By Elisabeth Gick and Miranda Glasbergen
“…we need to start treating this (climate) crisis like a crisis, and we need to step out of our comfort zones.”
That was Greta Thunberg, speaking like a true leader at the Friday for Future climate march in Madrid, just last month. In this article, we want to call on all our 350 Colorado members to do exactly what Greta suggests. It’s not too late to make a New Year’s resolution. Let’s get out of our comfort zones, and start acting like climate change is the crisis that we know it to be. We need an unprecedented number of ordinary people to raise their voices, with an urgency and tenacity as if lives were on the line – because they are. And we know we can do this, because we did it three years ago.
Starting with the first Women’s March in January 2017, the country saw a huge increase in civic engagement. People from all walks of life were jolted out of their comfort zone to get involved in national, state, and local politics. Groups of like-minded and determined folk joined existing organizations and initiated new ones. If you’re reading this newsletter, perhaps you were one of them. Do you remember those days? We started postcard writing clubs, made “a phone call a day”, participated in rallies and sit-ins and die-ins. Perhaps more impactful than anything else, many of us got on a first-name basis with our elected officials, and took every opportunity to share our views and priorities as constituents. For many of us, emphasizing the urgency of decisive action on climate was at the top of our list.
That was three years ago, and activism is hard work. Over the next three years, naturally, but incrementally, we all became less fervent.
This, however, is another new year and a new decade. It is the year 2020, and we need to be as clear-sighted as possible. With only eight years left before our carbon budget is used up and temperatures will rise more than the barely tolerable 1.5 degrees Celsius, the elections of 2020 may well be the most significant we have ever experienced. The leaders we elect this year will help us save our beautiful planet or they may continue to destroy it. They will determine our future – especially that of our children – for better or worse.
This is the time for a whole-hearted re-commitment to climate activism.
If the task seems insurmountable, let us suggest some strategies to make it energizing and fulfilling, rather than draining and depressing:
- Become part of a group (see Action of the Month in this newsletter). Our 350 “family” is our life support. More brains are sharper than one, more hands are stronger than two, celebrating the rare victory is more fun in a group – and crying together beats doing it alone. Sign up for a local group here!
- “Follow your heart” when selecting the issue you want to devote your time and energy to. Your passion is your strength. Within 350 Colorado, you can choose between being a fracktivist or a proponent of regenerative agriculture, a fundraising elf or member of the newsletter team, among so many more opportunities. Sign up to join a campaign here!
- Make a resolution to get to know or re-engage with your elected officials. It’s amazing how little our representatives often hear from their constituents. And since they are necessarily generalists, you can make a real impact by demonstrating your passion and educating them on climate-related issues. Find contact info for your legislator here!
- Make a point to attend our Climate Lobby Day at the Capitol! Find information here and RSVP here!
- Commit to one, two, or more personal lifestyle changes. Our December newsletter offered solid options, from the easy (like bringing you own grocery bags) to the more dedicated out-of-the-old-comfort-zone actions (like going entirely plastic-free at the supermarket). Learn more on our blog!
- Talk to family, friends, and neighbors about the urgency of the climate crisis, and what they can do. Don’t just stop at light bulbs and water bottles, but point to the importance of electing leaders who will help curb the relentless heating of our planet.
- Get involved in voter registration and as a helper on Election Day.
Those are just some ideas of how you can re-dedicate your energy to being a part of the solution in the new year. The important thing is to tap into your passion for people and the planet, and make a resolution to make this your best activist year yet. There couldn’t be a more crucial time!