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Craig Gaspard – Intersectional Environmentalism

  Craig Gaspard is an avid biker and advocate for protecting and healing our planet. As an environmental social worker, Craig has worked in emergency services performing psychiatric assessments in hospital emergency departments. Craig explains how the community has given him insight into the stresses that moderate/low-income families (those most impacted by climate change) experience. We sat down with Craig and spoke with him about his experiences in this field and more. Climate Ride (CR): What draws you to participate in Climate Ride? Craig Gaspard (CG): While I have been a lifelong bicycle rider, as I approach retirement, I finally have been able to secure a bicycle that can take me 60-70 miles in a day and in confidence. But really, I participate, as a rider because Climate Ride is the clearest support initiative for aiding non-profits whose mission is to publicize, advocate for, and/or educate about the need for slowing, stopping, and reversing the overwhelmingly negative impacts of climate change. The Maine Climate Ride in 2021 was my first. I hope to do at least one ride annually as long as I am able to. CR: What motivates you to get on that bike and/or advocate for these causes you believe in? CG: That’s easy. The wildlife around me, from birds and bats to fishing and the disaster my garden had this year due to the prolonged severe drought that impacted all of New England Even more salient is the fact that I have children, two new grandsons along with multiple nieces and nephews. So what kind of world will we leave to all of them? Lastly, I admit, I want to turn Cliamte Ride into an extended family event, recruiting new participants as I go. CR: Those are all great motivations! When you’re not fighting for the planet, what field do you work in? CG: I am an environmental social worker. I work for the Narraganset Indian Tribe in their community-based health center. I have worked in human services, both in direct services and as an administrator. My work in emergency services performing psychiatric assessments in hospital emergency departments and the community has given me great insight into the stresses moderate and low-income folks, those most impacted by climate change, experience. This will only increase as the impact of climate change on humans expands. I also garden, fish, bike (of course), hike, and cross-country ski. We live a low-energy lifestyle, but not low enough of course. CR: Wow, thank you for making a difference in so many people’s lives. The intersectionality of the effect your work is so important. When it comes to your personal experience with climate change, how has it impacted you and/or the area you live in? CG: Aside from what I read on the topic, the visuals are very stark: We commonly experience 70-degree nighttime temperatures in my coastal New England locale Which was previously uncommon. We have also been experiencing missing seafood alternatives as groundfish and lobsters move north to cooler waters. There has also been less animal and insect diversity – no fireflies, and fewer bats to see at night. The list goes on. CR: It is hard to accept these undeniable changes due to climate change. The first step is noticing it and then working to stop it and reverse it. The beneficiaries we work with do some incredible work to do just that. Which beneficiaries are you supporting, and why? CG: Rather than getting specific, I would like to instead discuss my reasoning. Local, if possible. Diverse, including organizations that can have a positive impact on people of color. Professions that can have an outsized impact such as architects -my daughter’s field – and so I targeted Architecture in 2030. And a bicycle advocacy organization here and there never hurt. CR: Those are great areas to focus your fundraising on. Are there any personal challenges you’ve confronted or foresee in preparing for the hike? How did/will you overcome them? CG: Well, I am 67 years young, and while I am in pretty good health and shape, I still work (roughly) full-time. So, the biggest challenge is to get in the necessary 60-75 miles minimum a week and accomplish everything else I want to do. Time is in such short supply. CR: Thank you for taking the time to commit to your Cliamte Rides! It means the world to us and the beneficiaries. You are truly making a difference. Has preparing for and participating in this event spurred you to take any action on climate? CG: While this issue has been on my radar since the 1980s, a combination of these rides, the thought of making this a wider “team” effort, combined with my observations of a deteriorating environment, have certainly given me, my family, church congregation, and others I have contact with a “sharper focus.” Here is what you CAN actually do, at a time of political divisiveness. The latter will hurt the positive efforts Climate Ride and its beneficiaries are trying to positively influence. Society needs group and social cohesion now more than ever to get anything done on this most critical issue, for the sake of our survival. CR: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today! If you would like to support Craig’s fundraising, please click here! All donations will be doubled, thanks to the Algorand Foundation!