Hello from Clean Air Summer Intern Kiera!

Dear Clean Air Members and Supporters,

It is my pleasure to introduce myself as one of the Clean Air Coalition’s summer interns through the Say Yes Buffalo program. I would like to first thank Clean Air’s amazing team of organizers for giving me this opportunity, and I’m excited to meet more Clean Air members throughout the summer!

As someone who recently moved away from Buffalo for the first time in their life, I can proudly say that, wherever I am, Buffalo remains my home. For me, that means that I carry the lessons that the city has taught me everywhere I go, and in return, bring back what I learn elsewhere to better this community made up of friends, family, and people I have yet to meet. 

Alongside this, I’ve also had the privilege of growing up with a close connection to Lake Erie. For as long as I can remember, my springs, summers, and falls were spent on our boat on the lake, swimming and enjoying the best view of the city skyline. When I moved to Toronto to attend university, it was those memories that I reflected on the most, and try as I might, I could never recreate the serenity and joy being on the lake gives me. 

However, my family never let me forget that this great privilege that I often take for granted is constantly in jeopardy. My father would tell stories of the lake from his childhood, so polluted that he couldn’t see his feet when he waded into the water, and the glow of the steel byproducts that Bethlehem Steel would dump into the lake every night. I remember seeing the huge black pyramid of coke aside the Huntley factory as we drove down the river and instinctively fearing what would happen if that coke ended up in our water.

 At the same time, my mother taught me that Buffalo should be a city for everyone. Unlike my father, she grew up in Rochester as a first-generation Filipino-American. My maternal grandparents immigrated to the U.S. in search of a better life for their children, and with much struggle, were able to find a home for themselves in Rochester, New York. Like her parents, my mother also found herself moving away from her home as an adult, and like them, came to appreciate the wonders of a new city. However, with the resurgence of white supremacy, anti-Asian racism, and xenophobia across the nation, I know that the warm welcome experienced by my mother is being denied to other members of our community. With that in mind, I want to ensure that Buffalo lives up to its reputation as the City of Good Neighbors, and protect the safety of all those who call Buffalo home, including refugees, immigrants, communities of color, and working-class communities.

These experiences, alongside my previous climate justice work, brought me to the Clean Air Coalition this summer. I am deeply honored to participate in the crucial environmental and public health work that Clean Air does, and I hope that my personal and academic knowledge can contribute to its successes. 

In Solidarity,

Kiera Quinlivan

Communications and Outreach Intern

Clean Air Coalition of WNY

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