Member Spotlight: Caitlin

Name: Caitlin Leecaitlin

Hometown: San Francisco Bay Area – GO WARRIORS

Year: Rising Senior

Major: Healthcare Management; Anthropology – Global Health & the Environment

Tell us about your summer!

While I unfortunately couldn’t afford to go to any of the Warriors playoff/finals games this season (blaming an unpaid internship), I did have a great time cheering on my team from the comforts of my house. Watching them end a 40-year championship drought was a monumental moment of my summer, but I’ve been able to enjoy the outdoors as well and it’s made me incredibly grateful for the Bay Area’s usual mild temperatures.

warriors2When I’m not watching the Warriors or exploring new hiking trails, I’m interning at the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland. It’s a nonprofit organization that is filled with passionate and vibrant people who are dedicated to working against environmental issues that pose a dangerous health threat. They do this in a multitude of ways, including corporate engagement (getting companies like Google to sign their green purchasing pledge), public and community empowerment (funding super small grassroots environmental justice organizations), and political action (lobbying at the state and national level). It’s a community similar to the one at GlobeMed. People are passionate about health, incredibly inspiring and thoughtful, and always teaching me something new. Last week, we had an internship workshop on campaigning, which was led by someone on the Clean Energy team, who used to run campaigns at GreenPeace. We got into the nitty gritty details of campaigning, and my mind was blown when I realized there was a difference between strategies and tactics. It’s pretty cool stuff!

CEH has been working on several environmental issues and is split up into individual teams based on these topics. Not including those folks who work on fundraising, operations, and communications (there’s a lot that goes on there as well), there’s the clean energy/fracking team, Prop 65 (essentially a CA law that discloses a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm) team, pollution/flame retardant chemical team, and environmental justice team. We work on both the state and national level, but the people at the New York office generally tackle the national stuff.

I’m working on both the flame retardant and environmental justice team. To be honest, before working here, I knew nothing about flame retardants and didn’t even know they existed. But the great thing about working on this issue Monday thru Thursday from 9 to 5 is that you get up to speed very quickly. I am now educating the aides of state senators and assemblymembers about this issue and our bill related to it!

Here’s a quick lowdown on flame retardant chemicals. Flame retardant chemicals were originally placed into the foam of upholstered furniture and baby products because of an old and irrelevant state flammability standard in California. This standard was irrelevant because it was based on a test that was impractical and not at all indicative of how the majority of fires actually begin. CEH and other research organizations have studied the effects of flame retardant chemicals and have linked these to many health issues, such as hormone disruption, reduced IQ, decreased fertility and cancer. These chemicals offer no protection against fires, and moreover, they’re a risk to our health. Another issue around these flame retardants is that people (like me) don’t know they even exist. CEH passed a bill last year which required furniture manufacturers to label which of their products contain flame retardant chemicals in California. This year, they’re working on SB 763, which is now trying to get children’s product manufacturers to label their children’s products that contain these same chemicals. So our bill is all about disclosure, which is important because consumers have a right to know and families have a right to protect the health of their children.

Anyways, I’m learning about and experiencing policy at the state level – all the excitement, joy, and frustration! I had zero experience lobbying for bills and very little understanding of policy, so I’ve been learning a lot this summer. I’ve been doing a bunch of research on the constituencies of assembly members and senators who are more likely to oppose our bill, reaching out to local businesses and child care centers who would be willing to support our bill, and helping educate aides of different members/senators in our capital, Sacramento.

I’ve also gotten to research different Environmental Justice bills, and keep track of where they are in the legislative process. It’s pretty cool because I’m learning about an area that is completely new to me and I’m realizing that it’s something that I want to engage with more in the future.

What your favorite thing to do when you’re home?

·       Find new boba spots: Although Corner 17 is wonderful, there are some really great boba places in the Bay Area. I’ve recently found a new boba shop, which has this brown sugar flavor (called Okinawa) – so good!!

·       Hike/enjoy the outdoors: Mild weather is perfect for this!

·       Yoga with my mom (this is my idea of extreme sports)

·       Explore the Bay Area – this summer, I’ve been extremely lucky to work in Oakland which is a very interesting city to learn about/explore! Also they have a bonsai garden which is pretty sick.

bonsai

Favorite St. Louis restaurant:

I’m not even going to try to choose one. Fork & Stix, Olio, Local Harvest Café, Everest, and Stellina, AND SO MANY OTHERS

Favorite GlobeMed memory:

I don’t have a specific favorite memory, but I love that GlobeMed brings together so many passionate people. With every new member class, or every meeting, I get to meet people who constantly impress and inspire me through their actions, words, and insights. It’s an incredible community that I’m so lucky to be a part of.

Favorite book? Movie? TV show?

I generally like all dystopian novels, so if you have any recommendations, send them my way! But more specifically, my favorite is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Also love The Blind Assassin by her as well.

Movies: anything by Wes Anderson.

TV shows: just finished watching The Killing on Netflix and it’s the perfect amount of suspense, drama and craziness. It’s not as scary as it sounds either, so I HIGHLY recommend it.

Dream vacation?

Currently eyeing/saving up for the Northern Lights Iceland tour on Groupon! Never wanted a Groupon deal more in my life.

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