Earth Month 2023
The theme for Earth Month 2023 was “Invest in Our Planet,” and Defend Our Future took that to heart. We spent April investing in our planet by building connections across organizations, uplifting small businesses and promoting climate solutions. We are investing our time and resources into building community engagement and partnerships so that our clean and green future doesn’t just prioritize the planet’s needs but the needs of our communities.
Power Shift Convergence
To kick off Earth Month, Defend Our Future’s Community Organizing Project Manager, Alex Ross, led a group of Environmental Defense Fund staff to attend the Power Shift Convergence 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Convergence gathers youth climate activists and environmental justice organizations from across the United States. There we listened to and learned from environmental justice and frontline communities about their needs and how we can better mobilize resources to support them. Over the three-day convergence, Alex built connections with organizations like Rise St. James and young activists from across the country.
Gatherings like these allow us to renew and deepen our vision and goals of building a sustainable future for everyone a reality. Defend Our Future is excited to be working towards formally joining the Power Shift Network later this year. Becoming an official member will help us continue to center our work around the young people most directly impacted by the burdens of the climate crisis and build deeper connections across the youth climate movement.
Defend Our Beer
You might not have realized it, but beer and climate advocacy go hand in hand. Nick Haas, campaigns project manager for Defend Our Future, planned an event that got over 100 people to join us at City-State Brewing in Washington, D.C. to talk climate – how climate change threatens the craft beer industry and what solutions are out there to solve it. The speaker line-up included Campus Ambassadors from Howard University and George Washington University, the owners of local breweries Urban Garden Brewing, Sankofa Beer Company and City-State Brewing, EDF’s Director of Agriculture Policy Andrew Lentz, and the famously hoppy Sen. John Hickenlooper!
Our signature “Defend What You Love” events bring more people into the climate movement by making critical connections between climate change, the local economy, and the things young people enjoy. At this one event, focusing on a single thing (beer), we had people from all walks of life talking about defending something they love.
Seeding the Future
A simple-yet-effective way to invest in our planet is to plant trees! And when done in towns and cities, planting trees and creating more access to green spaces is also a great way to invest in our communities. Seeding the Future is Defend Our Future’s campaign to create equitable access to green spaces, using the $6.2 billion allocated to tree equity and other related programs through the Inflation Reduction Act.
Throughout April, Defend Our Future hosted events to educate our communities on the benefits of green spaces and tree cover and build community awareness for funding opportunities. Defend Our Future’s Iowa chapter partnered with Trees Forever, a local tree-planting organization, for a community planting event in the Pella area. Seeding the Future events will continue throughout the year, especially as we push to get Urban and Community Forestry’s tree equity grants into the communities that need them most, so stay tuned!
Environmental Justice and You Workshop
Part of investing in communities means ensuring our members and audience are conscious of how they show up in their community and the legacies at play in the climate movement. Richard Gallon, Defend Our Future’s Organizing & Training Manager, rounded out our Earth Month activities with a 101 Environmental Justice & You workshop to do just that. The training had over 20 attendees for a two-hour conversation on identity, power and privilege, how we each relate to the climate movement, the importance of approaching advocacy through an intersectional lens and more.
Coming up next
Defend Our Future will be promoting Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month all of May, so be sure you are following us on Instagram and TikTok @defendourfuture! This means informative carousels, entertaining Instagram Lives and more. We will also be rolling out some of the amazing stories we’ve collected of young people taking action and making change in their communities which we cannot wait to share with you all.