Families Rise Up

Organizing for Climate Justice


Our group has a new name!

September 2021: We’ve changed our name from Mother Up! to make it clear that all families and genders are welcome. We believe strongly that the climate justice movement must make sincere efforts to be inclusive to families and to actively seek out the voices of parents and youth in all aspects of this work, and we are committed to doing our part.

For many parents, our days are filled with putting food on the table, wrestling limbs into snow gear and checking in on school work. Often our busy lives prevent us from taking a leading role on the larger issues at play in the world in which we are raising our children. Many parents share a profound sense of despair in the face of climate change, yet feel powerless to act. By building “Families Rise Up: Organizing for Climate Justice,” we at 350VT are engaging families to take action in both their own communities and those most affected by the fossil fuel industry. We believe parents and kids are powerful voices in advocating for the health and safety of our collective future. (“Rise Rebuild Recreate” photo collage made by the Montpelier family group in honor of Earth Day 2020.)

If you’re a parent, join us at an upcoming event or meet-up (listed below). You can also join our active Facebook group, which currently has more than 725 members. Questions? Please reach out to our project coordinator, Heather Buckner, at familiesriseupmontpelier@350vt.org.

Backstory & Looking Ahead

Our group name change from feels overdue, and we extend heartfelt apologies to anyone who has felt excluded from participating. While that was never our intention, we acknowledge the harmful impacts of the group’s prior name. The group’s first name was inspired by Sun Dance Chief Rueben George, who, on behalf of his First Nation, was a co-­coordinator of the resistance against the Kinder Morgan proposed tar sands oil pipeline and tanker expansion. Chief Rueben’s mother, Amy George, a Tsleil-Waututh elder, told him to warrior up! In the fall of 2014, activists from Rising Tide Seattle were granted permission to adapt this phrase to “Mother Up!” and we were granted permission to extend its use here in Vermont. In addition to being a reference to “Mother Earth,” the phrase “Mother Up!” was intended as a verb – to mother – as opposed to a noun. We hope that our new name contributes to healing and carries with it the call to rise up for our collective home here on Earth without associating that call with a particular gender. It takes everyone to change everything!

Our vision is to build locally-based parent networks across Vermont that not only participate in climate justice work, but also become leaders in it. We will support these groups by providing leadership development, educational opportunities and logistical support. As a tool to facilitate one-on-one conversations with Vermont parents, we began with a survey that asked parents to reflect on their family structure, the challenges that they face as parents, and what climate change means to them. Nearly one hundred parents participated from Southern & Central Vermont, in addition to Chittenden County.  The results of the survey were used to understand common concerns, chart existing parent networks within communities, and to identify potential parent leaders. Join the movement!


Collective video testimony – Check out this powerful video testimony from the Family Clothing Exchange for Climate Action event on the State House lawn on September 11, 2021. Thank you so much to our incredible volunteer videographer Jerome Lipani for putting this together for us and everyone who shared their hearts and stories on why immediate climate action matters for their families.

Mothers plead for action on climate change – Stephen Mills – Feb 6, 2020 – Times Argus

‘Mother Up’ for the climate: Abby Mnookin working to make change happen – Kevin O’Keefe – October 18, 2019 – Brattleboro Reformer

Episode 14: Climate Justice Organizing with Abby Mnookin and Sonia Silbert from 350VT – Out in the Open Radio Hour with HB Lozito – October 7, 2019 – WVEW 107.7

Group unites parents to address climate change – Ross Ketschke – August 27, 2019 – myNBC5

Are Parents the Sleeping Giants of Climate Change? – Dave Cohen – January 30, 2019 – Keene Sentinel

Grant Funding and Donations

We are tremendously grateful to all of our donors. Funding has been provided by 350VT, Seventh Generation, and a growing list of donors. Click here to make a donation to help bring more families into the climate movement. Thank you for your support!

Monthly Meet-ups

Family groups meet throughout the year with childcare and snacks provided. Schedule varies; check calendar for updates. Due to COVID-19, we are currently hosting small, outdoor in-person meet-ups with masks required when not eating or distancing. In lieu of a shared meal, individually-wrapped snacks are available.

Montpelier– date, time & location varies

Contact: Heather Buckner, familiesriseupmontpelier@350vt.org

Brattleboro– no regular meetings at this time

Contact: stay connected by sending google group request to brattleboro-families-rise-up@googlegroups.com

Burlington– no regular meetings at this time

Contact: stay connected by sending google group request to burlington-families-rise-up@googlegroups.com

Lobby Day at the State House 

Our legislators want to hear what’s important to us, and when we speak out, they listen. This day is an opportunity for parents and families throughout Vermont to come together to let our legislators know that not only is climate change a top priority for us, but also that NOW is the time to lead the way with bold climate solutions. After all, our children are counting on us. To find out who your legislators are based on your town, go to https://legislature.vermont.gov/people. Stay tuned for our 2022 date to share our voices during the current legislative session.

Our extraordinary 4th annual Lobby Day on February 6, 2020 was filled with heart, poetry, song and love. We held a press conference, joined once again by Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman; testified to the Climate Solutions Caucus, which included a rendition of “My Baby Drinks Water” that you can listen to here; and delivered “Love Letters to Mother Earth” in honor of Valentine’s Day to all 180 lawmakers, outlining specific climate demands this legislative session. Check out press coverage of the day here.

Our 3rd annual Lobby Day on February 14, 2019 was a tremendous success! Dozens of parents and children from across the state spoke out for climate action beyond lip service, delivering “Love Letters to Mother Earth” in honor of Valentine’s Day to all 180 lawmakers. Check out these photos and this video from our press conference. Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, who spoke at the press conference, also wrote about our visit to the State House in his newsletter.

Learn about our 2nd annual Lobby Day on February 15, 2018 with this blog post and this Vermont Public Radio commentary, Parents as Activists.

Summer Trips

July 2019

Deep gratitude to Sherri Mitchell – Wena’hamu’gwasit and the leaders of the incredible Healing Turtle Island ceremony! And thank you to all of the families and friends who traveled to Nibezun, Maine, “sacred ground of the Penobscot people…along the shores of the Penobscot River, providing a gateway to the traditional way of life of the Wabanaki peoples.” We were part of the ceremony alongside people from all over the world who gathered “to heal the common wound that we carry from our shared history of violence; to heal the wounds carried by Mother Earth, and; to heal the imprint of those wounds in the energy field overlaying the land.” Stay tuned for more reflections and report-backs. Plus, we hope to return next summer! More information, including links to a donation page, here.

August 2016
 In 2016, five families traveled to Northeastern Pennsylvania to see first-hand some of the effects of fracking. Joanna Macy’s description of the three dimensions “The Great Turning” applied to this trip – resisting fossil fuels, building new systems, and changing of consciousness. Read more about their story here.