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June 29, 2007

More Than a Pretty Face: Beth Galante

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eco friendly house

One of the eco-friendly houses built by Galante's organization.

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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.

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.

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.


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