SD350 Builds Power with Community Budget Alliance

By: Joe Wainio, member of SD350’s Coalition Team.

SanDiego350 has been a member of the Community Budget Alliance (CBA) for four years. CBA is a coalition of local organizations advocating for the interests of immigrants, low-income workers and communities of color. It mainly becomes active during the period when the mayor and city council consider the annual city budget (March-June), lobbying for more funding for its member organizations’ priorities.

Participating in multiracial, cross class coalitions such as CBA is a strategic way to build the power we need to challenge the 1%. Without a fundamental realignment of political forces in our country, away from those who put profits before people, we won’t be able to create a more just society, including taking action to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

Currently, levels of economic inequality are near historic highs. Americans in the top 0.1% of income earners capture over 196 times the income of the bottom 90%. Racial disparities exacerbate the unfairness even further.

Our country was built on and still reflects the legacy of white supremacy. In 2016, median wealth of white families was about 10 times that of Black families and 8 times that of Latino families.

COVID-19 has demonstrated health and employment disparities, as well.  Black people are dying at rates almost 3 times those of whites. A study by SANDAG showed that unemployment in Logan Heights had reached 37.5% in early May, while in Rancho Bernardo it was “only” 20%.

Political inequality follows as a logical consequence of this economic inequality. According to research by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, “the preferences of the average American [on federal government policy] appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon policy.” Meanwhile, big corporate lobbyists have no problem getting their agenda enacted.

By engaging in the fight for equality with our allies, we build relationships and trust and expand the progressive movement for change. Fighting side by side with the Community Budget Alliance, and in other cross-class and multiracial coalitions, is the only way to build a movement strong enough to challenge the status quo.

Climate Justice Calls for Racial Justice, End to White Supremacy

By Kimberly Kishon, Masada Disenhouse and Susan Duerksen

Black people in the U.S. are subject to violence and unjust death regularly – including at the hands of police who are supposed to protect all of us. We, the people of this country, have allowed institutionalized racism to go unchecked for centuries. 

It shows up in every aspect of peoples’ lives, devastatingly in safety, health, environmental and economic inequities. The coronavirus pandemic starkly highlights how rules apply differently based on a person’s skin color – who gets sickest, who can afford healthcare, who has no choice but to work in an unsafe environment. The communities hit hardest by environmental and climate impacts are primarily communities of color — and those least responsible for creating the problem. “People of color are more likely than white people to live alongside power plants, oil refineries and landfills.” (from the LA Times’ Sammy Roth:  Why communities fighting for fair policing also demand environmental justice).

This is a critical moment in history — and it can be a national turning point for racial justice. SanDiego350 leaders believe we, as advocates for climate justice, must stand for  dismantling institutional racism and white supremacy. We strive for a world where people of color have a safe and healthy future on this planet. 

In the words of leaders at 350.org, Rell Brown and Natalia Cardona, “There is no just recovery for climate without addressing the systemic extraction, harm and violence towards Black communities. Building a movement rooted in the needs of those most oppressed is the only way we can achieve liberation for all.”

What is SanDiego350 doing to support racial justice?

It is not enough to be passively non-racist. We must all take action to oppose racism, not just in our personal lives but wherever it exists systemically in the society we create together. We can’t just talk about racism, we have to stamp it out.

In the coming weeks, you will hear about how SD350 plans to more intentionally center racial justice in our work and take important internal steps to ensure our organization is more inclusive and diverse. As a primarily white, middle class volunteer led organization, we know we have significant growing to do.

We look forward to building on our policy work in partnership with people of color (POC)-led community organizations that advocates for equity in climate action planning, transportation, and state legislation; our youth engagement work; supporting partners on non-climate justice issues.

SanDiego350 Commits To:

  1. Share racial justice action steps from black-led organizations with our membership
  2. Focus our climate policy work always on stopping, reversing, and preventing climate  harm to communities of color
  3. Do internal work to uplift diverse voices, improve our practices, and train our membership on dismantling white supremacy
  4. Follow the leadership of POC-led partners 

Below are some specific actions we urge you to take. 

Above all, keep in mind that this is a particularly traumatic time for black Americans. This is not the time for white people to lead, nor is it the time to ask black people for advice or forgiveness. Make space for black people to grieve. Be sensitive, active and present in your responses. Step back, listen, learn and support. 

Get Connected

Subscribe to receive updates & action alerts from San Diego’s local chapters:

Take Action

  • Sign pandemic-related petitions by Black Lives Matter.
  • Sign the petition in support of San Diegans for Justice’s campaign for a ballot initiative to establish a community-led independent Commission on Police Practices.
  • Call on your local elected representatives to divest from white supremacy, which includes divestment from industrial multinational use of fossil fuels and investment in community- based sustainable energy solutions. 

Donate 

Learn

  • Flatten The Curve Of Inequality – a 5-part weekly web series hosted by the San Diego ACLU, where local advocates will share the work they’ve been doing to support families and communities during this crisis. Starts June 4th!
  • For white folks, watch this 22-minute lecture: Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin Di Angelo
  • Follow black writers and activists including Rachel Cargle, Brittany Packnett, Layla Saad 
  • The Movement for Black Lives calls on us to learn about the arguments for defunding the police and re-envisioning public safety, which is not a new idea. We must challenge ingrained ideas about safety. Useful info/resources

More resources from 350.org

You can find more opportunities to support nationally and in Minnesota here.

How we’re responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Coming to grips with the devastating impacts of the pandemic has been hard for all of us. With the situation changing every day, none of us know what this will mean for our health, our loved ones, our jobs, our schooling, and our savings — let alone the nation, the economy at large, our democracy, and our planet. 

Some of us have been hit hard already. SD350 members and their families have lost jobs. Some have gotten sick with COVID-19 or have loved ones who have it or have even passed away due to the virus. Some of us have underlying conditions that make it dangerous to leave home. Some of us are suddenly juggling homeschooling and working from home. 

Most of us have never lived through a time like this. We are all struggling with the emotions, the stress, and the anxiety of this situation. In some ways, as climate activists, we’re more mentally equipped to deal with a worldwide crisis than many of our fellow Americans. 

The pandemic is laying bare the sorry state our nation has been in. The classism, racism, and corporatism that led to the largest wealth inequalities in our lifetimes are now putting our most vulnerable people at risk. It’s no coincidence that the people who are able to shelter at home and work from home have more money and health care than those who are risking their lives working for minimum wage in grocery stores and other service industries.

SanDiego350’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has primarily been in three areas: 

1. Bringing our events online. Prior to the virus, we had already held quite a few of our regular meetings remotely to maximize participation while minimizing our carbon footprint. Transitioning the earth day “Virtual Climate Uprising” was challenging – working remotely with a coalition of more than a dozen organizations, figuring out production for live streaming on multiple platforms, doing only online promotion. In other ways, it’s been easier. We’ve had youth participating in our programs from across the country. People have been more available and it’s easier to participate if you don’t need to leave home. We’re working on making our events as accessible, interactive, and engaging as possible. 

2. Checking in on our members. We’ve made hundreds of phone calls through our volunteer structures to check in our volunteer leaders, team members, and active volunteers and donors. Many volunteers have stepped up to offer help to our members who need help shopping or coping. It’s wonderful to see the care and compassion our members have for each other. Everyone has appreciated the concern and camaraderie and the space to take care of themselves and their loved ones – and it’s brought us closer and made us more resilient. 

3. Reevaluating our priorities. We’ve met with our board to discuss organizational level priorities, and we’ve been holding meetings with our different volunteer teams to check in and see how the pandemic has affected their plans, what challenges have come up, and what new opportunities exist. Some projects we’ve put so much into just won’t go anywhere in this new world. The state legislature has been closed down. Schools are not meeting regularly. But new projects have emerged that are relevant and crucial, for example, organizing a virtual Youth 4 Climate Summer Camp, supporting telecommuting, and advocating to make sure we move forward with a just recovery – instead of going back to the old “normal” when the economy reopens.

SD350 response to “Planet of the Humans”

The YouTube video “Planet  of the Humans”, created and directed by Jeff Gibbs and presented by Michael Moore, is a hodge-podge of blatant inaccuracies and false accusations of climate leaders -mixed with some truths – that promotes despair rather than action. 

The video attacks Bill McKibben using a long disavowed quote about burning biomass for energy, ignoring his more recent denunciations, including his 2016 article “Burning trees for electricity is a bad idea,” as well as his efforts to set the record straight. It also falsely accuses McKibben of being some kind of corporate pawn. For those of us who’ve met Bill, seen what a tireless, thoughtful, humble leader he is, it appalling to see how poorly the video treats him. (See Bill’s article in Rolling Stone and his initial response to the video). 

The video’s claims that carbon pollution produced by producing electricity from solar and wind is comparable to that produced by burning fossil fuels for power is … just wrong. Its claim that solar systems only last a decade are disproved by any homeowner who installed their solar panels before 2010. While every energy source has environmental impacts and there are tradeoffs that are entirely worth discussing, this is the type of misinformation you’d expect from the fossil fuel industry. (See Carbon Brief for some #s).

Meanwhile, Planet of the Humans completely fails to make any mention of the need to replace fossil fuel based systems with sustainable alternatives, instead suggesting population control – often suggested by anti-immigration hate groups – as an only answer.

There is no denying a kernel of truth in the documentary. Clean, renewable energy and transportation systems are necessary to avoid the worst of the climate crisis, but we can’t grow our way out of the climate crisis. The fact is that while too many fellow citizens of our planet live in desperation, an affluent minority live an unsustainable lifestyle of consumption without regard to the toll this takes on our environment. We must transition to a sustainable culture that recognizes our planet’s limits.

As climate activists, our mission is based on science. We must be vigilant against misinformation and direct  people to the facts, as well as rethinking mindless growth so we can leave a planet that is nurturing, sustainable and equitable for generations to come.

As climate activists in California, we can see the impacts of increased renewable energy and efficiency — less carbon and air pollution. We can also see that our actions as community leaders are achieving better policies. There is hope and we remain committed to continuing to work for a renewable energy economy grounded in equity.

Further reading:

Climate Activists Remain Committed to Transit and Transportation Equity Work following MTS Decision to Halt Elevate 2020 Initiative

San Diego – April 16, 2020 – At today’s MTS meeting, Chair Nathan Fletcher said the MTS initiative “Elevate 2020” would not proceed to the ballot in 2020. 

This is a statement from Bee Mittermiller, SanDiego350 Transportation Committee Chair:

SanDiego350 members are disappointed that the transit initiative has been put on hold given its huge potential for improving San Diego County’s transit system, reducing carbon pollution, and increasing  quality of life for residents. However, we understand the coronavirus pandemic has made this campaign impractical in this time of uncertainty.

We applaud MTS’s actions to protect its drivers and the riders who are critical workers serving the needs of our communities, and for making sure that its essential services are continuing.

We are committed to to keep working with MTS and we encourage MTS to continue their public outreach, which has been extraordinary. 

Amidst this tragic pandemic we can see best practices developing around telecommuting and active transportation. We need to build on those developments in a way to complement building out transit infrastructure. 

Young People are Turning our Climate Grief into Hope

Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey / Richard Vevers. (photo links to license).

 

By Peter Sloan

The first week of winter quarter, I was sitting with Erica Ferrer, a doctoral student in Marine Biology at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, in Muir Woods Coffee House. We had met to talk about the dire situation facing life on planet Earth and what we, as graduate students at UC San Diego, could possibly do about it.

Predictably, I heard myself going off on one of my well-rehearsed climate rants. 25 percent of ocean species directly rely on tropical reefs. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 Special Report indicates up to 90 percent of reefs will die at 1.5 degrees Celsius warming. We’re headed for 4 degreesby 2100. And so on.

I finished, a bit bluntly, “The oceans are gonna die. In our lifetime. How do people at Scripps feel about that?”

I regretted my aggressive tone as I heard Erica’s voice twist in her reply.

“It’s devastating…”

There were tears in her eyes but she didn’t look away.

“…to watch what you study die.”

“But,” the young scientist was quick to clarify, “not everything in the ocean is going to die. Not everything on land is going to die. Species will move poleward. And some ecosystems will do better than we expect. We call them bright spots.

“Besides,” Erica continued, “as a professor at Scripps told me, when a doctor is talking to a dying patient’s family, they don’t deliver an obituary. They make a plan for care.”

It’s 2019, and the climate conversation has changed.

Young people coming into our political own today recognize that the political elites of previous generations wasted their opportunity to prevent catastrophic global warming, leaving us forever picking up the pieces of a breaking world. But we also know it’s never too late to impact the future.

Young people, especially young women, are leading the climate movement on every front.

Gen-Z’ers are walking out of school on both sides of the Atlantic, led by figures like Greta Thunberg in Sweden, Anna Taylor in the United Kingdom, and Alexandria Villasenor in the United States.

The plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States, all under 21 years old at the time of the filing, continue to press their case against the federal government for failing to protect them from catastrophic climate change.

And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14th District), the working-class millennial, socialist of color, and youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress, has introduced legislation advancing the Green New Deal, a plan to fully phase out fossil fuels from the United States economy by 2030. The plan pulls public support as high as 80 percent and has become an overnight litmus test for 2020 Democratic presidential contenders. Crucial to Ocasio-Cortez’s breakthrough in Congress has been outside pressure from the grassroots, millennial-led Sunrise Movement.

Coming of age under neoliberal capitalism, an ideology that boasts the dubious accomplishments of driving historic inequality and utterly degrading the living world, Millennials and Generation Z have listened to a young lifetime of empty talk about “our children’s future.” But now our voices are leading the conversation. The future has arrived. We are the children.

In Muir Woods that morning, Erica and I mostly talked about our feelings. It hasn’t been easy lately. I told her I was angry. She told me she was bitter. I told her I was depressed. She told me she was too.

We took time to make space for our grief, our fear, even our despair. But we also talked about hope, and how it’s different from optimism.

“Hope,” writes Rebecca Solnit, “is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. … Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act.”

These days, that spaciousness of uncertainty is so wide, it can feel overwhelming. Events of the coming decade will determine the climate future for countless generations to come. When every minute matters that much, the question of what to do each day feels very heavy.

The only thing that lifts that weight for me is remembering that I’m not alone. On climate, none of us have to do everything, but we all can do more than nothing.

That’s why, as Graduate Student Association (GSA) representatives, Erica and I have founded a GSA Climate Action and Policy Committee, or GSA-CAP (as in, “cap emissions”), which any UCSD graduate student can join. Our mission is to strategically pressure the administration to achieve ambitious goals like the full decarbonization of campus operations as quickly as possible.

Undergraduates who want to act on climate can plug into the California Public Interest Research Group’s legislative campaign to decarbonize transportation statewide.

Off campus, San Diego 350 has initiated a nonviolent direct action campaign to “Raise the Alarm” and pressure elected officials to champion the Green New Deal. You can learn more and help plan the actions by attending the kickoff event this Saturday, February 23, in La Jolla.

Every day, more people find their place in the climate movement. Every day, more people find that we can do more than nothing. Every day, more people ask themselves, what can we do next, that we haven’t tried before?

Erica and I finished our coffees and headed over to Scripps. I apologized to my friend as we walked towards the shore.

“I’m sorry, Erica, for the way I was talking to you earlier. You don’t need some guy outside your field ranting at you about how bad things are. I think I just act that way because—”

She finished my sentence for me: “Because you’re hurt.”

I paused and let her words resonate. “I am hurt. And I don’t see that pain acknowledged by a single one of our institutions. It’s 2019 and global greenhouse gas emissions are still rising! It feels like our entire culture is one big act of denial of the things I care about most. It makes me want to scream.”

Erica nodded patiently. “To feel gaslit is a dangerous thing,” she said.

Millennials and Generation Z care too much to stay politically silenced on climate any longer. We are waging the fight of our lives—a fight for the future of life on planet Earth—in our schools and workplaces, in the courts, in the media, in the institutions, in the streets, and in the halls of power. There are tears in our eyes, but we aren’t looking away. We are turning our grief into hope. Our strength, solidarity, and moral authority in this fight are grounded in our shared sense of loss. And that is why I believe that we will win.

Peter Sloan is a PhD student in music and a staff writer for The Triton. This piece is the third part of a series titled Fire Season, which publishes once or twice per quarter. Peter can be contacted at psloan@ucsd.edu.

This piece was first published at The Triton, an independent news source at UC San Diego. Follow The Triton on Twitter and Facebook.  Here’s the original link

SD350 Interfaith Team Addresses Faith and the Climate Crisis at Seaside Center for Spiritual Living

On May 27th, Philip Petrie and John Michno of the SanDiego350 Interfaith Team presented a free climate change workshop, entitled “Faith and the Climate Crisis,” at the Seaside Center for Spiritual Living in Encinitas. Phil and John organized the workshop with Sandy Atkinson of Seaside Center’s Earth Care Ministry, along with other representatives of the Interfaith Coalition for Earth Justice (ICEJ). The San Dieguito Ministerial Association sponsored the event along with the Seaside Center.

The People Behind the Presentation

Phil, an artist by vocation, is a founding member of SD350. He co-leads SD350’s  Interfaith Team, the work of which includes giving workshops on climate change to diverse faith communities around the San Diego area. He also helped found the ICEJ and co-founded Simpler Living, a creation care ministry at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral. [Read more…]

SanDiego350 Attends Earth Fair

By Amy Van Schijndel, SanDiego350

On Sunday, April 23rd, 2017, San Diego’s 28th annual Earth Fair was held in Balboa Park, and it drew more than 60,000 visitors. It is the largest free Earth Day-related event of its kind. The event included environmental issues such as lowering our carbon footprint, climate change, and what to do with our recycled “trash.” Along with Earth-friendly education, the fair provided live entertainment, parades, and plenty of shopping. SanDiego350 hosted three booths that were scattered across the park. Our intent at the fair was to promote not only climate action but the People’s Climate March, which will be held on April 29th.

SD350 Volunteers

Volunteers at one of the three SanDiego350 booths.

One new area to visit this year was Cannabis Village. Hemp can help reduce our carbon footprint. It can be made into many different items including clothes, medicine and building materials. FlippySocks creates a gym sock with a wallet (Sock Wallets™) made out of organic hemp, bamboo and recycled cotton. Elixinol sells Edibites for pets made of hemp oil for health and wellness. Hemptique creates shoes, beanies and a variety of merchandise from hemp made in Romania.

Another section in the park was the Reuse and Repair Area. Malia Designs fights human trafficking by selling purses and wallets made in Cambodia from recycled Cement bags. EarthWell Refill, in North Park, takes clean, empty containers and turns them into refillable bottles of soaps, body care and household cleaners. Habitat for Humanity Restores sells…”new, used, discontinued and surplus building materials and home furnishings…to help build new Habitat homes and divert…materials from landfills.” San Diego Earthworks teaches how and what to recycle which is beneficial since Earth Fair pledged to reuse and recycle all trash thrown away Sunday (termed Zero Waste). [Read more…]

San Diego’s April 29 Climate March: Why It Matters

By Mark Hughes, SanDiego350

(Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on 4/27/2017)

In the recently published book, The Knowledge Illusion, authors Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach assert something rather disturbing: we rarely think for ourselves. Instead, we patch together our understanding of the world by taking a bit from over here and a bit from over there. If they are correct, it’s pretty easy to see that it’s whose bits we incorporate  that create our worldview (the IPCC or Trump? Hmm.)

Pipelines Leak

Photo courtesy of SanDiego350.

One effect of this absorptive scheme is that we fall into the illusion of thinking we know a lot about the world, when in truth much of what we think we know resides in other people’s heads. A simple example is the zipper. How well do you understand it’s workings? A scoff-able question, no? After all, you likely use them daily. Okay, so try listing all the steps of just exactly how a zipper works. Yeah, me neither. Expertise regarding zipper operation and manufacture exists in someone else’s head; hardly any of us could make one if our child’s life depended on it.

Next point: it’s clear that societal advancements happen at wildly varying rates. The discoveries of penicillin and the polio vaccine resulted in rapid and near universal uptake throughout the population. The abolition of slavery? Taking a bit longer. All three advances improve people’s lives, so why the difference in adoption rates? You may think you know the answer, but before you speak, consider the zipper. [Read more…]

Popular Republican Mayor Praises Community Choice Energy

By Tyson Siegele, SanDiego350

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press

A staunch supporter of Community Choice Energy gave the keynote address at a March 10th forum organized by the Climate Action Campaign. Since clean, renewable energy is one of the main benefits of Community Choice Energy (CCE), you might think the speaker would be a long haired hippy prone to singing kumbaya. Not at all, not even close. The proud Republican Mayor of Lancaster, California, Rex Parris, provided an enthusiastic endorsement of CCE, lambasting the high prices of utility power and praising the savings gained through Community Choice.

Rex Parris and Clean Energy Innovation

Parris

Lancaster Mayor Rex Parris – Source: City of Lancaster

The people of Lancaster first elected Rex Parris in 2008. Since then he has been re-elected 3 times including in 2016 when he received 67% of the vote. One of the main ways he achieved such strong support was by turning Lancaster into a clean energy mecca. The biggest win in terms of jobs was bringing Build Your Dream (BYD) electric bus manufacturing to the city. BYD is an electric vehicle heavyweight. In 2016 it built more electric cars than any company in the world, and did so by a large margin. The Lancaster facility does not get as much press as Tesla, but it is ramping up activity in a similar fashion. Soon, in addition to buses, Lancaster will begin providing electric trash trucks and other heavy duty vehicles.

Electric vehicle manufacturing is just one piece of the pie in Lancaster. Parris was also instrumental in reducing permitting times for rooftop solar and introducing building codes requiring rooftop solar arrays. The city was the first in California to require rooftop solar on all new buildings. Better yet, Lancaster hopes to soon be able to announce that it has become a zero net energy community. That means it aims to produce more renewable energy within city limits than its total energy consumption, a goal it has been working toward since 2011. Accomplishing that has involved new and innovative building codes, creative public/private partnerships, and most importantly Community Choice Energy. [Read more…]