EN EL CAMPO, EXPLORING PUBLIC LANDS: A Q&A WITH MALLORY HUGGINS OF KEYSTONE POLICY CENTER
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
Mallory is the Senior Project Director of the Keystone Policy Center and the Director of the Keystone Energy Board.
Tell us about yourself, your role in the Collaborative:
My organization, the Keystone Policy Center, works as a third-party convener, bringing together diverse stakeholder voices across several policy areas. I facilitate the People, Public Lands, and Climate Collaborative. My colleagues and I organized the first retreat of what would become the Collaborative in December 2019 and have been helping to coordinate and facilitate the work of the group ever since.
My work in support of the Collaborative and my other projects center on equitable access to public lands, energy policy, transitions in coal communities, and community engagement around climate change.
How do you enjoy public lands?
I’ve always been a city kid, so my most frequent use of public lands is urban parks and trails. I live a few blocks away from Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC and walk, run, or bike in the park multiple times a week. I feel so lucky to live that close!
How does your work and contributions, as well as those of your team in the Collaborative, advance your organization’s policy and advocacy goals?
As an independent, non-advocacy organization, Keystone Policy Center doesn’t work on behalf of its own policy goals, but rather to advance those of the stakeholders we work with. My goal within the Collaborative is to understand the policy and advocacy goals of member organizations, including identifying where they overlap, and trying to create the structures and spaces where those goals can be advanced.
What is the connection between public lands, climate action, and the work of your organization? How does it connect your organization’s mission?
While Keystone Policy Center does not advocate for specific policies, it is clear that management of public lands and tackling the climate crisis are inherently collaborative and multi-stakeholder endeavors. So many people and communities are impacted by both decisions made about our public lands and by the climate crisis, and those voices must be incorporated into decision-making and those communities must be able to benefit from solutions. The Collaborative is a great example of Keystone’s mission; this group makes clear the power of bringing diverse voices together around a shared set of goals.
How do public lands help foster a more inclusive understanding of community and the world? How can this be expanded?
Public lands give us the opportunity to interact with or observe natural environments, other humans, and wildlife that we might not otherwise encounter. They can demonstrate the vastness of our natural world and of our relative size within it, which, at least for me, makes me feel both less significant and more connected to the wider world. Exposure to even little pockets of nature within a city environment can generate this feeling, and so the more people have access to those pockets, the better.
Why do you believe we need to protect public lands?
Public lands have enormous potential to sequester carbon, preserve biodiversity, support thriving wildlife populations, and offer restorative spaces for people. That deserves celebrating and protecting.
HOW DO YOU CREATE SPACE TO CONNECT WITH THE OUTDOORS?
I am lucky to live close to many parks in Washington, D.C. and that lets me take advantage of short bouts outside. Even going on a quick walk to the triangle park at the end of my block or sitting on my porch to eat lunch can feel restorative.