Across the country this past week, Defend Our Future and our earth-loving partners were out in force in celebration of Earth Day. From Phoenix to DC, we spent the week educating our peers, raising our voices, and taking action to both praise the progress we have made and demand further, utterly necessary, climate action from our decision-makers.
On the education front, Training Manager Richard Gallon hosted an Environmental Justice and You training session on April 21. Systemic and environmental racism is ever-present in American systems, which is why it is critically important that we keep a focus on environmental justice at all stages of creating and implementing climate solutions. Richard led this training to emphasize why these issues are so important, show participants how they can see the effects of environmental racism in their daily lives, and identify how individuals can get involved in combating environmental racism. The training drew 20 participants for a riveting two hours of discussion and introspection. So riveting in fact that half of the attendees stayed an extra hour to continue the conversation! Although this was Richard’s last training of the spring, he will be back with plenty of learning opportunities throughout the fall – so keep your eyes peeled!
We also spent a lot of time talking about fish and how important it is to defend our oceans! Regional Organizer Nick Haas sat down with Ruth Driscoll-Lovejoy from EDF for our new and improved Ask an Expert series on Instagram to talk about Ruth’s work on sustainable fishery and aquaculture policy, and how we can all be a part of a more sustainable seafood industry. In case you missed it you can find the chat on our Instagram.
Speaking of fish, our long-awaited Defend Our Oceans webinar was a huge success. Nick lined up a wealth of experts to talk about all things oceans, including Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1)! Attendees were able to learn from small business owners and nonprofits about some of the ways climate change affects our oceans and how we as everyday people can help remedy those issues. The companies and organizations represented included Taylor Shellfish Farms, Flying Fish Oyster Bar, SailDrone, Reef Renewal Curacao, and the Oceans Program at EDF. In case you missed this event (and all the prizes that came with it!) you can catch it on our Facebook page. For those of you who did make it, thank you for celebrating Earth Day with us.
All of this was before we even got to our big day of action – last Saturday when thousands of people in Washington, DC, Phoenix, Arizona, and Atlanta, Georgia gathered in front of their state capitols to fight for our futures. Defend Our Future stood proudly as partners in these events, and we were overwhelmed by the passion of the participants.
Collectively, the coordinated rallies across the U.S. were intended to place pressure on elected officials and decision-makers to take bold action on climate now. To see what it was like to be there in person you can watch our live stream from the rally on our Facebook. The events generated considerable media coverage – in The New York Times you can see our Manager Jonathan Soohoo and University of Virginia campus ambassador Madison Crouch sporting our logo! On top of that, another of our campus ambassadors, Saiarchana Darira from Arizona State University, was quoted in azcentral. for an article covering the Arizona rally. You can also follow along with Saiarchana’s Earth Day in the “ASU Takeover” highlight on our Instagram profile!
Outside of coordinated national efforts (and as it happens actually outside), many of our campus chapters hosted local cleanups to give back to the planet that gives us so much. Teams at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, University of Central Florida, University of Virginia, and Colorado State University at Fort Collins spent their weekend recruiting volunteers and tidying up their favorite green spaces. Collectively they all gathered over 40 volunteers! Here is one of our favorite photos from their time in the sun.
Ambassador teams at ASU and UNCG were also able to fit in legislative meetings this week! The ASU team partnered with Climate Action Campaign to host atown hall with Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-1) and UNCG met with Rep. Kathy Manning (NC-6) to talk about youth climate priorities. Both the event and meeting were great successes with a considerable amount of engagement from the representatives themselves. You can catch a video of the town hall conversation here!
Being an activist is invigorating and exciting work, especially when you feel connected to an entire network of like-minded people, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t also draining. Although there is always more work to be done, it is important to give yourself space to rest and reset. Luckily, May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we are excited to share some content on how we can all prioritize mental health and be climate advocates.
With the end of the school year so close we won’t have quite as many awesome events for you to attend so make sure you get your DOF fill now! Here are some upcoming events that we would love to see you at:
– This coming month Defend will be participating in, and hosting a few, Honk & Waves with the Climate Action Campaign! So for those of you in the DC area, we hope to see you out bright and early on a few mornings, showing just how important it is for Congress to pass serious climate investments. You can find our current sign-up links on our Mobilize page.
– UNCG will be hosting a Save Our Clothes event on May 2 in partnership with Thrift Chic Boutique, a local thrift shop. The event will begin at 5 PM EST and will include a panel discussion on how to be sustainable in the fashion industry. Register here!
– To round out this month you can also watch our Earth Month Celebration, in coordination with EDF, Moms Clean Air Force, and EcoMadres on YouTube.
Finally, I want to close today by giving a heartfelt thanks to all those who came out to support the rallies this past week, and to all of you who were able to celebrate Earth Day in some way wherever you are. Being a climate activist is not one size fits all and we need all of you, in all of your uniqueness, to make the changes necessary to save our planet.