This is a Moms Clean Air Force exclusive interview with Councilwoman Carol Berz of Tennessee:
What is unique about protecting Tennessee’s resources?
What is unique in my position as a lawmaker and legislator for Chattanooga is that I have to focus on an urban system; specifically I mean, emissions from machinery and protecting trees. I value our trees very much and when we’re making zoning ordinances, talking about clear cutting for development, or future road planning, all of that affects our environment and clean air. I’m very much interested in increasing bike paths and utilizing electric shuttles. City emissions can get pretty heavy around here, particularly in hot weather. Chattanooga is growing and changing very quickly, and as we become more urban, I believe we have to be very careful of the environment relative to our resources.
As a parent are you worried about the effects of climate change and air pollution on your children and the children of Tennessee?
No, I’m not worried about it at all — I believe worrying wastes a lot of time and energy. I would rather use the word constantly vigilant. As a Mom, as a policy maker, we need to always be aware that climate change is one of the pieces of the moving parts of decisions we make and we always want to be careful of unforeseen circumstances and outcomes. Although I’m not worried, I can’t ever stop being aware.
Why is a bipartisan effort so important, and how can these efforts be achieved in our politically polarizing culture?
The issues we’re dealing with today aren’t Republican or Democrat, they’re human issues. We need to stop trying to label or categorize these issues because that minimizes them and it also erodes our efforts of working together as one.
We cannot afford to have Republican air issues and Democratic air issues.
Is there anything you’d like to share that is important for Moms Clean Air Force members to know?
As a Mom, I think it’s very important to say what a good job you are doing. Your work is important and you do have power, and you can’t ever relax that power. Particularly in Chattanooga, we’re going to see a lot of growth and decision-making in the next several years, and unless we pay attention to planning we’re going to be a concrete city with dirty air. We’re going too fast and we need to slow down and think about the externalities of the decisions we make relative to clean air and clean water. So keep up the good work!
Carol Berz is the Chief Executive Officer of Private Dispute Resolution Services, LLC, a mediation services and training organization headquartered in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and serves as a Chattanooga City Councilwoman representing District 6. Formerly the Director of Forensic Services for Joseph W. Johnson Mental Health Center, and subsequently its Executive Director, Dr. Berz also has served as a visiting professor at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, teaching social policy, law and ethics. She is a Board Certified Diplomat in Clinical Social Work, with extensive post-doctoral training in mediation, law, ethics and conflict management system design. Dr. Berz studied liberal arts at Emory University and human service administration at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Her master’s degree in social policy was completed at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; her law degree was completed at the Nashville School of Law; and her doctorate in social policy was completed at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in cooperation with Bryn Mawr College.