Charlottesville, Virginia, a city of 45,000 near the Appalachian Mountains, has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2050.
As director of the city’s Office of Sustainability, Kristel Riddervold works to achieve that goal. The office, opened in December, ensures large construction projects meet environmental standards and works to expand charging capacity for electric vehicles. It recently worked with public works officials to replace city street lights with energy efficient light bulbs.
“This is formalizing and elevating sustainability and the planet as an organizational priority,” Riddervold told ShareAmerica of the new office. While Charlottesville has long taken steps to address the climate crisis, she said “this is the kind of work where we need to all pull in the same direction.”
The United States cut greenhouse gas emissions an estimated 17% between 2005 and 2021, and the country is on pace to achieve a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.
As nations strive to meet climate goals under the Paris Agreement, the role of cities couldn’t be more important. Roughly 70% of climate pollution worldwide emanates from urban areas, according to Satya Rhodes-Conway, the mayor of Madison, Wisconsin.
“Equally important is that cities are hotbeds of innovation, and city leaders have been committed to and aggressively pursuing climate solutions for a long time,” Rhodes-Conway said in December after attending COP28, a U.N. climate conference in Dubai.
Rhodes-Conway attended COP28 as a representative of Climate Mayors, a group formed in 2014 that has mobilized 750 U.S. mayors to take meaningful action in their communities to address climate change.
“All Mayors across the country have one distinct superpower – they are the closest to the problem so thereby they are the closest to the solution,” shared our Chair @MayorBibb at a @PBS Climate Virtual Town Hall on climate innovation.
Madison, a city of 269,000 people, has been moving toward a net-zero emissions (PDF, 7.8MB) goal since 2018. In 2023, the city:
Installed solar panels on 11 buildings, bringing the total number of solar-powered city buildings to 42.
Added the 100th electric vehicle to its fleet of cars, buses and fire trucks.
Launched a new air quality monitoring tool in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Passed new energy efficiency guidelines for buildings across the city.
Montpelier, Vermont, America’s smallest state capital, with a population of 8,000, is working to achieve a goal of net-zero energy by 2030 (PDF, 867KB).
The city’s goal is to “lead the way as the nation’s first state capital where all of our energy needs — electric, thermal, and transportation — are produced or offset by renewable energy sources.”
Montpelier has expanded wind and solar power, and retrofits public and private buildings with geothermal energy, which uses the Earth’s steam to heat buildings. Like Charlottesville, Montpelier is installing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to encourage EV ownership.
Riddervold, of Charlottesville, says city officials work with partners in the community to ensure its sustainability strategies are inclusive. “We have a commitment to social equity because everything about this topic affects people and not all people are affected equally.”
In early August 2008, the questions were coming in at a rapid-fire pace from reporters gathered in the U.S. Department of State’s press room in Washington. It was Robert Wood’s first day as the department’s acting spokesman, and he answered many questions on Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, Georgia.
“It was an extraordinary moment to begin the job,” says Wood, now an alternate representative at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. He had dreamed of serving as the spokesman since arriving as an intern in the office of press relations in 1987.
Despite the chaotic news day unfolding on that first day Wood served as spokesman, he felt prepared. As a 20-year foreign service officer, he understood America’s role in the world. And because he had once considered a journalism career, he had insight into and respect for reporters’ role in society.
Looking back today, Wood believes his heritage as an African American helped the world see a more complete picture of America during his time (2008–2010) as spokesman and deputy spokesman.
“One of the strengths of America is her diversity,” Wood says. “When you bring all of these diverse views to the table, you develop a more complete, comprehensive understanding of various issues.”
African Americans have helped communicate America’s foreign policy as far back as the early 1960s, when Carl Rowan served as the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for public affairs. An acclaimed journalist, Rowan reported for the Minneapolis Tribune on the lives of Black people in the South and caught the attention of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, who each tapped him for diplomatic roles.
Black journalists began integrating Washington press pools in the 1940s, a time when discrimination made their jobs difficult. Sometimes they were given much-deserved support from government officials. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt invited Black reporter Harry S. McAlpin Jr. to cover an Oval Office news conference in 1944, despite the White House Correspondents’ Association’s refusal to admit him.
In the late 1940s, Alice Dunnigan covered Washington for the Associated Negro Press, the first Black news wire service, established in Chicago in 1919. Dunnigan was the first African American woman credentialed to cover the White House and the State Department. She later served as an information specialist for the U.S. Department of Labor.
State Department briefings today draw reporters from publications around the world and questions about varied topics. To Pearl Matibe, who covers U.S. foreign policy for publications in the U.S., Nigeria and South Africa, the “diversity of a press pool is of paramount importance.”
US-#SouthAfrica relations | “The United States Government views South Africa as one of the most important and significant states on the African continent.” – a Washingtion insider.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken greets South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor at the State Department on September 26, 2023.
Matibe immigrated to the U.S. from Zimbabwe in 2002, amid a crackdown on press freedoms in that country, and has covered both the White House and State Department since 2016.
She says that, as an African, she is able to ask questions that other reporters might miss. “Diverse reporters bring a range of cultural competencies and language skills,” she said. “We can enhance the quality, accuracy, credibility and democratic discourse of journalism, and this fosters a greater public engagement.”
When Jalina Porter became the first African American woman appointed State Department deputy spokesperson in January 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, she worked to continue and even expand access to U.S. foreign policy information through social media outlets and via teleconferences.
Porter has met women journalists in Japan and Jordan who tell her that seeing an African American woman serve as spokesperson was a powerful example.
“People recognized the magnitude of the messenger being the message,” Porter says. “It is absolutely an imperative to have, both at the spokesperson level and at the reporter level, to have a diversity of thought, age, background, demographic, religion, all of those things.”
U.S. Agency for International Development intern Frances Summers contributed to this story.
For the first time in more than 50 years, a U.S. mission landed on the moon, delivering NASA research equipment that will inform future lunar exploration.
The Odysseus lander, built by the private sector company Intuitive Machines, touched down on the moon at 6:23 p.m. EST February 22.
The NASA-supported mission is the first U.S. lunar landing since the famed Apollo missions that landed the first man on the moon July 20, 1969. NASA’s Artemis program works with the private sector and partner nations to return astronauts to the moon and explore Mars.
“Together, with the entire G7, we have Ukraine’s back. And I promise we’re not going anywhere,” President Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the 2023 G7 Summit.
And since Russia’s President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine two years ago, G7 partners — the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan as well as the European Union — have unwaveringly supported Ukraine’s democracy and sovereignty.
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the largest in the world, plays an important role in the U.S. financial system, but also reflects and influences global trends.
The exchange, in which securities are bought and sold, got its start in May 1792 when 24 of New York’s biggest stockbrokers — all men — gathered under a tree in Manhattan to create the city’s first stock exchange.
Today, a woman heads the exchange for the second time in its 232-year history. Lynn Martin held roles at the exchange and its parent company, Intercontinental Exchange Incorporated, before rising to the position of NYSE president.
At one point, while working at NYSE’s listed derivatives business, Martin met Jeff Sprecher, chairman of the exchange. “I remember thinking about how bold and determined she was,” Sprecher says in a company report. “And I liked that about her.”
Martin’s background includes degrees in computer science and statistics before an early job at IBM. “A data scientist by trade and a leader by nature, Lynn Martin has brought innovation and technological expertise to the NYSE, ensuring [it] remains the premier global venue for capital raising,” said Josh King, NYSE spokesman.
With around 2,400 listed companies, the NYSE today is worth $36 trillion, the most of all exchanges in the world. That figure is based on the total market value of stocks traded on the exchange, known as market capitalization.
An estimated 61% of Americans in 2023 said they invested in the market, either through individual stocks, mutual funds, pensions or retirement plans, according to research from polling firm Gallup.
One of a kind
When the New York Stock Exchange was founded, a global community of stock exchanges already existed. The very first stock exchange was founded in Amsterdam in 1602, followed by the London and Frankfurt, Germany, stock exchanges.
The New York Stock Exchange was originally based on the Dutch exchange, said NYSE historian Peter Asch. (Its very location is thanks to the Dutch, who laid out New York streets such that a canal brought goods to market at the corner of Wall and Broad streets. Four hundred years later, the stock exchange at Wall and Broad streets remains a hub for global business activity.)
While the stock exchange in Amsterdam started out dealing in shares of the East India Company, the first products on the New York Stock Exchange were bonds issued by the newly formed U.S. government in order to pay debt accrued in the Revolutionary War.
Although the first U.S. stock exchange was in Philadelphia, the New York Stock Exchange quickly became the most prominent.
“Every city had banks at that time,” Asch said, “but New York very quickly grew to be the biggest banking center in the country. It became a place where, if you wanted to do a big project and you needed funding, we were the place to go.”
Today, the New York Stock Exchange is the only major stock exchange in the world that still has a physical trading floor. “That is really what makes us different, our market model,” Asch said. “NYSE is a community of the world’s greatest companies. They can come here to bring their ideas to the market.”
Since its start, activity on the New York Stock Exchange has been representative of market trends, providing a window into what drives the global economy. In its early years, the NYSE was focused on banking and insurance. By the 1830s, it had pivoted to railroads and operating companies. During the 1900s, car manufacturers arrived on the scene, followed by airplanes, computers, and today, digital-technology companies. According to Asch, the next big innovation can always be found in the listings of the New York Stock Exchange.
This story was written by freelance writer Maeve Allsup. An earlier version published July 10, 2018.
African American artists have long captured imaginations and influenced other artists worldwide.
From the jazz musicians of the 1950s and 60s, to global stars like Tina Turner and Prince, to Toni Morrison and other writers who transformed America’s literary landscape, Black artists have helped define their country’s cultural landscape.
During Black History Month, ShareAmerica celebrates several highly acclaimed U.S. artists whose work offers unique perspectives on African American life.
Textile artist Bisa Butler’s painting-like “portrait quilts” celebrate Black life in vivid colors using materials ranging from cotton, silk, velvet and leather to African batiks and prints.
From South Orange, New Jersey, Butler creates monumental pieces that offer fresh takes on historical figures or capture the vibrancy of everyday African American life.
“Somehow I feel like they’re calling out to me,” Butler told National Public Radio in 2021 of how she chooses her subjects. “I describe my artwork as a quilted photo album of a Black family. But it’s the Black diaspora family,” she said. “I see the dignity and the beauty. So I want other people to see that.”
Misty Copeland, the first Black woman promoted to principal dancer for the prestigious American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in New York, has starred in iconic ballets including Swan Lake,Romeo and Juliet,Don Quixote and the holiday classic The Nutcracker.
After starting ballet at the relatively late age of 13, Copeland earned spots at top ballet schools and joined ABT’s main company in 2001. She became one of the youngest ABT dancers to earn a soloist role in 2007, before being promoted to principal dancer in 2015.
Copeland told LA.com in 2008 that she had felt culturally isolated as an African American ballerina and wasn’t prepared for being singled out as a role model for young dancers of color. In 2021, she launched a nonprofit to expand access to dance education and increase diversity in ballet.
Blues-rock guitarist Eric Gales, from Memphis, Tennessee, believes music is without limits. Naturally right-handed, Gales plays guitar left-handed and holds the instrument upside down, while blending styles ranging from “metal to avant-garde rock,” to “the blues to classical and everything in between,” he told Music Radar.
Hailed as “one of the greatest guitarists alive today,” Gales started playing guitar at age 4 and released his first album at 16. He credits influences ranging from rock legend Jimi Hendrix and blues great Albert King to Australian jazz hero Frank Gambale.
Gales has recorded 19 albums for major labels and his blistering live performances have made fans of guitar legends like Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton.
Poet Terrance Hayes strives for language that communicates feeling the way music does. Noted for his fluid phrasing and reflections on life as an artist and Black man, Hayes is regarded as one of the most compelling voices in American poetry.
The South Carolina native has authored seven poetry collections, including Lighthead, which won the National Book Award in 2010. The collection introduced the “golden shovel” form, which borrows a line from an existing poem and incorporates each word in a new poem. He’s won numerous honors, including a MacArthur “genius” fellowship.
“I think music is the primary model — how close can you get this language to be like music and communicate feeling at the base level,” Hayes, an English professor at New York University, told the University of Pittsburgh’s Hot Metal Bridge literary magazine in 2013. “Language is always burdened by thought. I’m just trying to get it so it can be like feeling.”
On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that school segregation on the basis of race violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee to equal protection under the law.
The landmark decision in the court case Brown v. Board ofEducation galvanized the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and had far-reaching implications for American public life.
By overturning the 1896 doctrine that allowed separate public facilities for whites and African Americans — provided facilities were deemed equal — the Brown ruling destroyed the legal basis for racial segregation, not only in schools, but also in housing, transportation and other public places.
Yet the full impact of the Brown decision, often described as “the case that changed America,” would take years to be fully realized, says Harvard University scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Dismantling ‘separate but equal’
“Ending legal segregation was a monumental shift,” Gates told ShareAmerica. Yet, the decision was only one salvo in a long-running battle for equality. Resistance to desegregation remained fierce, especially in the Deep South.
“The Court did not include an enforcement measure, meaning many schools dragged their feet and refused to desegregate until forced by court order during the 1960s,” Gates said.
In 1957, federal troops were sent to enforce the Brown ruling, and nine African American teenagers — known as the Little Rock Nine — integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. It took until the 1960s for most U.S. public schools to be integrated.
Playing ‘the long game’
The Brown decision made Thurgood Marshall, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People lawyer who successfully argued the case, a household name. Marshall would go on to serve as the first African American U.S. Supreme Court justice.
But Marshall was not solely responsible for dismantling the separate-but-equal doctrine. NAACP lawyer Charles Hamilton Houston had begun laying the legal foundation for overturning school segregation in the 1930s, Gates said.
In working to overturn the separate-but-equal doctrine and the so-called ‘Jim Crow’ laws that enforced racial segregation in the South, Houston and Marshall “understood that they needed to play the long game,” Gates said.
Marshall recruited a brilliant team, including lawyers Constance Baker Motley and Robert Carter, that “won higher-education desegregation cases to set the precedent, and litigated many lower-court secondary cases in the lead-up to Brown,” Gates said.
Commemorating the struggle
The triumph in Brown and other court cases provided momentum for the U.S. Civil Rights Movement that swept the nation in the 1950s and 1960s. The movement led to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination in public places, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The United States honors the lawyers and others who fought for racial equality. Marshall is memorialized by a statue in Annapolis, Maryland, near the courthouse where he argued early civil rights cases.
The United States Civil Rights Trail, spanning sites in 15 states, commemorates landmark events in the Civil Rights Movement. A monument called “Testament” on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol honors the Little Rock Nine who integrated Central High School in 1957. The monument features bronze statues and plaques with the students’ quotations.
“Visiting historical sites can be educational, even inspiring,” Gates said. “Historical sites force us to reckon with the past and how it echoes today. Equally important, they also allow us to celebrate the brave Black Americans who forced the nation to change.”
When Edie Ceccarelli was born in 1908, horse-drawn carriages still ran the streets of her hometown of Willits, California. She was in her 30s when World War II broke out.
While she has outlived several close relatives, she is not alone. Ceccarelli still lives in the small city of Willits, and the whole town celebrated her 116th birthday, which falls on February 5, with a parade. Neighbors waved and shouted “Happy birthday!” during the parade, held Sunday, February 4.
Edie Ceccarelli, at 116, is the oldest known person in the U.S. and the second oldest on Earth.
In fact, residents of Willits have held festivities on Ceccarelli’s birthday every year since she turned 100 years old. In a past year, she’s said her secrets to longevity are “a couple of fingers of red wine with dinner, and mind your own business,” the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, California, reports.
As the oldest person living in the U.S. and the second-oldest person in the world, Ceccarelli, along with the city of Willits, has drawn the attention of a documentary featuring the world’s oldest people and of media outlets in places as far as New York and London.
“Her birthday, ever since she was 100, has always been a community thing, a public party,” parade organizer Suzanne Picetti told USA Today. “It brings community together to celebrate a really special human being. It bring[s] a lot of joy and happiness to our community.”