Jun 13, 2019
Over 300 people showed up in the rain on May 15th to learn about the Green New Deal (GND). People of all ages, from little children with their parents (there was a table for the kids to color postcards with climate-friendly slogans to be sent to Gov. Newsom) to older folk, including many like myself, who are in the “Old Greyhair” League, were at the Fairgrounds to hear about local efforts to implement the GND.
Most prominent were young people, who were also the primary presenters. Introduced by Daisy Pistey-Lyhne of Sonoma County Conservation Action, local teenagers from the Sunrise Movement and Youth Vs. Apocalypse* joined experts fromSonoma County Conservation Action, North Bay Jobs With Justice, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), and Sonoma State University’s Climate Research Center in speaking about the interconnections between jobs, economic justice, and climate solutions, especially at the local level.
Tabling by 25 organizations provided information on local actions participants could take, and, after the speakers, people were able to meet in groups by city to contact their City Councils asking for action on issues affecting climate justice locally. One of those issues is getting cities to declare a climate emergency. Petaluma passed such a resolution on May 6th.
I was able to interview two of the young women presenters. Eleanor Jaffe, a senior at Analy, and Annabelle Lampson, a junior at Orchard View School, have been active in environmental justice issues for several years. They were two of the four organizers for the March 15th School Strike for the Climate in Sebastopol and were active in planning the town hall meeting on May 15th. Both are members of Youth Vs. Apocalypse, the youth leadership program of 350 Bay Area and are on the Youth Advisory Board of the Center for Climate Protection, organizations that’ve been instrumental their developing leadership skills that have enabled them to be so effective in confronting the climate crisis and issues of environmental justice.
Eleanor was heavily influenced by her dad, a big advocate for the environment. Annabelle originally became a vegan because of her concerns about the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses; later she learned about meat eating’s contribution to the climate crisis. Then her attendance at a Youth Empowered Action Camp helped her develop skills to fight for social justice.
Both of them were involved with starting composting programs at their schools. They stressed the need for community-level mobilization with widespread pressure on elected officials.
“The GND is about communities having their own struggles and issues…and having the conversations we have never had before.”
“This new climate movement is so important; it’s amazing that it’s youth-led…people need to sacrifice a little to save the planet and the humanity but the sacrifices don’t have to be that big,” said Eleanor.
Annabelle told me, “This is a critical moment with the human species and how we are treating the earth. We have to get out of the individual consumer mentality and learn how to give back to the earth which has given us everything. We need to develop great respect for the earth and all natural systems and gratitude for the earth.”
When I asked Annabelle if they would be “lobbying” the convention, she said, “No, we’ll be protesting. We will be loud and we will be seen.…When you show and demand that things get changed, it takes calling it out.”
Asked about Greta Thunberg’s influence, both of them said that while they had been doing this work long before they knew of her, she has inspired people worldwide, and they and their friends look up to her.
*Youth Vs. Apocalypse is a climate justice fellowship of 30 young people from across the Bay Area. They meet monthly in Oakland to learn leadership skills and plan actions they can take. Their next big program will be joining the Sunrise Movement at theDemocratic State Convention in San Francisco.
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