Updates

Your Investment Matters – Personal Divestment Workshop

your investment matters“Whenever we spend a dollar, we are saying ‘yes’ to something.” Those wise words have stuck with me and haunt some people every time they make a purchase of something they’d rather not be affirming. You probably try to buy local food, buy clothes and furniture second-hand, and maybe even buy solar power (or at least buy less fossil fuel). But have you thought about your investments? Your mutual funds and 401K may be invested in the same companies which are destroying our planet, and you may not even know what you’re saying “yes” to. Divesting your portfolio from these dirty stocks is the ticket. But how to begin?

Get the help you need to take the influential step of divesting from fossil fuel stocks, and ensure that you have other viable options to invest your money. You’ll be able to take the information to your place of employment and to your friends and family to encourage them to divest as well. (more…)


The VT Youth Activism Summit was AWESOME!

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50 teens attended, bouncing from workshop to workshop, pizza party to ice cream social, silk-screening to the healing arts space, there was something inspiring for everyone. Teens learned skills of observation, communication and transformation as in a Theatre of the Oppressed embodiment activity about racial justice.

To lift up the importance of creativity in the struggle for justice, we created an art space which was constantly full of young people creating their own stencils, banners for the march, and silk-screening tee-shirts. To center the importance of self-care in our movement work we created a healing arts space where participants could come and get massages, herbal teas, tarot readings, make fire cider and more.

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Why Break Free?

Break Free: Stop the Bomb Trains
On May 14, people from across the Northeast will stand in the way of the fossil fuel industry in one of the largest actions in a coordinated, global wave of escalation. In Albany, NY, local groups have been fighting oil trains—which bring explosive fracked oil from the Bakken shale of North Dakota to the Port of Albany—for about four years.  May 14th will be the first mass direct action, an escalation welcomed by the local community. This is one person’s call to action.

Why?

If I asked you to be part of a huge global day of civil disobedience for the Climate, you might well ask me “Why?” Why should I spend time and energy travelling to the distant city of Albany to shut down operation of a rail yard for a day, and then go home and back to business-as-climate-destroying-usual?

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Please Help Young Climate Activists “Rally for the Planet”

youth lobbyOver the past few months, students and teachers from over a dozen Vermont high schools and colleges have given up their Sunday afternoons to plan a major day of action to promote greater political action on climate change.

They are calling this event the Youth Rally for the Planet, and hundreds of students have already signed up to attend! They could really use your help to make this day a reality! These students will march together in solidarity, learn more about climate change through educational booths on the Statehouse lawn, and stand together to listen to speakers and performers demand greater political action on climate change.

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Break Free Albany: Stop the Bomb Trains

Break Free Albany is a mass action for climate justice on May 14th where thousands of people will stand up against the fossil fuel industry in North America. Break Free Albany represents a coalition of communities and organizations gathering for a mass civil disobedience act against oil trains, gas pipelines, and other fossil fuel projects. It is time for the fossil fuel era to come to an end! Many people will participant in the direct action or come to rally and stand in solidarity.

This action is part of the 350.org initiated Break Free From Fossil Fuels global week of action – May 7 through 14. Albany 2016 is one of the actions in the United States, complementing other actions across the country and on five other continents. Sign up to take a stand against the fossil fuel industry here!

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No New Leases/Surround the Superdome

New Orleans, LA | March 23, 2016 | K.C. Whiteley reporting12891151_10205628548502283_1427425124478694306_o

As part of the national Keep it in the Ground campaign, the “No New Leases” action on March 23rd at the New Orleans Superdome represented an historic moment in the environmental movement here on the Gulf coast.

Hundreds of protesters from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia arrived in New Orleans on the morning of March 23rd to defend the waters and eco-life of the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf coast communities joined national and global partners to say no to the continued exploitation of the Gulf as a “sacrifice zone” for fossil fuel development.

At stake was 43 million new acres of federally controlled ocean for fossil fuel development, an area the size of the entire state of Louisiana and half of Mississippi, and the 8th largest carbon source remaining on the planet.

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Seizing our property, for what good?

The following blog post is by Terence Cuneo, UVM professor, father, and resident of Williston, VT, who faces eminent domain. Terence and his family aren’t giving in. Please consider helping them in their legal battle with a donation.

 

It’s a big deal when the state decides to seize a family’s land. Yet, given its agreement with Vermont Gas (VGS), this is exactly what the state of Vermont is now doing to our family. I would be hard pressed to find the words to express our anger about this. The decision makes no sense.

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The right to own and retain property is among the most fundamental rights that we enjoy as US citizens. I think everyone agrees to that. I think everyone also realizes that the right is not absolute. There are circumstances in which the state must appropriate land that belongs to others. But the circumstances are rare. And the reasons for doing so had better be extremely powerful. The bar they must clear is very high.

It is plainly obvious to me that the primary reason the state has offered for seizing our property is not powerful. It does not clear the bar. Here is the reason the state offers: providing natural gas to roughly 2600 customers over fifteen years is a public good. This public good, moreover, is of such importance that it entitles the state to seize the land of property-owners. Nobody denies that installing this pipeline has some benefits. But I strenuously deny that the good is of such importance that it justifies the state seizing our property.

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Teetering on Destruction

As part of an interdisciplinary, independent study project in both the media arts and environmental studies, Ross Henry, a junior at St. Michael’s College, is telling the story of climate change’s devastating effects on both the landscape and the culture of Alaska. Throughout the month of March, Ross is on the front lines of climate change: remote villages, century old glaciers, iconic dog mushing races, and entire ecosystems. Ross hopes his documentary, will both educate about a region that is misunderstood, but also inspire people to realize the beautiful regions that are teetering on destruction.

Iditarod 2016 Willow

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Climate Organizer Leadership Training

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What is the 350VT Building Ground Climate Justice Leader Training?

We will spend a full weekend learning, deepening, and building the skills necessary to undertake powerful climate justice work within our communities. The Building Ground training specifically focuses on sharing fundamental frameworks about climate justice and building the relationships that empower effective leaders.

At Building Ground, you can expect sessions where you will:24958884804_b045176989

  • Explore the complex definitions of climate justice and the myriad approaches that individuals and groups undertake to achieve this goal,
  • Deepen your own understanding of racial justice and its fundamental connection to the climate crisis,
  • Learn in detail about 350’s specific approach to changemaking and organizing,
  • Begin to articulate your own leadership and changemaking approaches and identify personal goals and next steps for your return home,
  • Learn specific strategies to support your work (frameworks, facilitation techniques, and core organizing skills),
  • Connect with other emerging leaders from around the state and region and build a community of courage and creativity.

Why Now?

These times demand that we build powerful and loving social movements that are strong enough to confront and overcome the systems which have created the climate crisis. With the impending urgency of this climate crisis and the lack of leadership in our federal government, and at a time when various movements for justice around the world are uniting to work together, this is the moment for each of us to step more fully into our own leadership and power.

This requires taking the time to build our own ground as citizens, leaders, and organizers. This ground – our collective knowledge, skills, joy, grief, and courage – is where the strength in the climate movement lies. It is a deeply intersectional ground where our individual lived experiences connect with our visions for the future and with the visions and experiences of other people and justice movements around the world. Generating this rich soil for our movement is necessary if we are going to confront this crisis with the boldness, creativity, resilience, and love that we need.

Why You?

First, the basics: If you’re wondering if you’re “qualified enough” to be a part of something this… you are. If you’re wondering if you “know enough” to be a part of something this… you do. If you’re wondering if you’re “good enough” to be a part of something like this… take a deep breath and know that we need you. Here is a list of some reasons that you might consider attending…

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  • You are excited to learn and deepen your knowledge of climate justice and the climate movement
  • You want to be a part of a community of inspiring people who are ready to stand up and confront the reality of the climate crisis
  • You have bold ideas and questions and you want to learn how to put them into action
  • You want to grow your own skills and abilities and be part of a community of practice that is learning together
  • You know this moment in time requires tremendous leadership and you want to find your own way to contribute
  • You feel moved by this invitation in some way that you can’t quite describe, and just feel like you want to be there!

The Details

Building Ground will begin at 4pm on April 7th at the beautiful Common Ground Center in Starksboro, Vermont and will conclude at 4pm on Sunday April 9th. It is important to understand that attendance for the entire weekend is 28003855285_f9121f3790_brequired to participate. (If you have questions about this, or want to attend but feel like you will not be able to be present for the entire time, please contact Jen Lazar at jen@350vt.org.)

Cost of the program ranges from $50-$175 depending on what you feel you are able to contribute. This amount covers the cost of food, lodging, and facilitation for the weekend. On the registration form there is more detail about how to determine the amount of contribution you are able to make. **Please note if this presents a financial hardship for you there is sponsorship available and no one will be turned away based on financial need. We want you there and we will work with you to make that possible!

Space is limited for this program, so please sign up early! First round of registration closes on February 24th. If you have any questions or ideas, please contact Jen Lazar at jen@350vt.org.

If not now, then…

If you can’t make these dates, or need something that is closer to where you live, don’t worry! We will be hosting multiple of these programs this year. Check back here for updated plans and other upcoming trainings and workshops.


Beth Sawin: three forces of change experienced in Paris and gratitude for them

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Beth Sawin at UMass Lowell Climate Change Solutions for the Future We Need. Photo Credit: Climate Interactive

I’m home and I have read (well skimmed) the Paris Agreement and read lots of commentary from many smart people who have written about what the deal itself means, so I won’t add to that. (There’s a good easy to understand summary at Grist, by the way).

Instead my last ‘update from Paris’ is about .

1. Feedback. Healthy systems need timely and accurate feedback. Here our tiny Climate Interactive team has had a role since Copenhagen, a role I think we played well in Paris. The world didn’t close the emissions gap yesterday, but the gap is so clear now and so well understood that no one is leaving Paris thinking the work is over.

2. Goals. Systems steer toward goals. That’s why the inclusion of the 1.5°C goal is so important. The goal doesn’t itself change the world, our hard work and joyful collaboration does that. But the goal keeps us focused, it motivates, and 1.5 is a significant enough goal that it rules out the distractions of false and partial solutions.

3. Beliefs. About ourselves, each other, and our Earth. At one event I went to Mary Robinson spoke, and then Casey Camp Horinek, an indigenous women from Oklahoma. And Casey said: “Never did I think I’d hear the former prime minister of Ireland use the words Mother Earth.” There’s some convergence happening between worlds that used to not intersect. I felt it a year ago at the People’s Climate March, and felt it more in Paris. Jobs, health, the rights of nature, the rights of future generations, the fact that we survive together or not at all. Suddenly all of that is so obvious it’s as though we always knew it. But we didn’t. We really didn’t. (And I know it’s not universal, not nearly enough, but in Paris what connects us felt, to me, stronger than what divides us).

And so my deepest gratitude to those who, at Paris and beyond, weave the connections. The diplomats who held 200 countries together, the young people who see themselves as citizens of a planet, not nations.The indigenous people, the workers, the healers, the farmers, the city planners who are all showing up and saying, we hold a part of the solution, listen to how it looks from where we sit.

It’s messy, slow, and incomplete. It’s organic, surprising, and invigorating. Frustrating, unfair, insufficient. But most of all, not done yet, but not blocked either. With a place and an important job for each of us.

 

Beth is Co-Director of Climate Interactive, a not-for-profit organization based in Washington DC aimed to help people see what works to address climate change and related issues like energy, water, food, and disaster risk reduction. A biologist with a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Beth trained in system dynamics and sustainability with Donella Meadows and worked at Sustainability Institute, the research institute founded by Meadows, for 13 years. Below is her reaction to the news from Paris.