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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

To Save Ourselves

It has been a rough ride, has it not? Most of us are likely still shaken by the events in Charlottesville this past weekend.

I've done quite a bit of reflection and self-analysis the past few days. As a white woman from a middle-class family, I recognize my privilege. I do not worry about the safety of my daughters should they have an encounter with the police. I do not worry about them being targeted for the color of their skin. What I do worry about is my own "white guilt" and the tendency of us white folk to take over spaces and conversations as a result of that guilt – and, even worse, not really contributing much when we are present. I worry about the lack of time I have to really hone in on this issue as I use my privilege to fight for environmental issues. But mostly, I worry about the fate of our planet and our society.

I worry that there is SO MUCH work to be done on racial issues in this world we live in. And I have pledged to do more as a white woman and an ally – to go beyond sharing articles on FB and Twitter. To have tough conversations with my white friends and families. To help make space for POC to tell their own stories and to do the work that they feel needs done. To not, however, rely on them to do the work that needs done among allies and our white brothers and sisters. To do my own work in assessing my privilege and utilizing it to help begin deconstructing a system that places white lives above all others.

But I also worry about our planet and – more specifically – the future of ALL people. The fate of our society should we continue down this path of pillaging the Earth for the preserved remains of once-living beings and burning them for our own gain. I have been struggling with how to continue this fight – the one I have been engaged in for so long – while also making more space in my life to engage in the battle for social justice.

In this time of reflection, I have been reminded that DAPL, KXL, and the majority of the fossil fuel infrastructure in this country is built almost exclusively on the land/backs of Native and other communities of POC. Environmental and social injustice can - and often are - one and the same. These communities - along with allies - are still fighting the #NoDAPL & the #NoKXL battles because they are socially and environmentally unjust. Coal-fired power plants, factories that produce – or use – toxic chemicals, industrial farming facilities that generate unspeakable amounts of animal waste – all of these tend to be placed in areas where those who live nearby do not have the means to fight against them – minority communities and/or those of low socio-economic status.  I realize that the time I spend battling for environmental causes – including the climate crisis – is also time spent fighting for my sisters and brothers of all backgrounds.

BUT. There is more I can do. There is more we all can do. There has to be. Because in order for the climate crisis to be resolved, people of all races and backgrounds have to believe that they are safe in doing this work. We cannot expect our Black or Indigenous or Latinx siblings to put in the work on climate when they have to worry about racists threatening them or their families. Many of them are already engaged in the struggle to #ActOnClimate – but we cannot demand their participation. We must work to ensure a society that is safe and inclusive for all people; otherwise what are we fighting to protect?

This war – because this is indeed a war for our society and the Earth that we know and love – must be fought on two fronts. One for our physical world. And one for our society. Most of the battles will overlap. But even when they don’t, we must recognize that we do this work for the betterment of all. For the survival of all.

In order to save the planet we must save ourselves. And it is apparent there is much work to be done.

Monday, July 24, 2017

#BeInconvenient

I've been hiding from reality - unsuccessfully - for much too long. It turns out that the world doesn't get better just because you try and block out all of the horror. The runaway environmental disaster, the economic fallacy, the human-caused devastation of war - none of this goes away when you stop looking. It just builds and builds until you can't hide from it anymore and then it slaps you in the face hundreds of times over when you finally open your eyes.

I'll be honest - I'm tired. I've only been in this fight for a little over a decade and I'm damned exhausted. I don't understand how those who have had their eyes open - those who have lived decades upon decades completely woke on every level - do it day in and day out. Their strength and stamina is a miracle to me. One I am desperately trying to emulate in my own life. So I am struggling back up out of this funk and reawakening to reality.

This fight is hard. So. So. So. Hard. And I come from a place of privilege. A place where I don't have to expend most of my energy just to survive. And there is guilt that comes with that. Along with a sense of obligation. To fight harder. To fight for all those who can't. To fight for all those who will never have the chance.

So who is with me? Who is picking up the banner and pushing forward? Who is ready to do the real work, the real resistance? Because the revolution will not be easily attained. If we want a future for our children - one with clean water and a livable climate and affordable food - then we can't be complacent. We must stand up. We must speak out. We must resist. We must be inconvenient.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Climate Family

I have been thinking often lately of the incredible people I am surrounded by in this work that I do. I have had a small handful of amazing friendships over the years, but there is something about a common cause that can bring people together in a way that is unique and soul-changing.

When I started this journey of climate advocacy, it was mostly a lonely path. I would meet people at conferences or meetings and would then continue on my own, trying the best I could to make a difference in my own life. But jumping into this work with both feet, with my entire being, not only changed my perspective, it changed my community. While the work that I do is exhausting, often unfruitful, and at times depressing, the family I have gained along the way is incredible, uplifting, and worth every sleepless night.

And that's what they are to me, these fellow Earth Warriors. Family. The bond I feel with them goes beyond mere friendship. Being joined together in a fight for the very future of human society, for the fate of the planet, for over half of all species, for Mother Earth herself...that kind of bond is something that cannot be described to those who don't have it. We are family bound by activism, by a cause, by passion and drive and intellect. And we are so much stronger because of it.

This family is much like any other. There are groups that are at the core of my life, and then there are the supporting roots and branches. We may not all know every detail of each others' lives but we impact one another through our work and our inspiration and our love. Each and every one of these people is integral to the resulting family tree, whether they realize it or not.

So here's to you, Fam. Thank you for sustaining me. For understanding me. For supporting me. For loving me. Your presence in my life has changed me and made me a better person in every way.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

To Change Everything, We Need Everyone - PCM

As a Hoosier, I once felt like I had no company in Indiana when it came to the climate crisis. Living in a small-town/rural setting left me feeling that there were few others who understood the severity of the times we are living in, much less were as passionate about this most pressing of all issues as I am. I had friends who "got" it in a way, but they were all able to remove themselves from the crisis mode I find myself living in day in and day out. (Honestly, I have long been jealous of the ability of others to shut out the horror and just focus on living their lives.) Unfortunately, I am not able to "turn off" my awareness - and I thought that perhaps I was the only one who constantly felt this overwhelming weight.

Turns out, I am far from alone in my quest to "save the world" in Indiana. And, honestly, I was far from being the only small-town/rural Hoosier who have these feelings, too. In fact, now that my work revolves around environmental advocacy, I have met countless individuals who care deeply about the climate crisis and are dedicated to finding solutions right here in our state. And I am thrilled to say that we are planning an event to bring all of them together.

Saturday, April 29th - one week after Earth Day - there are marches planned all across our nation and the world to demand climate action and to stand up to the inaction of the Trump administration. I am honored to be working with a phenomenal coalition of other concerned individuals and organizations to help coordinate a People's Climate March right here in Indiana. And I am urging everyone to join us! We will be bringing our demands to the streets of Indianapolis. It is often easy for our legislators to ignore us when we march in other states - often dismissing those events as full of "East Coast liberals" or "paid protestors". But when we turn out in force in our state's capitol and raise up voices of impacted communities, marginalized peoples, and those on the frontlines of fighting for climate justice, it will be impossible for them to tune us out.

I hope to see everyone at the People's Climate March Indiana! We will be gathering at 10:30 am at the War Memorial in Indianapolis for speakers and music, then marching through the streets of Indy to speak truth to power in a united, urgent, and relentless voice. Please see more details on our Facebook event page.

Climate Warriors Unite!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Save Indiana Solar

It is a big week in the Indiana General Assembly for the future of renewable energy. Senate Bill 309, the anti-rooftop solar bill, is being voted on in the House Utilities committee after passing through the Senate with flying colors a few weeks ago, despite an outpouring of opposition from citizens. There is no doubt that this terrible bill is a tipping point for Indiana's energy future.

SB 309 would essentially kill net metering in Indiana, the process by which customers who generate their own electricity through the use of solar panels or other renewables are able to feed the excess electricity that they generate back to the grid and receive fair credits for their contribution to the system. SB 309 will end the net metering process after a tiered grandfathering process. This would severely undercut the growth of solar energy in Indiana.

In a state that still gets over 70% of its electricity from coal, solar energy provides essentially zero risk to utilities. However, per usual, the major utilities want to squash any semblance of competition or any kind of small dent in their enormous profit margin. Make no mistake: this bill was written and put forth by utility lobbyists with the help of legislators in the Statehouse who receive large contributions from the industry.

Indiana currently has more jobs in the solar industry than in the coal industry. And more jobs in the renewable sector than in oil and gas combined. In other words, renewable jobs outnumber those in fossil fuels. So not only is this bill bad for the environment, bad for the Earth's climate, and bad for Hoosiers who will no longer receive fair credit for their investments in renewable energy; SB 309 is also bad for Indiana's economy and job growth.

I urge everyone to take action ASAP and call your state representative. Tell them you oppose Senate Bill 309 as it is bad for Indiana's energy future, bad for the air our children breathe, and bad for the economy. Not sure who your legislator is? Go to http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/ and enter your address. There is no excuse for not taking action. Our children will thank you.

Want to learn even more or get updates on legislative issues? Go to www.hecweb.org/solar.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

For the Earth Warriors: Clinging to Hope

It was an unusually dark week for me. A rollercoaster of emotion and activity. It was the kind of week that takes your breath away, forcefully blows air back into your lungs, and then knocks the wind right back out again.

I won't get into all the details of what my week consisted of; suffice it to say that the work I do can be grueling, brutally exhausting, and - occasionally - incredibly rewarding (hence why I persist). And this week tested me in ways I had not been tested in quite some time.

I suffer from anxiety and panic disorder (with some mild depression mixed in; you know, just to keep things even more fun). My anxiety is most often rooted in the climate crisis and the devastation we are wreaking on this planet upon which we live. This makes it an impossibility for me to ever "get over" the trauma that I feel daily. And I am slowly learning more about this constant state of panic and guilt and anger and grief that I live with because I finally - after two decades of fighting it - decided to begin seeing a therapist. This week was only my second visit, but I am already uncovering so much about myself - especially how to visualize and conceptualize the feelings and thoughts that I so often have. And that is a priceless gift.

In addition, the ability to sit and talk with someone about the trauma I feel from decisions beyond my control, knowing the impact they will have on my children, is incredibly healing. To have someone who will not try and placate my fears or reassure my terror but will instead help me find ways to live with it, sit with it, and - somehow - still find joy and peace in my life is a relief that I cannot adequately express.

For those who, like me, are struggling to keep their head above the dark and stormy sea these days, I offer this bit of advice (for what it's worth): find someone to listen to you, to lend you perspective, but also to cry with you, to sit with you, and to just let you be inside of your darkness for a little while. Only by accepting where you are and learning the depths of all that you are feeling can you hope to find a place that allows you to both be true to the pain that you feel and the struggles that you endure, as well as make a place for hope and joy in a world that you are working so desperately to save.

We have much work to do and we must steel our spines and gird our hearts...but we must also let in those that can help us find the love and joy that make this work that we do worthwhile.

Onward, fellow Earth Warriors.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Strength of the Standing Rock Sioux

A few of the tipis at the Oceti Oyate camp.
Photo taken by my friend Joshua Taflinger
Today they come for the Water Protectors.

They are coming for those who are standing up for their rights, their land, their water – and for us all.

They are going to try to forcibly remove Native Americans from their ancestral lands again.

Will this never end?

The Standing Rock Sioux have endured more than I can possibly imagine – more than most people can even comprehend. And they are being asked to endure even more.

I wish I could be there, to stand alongside them. I know many who are or who have been and they all return changed in a way. They have stood alongside the bravest, most terrorized, most marginalized, strongest people that have ever walked this land; and that experience opens their mind and spirit in ways that I can only hope to one day experience.

The Lakota and their allies are fighting to protect water, land, and, indeed, the climate for everyone.

And they are fighting for their continued existence. For their children. For their culture. For their survival as a people.

May they stand strong.

May they persist far beyond today.

And may they slaughter the black snake that is threatening their land.

My spirit is with them and my strength is theirs.

#NoDAPL #MniWiconi #WaterIsLife #StandWithStandingRock #ActOnClimate