If you’ve hung around me these last few months, you may have seen me banging my head against a wall.
I just couldn’t believe what was going on in the world…
Extremist right wing politicians vying to become the next president of my country. Harmless refugees branded as dangerous terrorists. Actual terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Not to mention melting ice caps, rising sea levels, honeybee colony collapse, the floods in Oregon, the drought in California, the earthquakes in Oklahoma, methane leaks… Oh, and did I mention all the kids suffering from the effects of air pollution?!?
At times, it felt hopeless, I started looking at a map, wondering, Hmmm…Where can I go that’s far, far away…from everything?
Instead, I did what I know how to do. I organized for our local elections. I volunteered to help coordinate our community neighborhood energy challenge. I networked with smarter, tougher people than I who could keep me moving forward, not back.
I took to heart what I learned in high school physics: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
And I realized, it’s not over. We’re not done. They only win if we give up. And giving up just ain’t in an activist’s DNA. It’s not in mine, that’s for sure, and I bet it’s not in yours, either.
All is not lost! Here’s some good news:
- Watch the Paris climate talks videos, the ones of the activists who turned the Arc de Triomphe into a giant sun, or laid down in front of the Eiffel Tower to create a defiant peace sign, or got arrested protesting the polluting corporations that were inexplicably allowed to sponsor pavilions at a summit focused on climate pollution.
- Listen to President Obama’s victorious statement once the climate pact was finally agreed upon by almost 200 countries. Marvel at the fact that for the first time in our industrial history almost every nation on the planet acknowledges that we must stop emitting carbon dioxide and other potent greenhouse gases.
- Look at the streets of Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, DC., at the streams of activists, black and white, marching together down broad boulevards to stand up for truth, justice and fairness.
- Read this report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It finds that the electricity generated from wind and solar grew a lot faster than electricity generated by fossil fuels in 2014 and is on track to do the same in 2015. In fact, solar more than doubled, and wind outgrew all other sources. Now consider all the consumers and prescient institutions that are creating demand for clean energy. They might not call themselves activists, but their actions sure are having an impact.
- And look in my own neighborhood, where we just elected a fantastic progressive activist to our city council, and where we’re banding together to elect our fantastic progressive state senator to Congress. All over town, signs are popping up as neighbors join our community energy challenge, which commits them to saving energy at home and in our town. Our alternative gift fair was more crowded than ever before as people came together to support charities that help educate women and girls, give goats and chickens to families needing livelihoods and sustenance, and refurbish bicycles that can be shipped to people who otherwise have no transportation.
Here are 3 things mom activists can do to create a climate of hope in 2016:
- Vote! – The 2016 Congressional and presidential elections are upon us; much is at stake. Republicans are already vowing to roll back the new Paris climate agreement as soon as their presidential candidate is elected. They want to revive the Keystone tar sands pipeline project. They’ll defund the Environmental Protection Agency if they get the chance, and appoint Supreme Court Justices who could undo 45 years of protective environmental policies. Barack Obama has shown how important the presidency is in the deft way he has used EPA to strengthen clean air regulations, not to mention cancelling the Keystone pipeline. So vote as if your life depends on it, because it does. Vote with your dollars, too. Boycott companies that do not have your best interests at heart. Shift your spending to those that do. That goes for your investments, too. Divest from polluters. Invest in changemakers. Be a (progressive) crowd-funder.
- Get Vocal! – Do not sit silently by, even if it’s your friends and family who don’t think we can or should change the world. Be agreeably disagreeable – but make no mistake, make your voice heard. Attend rallies. Send emails. Use hashtags. Tweet. Facebook. Pin. Wear a Moms Clean Air Force t-shirt. Clip on a button. Carry a banner. Wave a flag. Don’t be silent. We have everything to gain if we all speak out – and everything to lose if we don’t.
- Volunteer! – Can you name one effective social movement that was NOT powered by volunteers? The environmental movement would not exist today if thousands of volunteers had not been on the front lines. In the early years, they buried cars and wore gas masks to protest dirty air. Activists staged die-ins when polluted rivers caught on fire. More recently, some have committed civil disobedience at the White House to emphasize the need to keep dirty energy out, and pushed strollers across Capitol Hill to remind elected officials that our children deserve strong protections against toxic chemicals. We would not have cleaner air, or cleaner water, or a growing consensus about threats like climate change without volunteers.
Think you have no time to take action? Try Naptime Activism. When the baby takes a nap sign a petition. When the kids sit down to do their homework, join them at the table for ten minutes to email a letter to the editor or write a note to your elected official. We call this Naptime Activism. It’s easy to sign a petition — and join Moms Clean Air Force for automatic alerts and the latest climate change news.
Whether you are new to Moms Clean Air Force, or have been a stalwart supporter over the past few years, there will be some head banging, but keep a bottle of champagne nearby — we’re hoping for lots of opportunities to pop a few corks in 2016!
Happy New Year!