More Than a Pretty Face: Beth Galante

Most Popular

Age: 40

Location: New Orleans

Marital status: Married

Notable quote: "It's hard to get people to focus on the long-term impact of building when all they care about is having someplace — anyplace — to live."

In the months following Hurricane Katrina, Beth Galante left behind a successful career in law and joined forces with Global Green USA, a national environmental organization working to rebuild New Orleans in an eco-friendly and energy-efficient way. Galante, now head of the local Global Green office, says things are off to a good start — last year, architecture buff Brad Pitt signed on to help sponsor and judge their competition for the best new green-housing design in New Orleans. Galante talks with MC.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Q: From lawyer to advocate — how did that happen?

A: After Katrina, I called a mentor of mine to find out where I could volunteer my legal services. She said, "I have the perfect job for you." Global Green's main goal was to open a public resource center so people would know about green building. They were advocating a mind shift toward a new reality — that we can't continue to be so terribly wasteful because we're running out of things to waste, and we're damaging the planet. It's a shift in perception.

Most Popular

Q: That seems reasonable. But some people resisted. Why?

A: We have people living in cars here. The homeless shelters are packed, and thousands of people are displaced around the country. There's a desire to build housing as quickly as possible — people desperately need homes.

Q: And so worrying about whether it's a green building is not a priority.

A: Exactly. It's hard to advocate for a more thoughtful building process when the immediate response is to just throw something — anything — up. It's hard to explain that utility rates will continue to go through the roof because of poorly constructed, energy-inefficient buildings or that the quality is too poor to withstand the next hurricane. That's just not as compelling as, "My God, I need a house."

Q: Global Green is based in California. Don't they have their own issues to worry about?

A: New Orleans has become the poster child for so many things: arguably the first city affected by global warming; a reminder that our government is not prepared for disasters. And, as the largest rebuilding in U.S. history, hopefully it will be a model for how to successfully redo a city's infrastructure.

Q: What do you remember most about Katrina?

A: The chaos. My husband and I left on Sunday for a friend's house about an hour away. We had our car and cat — there wasn't much else we could take. I had a bad feeling about the storm. Saturday night before we evacuated, we went to one of our favorite oyster houses, walked around, and just looked at everything, thinking there was a chance it would only be a memory after that. I needed to go and say good-bye.

Go to globalgreen.org to learn how you can join Global Green USA and help stem global climate change through the creation of green buildings and cities.

Culture
Share
'Hart of Dixie's Creator on the Challenges of Showing Abortion on TV
Marie Claire + Lenny
GIF
Culture
Share
Gwen Stefani's Music Video for "Misery" Is 3 Minutes of Fashion Bliss
Culture
Share
Game of Thrones: Bran's Vision Broken Down
Culture
Share
40 Kooky Phoebe Buffay Fashion Moments You Forgot You Were Obsessed with on 'Friends'
Culture
Share
This Toddler's Beyoncé-Themed Birthday Party Is #Goals
Culture
Share
If You Get the Chills When Listening to Music, You're an Infinitely Superior Being
Culture
Share
This Is the Reason Everyone Has More Twitter Followers Than You
Culture
Share
Here's a Depressing 'Game of Thrones' Theory That's Probably True
Culture
Share
What's New on Netflix in June
Culture
Share
4 Women with 4 Very Different Incomes Open Up About the Lives They Can Afford