More Than a Pretty Face: Beth Galante
By Erin Duggan
One of the eco-friendly houses built by Galante's organization.
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.