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Earth Day 2016: Q & A with John Oppermann, Executive Director of New York's Earth Day Initia

Pictured left to right is John Oppermann, U.S. Senator for New York, Charles Schumer and Pamela Lippe

My friends over at Earth Day Initiative invited me to participate in a super cool Earth Day 5K Green Tour in Manhattan. They always put together a stellar agenda to celebrate Earth Day in New York.

The itinerary includes a walking tour of great sites in the city, such as the Lowline (the world's first underground park), the eco-friendly 1 Hotel Central Park, and lunch at the Natural Gourmet Institute. Plus, we will be treated to a sneak peak of a new nature documentary.

Below is a recent Q & A I had with John Oppermann, Esq.,Executive Director of New York's Earth Day Initiative.

Q: What's it like taking the reigns of Earth Day NY after the amazing tenure of Pamela Lippe?

A: It's nice to be part of an organization with such a long and deep history in the environmental world in New York City. We celebrated the 25th anniversary of our organization last year and it was great to look back at all of the things that Pam did with the organization over the years, going all the way back to the giant event in Central Park in 1990. I still meet people all the time who tell me that they were at that event in Central Park. I only wish I could have been there as well. It must be an amazing memory for Pam and all of the thousands and thousands of people who were there.

The B52's at an Earth Day Event in NYC in 1990

Q: What 's the most exciting things you've seen happening in NYC this past year? I think something has clicked around climate change in the last few years. I think events like Hurricane Sandy and the People's Climate March helped place climate change and the need for action solidly in a lot of people's minds. More and more people feel that we need to act quickly and decisively on climate change. That shift in attitudes helped world leaders to achieve an agreement in Paris and I think that Paris agreement will have a reinforcing affect on public attitudes. The Paris agreement at least sent a message that this is happening. Action will be taken. So governments, businesses, and average people should get on board. New York City has been and will continue to be on the frontlines of this movement.

An Earth Day Initiative Organic Indoor Learing Garden in NYC

Q Anything or anyone you want to plug or give a shout out to?​

We're presenting our annual Earth Day Initiative / Natural Resources Defense Council awards this spring to three deserving candidates.

Kathryn Garcia will receive the award for Public Official of the Year. Kathryn is the city’s Sanitation Commissioner and has been a leading force in the de Blasio Administration seeking to advance sustainability. She has made it a major part of her mission to advance a comprehensive program of composting of organics, both for residential and commercial food waste. She has supported a phase out of environmentally troublesome polystyrene foam food and beverage containers. And she has been working in a variety of ways to meet the ambitious objective of keeping 90% of the city’s waste out of landfills by 2030.

Tom Colicchio will receive the award for Business Leader of the Year. Tom is a celebrity chief (Gramercy Tavern), television personality (Top Chef) and leading advocate for more sustainable food practices in New York and around the nation. He has raised millions of dollars for food banks, has sought to advance hunger and nutrition reform initiatives, and has supported more sustainable use of pesticides. And he engaged in the political process on these issues, becoming an effective and respected spokesperson for food policy reform in the halls of Congress.

Karen Washington will receive the award for Advocate of the Year. Karen, a lifelong New Yorker, is an urban farmer, community garden activist and an advocate for healthy foods and sustainable neighborhoods. She has organized community gardens and, as President of the New York City Community Gardens Coalition, fought to keep them open. She is a board member of the New York Botanical Garden and helped launch the City Farm Market, bringing fresh vegetables to her Bronx neighborhood. Recognizing such accomplishments, The New York Times recently called her "Urban Farming's Grande Dame."

Post Copyright Paul E McGinniss 2016

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