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The Climate Displacement Planning Initiative (CDPI) is an entirely volunteer-run organization based in Vancouver, BC, but with team members and colleagues around the world. Over the course of the year, CDPI will be doing features on current and past members of the organization. The intention of the series is to share more information with the world about CDPI and the people that keep it moving. Stay tuned for more features!

Name: Halina Rachelson

Role: Communications Volunteer.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

I grew up in Miami, in the United States, but spent quite a bit of time in Berlin as well, where my mom is from. I lived, studied, and worked in Vancouver for seven years and moved to Berlin, Germany this past year.

What is your day job?

I work as a strategic communications specialist for a climate mitigation-focused multi-donor climate fund, within a larger German organization focused on international cooperation and sustainable development. Previously, I worked in the areas of youth sustainability education, adaptation, nature protection, and ecological restoration for a BC-wide NGO.

What do you do at CDPI?

So far, I have supported in a communications capacity, particularly with the rebranding and design of CDPI's website. Now, I hope to get more involved with content development (e.g. blog contributions, writing, storytelling, etc).

What got you interested in climate displacement?

I grew up in Miami and so it was always top of mind because I knew that, based on the science, the city would eventually be affected by sea-level rise anywhere between 5-50 years down the road, and residents might either choose or be forced to relocate. I see climate displacement as a looming humanitarian issue that will definitely have impacts at the local level. Given my interest and background in urban planning, I felt the topic should be more frequently discussed in planning circles -- how will cities (governments, NGOs, private sector) prepare in terms of the resources required (housing, transportation, education, psychological/social support, etc)?

How did you come to volunteer with CDPI?

Basically, pandemic fatigue and the drive to get involved in something new/inspiring. I reached out to CDPI co-founders George Benson and Anna Zhuo to see what was going on with the then "Climate Migrants and Refugees Project". I also wanted to work on my communications and digital skills alongside my day job. As background, I first learned about George and Anna's work on climate displacement a few years ago, when I was still a student at UBC and George and Anna were planning graduate students. I attended their workshop to discuss the topic with other students.

What does a good Saturday look like for you?

Spending time with family, going to flea markets, and getting fresh air and time away from screens.

Written by CDPI Internal Coordination Volunteer, Macey Cohen, with editorial support from George Benson.

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