Last Friday, September 14th, Bill McKibben spoke to a crowded Rackham Auditorium at the University of Michigan. The audience comprised students, professors, aging activists, and citizens of Ann Arbor, MI; a welcoming bunch to hear McKibben speak on the importance of understanding the basic facts of climate science. Not only that, but McKibben challenged the audience to join the movement and become active. Photos of people holding "350" signs flashed on the screen behind McKibben, demonstrating that our movement is truly global.
We all know that "the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts". This certainly is true when it comes to actions to preserve our environment and fight the negative impacts of climate change. Each of us doing what we can - on our own - will make a difference, but large community actions, organized sustainability efforts, and spreading the words and deeds through social media and our collective networks will bring about the greatest degree of positive environmental change and fastest transition to a cleaner energy future.
Last year, an online course on search engine design engaged over 100,000 students in just one semester. With your help, I think we can use this approach to do something meaningful about our energy and climate problems.
So, starting August 23rd, I am offering a free online course in Sustainable Energy Innovation. You can review the course materials at https://canvas.instructure.com/courses/593350. Previous versions of this course have already led to real-world projects that are reducing our carbon footprint here at Clemson University. However, to really make big change, we need more participants, people like you, to take the course.
A common community concern that people brought up Saturday while canvassing was traffic congestion and limited parking. Throughout Lents and specifically on 82nd street there are a lot of businesses on the main road with no parking lots. People are forced to park on the street and in front of houses. It becomes an inconvenience for drivers, homeowners and is detrimental to businesses as well. Often times business are forced out of business simply from having difficult customer access and something many people in Lents cherish is their local businesses.
Organizing on a college campus is a unique experience, and one that differs in many ways from classic “community organizing.” As part of our listening tour, we had the opportunity to shadow an organizer from the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) and get a good sense of what environmental justice organizing looks like in a rural area.
On Saturday, we went to a small rural community with an OVEC organizer to meet with residents who had just received the results of water testing. The effort was spearheaded by one family, the Pierces,* after the coal company went door-to-door asking people to fill out a water quality survey. Suspicious that the company wanted this data without giving any background on why they wanted it for, the Pierces contacted OVEC, which was able to provide free well testing for the Pierces and 10 of their neighbors.
This is the first of several blog posts that we’ll be filing along the Divest Coal Frontlines Listening Tour. We’ve been on the road for several days now, but Internet access has been sporadic, so sorry for not updating more frequently. We’ll try to do better!
We’ve spent the last two days with folks from Coal River Mountain Watch, a grassroots group located in the Coal River valley in southern West Virginia. CRMW has a variety of projects to empower communities fighting mountaintop removal, improve material conditions, and advocate for community-centered economic transition.
The last goal, a post-coal economic transition, is more relevant than ever, thanks to the dramatic decline in the coal industry over the last six months. The decline in coal production is a complex issue for CRMW for several reasons. We had a conversation with CRMW activists about how CRMW has been adapting to these developments. I want to highlight some what we talked about, in no particular order.
I was inspired by Shadia Wood's latest post about visual representations about climate change that speak powerfully to people. There is definitely something very powerful about visual reminders, and it got me thinking about another source of inspiration that affects the way people think: the things we use. I'm interested in the way well-designed products can immerse us in the world of social change.
We don't always think of the objects in our lives as things we interact with. We are used to interacting with people, and even interacting with ideas more abstractly. But there is a way in which socially-conscious products are able to tie all of these elements together. The water bobble, for instance, replaces the use of 300 single-use plastic bottles. With this single product, you get to interact with the story of the people who came up with this innovative design (a sleek bottle with a smart carbon filter) and the idea of minimizing our impact on the earth through waste. From the water bobble, you can even start a conversation as broad as the kind of discussion happening at charity:water, about providing safe drinking water to those without it.
On Monday, administrators from campuses across North Carolina are arriving at Appalachian State University for the Appalachia Energy Summit. The summit is to “aid The University of North Carolina in creating a strategic sustainable energy path for the mutual benefit of our students, the environment, and the world.”
by Chris Diming, VA Campus Organizer, Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Virginia students are at it once again! This summer, CCAN's internship program has expanded to college campuses, and interns are working on the campaign to expose Dominion-Virginia Power all over the state. They are working on a variety of things, including gathering petitions, writing letters to the editor, and building networks of CCAN activities in their communities and on their campuses. The students are excited, because this is the first chance some have had to finally take action on saving the climate.