What’s Next: Reflections from a young organizer

by Mia Reback

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I know you’ve heard a lot about the People’s Climate March already, but a collection of marchers’ interviews has been compiled and are providing me a source of hope!

 

After spending one month organizing the Portland People’s Climate March, I hopped on a plane to NYC andlanded in the temporary epicenter of global climate activism. For three weeks, New York was filled with meetings, panels, rallies, marches and other climate events.

 

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered to show they care, but they also came for the excitement; the PCM was the place to be that weekend. The march was designed to appeal to a broad audience--and it did. All over NYC, I heard people talk about the march joyously, as though it were an upcoming festival. Its open atmosphere was effective at drawing 400,000 people to march in NYC, and many hundreds of thousands more at marches around the world.

 

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Mia Reback, left, at the march.

 

I found the joy and excitement of the day symbolic of where the U.S. climate movement is. The march made it seem like the transition away from all fossil fuels and widespread deforestation will be fun and easy.It won’t be. It will be hard work that requires sacrifice, a paradigm shift, and passion strong enough to motivate us as we change the status quo. We need to embrace our collective rage and frustration at the lack of large scale government action and recent inundation of proposals for new fossil fuel projects. Moving forward, we need to look to the power of Flood Wall Street and the recent protests responding to police violence in communities of color as models for where the climate justice movement needs to go.

 

Editor’s note: If you haven’t put much thought yet into the massive public outcry in response to racialized police violence around the country, check out this captivating article titled Why Environmentalists Should Support the Black Lives Matter Protests.

 

Now, it’s two months later and I’m back on the west coast reading an analysis of interviews from the PCM. This collection, “Messages From the March,” put together by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, gives me hope for the climate movement. The passion and dedication captured in this small sample of interviews represents how strong this movement is.

 

“On a governmental level, I’m not that

hopeful. But on a personal level I think

people really can begin to make, bring the

change they want. I mean, that’s to me,

sometimes that’s the only way you can go.”

-- Messages From the March

 

It’s going to take everyone to build a society that is free from fossil fuels and resilient to climate change. As promo materials for the march said, “to change everything, we need everyone.” The PCM successfully brought together the different branches of the climate justice movement. Now, post-march, we need to deepen these connections.

 

It’s on us to take the momentum from the march back home and keep building this movement. We need people more than ever to become active in an organization or a community group. We need to get off our computers and smartphones and into living rooms, churches, cafes and city parks. Let’s connect with local campaigns against fossil fuel exports and stand in solidarity with frontline communities.

 

Editor’s note: There are many ways to plug in with 350 and our allies in the fight against the multiple proposed fossil fuel export terminals in Portland and all along the coast. Check out this campaign against a propane export site, and show up to engage with the public process via supporting a delivery of testimony on Dec 17th and coming to a public hearing on Jan 13th.

 

We need our actions to go even deeper. We need to show our leaders - and each other - that we take the threats of climate change seriously. The next time we gather en masse, I hope we can dig in and confront the root causes of climate change, so we can begin building the society we need to maintain a safe climate.

 

Alone, we are limited in our power. Together, we are changing the course of history.

What if CO2 Were Pink?

 

A new, illustrated book about climate change for kids (and their adults) poses the interesting question: "What if we could SEE carbon dioxide?" Oregon author Gregg Kleiner has written

the new book, which is aimed and helping kids, and their adults, start seeing the sources of CO2, then take action

 

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"As a father of two kids who will live in a climate altered by my generation's excesses and emissions, I found myself lying awake nights worrying about their future, and the future of all children," Kleiner said. "After one of those long nights, I wondered what would happen if CO2 were suddenly, say, pink. And since I'm a writer, I decided to tell a story about that, because stories tap the human imagination and have the power to move people."

 

Kleiner said the inspiration for the new book, "Please Don't Paint Our Planet Pink! A Story for Children and Their Adults" was the fact no one can see what's causing climate change, mainly CO2 in the atmosphere.

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"I'm troubled that although the science is clear about what's coming if we keep burning fossil fuels, there's very little action to stem climate change, especially in the U.S.," he said. "It's hard to fight, because we can't see what's causing it…we can't feel, or hear, or taste it either, so there's no clear enemy we can point to and go after. But what if we all woke up tomorrow and CO2 were were a nice, bright pink puffing out behind our cars, rising above our homes when we take showers?"

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The new book features a "geeky dorkasaurus" dad who uses a pair of lens-less green goggles to encourage his 9-year-old son to tap his imagination to see carbon dioxide as pink plumes billowing up from factory smoke stacks and chimneys, puffing out behind airplanes and cars, and even rising above the butts of cows.

 

The book to uses humor, watercolor illustrations by Laurel Thompson, and a dash of accessible climate science to help kids start seeing CO2. "Kids have such amazing, unadulterated imaginations that I wanted to write a story for them," Kleiner said. "But adults who read this book say they learn a lot, too."

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Climate activist Bill McKibben said of the book, "I've often wondered what might happen if CO2 were visible. Now I know!"

 

The hardest part of writing the book, Kleiner says, was making sure it wasn't frightening or filled with dry scientific facts, but instead inspired kids and their parents in a light-hearted way to look at a serious issue. The book teaches about the carbon cycle, but also about caring and carpooling and community, as well as some gender stereotypes.

 

Eugene writer and 350.org member Mary DeMocker calls the book, "A whimsical 'we can do this!' call to action for both children and adults."

 

As a mother, DeMocker said she appreciates how the book opens the door for discussion with children, first about the science and then about solutions. "Without finger-wagging, mind-numbing science, or a hint of despair, Kleiner's characters … exude hopeful attitudes without stepping away from the central issue we must solve," Democker said.

 

Kleiner’s idea may not be as far-fetched as it seems; The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) completed a similar project back in 2011 by installing infrared cameras at twelve natural gas drilling and processing sites in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, revealing “invisible air pollution rising from almost three quarters of those examined.” The released gases in the video are primarily methane. The same infrared video-monitoring methods are being used in a campaign in Denton, TX to prove that emissions within the permitted short-term pollutant exposure standards stick around long-term, potentially requiring different limits or a review of the standards. Pink_02.jpg

 

For anyone looking to give a holiday gift that makes a difference in the world, consider giving this important book, which is available at the local bookstore ‘Another Read Through’ on

N. Mississippi Ave, Powell's, Amazon, and through the book's website:http://cloudburstcreative.com/pink

 

PLEASE DON'T PAINT OUR PLANET PINK! A Story for Children and Their Adults Written by Gregg Kleiner • Illustrated by Laurel Thompson

ISBN: 978-0990637301 • $12 • From Cloudburst Creative

 

All images are protected by copyright and are reproduced here with permission of the author. Please seek permission before using.

 

The North Pole Is Going Green!: A New Christmas Story, in Which Santa Has an Epiphany

This piece (written by Santa and delivered by Mary DeMocker) was originally published in the journal Interdisciplinary Studies of Literature and the Environment, in the Global Warming Special Issue in March 2014. Mary DeMocker is one of the co-founders and organizers of 350 Eugene. She is also a freelance writer and harp teacher.

Dear Parents:

Usually, it's your children putting pen to paper this time of year, begging me for under-the-tree delivery of all manner of bouncy, cuddly, and flashing treasures. But something's changed here in Christmas Town. Though the elves and I had hoped it might just be a few “off” years weather-wise, we can no longer deny it: The North Pole is melting. Our land of snowpeople, icicles, and eternal winter is turning . . . green.

At the same time, there's been a change in your children's requests. Their letters beseeching me for sleds, dollhouses, and, more recently, smartphones have always included heartbreakers such as, “Please, give my parents time to play with me.” But this year, I've been snowed by pleas to “Save polar bears!” and “Bring clean water,” and “Make the hurricanes stop!” Parents, your children are worried. Terrified, actually.

So I sent four snowy owls, three beige wrens, two little doves, and a partridge in a pear tree to investigate. They flew back today with a troubling report: The entire planet is heating up. Storms, droughts, and wildfires are more intense, and your kids are wondering why the adults aren't fixing things.

Per Noel by Morburre

But there was more. This was when the birds got a little shifty-eyed. They sat me down with my pipe and a stiff eggnog to break the news that, though my part is played out of love and generosity, it turns out I'm making everything worse. I—through my annual stoking of your children's desires for new possessions—am largely responsible for the consumerism driving industry to spew ever-more carbon into our atmosphere. My actions contribute to scorching temperatures, rising seas, and acidification of the oceans. To mass extinctions. Superstorms. Famine.

I'm melting my own North Pole.

Imagine being told that you're complicit in destroying—irrevocably—the homes, health, and happiness of the very children whose dreams you've dedicated your life to fulfilling. But I won't let daunting news steal the twinkle from my eye. This emergency demands action, so today I'm announcing: No more Christmas-as-usual. To realize my dream of a snowy Christmas, I'm going “green” myself. Because your children are telling me what they really want and it's not light-up sneakers or Xboxes.

They deeply yearn for only two things: Your love and a future. A future they can grow into with joyful anticipation, one characterized by kindness—to animals, grandmothers, the poor, kids orphaned by tsunamis, and those hungry in ravaged lands. Your children's boundless hearts are ready to do whatever it takes to get these two simple things. Children are never confused by politics or profits because even though they lack degrees, consultants, and immortality—or maybe because of that—they just know what's right. Their pleas are loud and clear. And I'm listening.

To slow the melting, we'll need to end our traditional system of one-way accountability. I'll still keep tabs on the Naughty and Nice, but everyone goes on the list now—me, you, and your governments and businesses. You've got some real Grinches down there who aren't just stealing candy canes; they're snatching your children's futures, happy to keep your kids madly consuming while they rake in fortunes. But with my magic and your love, dear parents, we can provide your children with what they truly need.

I'll start by reducing the volume of presents. From now on, the Nice will receive only one gift each—battery-free, Earth-friendly, and likely to fire the imagination. I'll feature recycled toys, science kits, sidewalk chalk, and “pre-owned” costumes, books, and musical instruments. There will be more off-the-couch-and-out-the-door gifts, such as fishing poles, kites, and skateboards, all wrapped in yesterday's comics or scrap fabric. And to give your kids more play time with you, I'll slip theater tickets and hiking guides into your stockings.

As for the Naughty, I'm divesting from fossil fuels, so they'll receive “Shrink Your Carbon Footprint Now!” booklets. If subtlety fails, it'll be Rudolph droppings next year—sustainably harvested, of course.

I hope this begins to address your children's fears that adults don't care enough about them or the planet. We can evolve, even we who have been around a long, long time.

Love,

Santa Claus

P.S. One more thing: I'm done giving guns.

 

Editors note: Story published with permission by the author and original publisher Oxford University Press. Citation the original piece as listed below.

 

Mary DeMocker. The North Pole Is Going Green!: A New Christmas Story, in Which Santa Has an Epiphany Interdiscip Stud Lit Environ (Winter 2014) 21 (1): 145-147 first published online March 14, 2014 doi:10.1093/isle/isu018

Celebrating Successful People's Climate March

 

Capacity crowd at Peace House October 12th to celebrate the Peoples' Climate Marches in Oregon and NYC and around the world. Watched slides, shared stories and great potluck food, and talked about next steps.
 
 
 
Like chocolate? Yummy cake at our celebration. Celebrate! Organize!
 

You are cordially invited to our People’s Climate March Houseparty Celebration

We did it! Together we made history with the largest ever turnout for climate justice, both at here at home and globally. 

Come celebrate with us

Reports Back from New York City & Oregon!

When: Sunday, October 12th, 6pm vegetarian potluck, 7pm program
Where: Peace House, 2116 NE 18th Ave, Portland
What: Some of us traveled all the way to NYC & many joined solidarity events across Oregon- join us in celebration, share experiences and photos on the big screen & begin discussing ways to seize and build on this amazing energy and unprecedented collaboration for climate action:

RSVP Listen and/or share you photos and story

TIME & LOCATION CHANGE! PORTLAND PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCH

Help us  amplify the energy of the global People’s Climate March in New York City and other major cities around the world, as the UN prepares for a special session devoted to action on climate change.

Sunday, September 21, 3:00 PM

PDX People's Climate March on Facebook

Gather for a walk and rally in Portland’s Waterfront “Bowl,” south of the Hawthorne Bridge, SW Naito Parkway & SW Madison.

This is an invitation to change everything. To change everything we need everybody. A better world is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities. Join us for the largest climate justice mobilization in history as people take it to the streets across the country and world on September 21, including here in Oregon.

With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the arc of history. The time is now. Scientists say that action to save our planet in the next year and a half is critical to our survival. This September, World leaders are gathering in New York City for a UN summit on climate change. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

Across the country, from New York to Portland, OR, the People’s Climate March will show that we stand together, demanding a better world for ourselves and for generations to come. This calls for unprecedented collaboration—that’s where you come in.

Join us in solidarity for the People’s Climate March in Portland

Register Here:

 

People's Climate March September 21st Largest Climate March In History

 

In September, heads of state are going to New York City for a historic summit on climate change. You may have already received Bill McKibben’s invitation to the People’s Climate March in NYC: This is an invitation to “anyone who’d like to prove to themselves, and to their children, that they give a damn about the biggest crisis our civilization has ever faced.”
 
Are you ready to go (or thinking of going) to NYC September 21st and interested in helping organize and/or march with a 350 Oregon contingent in NYC?

Yes, I want to go!

Wish you could go, but cannot make it to NYC this September? If so, are you interested in helping organize a solidarity march or event here in Oregon?

I’ll help organize an event in Oregon

As our friend Bill points out: “This is dead-serious business, a signal moment in the gathering fight of human beings to do something about global warming before it's too late to do anything but watch.”
 
This is the time to take a weekend to bend the course of history.

350 Oregon launches the Oregon Climate Declaration

From the 8 hour work day to the bottle bill, from land use planning and public access to the beaches Oregon has been a leader. Over a million Oregonians are very concerned about climate change but they're invisible. Our goal is 100,000 Oregonians signing on to help make Oregon a national model in responding to climate change. Please sign and then share this link with your friends and let them know the importance of this campaign.

350PDX Organizes Hearing on Fossil Fuel Divestment Before House Committee

The House Energy & Environmental Committee held an informational hearing on Climate Responsible Investment organized by 350PDX on February 25, 2014. Testifying before the committee were Sandy Polishuk, Divestment Coordinator, 350PDX; Emily Letherstrom, Senior Investment Analyst, Portfolio 21; Christy Splitt, External Affairs Director, Oregon League of Conservation Voters; Walt Eager, 350.org Corvallis, retired supervisory engineer, Oregon Department of Transportation.

Sandy Polishuk explained the math of climate change, making the case that 80% of fossil-fuel companies reserves need to be left “in the ground” in order to limit climate warming to a liveable level. She then explained 350.org’s strategy of fossil fuel divestment to highlight the destructive practices of the fossil fuel companies. She said, “Divestment would weaken the fossil fuel industry’s political standing and increase the chances of retiring its special breaks by taking away their social license to continue unchecked extraction.”

Emily Letherstrom testified that her company, Portfolio 21, has had “a long-held rational for not investing in fossil fuel companies....our research has found unacceptable risks in the fossil fuel exploration and production industry and therefore we do not invest in companies in this sector.  Approximately 8% of the global equity market is off limits to those who choose to divest, leaving 92% of the market available to a portfolio manager to meet their fiduciary responsibility.” She went on to detail the numerous factors that influenced this decision.

Christy Splitt from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters talked about her work with conservation groups across the state. "Climate is the issue that unites us all, across a variety of issues and from places as diverse as the canyons of Eastern Oregon and the coast." She also noted that 350.org plays a unique role in Oregon. "An all-volunteer, grassroots group coming to the Capitol means a lot. I am here every day, but this sort of advocacy on this all-important issue makes a real difference."

Testimony closed with Walt Eager, a PERS retiree, stating that PERS must divest from fossil fuel holdings. He said, “It is incomprehensible that funds, belonging to Oregon retirees, are being used to destroy the natural environment and economy of the State in which we live and for so many years dutifully served.”

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