this, we can get them to fix these 1,100 leaks and we'll cut our methane in half and it's going to be great. We got the law passed. We're like, oh, we're done. But actually--
[00:11:50:08] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: It turns out it's not so easy.
[00:11:51:20] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: --it turns out exactly. So it turns out that no one's ever tried to find the largest leaks. And the utilities are really good at sensing and caring and learning about explosion hazard. That's how they rank the leaks, that's how they fix them by priority. They actually didn't have any systematic way to tell us which ones were the largest ones, or to tell themselves.
[00:12:11:20] CURT NEWTON: Exposed and hazardous, because it's contained or something somehow, the concentration builds up?
[00:12:15:00] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah, so you if you want to go into it, you can have a smaller volume leak that's going into say, a manhole, and because it's contained space, it becomes an explosion hazard. Whereas, if you're in an open field and it's a huge leak but it's all just kind of going out of the ground, it's never going to be concentrated enough to explode.
[00:12:32:13] CURT NEWTON: Thanks, yeah.
[00:12:33:13] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah.
[00:12:34:09] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So clearly you needed to work with the utilities to do everything from sensing the leaks to fixing.
[00:12:40:05] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah, so here in Cambridge, we just started writing them letters saying, hey, want to sit down and talk? And
[00:12:45:12] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: What did they say?
[00:12:46:23] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Well, it did take a little while, but we went back and forth and they said, yeah.
[00:12:50:19] CURT NEWTON: Wow.
[00:12:51:20] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah, and three moms, December of 2015, three moms-- Audrey, myself, and another, we walked into Eversource's headquarters and sat down in a conference room with the president of Eversource Gas and two other executives. And we didn't know what was going to happen at that point. And we started by telling them, by doing the Mothers Out Front thing and telling them the stories of our kids.
[00:13:16:18] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: And they had children, too?
[00:13:18:01] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yes, in fact, [INAUDIBLE] likely told us about his kids right back. And we bonded around that common ground that we all cared for kids' future.
[00:13:27:11] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: Of course.
[00:13:27:25] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: And if there's something we can do and we can make it a win-win, let's do it. So they agreed by the end of the-- we proposed our pilot study to research and figure out how to find those largest leaks, try it in Cambridge, and they said, yes. And then, Columbia Gas said yes. They were amazing. So we got the three largest utilities in Massachusetts to join us in this pilot study-- National Grid, Columbia Gas and Eversource Gas, that covers 95% of the gas customers.
[00:13:54:29] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: Wow.
[00:13:55:21] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: And we went out in different parts around the state where HEAT led the research study.
[00:14:01:11] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: What does HEAT stand for, again?
[00:14:02:18] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Home Energy Efficiency Team.
[00:14:04:05] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: OK, thanks.
[00:14:04:15] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: It's a small nonprofit that packs a powerful punch. And I was the research lead and we went out. We had a lot of moms in hats. Mothers Out Front was in full support and out on the utility trucks. And we learned a lot in a short time.
[00:14:20:14] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: This was all as volunteers, right? You were not payed by anybody?
[00:14:23:13] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah. This was as volunteers
[00:14:24:20] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So every fairy tale has some obstacle, right?
[00:14:31:29] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah,
[00:14:32:26] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So what were the challenges in actually executing on the goals of this project?
[00:14:39:21] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Oh, it wasn't easy. I don't want to give that impression. In fact, I don't think anything ever really is. But when you're all done you have this nice straight arrow from the beginning to the end like, this is what we did- la, la, la, la, la. And here are the results.
[00:14:52:07] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: Straight line, yeah.
[00:14:53:01] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: And it's never like that. It's always back and forth and up and down in a giant squiggle, as Leith Sharp says. So you know, we kept having to recenter and re-motivate different groups. And in order to do that, we had to learn a lot of the language and perspective of other groups, like the utilities. And so that switching perspectives was actually a hard thing to do. I found it hard.
[00:15:24:27] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: It's not an engineering problem.
[00:15:26:24] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: It's not. It requires-- it's emotional intelligence.
[00:15:29:23] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: So it's seeing the world through their eyes? Is that what it amounts to, or is it different than that?
[00:15:34:02] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Attempting to. I think that's what we all did around the table is try to kind of open our minds and learn that there's a different perspective on the same problem. And understanding how their business works and what their constraints are was really important to finding a way forward that we could all do.
[00:15:52:03] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: So they felt like you appreciated their point of view.
[00:15:54:27] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah, we listened and we acknowledged what their parameters were. And you know, there were moments-- actually, the guy I was speaking of, president of Eversource Gas, long, long after, he said, you know that first meeting, I was asked if we needed security guards and lawyers. And you know when we got to the negotiation of how to figure out the plan for cutting the methane, once we had all the data, we did have a sit down discussion on our side of like, OK, should we actually get some real negotiators instead of us? And we decided, no, we'd built the relationships and we trusted in them and it wasn't easy, but we actually did it just between the group that had been working all along.
[00:16:40:21] CURT NEWTON: You know, I've always wondered how you were able to keep Mothers Out Front, for instance, long term goal, which is to get us off fossil fuels, off the table out of the conversation and just-- how did you manage to keep it focused on this one problem?
[00:16:56:01] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: You know what? We were actually pretty honest. They knew what our long term goal was and we know what their goals are.
[00:17:03:01] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. You just acknowledge it.
[00:17:05:25] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: We didn't start by acknowledging it, but we slowly, as our trust in each other's working relationship grew, we started having more difficult conversations. And for example, the first conversation about pipelines was a dance.
[00:17:24:28] CURT NEWTON: Yeah.
[00:17:25:14] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: And there were times when any one of us would say, well, actually, we don't agree with that, however-- and they respected that. They didn't expect differently.
[00:17:41:22] CURT NEWTON: That's good to hear, that you don't have to check it at the door.
[00:17:44:06] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: No.
[00:17:44:16] CURT NEWTON: You just have to be thoughtful.
[00:17:45:08] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: I don't think we could have been comfortable with that.
[00:17:47:12] CURT NEWTON: Yeah.
[00:17:48:11] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: So what's the key thing that makes the difference in having those difficult conversations be effective, in your view?
[00:17:54:18] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: I think the shared purpose. We bonded over love for our children and concern for their future. That's a shared purpose. That cuts across boundaries across this country, even those big red and blue boundaries.
[00:18:05:14] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: Mm-mm.
[00:18:07:05] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: And if you just keep working from there, you don't have to talk about all the details that you might disagree on. But you do talk about the end goal, then you can keep finding ways around the obstacles towards the end goal, knowing that you both want a good future for your kids.
[00:18:26:25] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: SPEAKER 3: What's next for the Gas Leaks Alliance?
[00:18:30:07] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: So I should clarify the groups, because I use the word "we," and it just is a migrating we. So there's Mothers Out Front, which I've described already. There's the Gas Leaks Alliance, which includes Mothers Out Front and HEAT, which I have mentioned, and many, many other organizations, including some academics, professors, et cetera. All three groups joined together around this gas leaks campaign. What's next for the Gas Leaks Alliance would be, they are supporting a bill called the Consumer Cost Protection Act, which requires the gas companies to pay for the lost gas, as a further incentive to fuel the fixing of the large leaks, which they have, by the way. I need to be very clear. We all agreed on a plan to fix the largest leaks quickly and cut methane in half, hopefully within two years. And we jointly submitted it to the Department of Public utility and jointly testified which was quite an unusual event. We're waiting to hear their ruling.
[00:19:32:16] So the Gas Leaks Allies are supporting that bill. They're concerned with the [INAUDIBLE] pipeline. Mothers Out Front is a broad array of things, it depends on which community. Every community has their own initiatives. They're all towards the same goal. So there's people working on gas leaks. There's people working on renewable portfolio standard. There's people working on energy efficiency in the home. And here in Cambridge, for Mothers Out Front, we're gearing up to launch a campaign called, Bringing Paris Home, which is intended to provide support to households to personally commit to the Paris Accord. And it's kind of a grassroots Paris Agreement. And we're really excited about that. I hope it's going to go well.
[00:20:20:06] CURT NEWTON: What kinds of things might that look like?
[00:20:22:28] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Oh, some of this, I mean there's just so many win-wins. It's like the gas leaks campaign, you know, there's holes to plug.
[00:20:29:14] CURT NEWTON: In your win-wins.
[00:20:29:18] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: Literally.
[00:20:30:11] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Literally, exactly. So some of the simplest things, Cambridge has made it easy for us because of the Community Electricity Aggregation. So we're encouraging people to sign up for 100% renewable through Cambridge's plan. We're encouraging people to get an energy audit for their home or condo. If they're renters, we're trying to find other options. So there's very simple beginning things. We're also providing in the structure we're trying to set up, a relationship with a mentor or a buddy, actually, and really make it a larger connection of people taking action. So there's support going back and forth. And each household is just going to have a different set of choices. Right? There's-- you can't, there's no prescribed set of actions for any one household.
[00:21:16:29] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So when the campaign is finished, what does success look like for you?
[00:21:20:17] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: So we're really hoping to count all those actions, whatever they are.
[00:21:25:29] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Oh, OK.
[00:21:26:27] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: And then share that positive story of how small actions across the city can build to something very much larger.
[00:21:33:05] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: That's great.
[00:21:33:25] CURT NEWTON: Now, we've been talking, specifically, around Cambridge, but a lot of these actions, of course, are available to people--
[00:21:38:25] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Oh, yeah.
[00:21:38:28] CURT NEWTON: --almost no matter where they live,
[00:21:41:05] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Right. Absolutely. And there's really plenty of opportunities to take action for anybody. In terms of Mothers Out Front, it's pretty easy. There's community teams all over Massachusetts and elsewhere. And you go to the website and just show up and you're part of it. But there's a lot of information out there and there's a lot of things to do. I think actually, one of the challenges at this point for a lot of people, is figuring out which thing to do or which group to call. It can be a little overwhelming, the decision making. And that's part of what we're trying to do with the Paris Campaign, is just make it easier.
[00:22:18:18] CURT NEWTON: Just get a couple of friends and don't take this on by yourself.
[00:22:22:06] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah, it's a lot easier with friends, isn't " everything is more fun.
[00:22:24:23] CURT NEWTON: Yeah. So is there a common thread that connects together things like the gas leaks campaigns and the new Bring Paris Back Home campaign?
[00:22:34:17] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah. So it might not sound like it, but it is all the same thing. And the thing we're trying to do-- get to a fossil fuel-free future-- is actually not easy-- Otherwise it would be done already-- in terms of, it's a huge system change. And in order to do it fast, we have to do multiple things at the same time. So we have to reduce the amount of energy our society consumes, and we have to increase the amount of renewable energy produced until that production of renewables matches our energy needs. So with the gas leaks, we were just aimed at a clear greenhouse gas reductions. So we're plugging the holes, we're cutting wasted energy in our infrastructure.
[00:23:16:01] With the Cambridge Campaign, we're actually doing the same thing. We're helping cut waste of energy, this time at the household level of plugging the holes, but we're also adding in the second part, which is increasing the amount of renewables. And it's gotten a lot easier and there are ways to do it, so we can actually do both sides of that.
[00:23:34:18] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So now that Mothers Out Front has spread to many different parts of the country, what's it like to meet mothers from elsewhere?
[00:23:44:18] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: It's actually-- a lot of us in Mothers Out Front went to the Climate March.
[00:23:50:18] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: This last April in Washington DC.
[00:23:52:13] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah. I actually took my oldest daughter and one of the amazing things was discovering meeting moms from other teams across the country-- from California from Virginia and New York, and finding out that somehow they were just as amazing and awesome and inspiring as the moms in Massachusetts. It was quite-- I don't know how to capture it, but somehow the organization kept the same spirit of positive relationship-based change. And there are some amazing women out there.
[00:24:32:25] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So how does-- just to finish up on Mothers Out Front-- how does Mothers Out Front see itself in the larger climate movement?
[00:24:43:25] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: So I think Mothers Out Front just differentiates itself entirely. We're mothers. We don't even really market ourselves as an environmental group. We're mothers, and we're mobilizing for our children's future. And what we really want to do is unify across all the silos of society, because there's mothers in every possible group, right?
[00:25:11:05] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Mm-mm.
[00:25:12:01] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: And mothers care about their children. We want to take that universal shared purpose and spur action around that. I mean, I think there's other differences, but I think that's the core one.
[00:25:24:28] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So do you see it expanding beyond this country?
[00:25:29:21] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: There have been requests.
[00:25:31:13] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Uh-huh.
[00:25:31:21] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah, I do.
[00:25:33:04] CURT NEWTON: That would be very exciting to watch.
[00:25:34:24] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Yes.
[00:25:35:06] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Yeah.
[00:25:35:17] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: So Zeynab, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. Usually when we end, we ask a question about, if you are to think of one way to make the world a better place, if you had a go at a magic wand once, what would you do?
[00:25:51:07] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: So I just don't think there's one thing alone that's going to solve these problems.
[00:25:58:01] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: But the top of your long list?
[00:25:59:10] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: But my favorite one I've heard was if we could require that every decision at the government, state, local level, that's officially made for our society, evaluates its impact on the future generations. I think that one thing would actually fix a lot.
[00:26:23:29] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: We might want to start with the current federal government.
[00:26:30:07] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: Well, there's something there, too.
[00:26:33:07] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Yeah. Well, let's hope that such leadership emerges very rapidly and that Mothers Out Front is one of the many reasons why it happens.
[00:26:43:16] CURT NEWTON: It's moving.
[00:26:44:13] ZEYNAB MAGAVI: I believe it will.
[00:26:45:22] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Thank you so much.
[00:26:46:14] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: Very inspiring, Zeynab, thank you.
[00:26:50:08] CURT NEWTON: So what we've just heard from Zeynab, that model of building co-operative relationships, that just seems really powerful. I'm so glad for the work that they're doing and what Zeynab's told us about.
[00:27:03:03] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: Right, and it's building partnerships, creating allies, with organizations that you might not normally think would be natural.
[00:27:10:09] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: And the great thing is there are mothers everywhere in the world. So it's an organization that I believe is going to go far and we'll all be cheering from the sidelines.
[00:27:22:22] CURT NEWTON: Yes, indeed.
[00:27:23:16] DAVE DAMM-LUHR: Definitely. I really appreciated the approach that Zeynab talked about, in terms of trying some stuff out, learning lessons, and trying it again. I think we could all benefit from that approach.
[00:27:34:20] CURT NEWTON: We're certainly doing it here.
[00:27:36:10] RAJESH KASTURIRANGAN: Meanwhile, if you have any thoughts on how we should be trying new methods, you are welcome to reach us at ClimateX@mit.edu, on Twitter and Facebook, or on our site.
[00:27:48:17] CURT NEWTON: Yeah, thanks listening.
[00:27:50:06] [MUSIC PLAYING]
Mothers Out Front: http://www.mothersoutfront.org
HEET (Home Energy Efficiency Team): https://www.heetma.org/
Gas Leaks Allies: http://fixbiggasleaks.org
"There’s a new tool in the fight to seal the state’s gas leaks.” Boston Globe, Oct 31, 2017.
"Common Goals, Uncommon Partners: Seeking Solutions to Reduce Methane Emissions." Together in Climate Action: Northeastern North American Policy Summit, December 7 - 8, 2017.