San Luis Obispo 2019 Women’s March

Speak your own truth to power.

You might not think that the Women’s March has anything to do with the environment or climate change, but I think it does and this is why.

The beautiful but ailing sphere that we call Earth is home to billions of people and billions of other livings things. On Earth, the environment is continuous and does not recognize county lines, state boundaries, or international borders. We are all connected, our fates intertwined.

In nature, diversity is a strength. The healthiest ecosystems are the ones with the most biodiversity. We humans need to use our own diversity to help heal our Earth.

On Saturday, January 19, 2019, the Women’s March leaders in San Luis Obispo, CA demonstrated that they get this by advocating equality, respect, and love for people of every gender, hue, belief, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ability, and age—meaning everyone.

This post contains a few highlights of my experience as an environmentalist at the Women’s March.

Reusable Protest, March, Rally Sign

The day before the Women’s March, I realized I needed to make a sign.

I discovered the power of carrying a sign during the March for Real Leadership in Oakland, CA on February 7, 2015 (my first march). That day, fortunately, generous artists had made signs for people like me who did not bring one. I still have it.

Since then, I usually make my own signs. Thanks to my handy spouse, our signs are environmentally friendly because they are reusable. The base sign is black corrugated plastic with a removable pole. We use water-soluble paints and rubber cement that peels off. Then after a quick wipe with a wet towel a sign that used to say, “I Heart Science” (for the March for Science) is ready to become a different sign.

With only one day to make a sign, it was a good thing that I already knew what I wanted on mine.

If I was artistic, I would have drawn and painted a likeness of the Statue of Liberty on my sign, but I am not, so I found an image on the Internet, printed it, and attached it with rubber cement. Luckily, we had white and orange paint on hand. I sketched out the letters in pencil but things quickly got out of control when I had a paintbrush in my hand. I painted this year’s theme “Truth to Power” on the back.

At the March, I attached a couple of stickers to my sign that I obtained in Call to Action Alley.

Call to Action Alley

When my spouse and I arrived at Mitchell Park carrying our signs, we discovered that we were at the entrance of Call to Action Alley where booths for a variety of nonprofit organizations had been set up along the walkway.

Call to Action Alley beckoned but I paused eying it with trepidation.

I am one of those shy introverted people who are often uncomfortable talking with people I do not know. On the other hand, I like talking with people to learn and gain other perspectives. I even joy debate, as long as it is friendly. I know weird, right.

My spouse patiently reminded me that the people staffing these booths were there because they wanted to engage with the public and they were probably used to dealing with all sorts of people.

Plucking up a bit of courage, I stuffed my comfort zone into my pocket and we headed into the fray. Unsurprisingly, regardless of how inarticulate I was, the people I spoke with were nice and seemed genuinely interested in talking with me about their organizations. I came away feeling more informed about several groups.

The photos below are of a few of the volunteers I spoke with along Call to Action Alley. I asked them if I could take their pictures but I forgot to ask their names, sigh.

I admit that it was a relief to find some familiar faces near the end of the Alley at the SLO Climate Coalition booth. The Coalition is a community group committed to creating a carbon-free San Luis Obispo city and county. I am new to the group, but I have met several of the members. The photo below is of the contingent of volunteers at the booth before the hordes arrived after the march through downtown San Luis Obispo.

SLO Climate Coalition Booth - Women's March San Luis Obispo, CA - January 19, 2019
Sarah Flickinger, Donna Durek, Mike Horgan, June Cochran, and Elyssa Edwards (left to right) volunteering at the SLO Climate Coalition booth at the Women’s March in San Luis Obispo, CA on January 19, 2019.

Women’s March

After talking with people in Call to Action Alley, I was happy to stand on the lawn with my sign and listen to several speakers, a poet, and two musicians.

Near the beginning of the speeches, the police chief stood at the microphone smiling and told the crowd she was happy to see us and that the police were there to support us. She did not even lecture us about safety or being on good behavior.

The speakers were diverse, powerful, and thankfully brief (crowds have a short attention span). In between speakers, we were entertained with a poem featuring the word “bucko” and the songs I Won’t Back Down and Fight Song.

Adequately riled up and ready to hit the streets our crowd of about 4,500 people headed off to march (stroll) through downtown San Luis Obispo.

Music and the scent of food cooking greeted us as we arrived back at the park.

Speaking Truth to Power 101

Dr. Leola Dublin Macmillan’s speech resonated with me. She used part of her time to do what she said she does best which is to teach. Leola inspired us with a crash course in Speaking Truth to Power 101 in five steps. This is my interpretation of what Leola said.

Dr. Leola Dublin Macmillan - Women's March in San Luis Obispo, CA - January 19, 2019
Dr. Leola Dublin Macmillan speaking at Women’s March in San Luis Obispo, CA on January 19, 2019. Photo credit David Middlecamp at The Tribune (click photo for link to article).
  1. Find Your Passion – everyone has something she or he cares about and if you are not angry about something that is going on in the world right now you are probably not paying attention.
  2. Find Your People – as you pursue your passion, these people work alongside you, support you, laugh with you, cry with you, and protect you.
  3. Find Your Platform – amplify your voice, stand strong, stand proud, be loud, and stand for others.
  4. Find Your Power – find the warrior inside of you, roar your truth, understand the ramifications of speaking out and do it anyways.
  5. Find Your Place – this is your happy place, safe place, and healing place where you renew your spirit.

It has been almost eight years since I quit my corporate job to found Green Groundswell with the mission to convince myself and other unlikely environmentalists to live more lightly on Earth.

Since that time, I have been searching for and finding my people. My people include my family and friends who continue to love and support me even when I am ranting and raving that my hair is on fire about one environmental issue or another and I do not understand why everyone else’s hair is not on fire.

Find your people and speak your truth to power.

Featured Image at Top: This is the front my 2019 Women’s March sign with the stickers I added at the March. It says “Truth to Power” on the back.

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Green New Deal for the 21st Century

The Green New Deal is an emerging idea that is gaining momentum because it gives us a vision of a better future and a way forward that includes everyone.

Imagine living in the United States of America where clean air, clean water, healthy food, a safe place to study, work, and live, and an opportunity to thrive is available and accessible to everyone.

Even though the framers of the U.S. Constitution were not a diverse bunch (being all white men), I still think they envisioned the America that I described above and said so in the preamble to the Constitution using late 18th-century language.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Everyone needs a habitable planet to live on but the U.S. federal government is actively making climate change worse by ramping up fossil fuel development, dismantling protections for people and the environment, and denying that there is a problem.

Apparently, many of our elected officials have forgotten whom they work for or just do not care. We the people need to take back our power and demand that they either step to the plate or take a hike (we made progress during the last election).

The Green New Deal could be the rallying cry we so desperately need to unite us and mobilize our country to do the work necessary to keep Earth habitable for everyone.

So, what is the Green New Deal? After a quick refresher of the 1930s New Deal that inspired the Green New Deal, we will take a look the green version.

1930s New Deal

The stock market crash of 1929 led to the Great Depression that was well underway in 1932 when Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president and declared,

“I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.”

By the time he took office on March 4, 1933, the banking system had collapsed, unemployment was at almost 25%, and millions of people had lost their homes and farms.

As he had promised the American people, President Roosevelt immediately set about making the New Deal a reality.

Civilian Conservation Corps Rock Creek Bridge in Little Rock, Arkansas
Bridge across Rock Creek in Little Rock, Arkansas built by the Civilian Conservation Corps – Photo Credit Eric Hunt – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

From 1933 to 1936, millions of federally funded jobs put people back to work on projects as diverse as planting trees to building bridges to painting murals, new federal agencies formed, and Congress enacted legislation reforming the banking industry and stock market, strengthening protections for workers, and setting up the social security system.

A lot has changed in the United States since the New Deal ended some eighty or so years ago. The Green New Deal is for the country we are today.

2020s Green New Deal

Ideas for a Green New Deal have been swirling around for well over a decade but had not gained much traction, until just after the November 2018 elections.

On November 13, 2018, young activists wearing black Sunrise Movement t-shirts and holding yellow signs saying “Green Jobs for All” and “What is Your Plan?” occupied soon to be Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly elected congresswoman from New York stopped by to add her support for a Green New Deal.

The Sunrise Movement’s message is simple, audacious, and inclusive.

“We’re fighting for a just transition to 100% renewable energy within 12 years—the time frame set by the world’s leading climate scientists.”

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and other representatives supported the formation of a House Select Committee for a Green New Deal with the authority to develop a detailed national Green New Deal plan and draft legislation in 2 years or less, with implementation taking place the following 10 years (currently there is no plan to do anything).

Major goals of the Plan include:

  • Transitioning to 100% renewable energy
  • Building a national smart electricity grid
  • Making all buildings energy efficient, comfortable, and safe
  • Eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing, agriculture, and other industries
  • Upgrading water infrastructure to ensure everyone has access to clean water
  • Investing in drawing down greenhouse gases
  • Making “green” a major U.S. export and helping other countries bring about a global Green New Deal
  • Guaranteeing a living wage job to every person who wants one
  • Helping people transition from fossil fuel energy jobs
  • Providing a just transition for all workers and people living in disadvantaged communities

Speaker of the House Pelosi, who has the power to establish committees and appoint representatives to committees, nixed the idea.

Instead, she decided to resurrect the Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming (2007-2010) renaming it the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and appointing Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida to chair it. This committee will not be working on a plan for a Green New Deal.

The thing is the proverbial genie is out of the bottle. The Green New Deal idea is garnering increasing media attention and gaining proponents in the House of Representatives. Even a few 2020 presidential hopefuls are talking about it.

“Green is the new red, white and blue.” – Thomas L. Friedman

What Can You Do?

  • Learn more about the Green New Deal. Of course, you can read whatever you want; however, on your behalf, I have slogged through dozens of articles and selected several that I think will give you a good grasp of the topic and will point you to other articles and resources.
  • Talk about the Green New Deal with your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and community leaders.
  • Tell your elected officials that you want them to support the Green New Deal and share with them what is important to you.
  • Join an organization that is mobilizing to support the Green New Deal.
  • Participate in a Green New Deal protest march, sit-in, or rally (please refrain from hopping on an airplane to do so).

I am in. Are you in?

Featured Image at Top: Piece of paper in a typewriter with the words “If not now, when?” – Photo Credit iStock/IvelinRadkov

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