Reflections from the Chair. July 2021
The final week of June brought almost inconceivable levels of heat to the Pacific Northwest. A temperature of 121ºF in Canada?! Can any of us feel anything positive about this news, even
as it confirms what we are constantly trying to make more people aware of?
In the face of this grim reality, I want to share what is for me at least an uplifting view of what our chapter is doing. The simple fact is that we are doing a great deal in a number of different areas! If you are reading this as a chapter member still looking for ways to become more active, I hope you will find some inspiration here.
I want to celebrate this fact that we are not all doing the same thing. As the chapter has grown, it has become clear to me that different members have very different ideas about what is most useful. I think that is healthy and reflects our commitment to the kind of bottom up organizing that is called for by the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing. (If you don’t know what those are, you can find them on our website on the DFW Chapter page under About.)
One way to think about activism is where to focus. Right now, Climate Reality has put a major emphasis for members here in the US on action aimed at federal legislation. The campaign, Our Climate Moment, includes a call for everyone to contact their Senators and Congressional Representatives in support of the American Jobs Plan and in particular the climate provisions that the Biden administration included in it. That call included a request that chapters set up face-to-face meetings with their Senators and Congressional Reps. As I announced at our June meeting, our chapter has members living in 9 US Congressional Districts. Under the leadership of Alan Kazdoy, our Legislative Action Working Group put out a call for District Organizers in those 9 districts. As of this writing, chapter members have stepped up in 8 of the 9. (If you live in District 24 over in Fort Worth, the position is open!) Even better, we are having success. The group in District 26 organized by Jonie McBee got a meeting with the person in Rep. Burgess’ office who advises him on energy policy during the June week of action called for by Climate Reality. The group in District 32 headed up by Jan Falcona had a meeting set up with Colin Allred for the same week, only to have it postponed by Allred’s office. Just to put that in perspective, there are over 130 active chapters now. The monthly Climate Reality Report says that “over 50” meetings were arranged for the week of action. For our chapter to have 2 is significant! Moreover, while I don’t have an update on every district, I do know that requests are pending in several other districts.
All of this bodes well for the future of the chapter in terms of political activism. We have 8 local organizers in place all across our region. This is the first time our chapter has taken a significant step toward our often-stated goal of becoming less “Dallas-centric.” That local leadership and organizing will be foundational as we move toward the 2022 elections. Every chapter member can get involved in this effort at some level, and I hope you will.
A different vision for climate activism does not focus on the legislative process at the federal or even the state or local level but instead on the role that needs to be played by major corporations and large businesses to reduce the polluting of our atmosphere and oceans with carbon. In this regard, I just spent well over an hour getting an update from Michael Linn on the forthcoming training program that members of our Business Working Group are developing with the Harvard University Alumni Association. It goes without saying that among Harvard Alumni are some of the most powerful and influential members of our society, and this program aims at nothing less than transforming them into climate activists. The target date for launching the program is October 14, and the progress that Mickey reported to me was nothing less than stunning – not a word I use often or lightly.
“What about local grassroots organizing?” you might rightfully ask. There too, action is being taken. One event of note in the past month was organized in South Dallas by Olinka Green under the banner of the Red, Black, and Green New Deal. Olinka brought together a diverse group of speakers including Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian voices. A good number of chapter members attended.
Chapter members are also presenting to a broad set of local audiences. Our new website is bringing in more and more requests. Perhaps the one that surprised me most came from a group at Chase Bank! You can see those presentation titles and audiences on the Past Presentations page of our website. Dan Green will be continuing our workshop series on Presentation Skills – watch for his announcement!
If giving presentations has never been something you felt comfortable with, I hope you are among the 21 chapter members who signed up for the discussion Circles working through the text, All We Can Save. This exceptional collection of essays and poems articulates a feminist approach to climate activism that deserves wide consideration. The hope is that many of those who are participating will go on to form their own discussion Circles with people from outside of the chapter, an expanding set of ripples, motivating participants to start taking action. If you weren’t able to participate in this first set of chapter-based Circles but are interested in making use of this approach, let me know.
I could go on. There is action planned in several other working groups, some of our members have applied to be Mentors in the Latin America virtual training program this month, and Dan Green is our representative to the committee planning a fall conference for all chapter members of the Texas and Louisiana Coalition of Chapters. Still ahead this year will be 24 Hours of Reality, the Global virtual training in October, and the rollout of the Petrochemical Infrastructure Opposition Campaign. In our chapter, we will be holding elections for positions on our Executive Committee in October. Nominations will open in September, and I hope many of you will consider running for a leadership role. We will need an Elections Coordinator too, so there are many roles to consider.
Even with all of this activism underway, we are always open to new ideas and new forms of action. The chapter continues to grow as members bring their unique vision for climate activism into the chapter. Bring yours!
I will close on a more personal note. July 1 marks 11 years in retirement for me! I had no clue in 2010 that climate activism would become such a focus for me, much less that I would spend 4 years helping to build a chapter here in Dallas Fort Worth. Even as I look forward to ending my tenure as Chair, I look forward to continuing to work with all of you.
Roger Knudson, Ph. D. Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, Miami University Chapter Chair, Climate Reality Project Dallas Fort Worth Chapter (859)866-3962 Pronouns: He/Him/His