When Paulina Lopez isn’t in classes or studying and doing school work, she dedicates her time to engaging with the community in order to bring awareness to climate, environmental, and social issues. A transfer student from Santa Rosa Junior College, Paulina is a graduating SSU history major and Sonoma County community organizer. Paulina moved to Napa County from Oaxaca, Mexico in 2006, and became exposed to environmental issues when in high school. “My first job was at the farmers’ market. I think that made me very conscious of the environment because I would talk to farmers… it was kind of an awakening, at sixteen years old [I was] becoming aware of problems within the food industry and farmers, it was like, whoa--we don’t all get that [perspective].”
For a year, Paulina has been one of the Sonoma County hub coordinators for Sunrise Movement, a youth-led organization that focuses on policy changes that will protect the environment. “One of the biggest policies [we’re advocating for] is the Green New Deal--which is a big environmental plan to combat climate change within our communities,” she explains. Paulina’s community involvement started when she realized how wildfires were impacting Sonoma County and the broader Bay Area. She states, “ ...I got involved, because I’ve seen how the wildfires have damaged our community for the past four years...I got tired of it, and I was like, this is a good way to take action and so I joined.” Since the hub’s establishment a year and a half ago, they have organized local strikes and banner drops, attended city council meetings, phone banked, and hosted an online Earth Day event this year.
To her, sustainability is “An eco-friendly way of living...it protects the environment, [all] living species and human beings. Sustainability is life.” But sustainability can have its own challenges, as some may not be able to invest in sustainable living. Paulina shares, “...it mostly impacts [the] BIPOC [community]. Keep that in mind, you’re trying to be sustainable but sometimes some products can be super expensive and people can’t afford that.”
Along with making more sustainable choices where you’re able to, she encourages others to “Get involved and really get to know your local leaders, because those people are the ones who [can] make the biggest impact in our communities.” If interested to know more about Paulina Lopez and the work she is doing, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Sunrise Movement Sonoma County, visit their website, follow them on Instagram or contact them at email@example.com.