Last week, more than 60 people came out to Mission Restaurant in Washington, DC’s Dupont Circle neighborhood to celebrate the launch of Defend Our Future’s new capital city chapter. The vibes were great, the food and drinks were tasty, and the energy was upbeat. But good times with good people were only part of the reason for getting together. We started a DC chapter because Congress has so far failed to take action on climate change. Young people in the Beltway can take advantage of their proximity to leaders in Washington, and can make sure climate change stay’s front and center in the national conversation.
“The Defend community stretches across the country, and every one of our members are essential to what we’re trying to do,” said Ben Schneider, Defend Our Future’s communications lead. “But so many of the biggest climate change decisions in the years to come are going to be made right here in Washington. It makes total sense to start to bring young people together here, to work together, and to be able to communicate directly with leaders here in the nation’s capital.”
Some of the newest members of Defend’s newest chapter chatted with us about their hopes – for the fight against climate change, and for the group. Muhammad, 27, is already interning and volunteering on a host of climate change projects. He hopes one day to help middle eastern countries – including his native Saudi Arabia – take meaningful climate change action policies. He thinks the new Defend chapter can provide a great opportunity for “getting engaged in the DC community, meeting some folks who are interested in helping this planet, doing environmental projects and environmental advocacy.”
Tom, 34, actually worked as part of EDF’s climate corps program years earlier. His day job doesn’t let him engage in climate advocacy as much as he’d like, and he was and was pleased to see Defend opening a chapter to give him just that chance.
“It’s an opportunity for people to get involved,” Tom said. “Environmental jobs in DC are pretty hard to break into in a general sense. Living in DC, you may generally care about environmentalism, but you don’t necessarily get that avenue to be active in the movement. Something that Defend can bring to the table is that particular avenue to get involved. You’re addressing the things you’re passionate about, but you’re not also losing your day job. You can do it after work, you can do it on the weekends.”
Leigh, 26, hopes Defend can help continue to help drive climate action as a matter of social justice. “Climate change features more prominently at social justice functions now compared to even just a couple of years ago,” she said. “But there’s still much more work to be done explaining that frontline, poor and minority communities are hit the hardest by the impacts of climate change.”
“We’ve gotten so intersectional in this movement,” she said. “I hope it does help us take on these big issues like climate change in a more holistic way. We don’t have any earth, we don’t have anything.”
Margaret, also 26, agreed that showing the full scope of the threat posed by climate change is paramount.
”Climate change is not it’s own issue,” she said. “It’s related to every other issue.”
The new members of Defend’s new chapter were a pleasure to speak with. They also gave us hope. Through this new chapter, we will be providing young people in the DMV with the tools they need to make their voices heard throughout the halls of Congress, the EPA headquarters, in their own communities, and so much more. We can’t wait to get started!
Want to meet up at our next Defend DC happy hour? Sign up here.