This has been a rather hectic 5 or 6 weeks for me with running shipping logistics for our Meso Creso camp at PEX Summer Festival, visiting friends in Utah for a few days, time with family in NYC and maybe most significantly, traveling to Philadelphia for most of the Democratic National Convention.
My initial plan was to go and share our petition on carbon pricing in the national platform, but of course as fate would have it things went in a slightly different direction. A couple of weeks before, I connected with a couple of delegates from California who wanted to organize a Climate and Environment Council within the Democratic National Party. Of course I had the same reaction that I’ve now seen many times since I got involved last month – “Why doesn’t this already exist??” – and rolled up my sleeves to help.
I ended up taking a key organizing role with this group (as someone with the organizing skill and the time to commit in the lead-up to the convention) and it was a truly powerful and eye opening experience, although not without frustration and disappointment at a few moments as well. During the convention, we successfully brought together over 100 people: delegates, prominent activists, party leaders – even Dennis Kucinich and James Cromwell stopped by for some of the proceedings of our kickoff organizing meeting. We made progress on bringing together a widely diverse group of stakeholders, agreed on the council existing as a vehicle to help grassroots organizers be heard and have a stake in the establishment’s direction, hold leaders accountable for party platform promises and hold space for those who’s climate concerns til now had been marginalized in the party. We’re developing the structure and formal motion to enact this council over the next couple of months, and I’ll continue to be one of the key organizers and deeply involved in the heavy lifting to make this happen.
The rest of the convention was quite the experience – I was deeply moved by the level of frustration and conflict on display, and felt grief about how this was being downplayed and hidden by the party story and the mainstream media. At the same time, I was inspired by the openness and welcoming, appreciative and empowering attitude of the many grassroots organizers I connected with – this felt so fresh and real and I immediately felt kinship with these people. To the point that they welcomed me to step in and help with our disruption of a Politico event funded by the American Petroleum Institute that was pushing fossil fuel propaganda left and right.
I was also deeply struck by the interconnectedness of the many groups, causes and individuals from around the country on display and working together, directly and indirectly at the convention (mostly within the progressive movement from my position on the outside of most of the formal proceedings). I showed up on the east coast less than a year ago with a clear feeling to focus on carbon pricing and a desire to learn what I could – so quickly I have felt my appreciation expanding that there is no single fight to win, no straightforward solution to the converging crises we are facing. And this experience really showed me much more profoundly how necessary all of these fights are, how important they all are regardless of whether local, state, national or international, and how deeply we must support and build upon each other. And of course my current hero Charles Eisenstein published a piece on this very subject days after the convention, which I’ve been sitting with quite a bit and highly highly recommend.
Disrupting API’s propaganda event hosted by Politico
And, I would be remiss not to mention my deep gratitude for my friend Roman who joined me from DC throughout the convention and provided tremendous help, insight, wit, empathy, action and a growing friendship that I’m extremely grateful for.
A final cool note to round out the month – I have been thinking a lot too about how I might use my gifts here in DC more directly to work toward more unification and healing of the deep social wounds we’re facing – ones that lead to things like our inability to understand each other, increasing political polarization and the rise of national leaders where terribly low approval ratings, and ultimately to our relative paralysis in the face of crises of ecocide and climate change among others. A great opportunity for this has come up in a spot being offered to me on the Board of Directors for Catharsis on the Mall, a regional burn/activism event here in DC that I’ve been helping out some with since it was founded last year. Very excited to join that team and see how I can help shepherd it along!!