A whirlwind summer of climate advocacy

Summer 2017 was extremely busy with environmental advocacy work, most of it centered around the Ready for 100 Columbus campaign and my work as a Climate Reality leader. I also participated in several progressive political events.

Ready for 100 Columbus

My work on the Ready for 100 campaign got underway in earnest this summer with two Sierra Club training conferences: the National Gathering of all Ready for 100 leaders in Miami on June 21-23, and a Connect the Dots training for four Ready for 100 team members in Oakland on July 13-16. Both trips to train local activists were paid for by Sierra Club.

Aerial Art Action in Miami

The Ready for 100 National Gathering was held in Miami in conjunction with the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which passed a resolution supporting cities committing to 100% renewable energy. At the gathering we got presentations on the vision for Ready for 100, creating a public narrative, campaign principles, effective practices, roles and capacities, and community dialogues. We also did an aerial art action on Miami Beach, coordinated by John Quigley, who organized the famous aerial art action at the Eiffel Tower during the Paris Climate Conference.

Yosemite Summer 2017

El Capitan in Yosemite, Summer 2017

I was the only one from Columbus to attend the Ready for 100 training in Miami, but in July I got to take a team of four people to a Connect the Dots training in Oakland. Whereas the Miami training was more about high-level campaign principles and story, the Oakland training concentrated on the nuts and bolts of how to run a campaign. Another Columbus group attended a second Connect the Dots training in Washington, D.C., and together our teams were assigned to put together the same Connect the Dots training in Columbus in the fall.

Muir Woods Summer 2017

Muir Woods, Summer 2017

Since I rarely get to the west coast, I decided to go early and use two days before the conference to tour Yosemite National Park and Muir Woods National Monument. I stayed in a hostel in downtown San Francisco and caught a daylong tour to both places. I got hundreds of great photos at both Yosemite and Muir Woods, but photos cannot do either of these two natural wonders justice. You have to go and see them for yourself.

I wasted no time in putting what I learned at these trainings into practice with the Ready for 100 campaign in Columbus. This summer I started being asked to speak about Ready for 100 at multiple events, including:

My Ready for 100 Columbus team also organized a coalition launch on July 18, designed to reach out to supporters and like-minded advocates in other environmental groups in Central Ohio, to start building our base moving forward. About 20 people showed up, and a couple of them became core volunteers.

Climate Reality

Me, Kristen Ricker, and Preeti Jaggi gave a presentation of "The Climate Crisis and Its Solutions" on June 17.

(left to right) Me, Kristen Ricker, and Preeti Jaggi gave a presentation of “The Climate Crisis and Its Solutions” on June 17.

After mentoring at the Climate Reality training in Denver in March, I worked hard to keep up with my leadership commitments. Upon returning to Ohio, I worked with Preeti Jaggi and Kristen Ricker, two other Climate Reality leaders in Columbus, to host a presentation of the slideshow at Upper Arlington Public Library on June 17. We each took a third of the presentation and gave it to an audience of about 40. Given how much we had to fit planning, publicity, and rehearsal of the presentation between other activities, we were thrilled to get that many people.

Also this summer, Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power was released. I was invited to a special showing of the film for city leaders in Cleveland on June 24, then attended free showing in Columbus at the Wexner Center on August 2, Gateway Theater on August 3 where I spoke as part of a panel after the film, and Lennox Town Center on August 9. At the three Columbus showings, we had postcards for people to sign asking City Council to commit Columbus to 100% renewable energy. We got about 100 postcards at each event.

Climate AbandonedFinally, in August journalist Jill Cody put out a call over the Climate Reality intranet for authors of book chapters for her forthcoming book Climate Abandoned. One of the chapters needing an author was on the “Product of Doubt.” Between school and other environmental activities, I didn’t have much time to write a book, but this is a topic I have read about extensively, and I couldn’t resist. I signed up to write the chapter, which ended up dominating my winter, spring and breaks until I turned in the 51-page manuscript in August 2018. The chapter was so substantive, covering climate denial campaigns of Exxon and the Koch brothers, that Jill broke it into three sections for the published book, which you can find here.

Progressive Politics

This summer I have not been able to do much direct political organizing, but I did attend three memorable events: the People’s Summit held June 9-11 in Chicago, a Bernie Sanders rally to save our health care on June 25 in Columbus, and the Mobilize 88 summit held July 22-23 at Deer Creek Park in Ohio.

I was somewhere in the upper deck of this audience to the right witnessing history.

I was somewhere to the right in the upper deck of this audience witnessing history.

The People’s Summit, organized by Our Revolution, People for Bernie, and the National Nurses Union, was full of amazing and inspiring speakers like Nina Turner, Van Jones, Nomiki Konst, RoseAnn DeMoro, Naomi Klein, Michael Moore, Linda Sarsour, Thomas Frank, Larry Krasner, Chokwe Lumumba, and of course Bernie Sanders. You can see the recorded sessions here.

Bernie Sanders leads a rally to save our health care in Columbus on June 25, 2017. That's my friend Puja with her arm raised on the upper left.

Bernie Sanders leads a rally to save our health care in Columbus on June 25, 2017. That’s my friend Puja with her arm raised on the upper left.

Bernie’s Save Health Care Rally was held inside Lifestyle Communities Pavilion, which only holds about 4,000 people, but it was packed. I worked the media table with my friend Puja Datta, who was also chosen to be on stage with Bernie. The atmosphere was electric, as local politicians Mary Jo Kilroy and Betty Sutton turned out.

Mobilize 88 featured keynotes by three women of color – Nina Turner, Anoa Changa, and Stacey Hopkins. Look up their work. Several local progressive activists also spoke. Here is coverage from Real News Network.

Experiencing history at the Women’s March

A multiperson banner near the Washington Monument at the Women’s March.

I have read my entire life about Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, which happened the year I was born. When I first heard about the Women’s March on Washington, I knew it would be just as historic, and that I didn’t want to miss it.

Part of our contingent from Columbus, Ohio, in the subway headed to the march.

I managed to get a seat on the “Rolling into Washington” tour, operated by Rise Travel, which conducts advocacy and education travel to rallies around the country. Time on the bus went quickly as we listened to workshops with state Rep. Teresa Fedor and former Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy, watched films like Suffragette and She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry about the fight for women’s rights, and got to know our seatmates.

When we got on the metro into downtown DC, I started to get the feeling the march would surpass all expectations. Even at 6 a.m. at the outermost stop, the station was packed. By the time we made our way to the Washington Mall, it too was getting packed.

One of several signs about climate change that I saw at the march.

As more people poured into the mall, it became so full we could barely move. Yet somehow everyone was nice to each other, letting people by one at a time, and pointing out possible stumbling hazards like steps in the sidewalk or tree roots sticking up.

Unfortunately we couldn’t get near the speakers, but at least I saw them on CSPAN when I got home. We did hear the event was so crowded – at least half a million people with some estimates at 1.5 million – that they cancelled the march itself because the route was filled.

Around noon I got hungry and left to find lunch. It took a half hour to get to the Air and Space Museum at the other end of the mall, another half hour to get in, and another half hour in line, but eventually I ate.

I took the opportunity of the journey to get photos of as many signs as I could. The signs were colorful and creative, on all kinds of topics. I was especially heartened to see a lot of signs about the importance of taking care of the climate and environment.

Signs left outside Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.

After lunch I found people were marching spontaneously down Pennsylvania Avenue. I turned a corner and found the Old Post Office had been converted into a Trump hotel. Hundreds of people had spontaneously left their signs on the fence in front as calling cards for the new president.

Despite the crowds and confusion, the mood of the march was joyous and resolute. People had come to Washington depressed and in some cases in despair. What they found was hundreds of thousands of others who had the same American values they did, and who were not going to let their values be run over without a fight.

One sign summed it all up: “In this house we believe Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights are Human Rights, No Human is Illegal, Science is Real, Love is Love, and Kindness is Everything.”

I and lots of others left Washington that night with a new emotion going into the Trump era: Hope in our fellow Americans.

A version of this story appeared in the April 2017 newsletter for Sierra Club Central Ohio Group.

See a set of photos from the Women’s March here:

DC Womens March (3)

See a series of videos that I took at the Women’s March here:

My class blog

My name is Cathy Becker, and I’m a staff member at The Ohio State University.  I’m also attending classes, seeking a master’s in public policy, with plans for a dual master’s in environment and natural resources.  I started the program in Summer 2014 and expect to take about four years going part time.  This is my personal site for my studies at Ohio State.  Opinions here are my own.

On the links at the top of the site, I’m hoping to post work products from my courses.  These will be organized by semester, with blog posts going in the home page area.  I’m also going to try to do as many study abroad trips as I can afford and have time for during my time here.  These will be posted under the semester of the associated course, with blog entries posted here.  Hopefully the space will not get too unwieldy.

For anyone who ends up here, hope you enjoy what you read!