By Chase Dunham, a member of 350VT’s Writing for Climate Justice group
It was the morning of the second day of 350Vermont’s Next Steps Climate Justice Walk. All 60-plus of us gathered outside the community center to discuss the walk we had ahead of us that day. But there was a surprise that morning, as members of another climate activist group called Extinction Rebellion, wanted to join in on our walk to help raise awareness for climate justice. The more the merrier, right? Well, apparently not quite.
In contrast to 350’s more hopeful messaging on how to tackle Climate Justice, the neighboring group choose to express themselves in a more dire tone. This was communicated rather concisely as they rolled out a prop coffin symbolizing our potential future if no action against climate change is taken.
Naturally, some were uncomfortable mixing Extinction Rebellion’s darker messaging in what was supposed to be more optimistic affair, but after some light debate and a round of voting, we accepted Extinction Rebellion and we walked together, coffin and all.
I can’t help but think, even now, how sad it would have been if Extinction Rebellion had been turned away due to some minor messaging differences. If we turn away help, are we not turning away potential allies and resources in the future? How could we as a group, strive to initiate worldwide cooperation and adopt more environmentally conscious policies, when we possibly couldn’t even cooperate with another group fighting for the same cause? I’m proud to say that we didn’t make that decision that Saturday.
That morning made me think of all the other environmental groups out there beside 350VT, and how we should be embracing each other to make our movements stronger. Whether it’s a group dedicated to reforestation, or animal preservations, we’re all really fighting for a healthier, more sustainable earth. Think of how much bigger our walk could have been if we solicited more collaboration with other groups? What if we extended our reach outside typical environmentalist groups and maybe coordinated something with a hunting/fishing wildlife organization? More communication could help everyone’s cause. Imagine if we ever got to the point where all these groups managed to coordinate pools of activists that freely hopped and swapped between events? And we could concentrate all our volunteers towards bigger events, like our climate walk. Think of it like a United Nations of activist groups with similar passions and goals. Because if we truly want to see change, we’ll need to bind together when and where it makes sense.