Stories from a Green New Deal: Kelsey

Kelsey's Story

My dad has some health conditions that make it hard for him to breathe sometimes. He has a condition where he has seizures if his blood oxygen drops . Not only did that make COVID scarier than it probably would have been for us, it also meant that when he went outside, during the wildfires last year when all the smoke came down over the cities, he was more likely to have a seizure, and the seizures themselves were more dangerous. 

I’m a medical device engineer so that’s just kinda the track that I have, but because of climate change medical conditions are going to be happening more and more. For me, if you’re gonna eliminate a root cause, climate change is one of the biggest root causes you can get at. 

I go through periods of being really, really scared. It definitely helps, to be doing work like this, it at least feels like I’m trying. I’m not just sitting somewhere and letting it wash over me. 

There’s all these problems the world is facing, and you just know climate change is gonna exacerbate all of it, on top of climate change being its own problem. It’s just such a great opportunity to create a new system for people to live in. 

And then I also think of homeless folks. As our weather becomes more extreme I wonder if we as a city will be able to provide enough shelter to all of them. What do we need to have ready to keep people safe? 

There are so many things that address climate change that are also just good quality of life things. Like having more public transportation. I lived in Germany for a year and I never had a car, I could get anywhere I wanted by bus or train, and it just felt a lot less stressful. I work in Maple Grove, and there’s no bus out there. I could take the light rail down to the airport and take that to, I forget where, but then catch an Express bus and then walk two miles. But it would take about 2 and a half hours. Life would be a lot easier for folks if there were more direct lines built in. 

I think all these ideas that we’ve talked about or people are talking about out in the world, very few of them are new. These are all things we could do and want to do and we know would have a good positive impact, but there just isn’t funding for it. Or at least funding hasn’t been allotted to it. The People’s Climate Equity Plan, if implemented correctly, would create that funding; create a no-excuse reality. We all have excuses for not getting things done. Honestly, I think the biggest part of the plan would just be having a specific and repeatable, year over year, funding stream.

I live in Ward 3, so my council member is Mike Rainville. We’ve met with him twice and I felt they were positive meetings. He and his staff sent me a lot of follow-up questions, he wanted to get some stuff figured out. 

Honestly, doing this work helps me quite a bit; just knowing things are happening even if I don’t always hear about them in the news. I feel like climate change is becoming more and more noticeable to people and more and more people are talking about it, saying things. I know that things are happening and that feels good watching it happen and knowing I can have a part to play.

Kelsey is a long-time activist in Minnesota and works as a Product Developer for Boston Scientific.