With snow already on the ground for the season, and shorter winter days ahead, we are finding grounding in gratitude. And we are so grateful for the on-going organizing and hard work of the November Climate Hero of the Month, Jaime Giesen!
And as any good story should go, a little background on our protagonist first.
“I’ve always loved the natural world. I grew up in Denver and went camping a lot as a kid,” says Jaime. “As a teenager, I found inspiration from Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall, and Birutė Galdikus. In college, I studied Land Use, Environment & Resources and Geology at Metro State Denver. Later, I studied Global Community Engagement at the University of Denver.”
Since then, Jaime has worked for over 20 years as a geographic information science (GIS) analyst for the government, both at the municipal and federal levels. And as the climate crisis intensified, and the instability of our political environment increased, she felt the pressure building to do something.
“When 2016 threw me into a panic, I started by subscribing to newsletters and alerts from every organization I could find,” says Jaime. With so many incredible groups out there doing important work for the climate and our community in Colorado, she thankfully found and joined 350CO in October 2017. And since then, she has contributed to the movement in so many ways!
First and foremost, she never misses adding her name to a petition or sign-on letter! What may seem like a simple action to many is truly a core element of good grassroots organizing; using our voice and our power to influence elected officials, regulators, and companies. Without actions like that we miss the opportunity to show our strength in numbers, and when the people lead the leaders will follow!
But most importantly, Jaime is a regular force in our organizing spaces. “I am deeply grateful for all of her participation in committee meetings, and in giving innumerable comments to government agencies on rule-makings and other policy documents, roadmaps and plans,” says Heidi Leathwood, Climate Policy Analyst at 350CO. Often times giving public comment, whether it is online or in-person, can take much longer than expected. Technical difficulties can get in the way. And not understanding enough nuance of the issue(s) to feel confident can be a barrier. But Jaime has shown up time and again to testify, write and submit powerful comments, and ensure that she is not staying silent on the things she cares about. As Heidi also put it, she is a ‘super hero public commenter’ – we couldn’t agree more!
And often times newer organizers need support to keep going and find their ground. If they don’t feel a connection or understand the impacts of their efforts they may drift away. Jaime is always a positive teammate, making a strong, united climate movement and team that organizes around policy. “Her encouragement to other committee members on their ideas and their activism really helps set a positive tone for the group,” says Heidi.
“She has also gone above and beyond to volunteer in her areas of expertise, representing 350CO in a land use coalition with other environmental groups, and creating a story map of pollution sources and health impacts in Colorado.”
“Jaime is a caring, collaborative member of our policy committee, and I always value her perspective.” – Heidi Leathwood
Understanding just how complex the interrelated issues of fossil fuel production, fracking, air pollution, and environmental injustices are, Jaime put hours into creating an incredible tool for the community to use – a story map that explores some aspects of high levels of ground-level ozone pollution! It is important that people understand that ozone is a solvable issue, but we must bring an end to the extractive and destructive process of fracking in order to do so. We of course must also implement other solutions, and have less cars on the road, more public transportation, and more walkable communities. And so for Jaime to share her skill set and expertise in this incredible and generous way is one of many reasons that we think she is an amazing organizer and human being!
“I’m still learning how to be a good activist: how to be useful and effective, and how to balance my professional life with my climate values,” says Jaime. “This means actively evaluating and determining if and when my work life and volunteer life might be in conflict with each other.” Of all the advise we can give to activists that has to be one of the best we can share too; find balance. You can’t pour from your cup if it is empty! So to replenish and find balance she and her husband love to hike and be outdoors.
“The topics and processes were (and still are) overwhelming. However, the volunteers at 350Colorado consistently provide action items I can understand and participate in and they follow up on the topics so that there is continuity to the actions. This is what I am looking for,” says Jaime.
As a Coloradan who cares we sing your praises Jaime! Thank you so much for all the ways you have contributed to the movement over the years. Your leadership, dedication, and leveraging of your skills, expertise, and passion get us closer and closer to the livable, justice-based future we are organizing for.