When Scott Z. Burns, the producer of An Inconvenient Truth, took to the podium at the 2019 Westside Prize Awards Luncheon at the Casa del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica, he noted that “we may not owe it to each other to be hopeful; what we owe to each other is to be honest.”
The Westside Prizes, which are offered annually by the Westside Urban Forum, took full focus on climate change, offering top honors to Santa Monica College and KCRW for the new Center for Media and Design, the Chase Legacy Award to UCLA’s Dr. Mark Gold and the 12 Year Climate Change Challenge Award to President Pro Tem of the California State Senate, Kevin de Leon.
The critical urgency of how to create a livable Los Angeles was overshadowed by the need to have a livable planet, a point emphasized by almost everyone who spoke to the gathering.
Culver City council member Thomas Small presented the Westside Prize to SMC, as the winner of last year’s prize for the Culver City Transit Oriented District. Craig Perkins, the Chairman of the Board of Heal the Bay, spoke affectionately of his decades long professional association with Dr. Gold before bringing him onstage to receive his award. When Ellen Isaac, the WUF chair of the awards, came to introduce De Leon, she gave a simple explanation for the name of the new award. “This prize is named after the United Nations timeline to stop cataclysmic climate change…next year it will be the 11 Year Climate Change Award… in 2030, it will be the One Year Climate Change Award.”
De Leon, who was being honored as the author of SB 100, a California Senate bill that sets the goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045, was passionate about the power the California could wield on the world stage as a workable example of good policy.
“We are the fifth largest economy in the world, and what we do here matters far beyond our borders. We need to be the example, to walk the talk, to show everyone that renewable energy isn’t just good for the planet, it makes economic sense.”
Sounding both hopeful and honest, De Leon reflected that it was people sitting in front of him; the architects and designers, who were the ones who would create the evidence that it could all work.