Lauren Lantry is our Weekly Woman on the Podcast this week working to combat climate change as a senior communications strategist. She is super competitive, loves pugs, maybe a bit too much, and has a great fondness for very ugly animals.
Watch her interview here:
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Read her interview here:
Samantha Cash: Working to combat climate change as a senior communications strategist. She is super competitive, loves pugs, maybe a bit too much, and has a great fondness for very ugly animals. Please welcome my friend, Lauren.
Hi, how are you?
Lauren Lantry: I’m doing well. How are you?
Samantha: I’m doing well, considering, you know. Yeah, let’s get into this. First off, I like to start off with a fun fast round. So first of all, I am Samantha Cash. I’m here with weekly humor, and I would like to do a fast round really quickly. Okay. So this is just like a one-word answer. So chapstick or lip gloss?
Samantha: Okay, cake or cookies?
Samantha: Bubble gum or mint?
Samantha: Book or nook?
Lauren: Book, but like I recently got a nook and it’s very, or I got a Kindle and it’s very handy. So I’m conflicted.
Samantha: Beach or mountains?
Samantha: Spring or fall?
Samantha: Inside or outside?
Lauren: Oh, outside always.
Samantha: Trick question. Everyone should be inside right now. Quarantine.
Lauren: Well, that’s fair. Fair but sad.
Samantha: Fair but sad. All right. So where are you living? What are you doing? What’s up with you?
Lauren: Well, I’m currently at my parents’ house in San Diego. But I usually live in DC. But I’m riding out the, you know, global pandemic. Were there’s a backyard and sunshine.
Samantha: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Was it a big move? Was it a big culture shock when you first moved to DC? Because I know that’s a huge difference going from like very Southern California to, you know, proper East Coast.
Lauren: It was a little bit– Everybody dressed differently. I’ve learned about a clothing company called Vineyard Vines that every person might. So I moved to DC for college. And every person, like my freshman dorm, like the first day was just clad in these outfits with a little whale emoji thing on it and I had no idea what it was. And then learned quickly what it was. But it was a little bit of a culture shock but not a whole lot. I don’t think that outside of like the way people dress. But I don’t think like the stereotypes of like our personalities are different. Like San Diego slow-paced, whereas the East Coast is fast-paced. Like if you were fast-paced then you’re fast-paced. If you’re slow-paced, then you’re slow-pace. Like there are people everywhere who fit both sides of the coin.
Samantha: Why not– ? What’s your favorite thing about living in DC?
Lauren: It’s small but it still feels like a big city. So it’s only six miles wide, so you can see all of it in a day and then some. But it still feels like a big city. It’s still, you know, I don’t have a car there and I don’t need one. I can bike, walk public transportation to get everywhere. It has a lot of different cultures. It still feels like a big city despite the fact that it’s pretty small. Also, it’s not as North as New York City and it’s not as cold.
Samantha: Yeah, that’s a good deal. So what, if I were to go to DC. What restaurant would you recommend? What’s your favorite place to go?
Lauren: So there’s this little El Salvadorian place in the basement of a row house across the street from my apartment, and it has some of the best Pupusas I have ever had. And that is where I would take you. One because it’s convenient, and two because it’s delicious.
Samantha: Why it’s —
Lauren: It’s called El Rican Seto Dos. It’s like, it’s kind of like a cross between a quesadilla and a tamale. So it’s got like the mustard that you have in a tamale, but the filling is like, you know, cheese and chicken or whatnot or beans or whatnot. And then it’s kind of flat and round and then griddled like a quesadilla.
Samantha: Once this quarantine shutdown. I’m flying out there solely for that reason. I mean, you, as well, but you know.
Lauren: Thank you. Yeah.
Samantha: Oh my gosh, I would love to have you send a recipe and I can try and share it if you could figure that out.
Lauren: Oh, yeah. Sure.
Samantha: Quarantine activity, right? So let’s get into who you are, and why we’re talking to you. Take me through a step-by-step, on who you are and how you got to where you are today?
Lauren: All right, my name is Lauren.
Samantha: A bit late.
Lauren: I grew up in San Diego, as you are aware. Which is surrounded by all of, like we have every terrain and climate at our doorstep. We have the beach. A hop-skip, and a jump if we want to see snow. We just have to drive up to the mountains for an hour. I grew up doing outdoor things all the time. We’d go camping with my family all the time. We go backpacking. And I got interested in climate that way, in preserving our natural spaces. Making sure everybody has access to the great outdoors and then making sure that we have that access for future generations down the line, when climate change prevents that from happening.
Hence, I thought I wanted to be a lobbyist. And then I learned very quickly that I don’t like talking to strangers. And that lobbying was not for me. But right, the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. I interned with this year club on their political program. Which is helping get environmental champions elected and I helped write a web voter guide. So it was, you could look up your, you know, the candidates running for office in your area and you could see where they stand on certain issues from clean air and water to being pro-choice things like that.
And I realized that what I do like to do that is not talking to strangers, is writing. And so from there, I knew that I didn’t want to be a lobbyist. I wanted to work on the media and communication side of things to help persuade other folks and persuade legislators to do the right thing or to protect our environment and our clean water, and clean air to make sure everybody has access to that with the written word. And so from there I interned at the White House and at San Diego-based environmental justice organization.
And then right after, right before I graduated college, Sierra Club hired me back full time to be a– to work in their comms job on their transportation program and their gender program. And from there I’ve worked on a few different areas, leading up to a lot of our anti-Trump work because he’s generally not great for the environment and working to oust a corrupt cabinet member from the EPA. And calling out all of the egregious things that the administration is doing to attack our clean air, clean water and our climate. And since then I’ve gotten a new job where I work behind the scenes with other environmental organizations. Helping them with messaging and with content, so that they all have can work together and have a united front. And get the right message out to continue pushing back on all of the assaults on our rights to breathe, drink and go outside.
Samantha: Well, you’re doing the good fight and I’m sure it’s a hard one. But I know that it’s fun sometimes because I know that you previously, in your previous job wrote a lot of puns. Do you have that favorite or that you’re a member or anything? Do you have something that you really enjoyed that you wrote?
Lauren: Yeah, so Scott Pruitt used to be the administrator of the EPA and he mishandled the administration. He was using it as a corporate/fund for himself. And one of the things he did was he bought, I think it was like $2,000 pens. It was an insane amount of money spent on a pen.
Samantha: New pencils? Like pens?
Lauren: Like to write with. Yeah, like pens. Has a, you write it down.
Lauren: And I could write, I write press releases for a living. That’s a lot of what I do. And I wrote a whole quote and it was like two or three sentences and I think I fit four, five writing puns in there. Being like the writing’s on the wall. He has to leave things like that. And it, yeah, I think that was my, that’s one of my favorite items. But he did a lot that led to puns. He spent a lot of money on hand lotion and mattresses and Chick-fil-A’s. He made it. Yeah, he made it. Well, he was awful. He did make it fun. It was cathartic to push back the work plague.
Samantha: Yeah, always healthy to have fun ways to handle upsetting situations. So where is your favorite place that you’ve traveled then? Because I know that you just did a cross country drive, as well. But do you have a favorite place that you’ve been?
Lauren: Probably, Australia where I did study abroad. But Portugal was also really fun because I did it with my twin sister. We did have fun together.
Samantha: Who’s also a traveler.
Lauren: She is, yeah. Yeah.
Samantha: All right. I also know that you are big on running. My first question is… why?
Lauren: It’s, you can do it anytime, anywhere. You don’t need a gym. Also as previously mentioned, I like to be outside and it’s an activity where you– unless you’re on a treadmill, but that’s sad. And I don’t like to see the numbers move. It’s distracting and I don’t like that. That’s why I like to be outside and you can do it in nature, or on your blocks. But you can do it anywhere and always. And it’s good exercise and also I’m competitive with myself. And so it’s a good way to, you want to go faster or the next day and said trick charitable activity. You can yeah, and well, and you’re outside, which is always- always good.
Samantha: Perfect. I know you just did the Ragnar, but I’m not quite sure what that is. Would you explain it? And then again, why?
Lauren: So a Ragnar is odd. But one of the more fun things I’ve ever done. You get a group of 12 friends together and two Vans and you run a collective– So it’s a relay race.
Samantha: Sorry, would you explain again? It cut out for me and I don’t know if everyone else caught it because- terrifying.
Lauren: No worries. So you get a group of 12 friends together or in my case 10. You wrench two Vans and you run 200 miles collectively over the course of 24 hours. So someone is always running. It’s a relay race and you have like a slap bracelet. You got it like a book fair, in elementary school.
Lauren: That’s the baton. Like the hand-off is like slapping someone else’s wrist with this bracelet and then, they start running, and it’s great. I did it in New Hampshire, but they do them all over the country and we– Hampshire to the bottom of New Hampshire it was called “reach the beach” and so we went from the mountains to the ocean. Delirious afterward and during. So you’re all like sleep-deprived and running high on endorphins and in close quarters and everybody, everything is like happy silly at the end of the activity. So tired and so hyped up and it’s just- it’s a lot of fun. And you don’t run 200 miles. You split up. So I think I ended up running like 25 over the course of 24 hours. So it’s not like you’re running a marathon straight. It’s split up. Some of it was running at 3 a.m. Some of it was running 2:30 in the afternoon. I think I ran five legs. Maybe, maybe six.
Samantha: Oh my gosh! That’s still a lot! 25 miles in 24 hours is still a lot of running!
Lauren: It was a little sore afterward. Just a little.
Samantha: Just a little. what other athletic activities did you, like, grow up doing and everything? I know you’re very active. So…
Lauren: I played all the sports, but not for a long time. So, I never got good at any of them. I have a twin sister and so we always had to play the same sport. But if one of us didn’t like it, then we moved on to the next sport. Because of that, Samantha and I started doing ballet together with kinder dance, when we were like 3. And then from there, Alana and I did like jazz and tap, and also soccer and softball, and tennis and swim team and water polo, and track and probably more than I’m forgetting. But currently, I coach my works softball team which- and play on it. Which is my, well it’s canceled for the summer because of coronavirus. But it’s one of the things I do, like doing normally.
Samantha: All right. So before we move into quarantine questions. I just, I want to make sure everyone knows. How many pugs things did you have at your desk?
Lauren: 37. Let me up. When people find out that there’s something that you like and it’s easy to find them. It’s an easy gift and it’s a gift which I appreciate. But I get given a lot of pugs and it just kind of became a thing. And so I had 37 pugs in a cubicle, which is there’s a lot of pugs.
Samantha: What was your favorite pug gift that you were given?
Lauren: Oh, this terrifying finger puppet where you put the pug on the- pug’s head on like your middle finger. And then you had the feet on your other finger. You made it walk. But to have its head lifted up, you kind of had to flip people off. So that, because if I- it’s a pug cast. But you’re going like that. But it was and it had orange eyes. So it was just like terrifyingly creepy. And someone was just like, it was the stereotype of me. Like, “Oh, that’s a pug! I need to buy that one.” On the thought that, it wasn’t creepy enough to like stop this person from doing that. “They were just pugs Lauren”. And I found it hilarious and I just sat there. I didn’t know, you have it on my hand a lot. But I rested its head on its feet. Yeah, just that in the corner of the desk.Samantha: I appreciate that friend so much.
Lauren: I don’t know why the person who created this finger puppet got orange eyes are a good idea. But they did.
Samantha: I frequently have dog, things with orange eyes. I find that the most appealing eye for a dog.
Lauren: Yeah, definitely natural.
Samantha: Very natural. All right. How is your quarantine going?
Lauren: It’s going well. I, to get here I drove across the country with a co-worker. But so I’m living at my mom and my, I’m sorry, my dad and my stepmom’s house. My step-brother has heart trouble. I had to be quarantined at my mom’s house in Phoenix for two weeks, before getting here. We drove from DC to St. Louis and then, St Louis to Texas, Texas to Phoenix, and I was there for two weeks. And then from there I drove to San Diego and then I’ve been in before– I think I’m- three weeks now, maybe four. But it’s good. It’s sunny here. Talking back to my, talking to my friends in DC. They’re cold. It’s raining and I don’t have that problem and I live by myself in a small apartment. And I’m a little worried about drawing, face on a volleyball. So, I, yeah, so I came out here so I could be surrounded by people and sunshine. Which I think was a good move. Mental health-wise.
Samantha: Yeah, and I know your sister Alana, she lives in New York City. It’s not like you guys could get together because that’s a hot spot.
Lauren: Yeah and her roommate is a, she’s in medical school. And so she’s doing her rotations at the hospital right now. And so, she’s being very careful and Alana has a washing machine in New York City apartment, which is unheard of, but is very helpful. She can take her scrubs off and whatnot, second she gets in the door and they’re being very safe. But it’s also not a place where you should invite more people to be.
Samantha: There needs to be a system in place that needs to be kept for that kind of situation. What would you– what do you miss the most in quarantine? I know it’s it hard being inside, and I know we’re not taking the brunt of the issue. We’re very secure. We have wonderful homes in Southern California, where we can go outside a little bit. But it’s still hard to be isolated socially. What’s something that you wish you could have?
Lauren: It’s hard not to see people in person. I live within a square block radius with most of my DC friends, just kind of happen to be that way. And so we were always at each other’s houses. Just bopping along, seeing each other, and that’s not the case