An Organizer’s Thoughts

By Mary Cappelletti

I recently had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Victoria Leistman, staff organizer with Sierra Club in Seattle. Victoria is an energetic, young woman with enthusiasm for climate action and abundant suggestions for not only mitigating climate change, but also the best way to get involved, and even make a living in the field. Needless to say, it was a fruitful meeting and I’m going to share some of the biggest takeaways. 

Victoria is pictured above with her colleagues at Sierra Club. She is in the woman in a blue long sleeve shirt.

Victoria did not originally set out to be a warrior for the environment, rather she majored in journalism. During her time as a journalist she found herself taking on many environmental stories and ultimately decided she wanted to take action, rather than just write about the problems. So, she put down the pencil, interned for an organization, and then joined Green Corps where she became a trained organizer. Her time with Green Corps eventually landed her the job with Sierra Club, which she has thoroughly enjoyed.

How Victoria became professionally involved in climate action is interesting and inspiring in part due to her lack of a college education in the environment. This is important to note because it highlights the possibility for anyone and everyone to become involved in the fight against climate change. An advocate of grassroots efforts spurring top down change, she herself says the best way to make a difference is to work with local environmental and social justice groups to contact officials and advocate for policy changes, none of which requires special training or education. Getting involved with these groups is a possibility for people of all ages, backgrounds, education, and experience, making it easy for anyone to take up arms

During the interview we talked about the biggest problems we are currently facing and what the best ways to address them are. Victoria believes the biggest problem is the lack of political will to implement the solutions we already have. When discussing the topic she asked, “How can we motivate the human race to be proactive instead of reactive?” I found this question intriguing and intensely truthful. As a whole, we humans tend to be better at reacting to a problem after it happens, rather than preventing it from happening in the first place. Victoria believes it’s time for us to start holding people in office accountable and responsible for making the necessary changes if we’re going to make a proactive effort. 

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my encounter with Victoria was her narrative of hope, rather than scare tactics to get people involved. Meeting people that haven’t been discouraged by their fight for the environment is always encouraging and motivating. There’s still hope for a sustainable future, and we still have time to be proactive and get involved on all levels, regardless of our education and background.