Last week, 50,000 protestors gathered on the Mall in Washington, D.C. for the Forward on Climate Rally, reminding the world how important it is to be vocal about ecological issues. As I am just beginning to stretch my environmentalist legs (FoC was my first rally!), I am in awe of this week's Talking GOOD spotlight. LeeAnne Beres brings 20+ years of experience to the world of environmental activism, and is Executive Director of Earth Ministry and Washington Interfaith Power & Light (WIPL). Earth Ministry is an organization dedicated to engaging the Christian community in environmental stewardship. WIPL is a project that brings members of different religions together to respond to climate change.
Before joining Earth Ministry in 2005 LeeAnne was the Associate Director of Save Our Wild Salmon and the Outreach Director of the NW Energy Coalition. She also held positions with the Marine Fish Conservation Network, Greenpeace, and various other campaigns. LeeAnne also spent TWO YEARS on a commercial fishing boat in the Bering Sea. LeeAnne is one fierce lady! That takes a whole lot of guts and spunk. Last year, LeeAnne received the Headwaters Award, an honor bestowed on leaders who have made significant contributions to the Northwest’s clean and affordable energy future.
Here at Talking GOOD we have done a few other environmental profiles (like this and this) and I am so happy to add LeeAnne to the mix! I must say, she is one indominatable spirit. Fighting for clean water and energy is tough, and LeeAnne never lost faith. In fact, she has her faith to guide her. LeeAnne you've inspired me to keep on fighting the good fight!
Thanks for talking with us!
1. IN JUST ONE SENTENCE, WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE? To borrow the title of my favorite poem by Marge Piercy, my purpose in life is “To be of Use.”
2. FOR YOU, IS DOING “GOOD” PRIMARILY A SELFLESS OR SELFISH BEHAVIOR? I'm called to do good as part of my faith. As it says in Micah 6:8, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.”
3. WHO IS YOUR HERO AND WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THEM IF GIVEN THE CHANCE? Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. His vision of a future where people of all races, sexes, and religions are not only equal but working together toward a common goal of exploration and mutual understanding really made an impression on me as a child. Although he's passed on, I'd love to ask him how he overcame the prejudices of the 1960's to put such a forward-thinking TV show on the air – and if he was aware of how many people he inspired.
4. WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK BE? My Earth Ministry colleague Jessie Dye and I have thought about co-authoring “Faithful Advocacy for God's Creation”, a how-to guide for people of faith to speak up for the environment through public policy advocacy. We're off to a great start in a recent issue of our newsletter, Earth Letter.
5. WHO WOULD PLAY YOU, IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE? I'd be honored if Jodie Foster played my part. She's got an indomitable spirit that resonates with me and I think we share the trait of always taking on new challenges and pushing ourselves harder. She doesn't shy away from difficult roles but her comedies show that she also has a wicked sense of humor.
6. WHAT IS A BELIEF THAT IS CORE TO YOUR BEING? I believe that together we are stronger. No matter how effective we are individually, when we join together for the common good, amazing things happen.
7. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? Helping others is hardwired into my personality so I'm sure I'd still be working for some kind of nonprofit. I love to travel so maybe I'd be overseas as part of an international service corps or global environmental organization.
8. TELL US SOMETHING SURPRISING ABOUT YOURSELF. Even though I've worked to protect the environment my whole career, I don't particularly like trees – they make me feel hemmed in and claustrophobic. I prefer wide-open spaces (think Arizona desert or broad Montana river valleys) where I can see forever and really breathe. So I find it ironic that I live in the Evergreen State surrounded by nothing but trees, and at a job where some people would call me a tree-hugger!
9. IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE WISH GRANTED THAT WAS TRULY POSSIBLE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I wish that we would solve the problem of climate change, which is one of the most important moral issues of our day. Left unchecked, climate change will have devastating impacts on global weather, food and water availability, political conflicts and immigration, and the health of our human and natural communities. We can and must do better.
10. WHAT QUESTION(s) DO YOU WISH I HAD ASKED, AND WHAT IS THE ANSWER? QUESTION:What was the most formative experience in your life? ANSWER: I worked as a biologist on commercial fishing boats in Alaska for several years right after college. Being the only woman on board and serving as the government’s oversight of fishing regulations was certainly challenging at times. It taught me a lot about self-sufficiency and hard work, and made me realize if I could do that, I could do anything. And there's nothing like a fishing boat losing power at night in 30 foot seas to put things into perspective.