Better with the Kids
Reno native Rebekah Stetson, 34, one of 11 children, who first became a mom at 18, and then felt responsible for being part of the financial system which led to the Great Recession, has had quite a turnaround as well as an unpredictable journey of highs and lows.
Since deciding a future in investment banking and hedge funds was not for her, she’s started or worked for several different community garden and farm projects, here in Reno and previously in Lyon County.
She says working with kids from diverse communities, to her, feels the most impactful.
“I learned very early on, when I was a community health advocate, trying to help an adult change their behavior is a relatively difficult process. So when I look at how valuable my time is and how valuable other people's time is, it’s always, how can we be most effective? And so it always comes back to … if we can teach kids habits that are more beneficial to them than what they currently have, it's a lot easier to start new habits or change habits in children … than to change the deep roots that are habits once we're adults. And … I think it keeps me young.”
A Very Concerned Environmental Consultant
Stetson also works for the National Wildlife Federation, to increase awareness and a love for nature in Nevada. But with hotter and hotter summers, she warns of Reno being a “fast warming city,” lacking trees and an urban canopy.
“As it gets hotter, we're growing so fast that we have less of what we call permeable land. So there's not enough soil to soak up the heat during the day. And then the soil naturally regulates heat, so then it cools it down based on the soil below that. When you have a lot of concrete and pavement, it soaks in that heat and then it doesn't conduct it down lower. It just holds it and then the next day it's already a certain temperature and then it just absorbs more heat and so it creates kind of like a heat layer. So … not enough trees and then too much concrete and pavement and that’s increasing all the time. And that's why for Reno, it's really important that we do urban infill and keep building more housing within our urban areas as opposed to taking up rural land and making that more of a concrete jungle than it already is,” she said.
An All-Around Approachable Activist
Stetson also does work for the homeless and women empowerment and warns others about the dangers of not only climate change but also gentrification and the lack of affordable housing. She does her work in Nevada, but has inspirational role models from across the world and time.
“Mother Teresa was one lady that I didn't know a whole lot about, but I was like, this lady, she's doing good things. I also really respect the work that scientists who are kind of edgy have done. So Nikola Tesla (a Serbian-American inventor best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system) is someone who I really love what he did. And even so far as human beings like Timothy Leary (who advocated for the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs) who are willing to kind of say, I know that my science is edgy, but I think that I'm onto something and I'm going to do it anyways even though it's not popular.”
Her last words for our interview? “We are always looking for volunteers, and they could contact me at email@example.com. Whether they want to get involved in educating kids or in climate change advocacy that will work for either. I would love to help more people feel empowered to change our community.”