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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
Princess Eugenie Welcomes Second Baby
By Rachel Burchfield
Finally, Stylish Summer Jewelry You Can Sweat, Swim, and Shower in
Waterproof pieces you can keep on all summer long.
By Emma Childs
These Brushes Will Completely Change How You Apply Makeup
The Kevyn Aucoin The Duet Foundation Brush is our desert island pick.
By Samantha Holender
The 56 Best Musical Movies of All Time: Iconic Movie Musicals
All the dance numbers! All the show tunes!
By Amanda Mitchell
'Ginny & Georgia' Season 2: Everything We Know
Netflix owes us answers after that ending.
By Zoe Guy
29 Nude Movies With Porn-Level Nudity
All the nudity of porn, but with the plot and storylines of mainstream film.
By Kayleigh Roberts
The Cast of 'The Crown' Season 5: Your Guide
The Mountbatten-Windsors have been recast—again.
By Andrea Park
Who Is Hasnat Khan, Princess Diana’s Boyfriend on Season 5 of ‘The Crown’?
Di’s friends have said she referred to the doctor as “the love of her life.”
By Andrea Park
Who Is Penelope "Penny" Knatchbull?
She and Prince Philip strike up an unlikely friendship throughout the fifth season of 'The Crown.'
By Andrea Park
'The Crown' Season 5: Everything We Know
The bombshell fifth season just dropped on Netflix.
By Andrea Park
90 Halloween Costume Ideas Inspired By Movies and TV Shows
Most of these Halloween costumes double as stylish additions to your closet.
By Brooke Knappenberger