West L.A. College hosts three-day climate action summit

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Wave Staff Report

CULVER CITY — More than 700 participants gathered at West Los Angeles College Oct. 24-26 for the campus’ inaugural Climate Action Palooza, a three-day summit focused on activism, environmental justice, and workforce development for future green-collar jobs. 

Local high school and college students, environmental activists, creatives, industry leaders and policymakers tackled climate change from three vantage points: youth activism, gaming and workforce development.

Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru, a 24-year-old environmental justice activist and influencer, headlined the conference’s opening day Oct. 24. Gatheru, a Rhodes Scholar and the daughter of Kenyan immigrants, is a climate storyteller, passionate about making the climate movement relevant and accessible to everyone. 

In her talk to more than 400 students, she encouraged them to “live revolution” to reduce the harmful effects of climate change and to inspire early youth activism. 

On Day 2, the college’s Creativity Lab hosted a green hackathon with 250 participants attempting to create awareness and thought around solutions via gaming. Guest judges included Chacko Sonny of the gaming division at Netflix; and award-winning author Dana Claire, who also provided an interactive presentation on world building.

Assemblyman Isaac Bryan, D-Culver City, was a featured speaker on Day 3. Bryan played a critical role in the establishment of the college’s California Center for Climate Education, making West L.A. College the new, green epicenter for environmental education and innovation. 

The center, which sponsored the three-day event, is focused exclusively on climate change solutions and job creation to meet the demands of the future workforce. The center was funded through a $5 million state and $1.3 million in federal dollars.

“West L.A. College is uniquely positioned to serve as a good model for the state’s focus on environmental education,” Bryan said. “I have no doubt our future environmental leaders are being developed here at West, and they will find solutions to help fight climate change. 

“More than ever, we face an urgent climate crisis, and the consequences of getting it wrong couldn’t be more dire, which is why I am proud of the work being done here at West L.A. College to make a difference.”

Other Day 3 guest speakers included Stephen Cheung, president and CEO, of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, Francisco C. Rodriguez, chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District; and West L.A. College President Jim Limbaugh.

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