Q&A with Grist donor and electric-bike winner Tommaso Boggia
Remember back in 2006 when we asked you to help support our solutions-based coverage for the new year? And we promised to hand out cool prizes like a spiffy electric Schwinn? Well, y’all followed through! And so did we.
Who’s the lucky soon-to-be coolest biker on the block? A college student named Tommaso Boggia who made a donation using the birthday and Christmas money his grandmother had given him. Nope, he wasn’t cherry-picked — his name was drawn out of a (very large) hat. Apparently, a little good karma goes a long way.
So in an effort to continue the karmic cycle, and — dare we say it — perhaps inspire you to cash in on some karma of your own, we asked Boggia to share his plans for the bike, his plans for the future, and his glowing opinion of Grist (we couldn’t resist!).
How do you spend your 9-to-5?
My school day is a lot longer than 9-to-5. I am majoring in sociology at the University of California in Santa Cruz, with an emphasis on environmental inequalities. I am currently taking “Nature, Poverty, and Progress,” “Drugs and Society,” and “Violence, War, and Peace” — all of which are inspiring classes.
What do you do in your free time?
I like to find time to cook. The hardest thing for me about coming to university in the United States was not having good Italian food readily available every day. I used to help my father cook on weekends when I was in high school and managed to learn a few tricks. Cooking always lifts my mood.
Are you involved in any volunteer/activism work?
Up until the fall of last year, I was a typical college student and my life consisted of sleeping, going to class, and getting drunk. I finally got tired of this and had a moment of crisis, which led me to question what I was going to do with a sociology degree. I tried to get involved with a couple of organizations and finally decided on CalPIRG, specifically its clean-energy campaign. I was fascinated by the technology and the prospect of a world powered entirely by clean technologies.
I was at the same time taking a class called “Forecast Global Warming” that opened my mind. I found myself ignoring all of the readings from my other classes and doing independent research on climate change and sustainability. The more I read, the more I was shocked that no one was doing anything about it, and I decided that I would strive to make a difference.
I finally took over the clean-energy campaign in the winter of 2006. I began organizing students around a ballot initiative that I wrote to raise funds for UCSC to purchase renewable-energy credits offsetting 100 percent of our energy use. The ballot initiative was a success and it qualified UCSC to be the sixth largest university purchaser of renewable-energy credits in the nation. Around this time, I started reading Grist, and it was amazing.
Thanks to the exposure that I got through the ballot measure, the Energy Manager offered me a job with the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Campus Program. This program pays three to four student interns at various public universities in California to improve energy efficiency at their respective institutions. I am still the Student Board Chair of CalPIRG and involved with the UCSC Student Environmental Center (part of the California Student Sustainability Council), but I am mainly focusing on my job.
I will be graduating soon, and I spend much of my day also looking for jobs. I’ll be updating my resumÃ© soon.
What’s your favorite Grist feature?
I am subscribed to the daily newsletter and that is the only Grist service that I use regularly. I love most of it, but the one that I end up clicking on the most is Umbra’s column. I feel like she should publish a book with a lot of her suggestions in it. She does a great job at making sustainability understandable and easy.
Why did you decide to donate to Grist?
I donated to Grist for many reasons, but the initial thought came when I realized that I was probably going to have to move in June, and I didn’t want my family to give me bulky presents to carry with me. I asked some family members either to donate money to Grist or the Campus Climate Challenge.
The other main reason is that I love Grist, and it is awesome to easily and merrily be up to date with environmental news.
What are your plans for the bike?
I was really excited to have won the bike! I have not yet decided what to do with it because I just received a new one for my birthday. I am thinking of either selling my new one or lending the electric one to some of my gas-guzzling friends.
I have also been considering the idea of incorporating the electric bike into some of the events that I will be planning in the spring at UCSC, maybe giving it away as a prize for whoever wins our campus-wide energy competition. I feel like it would motivate many people to be more conscious of their electricity use.