By Mikaela Foehr February 16, 2022

Here is another installment of Defend Our Future updates, and let me tell you – our people have been BUSY! So buckle up for this whirlwind of a roundup.

With all our campuses back in session, our ambassadors have been non-stop hosting and planning events.

Campus ambassadors continued to secure office meetings with their local representatives and Members of Congress to voice their needs as engaged constituents.

  • Our University of Virginia team met with Sen. Tim Kaine’s and Senator Mark Warner’s offices.
  • The Colorado State University at Fort Collins team spoke with Colorado state senator for District 31 Chris Hansen.
  • The Iowa team at Central College stayed busy meeting with Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office.
  • We were especially stoked to hear that our Temple University team was able to sit down with Rep. Chrissy Houlahan to discuss her environmental priorities and thank her for supporting the climate investments in the Build Back Better agenda.

We’re proud of our ambassadors for using their power as constituents to tell their representatives how important climate issues are to them – because the backbone of every movement is having people who are willing to speak up even when some elected leaders are less keen to act.

Our chapter at Temple University also teamed up for a neighborhood trash cleanup with local Philly hero Terrill Haigler, known on Instagram as @_YaFavTrashman. A former sanitation worker himself, Terrill is now an advocate for those employed in the sanitation industry and works to inspire support for frontline workers across Philadelphia. He has led a number of food drives and has raised funds to acquire personal protective equipment for sanitation workers. A dozen participants, from both the campus and local community, showed up for the Saturday clean-up. The Temple team was excited to partner with Terrill to raise awareness of the challenges sanitation workers face while serving their community in the process!

In continuation of our partnership with Reverb, Jessica Gomez was our lucky team member who got to attend the Billie Eilish concert along with our Howard University ambassadors Devonte King and Taylor Campbell. Our team spent the evening talking to concert-goers about Defend’s mission, getting them to follow us on social media and sign petitions in exchange for swag before enjoying the music themselves. The concert was a great opportunity for us to gain visibility in the D.C. community and we were able to collect over 70 signatures for a petition urging President Biden to take action to pass the over $550 billion climate investments included in the Build Back Better agenda.

While Jessica and the Howard team were jamming to Billie Eilish, Regional Organizer Alex Ross was advocating for state-level change in Arizona. Last Wednesday was the annual ‘Environmental Day’ at the Arizona State Capitol, a decades-old tradition that both Defend and Moms showed up for this year along with 32 other local Arizona groups. Alex was the lead for his legislative district and spent the day coordinating his team and talking to state lawmakers about important environmental bills coming up in the Arizona State Senate. Specifically, Alex noted there are four bipartisan EV transportation bills on the table which are of particular note to the local groups. The event saw over 150 participants both in-person and virtual and was a great opportunity for Defend to get out and meet lawmakers in the local communities we live in.

Upcoming events that we would love to see you at:

  • Join us for an Instagram live on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 5 pm EST for a discussion on being Black and Proud in the Enviro Movement with our team member Richard Gallon, EDF’s director of DEI and Justice Communications Alyse Richards, and Howard University Ambassador Taylor Campbell! Our handle is @defendourfuture if you aren’t following us already.
  • Anti-Blackness and You, another training coordinated by our very own Training Manager Richard Gallon is coming up on Feb. 24 and we strongly encourage everyone who can to sign up.
  • Finally, we would love to see you at the SCOTUS rally on the morning of Feb. 28 to show the Supreme Court that there is overwhelming public support for strong EPA action on carbon pollution! Sign up to attend for more details.

Returning once more to our digital marketing specialist, Jessica had the chance to speak at an event marking the close of the EPA’s comment period for their new methane rules. Defend, along with Moms Clean Air Force, showed up to show our support and thank EPA leadership staff in attendance for tighter regulations that will significantly cut methane emissions and improve the health of frontline communities near well sites. This is an issue deeply important to us and I want to close by reiterating what Jessica said that day, as it perfectly encapsulates the reasons we fight so hard for change at Defend.

… It’s crucial to my future that decision-makers like those at the EPA take aggressive action to curb methane, one of the most polluting greenhouse gasses. Methane pollution from the oil and gas industry not only fuels the climate crisis, but it also burdens Black, brown, and Indigenous communities who are at the frontlines. We join our partners here and more than 400,000 voices from across the country who have told the EPA, to cut methane, we need to all listen and ensure we get the strongest protections for a clean environment. It’s time to hold polluters accountable and put our communities first.” – Jessica Gomez

Thank you for keeping up with us and I look forward to being able to brag about this program once again in another two weeks.

Warmest regards,

Mikaela Foehr