Hot & Bothered Podcast #11: A Just Transition for New York State? With Franchelle Hart

We’re just under one month into the Trump regime and prospects for curbing climate change feel bleak. ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has been confirmed as Secretary of State, the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines look like unkillable zombies, and the EPA is closer to the chopping block than ever.

Still, the resistance is alive and well. As thousands flood into the streets to stop a draconian Muslim travel ban and attacks on civil liberties, a coalition of grassroots groups in New York is showing what climate policy might look like in the age of Trump. New York Renews—a coalition of 104 labor, racial justice, green, and community groups from across the state—showed up in Albany this week to pressure Governor Andrew Cuomo into putting climate justice into the budget, allocating state funding for everything from green jobs to infrastructure development in low-income communities.

To hear more about this campaign, we caught up with Franchelle Hart, Executive Director of Open Buffalo, a member of the New York Renews one of the organizations leading efforts for a just transition in upstate New York. Before coming to Open Buffalo, Franchelle worked for years on both state and federal policy, and with 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. She has served as a board member for the Western New York Area Labor Federation and President for the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists’ Buffalo Chapter.

What with the stench of the Trump regime starting to sink in more fully, Kate and Daniel appreciate your loving and constructive feedback bigly—particularly about Daniel’s dad jokes. Tweet your scathing critiques, your deepest fears and your future show ideas to #HotBotheredClimate. Note: we’ll be taking a hiatus after this episode to prepare for our bigger, better second season. That’s right—we’re going refresh the show, find some more funding, and get ready to come out more often. In the meantime, don’t delete Ho

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Kilroy in Dresden

The graffito made famous by American GIs as a marker of place, of having been somewhere, stands rewritten as the name for a travel agency on Zellescher Weg in Dresden: “Kilroy Travels.” This phrase, printed in English over a stylized map that depicts no recognizable part of the world, says much about the story of Dresden in the recent past. The world changes. Kilroy is no longer here or there, leaving graffiti scars behind. He’s out of town, on the road, somewhere else. So says the sign on the Reisebüro. He’s everywhere and become anyone. Or, more complicated, he’s become anyone in this city that until a few years ago was nestled deep in East Germany (GDR).

The numerous travel agencies in ex-GDR cities are continual reminders of the changes worked in 1989 by East Germans who went as tourists to other former communist bloc countries like Czechoslovakia or Hungary and, from there, made their way to the West. Every travel agency with posters for Asia and the Mediterranean, with low fares to London, Los Angeles, or Bangkok, marks out the changes of a decade, the possibility of unrestricted and cheap travel.

To see Kilroy the wandering GI celebrated in Dresden seemed odd, even disturbing, in the summer of 2000. For what an American brings to this city is above all the story of the firebombing of February 1945 or, more likely, Kurt Vonnegut’s version of it in Slaughterhouse Five. Any American who read books as a kid in the late 1960s or early 1970s knew that story. Or at least this one thought he did. That the firebombing of the largely non-industrial city of Dresden—filled with thousands of civilians and war refugees fleeing Russian troops as they advanced through the eastern parts of the Reich—was an anticipation in Europe of the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That it was proof Americans and their allies, waging what they believed to be a noble crusade, were fully as capable of war crimes as those they fought against. Anyone looking at Dresden in 2000, though, needs also to remember Hermann Göring’s visionary dream of destroying London from the air with incendiaries rather than high explosives. And with that remembering comes the sense that Vonnegut was not writing about Dresden in 1969 so much as he was writing about the cold war and the napalm bombings of Vietnam. History opens the way to allegory, one place morphs into another, the burden of war guilt looks for some moral repose. But being somewhere means that you have to separate history and allegory for a time so you can begin to see the place as it stands today.

The sections of the city built after World War II can be identified from their poured-concrete buildings, known in German as Plattenbauten; they are most visible as you emerge from the train station and look across the plaza on Pragerstrasse. Equally visible, once you wander around Dresden, is the fact that not all of the city was leveled or burned to the ground i…

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