Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Headed to the Golden Coast

I’m writing this blog in the house of a Green Corps alum within Salt Lake City, Utah. I’ve embarked on my second cross-country road trip for the year, hitting up two more states (Iowa and Nebraska) that I haven’t been to before. This puts my total count to 42 states ever visited, with having been in 40 of them in the last two months.

The last several weeks have been filled with rotations of emotion between shock, anxiety and excitement. I'm still shocked that I am in such an amazing program, with such amazing people whose network is perhaps the best in the environmental movement. I'm also shocked that I got such an amazing campaign, of which I'll get to in a second. I'm anxious about my skill sets and diving into this heavy level of organizing that includes everything from training, leadership development, phone banking, petitioning, rallying, and so on. Finally it is hard not to be excited! To be involved at this level, working on campaigns across the nation creating substantive change is the most empowering idea I've ever experienced.

I’m now headed to Berkeley, California for a few days and then will settle into Santa Monica to rally up the residents for opposing Proposition 23. This proposed proposition will essential kill the previous progressive global warming legislation that was passed in the state several years ago by nullifying it until unemployment in the state gets below 5.5%, something that won’t happen for a long, long time. This is time we don’t have regarding the WORLD’S most advanced climate policy. That’s right, California isn’t just leading the United States but actual the world with this act. If this proposition passes it could significantly impede efforts across the planet to fight climate change at a time in which we are already drastically behind on action. This makes the stakes at an all time high. This campaign, if we are successful, will help save the world as we know it. Really-- it is not a far exaggeration to say that I’m directly working to save the world.

I couldn’t have asked for a better campaign.

This campaign, of course, gets even better. You see, two Texas oil companies are providing the funding for prop 23. Considering all that is happening with the gulf oil disaster there is no wonder in my mind that out-of-state oil interests will see their actions backfire with the public. This makes things very black-and-white and Valero has made itself the perfect villain for this story. I can’t speak on any of our organizing strategies… yet. Stay tuned.

For information on the campaign, click here.

Alas it is midnight (or 2:00am EST, which was just two days ago). I should sleep as we have our final 14 hour driving leg ahead.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Green Corps 2011 - Day 3 of Training

I’m now in day three of Green Corps training, the ‘school for environmental organizing.’ They have likened it to a master’s degree in environmental organizing and honestly it is hard not to see the success of the program. With around 275 alumni since the early nineties, members have become executive directors across the board in some of the top environmental organizations in America. Just in the last few days we’ve had speakers such as Phil Radford, the executive director of Greenpeace USA. While I’ve always been skeptical of their tactics, Phil seemed to me to have a solid head on his shoulders. He discussed the ‘million dollar megaphone’ we’re up against with corporations willing to spend whatever they can to keep things easy for them. In terms of his organization having a radical public perception, he emphasized that ‘we should be radical and effective.’

Yesterday we had John Rogers, the senior analyst from the Union of Concerned Scientists talk about their report, Climate 2030: A National Footprint for a Clean Energy Economy. This report goes into if a cap-and-trade carbon program in conjunction with implementing local polices toward a clean energy future could not only save the country hundreds of billions of dollars but also can create millions of jobs and save tens of thousands of square miles of space in our country (mining efforts may take upwards of 80,000 square miles). Solutions like this make sense, but unfortunately the steps we need to take to have a just transition to a sustainable economy are blocked by strong corporate interests, that million dollar microphone. This is one of the main reasons why the cap-and-trade bill just fell in the senate.

I must run, but this has been an amazing experience already, meeting a great diversity of organizers (there are 21 of us in the class of 2011) from all over the country. We face extraordinary challenges ahead and we must put forth a tremendous effort to bring about a just and clean future for all.

Of course with the hard deadline of 80% reductions of carbon emissions by 2050 only having a 50/50 chance of being enough to stabilize climate change, we must always continue to push in this movement.

“50/50 shot for our kids’ future? I don’t think so!” said Phil Radford.