Authors: Danielle Wilkerson, Jaidacyn Madrigal, Peter Sloan
My role at SanDiego350 is the Action and Equity Coordinator. When I first started with the organization back in February I was part time and assisted the JEDI team and the RTA. I was really excited about this position, because it incorporated a lot of things I am really passionate about. I got to focus on making climate action more equitable while also helping the resistance branch plan a series of direct actions. Prior to being hired, an organization I co-founded, East County BIPOC, was partnering with volunteers from these teams to address environmental injustices happening in El Cajon. We worked together for over 8 months in opposition to peak power plants located in a community with more pollution than 93% of census tracts in the state! I have always been interested in solutions to the climate crisis, but SanDiego350 really introduced me to doing work in local environmental justice communities.
After receiving a generous grant from a 3rd party organization, I was able to come on board full time in May and represent our organization in the national People vs Fossil Fuels Coalition. The primary goal of this coalition is getting President Biden to declare a national climate emergency and using his executive authority to take action against fossil fuel expansion. While I still work with both the JEDI team and the RTA, a majority of my time is spent connecting our local organization with this national coalition and organizing actions in San Diego. Most recently, we held a Climate Emergency Rally and “die-in” at the Federal Building downtown. There were numerous impactful speakers and dozens of volunteers who participated in the “die-in” to symbolize all of the life and ecosystems we have already lost to the climate crisis. This event was one of many other coordinated actions happening on the same day, all to pressure Biden to take serious climate action. All of these campaigns and volunteers that I get to support are deeply important to me and very much the reason I remain motivated to stay in the fight for a better future.
In my role as SD350’s Marketing and fundraising coordinator, I provide assistance to the Marketing Team and the Fundraising Team. My goal is to increase involvement in SD350’s climate movement by working with the Marketing team to create eye-catching and inspiring content! I think imagery and storytelling are super impactful in peaking interest in the climate movement. The Marketing team supports all SD350’s teams by creating engaging email and social media material for each team. Fundraising is such an important part of building a successful nonprofit, we can’t do the necessary work we do without funding from generous supporters.This year the fundraising team had a successful in-person fundraiser and Sustaining Donor Drive.
Building relationships with SD350’s amazing volunteers and donors has been such a rewarding experience! Seeing how dedicated people are to supporting our work is very heartwarming! My passion for climate activism started when I took my first environmental science class in high school, and then when I watched “The Inconvenient Truth” documentary by Al Gore my freshman year in college. I was so frustrated that people are being severely affected all over the world by climate change, by something we have the power of stopping. I felt defeated, I remember thinking “I’m just one person, what can I do?”.
I quickly turned that narrative around to “I am one person and I can really make a difference”. That is when I started being involved in activism. I believe education is key to spreading the word about the climate crisis and getting more people involved and wanting to make a change. SD350 does a wonderful job of educating others about the climate issues we are currently facing. The power is really in the people, we have to demand the change we want to see. That is why I am so inspired every day by SanDiego350 and our collective action we take to fight climate change, we hold so much power when we work together! I am excited to be part of the climate movement SD350 is building!
As Campaign Coordinator, my role is to support the Public Policy teams in designing and implementing strategic, effective campaigns. This means that I work with each team to create their team plan, identify targets, select appropriate tactics, and commit to reasonable but ambitious timelines. It is my responsibility to ensure that each team is functioning at full capacity, with dedicated leaders and a robust, active volunteer base.
I also serve as a liaison to coalitions, including the San Diego Green New Deal Alliance, the Transportation Equity Working Group, and others. And I host the bi-monthly Action Hours, where volunteers can take concrete, meaningful actions in one hour on a weekday evening. My vision for the SanDiego350 community is one of empowered, skilled, strategic activists and organizers, campaigning at interlocked frontlines, leveraging people power to confront the powerful political and economic forces driving the climate crisis. I prefer horizontally organized, non-hierarchical organization structures, and I believe strong people don’t need strong leaders.
Experienced activists have an obligation to help mentor newer activists through their own personal journey of engagement and skill-building, because the only way for the movement for climate justice to be successful is by creating a coordinated mass movement of people working at every level and sector of society. This is what makes me passionate about climate activism: helping people find their frontlines (the intersection of their felt need and their sources of power to make change) and build the skills they need to confront power.
My own 15-year activist journey has taken me from political volunteering to participation in nonviolent direct action, and now to full time organizing with SanDiego350, and aside from the urgency of the climate crisis, what keeps me motivated and engaged is the brilliant, talented, thoughtful, caring people I have met and learned from along the way. I believe the movement has made real progress and in the long-run will win, and it is an honor to play my part in this historical moment. So let’s go, everybody! We have a world to win.