“The theme of my life at the moment is the nexus of social movements and electoral politics,” says 24 year-old Chloe Maxmin. During my interview with Chloe, which you can read here, she discussed advocating for a clean energy future by protecting public health from natural gas pipeline pollution in her home state, Maine.
Chloe currently writes articles on youth activism and the climate movement for the The Nation. She received national and international recognition for her climate activism, including being named a “Green Hero” by Rolling Stone, co-founding Divest Harvard, receiving the Brower Youth Award, and appearing on Real Time with Bill Maher. Chloe is also writing a book on how the climate movement can become an effective political force.
When I asked Chloe if she could share with the Moms Clean Air Force community some of the lessons she learned about organizing and climate activism, she replied, “This is a big question! I’ve learned so many, I actually wrote an article about this!” In her own words:
Here are a few lessons I learned and ideas I care deeply about:
Love. I heard so many people talk about how angry they are at the world, governments and corporations. The climate movement’s rhetoric seems to identifying only what we are against. I understand this: I am angry too. But I realize that we are angry because what we love is threatened. I’m angry at politicians because they’ve allowed the climate crisis to grow unchecked and threaten everything that I love. It’s important to connect to that love because it underpins all of our climate work. That is how we build a better world.
Radical Now. The only time I ever doubt activism is when I see activists or movements replicating the same behaviors that we fight against. We say that we fight for a better future that embodies justice, equality, and empathy. But sometimes we don’t practice those values, so they stay in the future. The “radical now” means living the values that we preach in every moment of our day – from our small interactions with our families and friends to the ways in which we craft campaigns. This is the foundation.
Moral Clarity of Youth. One of the things that I talk about the most is that youth is its own form of expertise. We are often dismissed because of our age and lack of experience. But young people see through the cloudiness of bureaucracy. We have an unwavering vision of what justice looks like and what it means to be a citizen in the age of climate chaos. We have just as much validity as the Presidents that run our universities, or the Congress people that decide policy.
Beyond Human-As-Usual. Our political systems are built to master human-to-human confrontation. Major historical struggles have been “us versus them.” Today, our foe is not each other. Our foe is physics, and the physical world does not negotiate or compromise. We enter an unprecedented era of “us versus it.” The very facts of the climate crisis require us to depart from the familiar territory of human-as-usual.
Chloe, thank you so much for taking the time to share your work and writing with us. We look forward to reading more of your work in The Nation and your upcoming book. Read Chloe’s full interview with Moms Clean Air Force here.
Image: Mattea Mrkusic via Harvard Political Review