© 2023 WFSU Public Media
WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Mother/Daughter Lobbying Team Hit Capitol Hill

Cara Fleischer

A Tallahassee mom and her daughter have taken their “clean air” message to Washington.

Cara Fleischer said the visit was the logical culmination of many years of advocacy, which was sparked by intense maternal concern.

“My baby couldn’t breathe where we lived,” she explained. “And that was man-made from the cars and the power plants in Atlanta. Atlanta’s very smoggy and my husband’s business is still there and he has to telecommute and we just can’t live there.”

So the family moved to Tallahassee some years back. But even though the air situation is better in Florida’s Capital City, Fleischer said her crusade against air pollution is by no means over.

“This is something that keeps me up at night,” she insisted. “I’ve got kids and they have asthma issues and I finally said this is what’s important to me and I need to share it.”

That led Fleischer to become a true activist on the issue.

“I got involved with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Moms’ Clean Air Force and started a creation care group at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church on Lake Ella, started the blog with the paper and have been doing everything I can do voice the concern,” she said, ticking off a long list of affiliations and activities.

And now that has advocacy has included a lobbying trip to Washington, DC during the week of July 11. Accompanying Fleischer was the little girl whose breathing issues helped spark all that activism, her daughter Lauren, now 13 and looking ahead being a high school freshman at Maclay this fall.

“This is the first time I was in the (US) Capitol and doing climate change things. It was incredible!” Lauren exclaimed. “It was so cool to meet Gwen Graham and all of the aides of the congress people and see what they do on a daily basis and that they’re here for us.”

Cara Fleischer said they had an extended chat with Congresswoman Graham who was very supportive of legislation to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and promote more sustainable forms of energy.

“She took the time to sit with us, engage the kids in conversation and really share with us,” Fleischer recalled. “She’s a mom and she gets it! She gets it all and she was so warm and welcoming and we really left there feeling encouraged that she is going to fight and hopefully she’ll run for governor.”

So far, there’s no official confirmation from the Graham camp when it comes to that widespread rumor of gubernatorial aspirations. But while in DC, Cara Fleischer says they also got a positive reception from the aides of Florida Senators Bill Nelson and even Marco Rubio. During his recent presidential bid, Rubio had said repeatedly he didn’t believe human activities had any real impact on climate and that no government intervention could impact climate one way or another. Of course, as important as legislation and government policy is, there’s also the need to educate average folks on the issue. Lauren Fleischer said she’s been talking to her classmates about it and is dismayed by their reaction.

“It was kind of shocking to see how uninformed some of my classmates were. And they just truly didn’t understand the importance. They’d be talking like we can put it off for 30 years or something, when the truth is, if we don’t do something in 10 years, it’s going to be out of our hands and be a huge mess and much harder to fix.”

That’s a fix that will likely fall firmly in the laps of Lauren Fleischer and her generation.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories. here.