Meet Madison Cumby, Fall Legal Intern (Samford)

Meet Madison Cumby, Fall Legal Intern (Samford)

Meet Madison Cumby, Fall Legal Intern (Samford)

What is your major at and why did you choose it? (for college students)           

Before starting law school, I earned my B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Policy from Samford University. I graduated in May 2018.  I am now a 3L at Cumberland School of law. I will graduate in May 2021.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

I hope to enter into a Federal Clerkship after graduation.       

What is your dream job?

I’m still trying to figure that out.

What do you hope to learn while interning with Gasp?

I hope to learn more about Environmental Law from the perspective of advocating on behalf of the environment. I hope to gain a greater understanding of environmental issue and concerns in Alabama.

Why is our mission to reduce air pollution important to you?

Air pollution poses a large number of known and unknown risks to the health of communities with poor air quality as well as the harm that it causes to the plants and animals that live in the area. I am concerned about the damage that would be caused if air quality is not more closely monitored and improved.

What is your favorite food?

Mexican

What are your hobbies?

Archery, dog shows, baking, reading, and hiking

What are some other fun facts about yourself?

I grew up in Los Angeles, CA

Kirsten Bryant

Kirsten Bryant

Deputy Director, Outreach

Kirsten has been part of the organization since its inception. After a year of volunteering to help establish Gasp, Kirsten accepted the role of executive director in 2009. It is Kirsten’s hope that future generations will inherit a healthy Alabama where clean air and water are valued and protected.

Contact Kirsten
[email protected] | 205.701.4271

Meet Erin Rhodes, Fall Intern

Meet Erin Rhodes, Fall Intern

Meet Erin Rhodes, Fall Intern

Erin has moved to Birmingham for the semester to volunteer with Gasp as an Environmental Justice Intern through Wheaton College’s Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) program. Welcome to Birmingham, Erin!

What is your major and why did you choose it?
I study Environmental Science with a certificate in Human Needs and Global Resources at Wheaton College, a liberal arts school in the Chicago area. I have always been interested in many disciplines, so was drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of Environmental Science that includes both natural systems (Ecology, Chemistry, Geology) and the social side of how we interact with our environment (History, Politics, Ethics, Anthropology). Keeping in mind our place in relation to the earth grounds my study of how to promote human flourishing.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?
After I graduate this year, I hope to work with an organization like GASP that links environmental issues with community engagement. I want to have my own garden, get to know my neighbors, and spend a lot of time outdoors.

What is your dream job?
Oof, what a question. My dreamiest dream is to be part of an intentional community that has a hospitality or education outreach program. Cooking, teaching, living with others, learning about the place I’m living, all the great stuff.

What do you hope to learn while interning with Gasp?
I am excited to see how communities are resisting environmental injustices through organized action.

Why is our mission to reduce air pollution important to you?
It is so important to call attention to the injustice that corporations and consumers benefit from the toxification of other people’s air. I am particularly moved because air is so personal – becoming part of your breath and always surrounding you.

What is your favorite food?
Fresh peaches, sauteed zucchini, curried lentils with good rice, pumpkin muffins.

What are your hobbies?
Singing! Hiking, biking and gardening. Drinking tea, journaling, reading poetry, and baking.

Who or what are your influences?

My parents, mentors, friends, and professors but also authors:

  • Wendell Berry (poet, novelist, essayist)
  • Jared Diamond (historical geographer)
  • Richard Foster (theologian)
  • Jayakumar Christian (theologian)
  • Gustavo Gutierrez (theologian) and
  • Mary Oliver (poet)

What are some other fun facts about yourself?

  • I have a twin sister who is almost 6 ft tall! (I am 5’6”)
  • I speak Thai but can’t read
  • My favorite animals are cows
  • My superpower is finding four leaf clovers
  • I haven’t paid for a haircut in 5 years
Kirsten Bryant

Kirsten Bryant

Deputy Director, Outreach

Kirsten has been part of the organization since its inception. After a year of volunteering to help establish Gasp, Kirsten accepted the role of executive director in 2009. It is Kirsten’s hope that future generations will inherit a healthy Alabama where clean air and water are valued and protected.

Contact Kirsten
[email protected] | 205.701.4271

My Approach to Handling the COVID-19 Crisis

My Approach to Handling the COVID-19 Crisis

My Approach to Handling the COVID-19 Crisis

It has been a little over a month since I worked in the Gasp office. Like many of you, I am yearning to know when we will resume being in one another’s physical presence. Meanwhile, the Gasp staff is adjusting because our work continues. If you haven’t already, check out Earth Month 2020: Rising Tide for Climate Justice on Facebook and recent blog posts on our website.

It is interesting to read about what others are doing during these unprecedented times. Here is a glimpse into what my month has been like (outside of work) and how I’m coping with this new normal.

Practice Gratitude

To me, the most important variable dictating how you navigate this stressful pandemic is whether or not you can provide for yourself and your family. My husband and I have not lost our jobs. We come from a privileged background. We can provide for our kids. For this, I am grateful. Soon after I had my first child (who is now 18) and became a stay-at-home mom, a dear friend gifted me the book, A Simple Abundance. It changed my life. Since reading it, I have drawn on the principle of gratitude when I think I’m having a bad day, or living through a pandemic.

Cooking

It is helpful that I enjoy cooking given that our 16 and 18 year old boys are home 24/7 now. Developing and executing a meal plan for our house (a task I willfully reign over) is my third part-time job. Given that our 6’5″, 18 year old (temporarily home from college) is an intense exerciser, he is consuming a vast amount of calories daily, adding to the challenge. At times, meal preparation, and all that accompanies it, does take on a chore-like feeling. However, having an appreciation for both the food itself and cooking for my kid who has been gone for the past 9 months, brings me joy.

Walking

I am continuing my daily practice of walking. After a cup of coffee early in the morning, I walk our dog about 2-3 miles. I don’t listen to anything except the morning birds and try to keep my mind clear. (I say try because it’s not always easy!) These walks are a form of meditation for me. Check out the science behind the mental health benefits of exercise.

Gardening

Exerting energy and keeping my hands busy (other than on a keyboard) brings some peace. I have enjoyed tending to a vegetable and herb garden since my late grandmother-in-law taught me how to garden after my husband and I bought our first house in 1996. Typically, I end up putting plants in the ground around the end of April, but was inspired to plant seeds this year in early March (thanks to my sister-in-law for sharing seeds), right before the pandemic hit. The Seeds of Sovereignty campaign serves as an inspiration — I hope you’ll check it out!

Sewing

Due to how shockingly unprepared our country was for this pandemic, the need for PPE (personal protective equipment) has become painfully obvious. A group of amazing local women formed a Facebook group called Bham Face Masks.

They’re encouraging sewers of all levels to jump in and fill the gap. They provide videos, technical tips and endless support. They’re even working with the Jefferson County Department of Health to provide masks to health care providers across the county. They inspired me to dust off my sewing machine.

After troubleshooting thread nests and poorly wound bobbins I finally started making masks. Listening to the humming of the machine, ironing a crisp double hem, and knowing that my finished product might help someone, is extremely satisfying. 

Meet Rose Albert, Spring Intern for Gasp

Meet Rose Albert, Spring Intern for Gasp

Meet Rose Albert, Spring Intern for Gasp

Rose is serving as Gasp’s Community Science Intern

What is your major at UAB and why did you choose it?  I chose to major in chemistry at UAB because I appreciate its explanations for the physical world. A foundational understanding of chemistry is applicable to other sciences and career pathways I am considering. I am also pursuing a Master of Public Health with a Concentration in Environmental Health because where we live is inextricably linked to our health and well being. 

What do you hope to do after you graduate? After graduation, I plan to work or travel abroad before I continue my education. During this time my goal would be to learn about environmental sustainability in other countries. 

What is your dream job? My dream job is to work with communities as a researcher and environmental health scientist.

What do you hope to learn while interning with Gasp? I would like to learn how to communicate science to make data accessible to the general public. I am a firm believer that science is for everyone, and anyone can be a scientist. Through this experience, I hope to better listen to the narratives of those impacted by the environmental issues we are addressing. 

Why is our mission to reduce air pollution important to you? Air pollution is a time-sensitive issue that is directly impacting individuals’ lives, and some at a grossly disproportionate rate. As a resident of Birmingham, I feel a responsibility to positively contribute to our community and help improve the air quality.

What is your favorite food? After two summers of working at an ice cream shop in Chattanooga, ice cream is still by far my favorite food. My top choices are coconut almond chunk, mayan chocolate, and pistachio. 

What are your hobbies? I enjoy rock climbing, knitting, reading, and shopping secondhand. 

Who or what are your influences? My high school science teacher was a key figure in helping me realize that I could become a scientist. His environmental science course first taught me the depth and variety of contemporary issues in sustainability, and he continually encouraged me throughout my college application process as I considered careers in science. Without him, I cannot imagine where I would be or what I would be doing right now. I am also influenced by the books I read, notably Moment of Lift, Mindset, Garbology, The Best Nonrequired Reading of 2014, The Bell Jar, and The Goldfinch.  

What are some other fun facts about yourself? If I had to choose one decade of music, it would be the 70s. In high school, I taught myself how to cut hair. After school I would offer free haircuts in the back of the science lab for practice. I am from Chattanooga, TN. 

 

Thanks to our Volunteers

Thanks to our Volunteers

Thanks to our Volunteers

Seven days ago was a busy day. Brodie (intern) and I worked the Gasp table at UAB’s Community Matching Event (giving students an opportunity to meet local non-profits). I left Brodie to handle the table and rushed back to our office to meet with a new volunteer, who was anxious to dive in and help Gasp with our busy spring ahead. Nina had calls scheduled and meetings to attend, Michael was in Montgomery for the PSC hearings all week, and Haley was covered up with deadlines. Nina and I touched base about Earth Month and I worked on updating our Spring Volunteer Opportunities Sign up Form to include in this post. A lot of events needed to be added to the form as our calendar was quickly filling up with multiple events for Earth Month, tabling at markets/festivals and some requests for speaking engagements. Wednesdays are also when Ben Moose, our high school intern, comes in for his work study hours. We discussed his research regarding where the Weather Channel app gets their ambient air quality data, which is fascinating. The office was bustling with activity, meetings and important tasks, which was not unusual. This was seven days ago.

Interns Ale and Ben and UAB student/volunteer Aakruti work on our Spring Newsletter in the Gasp office kitchen.

Our team hopped on a Zoom call yesterday, and hearing and seeing my colleagues through the computer screen was comforting. I missed our usual staff gathering at our crowed, round table in the office kitchen, but regrouping with them was therapeutic. We talked, vented, brainstormed and commiserated over COVID-19 and life for awhile.

You will be hearing more from Gasp staff as we quickly transition in this new environment. We are figuring out how to best serve our constituents during this unsettling time while reminding people how broken systems in our society are hurting people and the planet. (We didn’t waste any time, did you see this action?)

What hasn’t changed is the need for people, who care about their neighbor’s health, to be engaged. Small non-profits with big missions need a lot of help, especially right now. Thankfully, we have a solid base of volunteers at Gasp. Our Board of Directors and Junior Board are two formal entities who meet regularly and invest significant time into supporting Gasp’s mission. Gasp’s work is also aided by a diverse group of individuals from high school students to retirees, who invest their time to further Gasp’s mission. We are incredibly appreciative of all our volunteers.

As you may know, we launched a competitive, Volunteer Spring Internship Program and six candidates out of 21 applicants were chosen as interns this spring semester. While a lot of their work was abruptly halted by COVID-19, they continue to help with various projects remotely during the pandemic. Be on the lookout for upcoming posts introducing our Spring interns. You will meet: Rose Albert, Alejandra Guaddarama, Ben Moose, Matt Odendahl, Mimi Tran and Brodie Zalanka. Thanks to all of these young people for volunteering their time with Gasp. Be safe and be well.