Interview with Mayor Rett Newton!

This week, I got a really exciting opportunity to learn more about climate action. I interviewed Mayor Rett Newton, the mayor of Beaufort, North Carolina, and a PhD student at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment!

The beautiful waterfront of Beaufort, NC!
Source: State Archives of North Carolina, Wikimedia Commons

Mr. Newton told me a lot about his work in Beaufort: namely, how he’s been able to build a coalition to improve the water quality, infrastructure, and economic growth of the town. I learned a lot about science, presenting information, unifying a community, and developing a plan for change from Mr. Newton. Some of the main things I learned included:
–the level of trauma that repeated hurricanes have caused
–the importance of leadership
–using positive metrics as motivators
This last concept was something I found really interesting. Mr. Newton described an he had idea to create a heat map that shows how improving water quality has benefitted Beaufort’s economy (for example, by showing increasing housing prices) in order to motivate residents to work towards more positive change. This made me realize that many times, we use negative statistics about climate change (i.e. rates of greenhouse gas emissions, the amount of temperature warming)–which are, of course, INCREDIBLY important–to demonstrate why humans should push for action, but to me, it seems like we don’t provide enough information on the opposite front (i.e. how positive action humans have taken have slowed global warming and restored the environment). Although emphasizing the gravity of a situation certainly highlights the importance of action, wouldn’t showcasing tangible positive impacts their actions could make motivate more people to fight climate change?

Infographic: Earth's carbon cycle is off balance
An example of the type of infographic we use often to encourage action. These statistics are very important for people to hear, but what if we supplemented them with more positive thinking as well?
Source: NASA

These are some of the ideas I’ve been thinking about this past week! In addition to interviewing Mayor Newton, I also continued to brainstorm ideas for my final product, and I’m hoping to review some of the reflections I’ve written on my blog to give me more direction. Please comment down below if you have any suggestions, questions, or even simple thoughts you’d like to share!
Additionally, check out my interviews page (scroll to the bottom!) if you’d like to learn more about my interview with Mr. Newton, and read more about Mr. Newton here.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about these ideas 🙂