Getting Local with Nithya Raman
I first came across Nithya Raman at an event that our dear friend Heather Taylor held at her home, in which members of our community gathered in support of Nithya's incredibly powerful campaign for a seat on the LA City Council. That night, as I listened to Nithya discuss her perspective on the seemingly insurmountable set of challenges that face our city - from unparalleled levels of homelessness and relentless gentrification to LA's air pollution - I was struck by her insights, intelligence, experience, and vision. She is the kind of leader that we would be lucky to have - that, in fact, we need - and we are so thrilled to shine a light on her here in our Journal. See below for an introduction from her longtime friend and former colleague Emily Favreau, and for some words from Nithya on the power and importance of local government.
"During my work for TIME’S UP, I was honored to be in the trenches every day with so many incredible women who were fighting to make workplaces safe, fair, and dignified for women of all kinds. One of those women was Nithya Raman and I feel so lucky that today I can call her not just a former colleague, but also a close friend. While Nithya’s dedication to the mission of TIME’S UP was unparalleled, what consistently blew me away was how it fit into her broader commitment to bettering the world around us. I shouldn’t have been surprised, as Nithya’s background clearly proves she is a leader (I mean the woman has degrees from BOTH Harvard and MIT grad, for crying out loud), but still I could not believe that after a grueling day at the office, Nithya would go straight to a meeting with SELAH, the homeless coalition she started in her neighborhood, bringing hot meals and showers to a region of the city which lacked resources. And this was all before she headed home to serve in her favorite role, as a mother to the world’s most adorable four-year-old twins. Simply put, Nithya proved every single day that she was unstoppable in her commitment to doing good.
That’s why I’m so thrilled that she's bringing her drive, intellect, and integrity to the Los Angeles District 4 City Council race. Los Angeles is an incredible city, and one I’m lucky to call my adopted home. But it needs to be a city for everyone. Homelessness has brought us to a point of moral crisis, and we need someone like Nithya to show strong moral leadership on this issue, and so many others. Having worked alongside her everyday, I know how brilliant, committed and compassionate Nithya is in both her work and the way she lives her life. But more than anything, she’s a force of nature, and we need that force at City Hall."
– Emily Favreau
NITHYA ON THE POWER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
"For many people, the years since 2016 have been a time of real helplessness and disempowerment. I see many people question how we will be able to get our country moving in a better direction. I see many people feeling burned out, disengaged, and hopeless.
I am excited to share with you that I have found the cure: get local.
Over the last few months, I have been running for City Council here in Los Angeles, and it has been the most energizing thing I have done in my life. On some days in LA, it can feel like a dystopian future is already reflected in our current day reality. The number of people experiencing homelessness has risen precipitously, and there are tent encampments growing in every neighborhood of the city. We can already feel the impacts of climate change: average temperatures have gone up and our air is getting worse, and wildfires have burned homes in our city and surrounding areas.
But the exciting thing about working locally is that change is within our grasp, and can be made quickly. The City of Los Angeles is really powerful. It controls a budget of $10 billion, the Department of Water and Power (the largest publicly owned utility in America), and the Port of Los Angeles. Through its control of land use and roads, it controls everything that is built and how we get around the city. It controls how we deliver services to the homeless, where we can build shelters and supportive housing.
This means that no matter what happens nationally or globally, there is an incredible amount of work to be done locally to make sure that we are taking advantage of every opportunity we have for change. We can move rapidly towards our climate goals. We can shelter the vulnerable and keep people in their homes. We can build the kind of deeply affordable housing we so desperately need. We can build a city that is sustainable and that is built to advance justice. "
– Nithya Raman