Finding the Happy Medium

By Mary Cappelletti

Deejah and her husband Ron 

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with another interesting climate advocate to learn a bit about how she got involved in climate action. Deejah Sherman-Peterson and her husband Ron are two more passionate individuals that had an unconventional start to their fight in climate action. She is now co-chair of the Climate Action Team at the University Unitarian Church, but her introduction to climate change problems started a while back. Her participation in advancing women’s rights through her time with NARAL and NOW led her to learn about overpopulation and the problems associated with it. This was her first introduction to human caused climate problems. Then, in 2005 she and her husband joined the green committee at the Unitarian church. Through the committee she and the team began altering the waste disposal available to the congregation to include recycling and compost. In 2014 she co-founded the climate action team at the church, which has hosted talks and fairs to increase awareness of climate change topics. The group plans to continue hosting a variety of events to educate the community. 

Learning about Deejah’s involvement in climate action was engaging, but the most captivating parts of our conversation were the portions that strayed from the planned questions. Deejah was overflowing with interesting stories about both herself and others in the climate change fight. She recounted stories of individuals that stood in front of coal trains and turned off oil pumps in their mission to create change. Deejah’s strategy for creating change is less focused on physical action, but more derived from a desire to create discourse and motivate change on a community level. Her philosophy for creating this change is rooted in the idea that we must find a happy medium between scaring people too much and not scaring them enough. Her grandchildren’s future is a big reason she works to educate people on the topic, but a different approach is necessary for every individual. Connecting the dots between actions and impacts can be very powerful in creating a more conscious community. 

Deejah believes that in today’s political climate it doesn’t do much good to work on politicians currently in office. Rather, she thinks the best strategy is to elect people that are going to be advocates for the environment. Educating individuals and fostering a conscious community is one of the best ways to do this because it creates awareness. It’s vital that the importance of electing officials that are proponents of environmental policy is common knowledge in order to build a sustainable future. Deejah showed me once again that the fight for climate change comes in many shapes and sizes. It was not only interesting to hear about her experiences, but also a pleasure to be in her company. She is a positive, spirited individual who filled me with hope for a sustainable future built by many different groups of people. 

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.

Top Sustainable Lifestyle Changes, Discussed and Simplified

By Mary Cappelletti

Hello, Mary the intern here. In a recent post I talked about whether top down or bottom up actions are more important and effective. Ultimately, I concluded that both were vital in the fight to end climate change. Now, I want to address how you can make some of these changes in your day to day life. In this post I’ll be talking about lifestyle changes, but in the future I will address how you can influence policy. 

There are so many lifestyle changes we can make to benefit the environment, but these vary in how influential they are, as well as how easy they are to maintain. Recycling and using reusable bags are great actions to take, but as we discussed earlier, they have a very small impact, particularly on their own. However, the most influential actions demand a lot from us, and are perhaps unlikely for some people. I want to introduce the most influential actions and draw attention to them, but also discuss how we can simplify them if they aren’t a feasible option. 

Many studies show that the number one lifestyle change people can make to help mitigate climate change is not have a child. This is a tall call, and likely one we quickly skim over. However, I’d like us to pause and consider it. Having a child is an incredibly personal choice, and I understand the lack of consideration for the environment when making this decision. I don’t want to use this space to ask people to not have children, yet I would like us to recognize the impact adding another human to the planet can have. What I would like to ask us to do, is to raise our children to be conscious consumers. Raise our children to respect the natural world and the other beings that reside in it. Raise our children to love the things we can’t understand and protect the things that differ from us. Raise our children to be warriors for a better future. Perhaps then having a child will have a greater positive, rather than negative, influence in many ways. 

The next biggest lifestyle change people can make is to not own a car. This is another tough one that may be unrealistic for many. However, for those of us living in a large metropolitan area such as Seattle, it is doable. In fact, it might even be more pleasant after the increase in traffic over the last few years. Yet, I know that asking people to not own a car is probably unreasonable and somewhat hopeless, so perhaps simply consider driving it less often or converting to an electric car. Make small changes in your life like walking to work or to the gym. Car pool when it’s possible. Take public transportation on the days you have a little extra time. Maybe instead of always treating your car as an everyday tool, use it as a treat to only be used when necessary. 

Another tough, but influential action individuals can make is to fly less often. Specifically, avoid long, international flights. Personally, I have always struggled with this one. One of the reasons I have such a desire to save the world is because of its beauty and abundance of life. All of which I want to witness first hand. This may sound fairly selfish, and maybe it is, but I think it’s a common trend among those invested in the environment. We tend to also be the ones who want to travel the world to see all the natural wonders and everything in between. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t control that desire or give it up once in a while. Furthermore, there are constantly new and improved ways to travel the world. So next time you go on vacation, perhaps you can put a little more effort into finding the most sustainable ways of travel, or maybe stay local. 

Perhaps one of the most doable, yet tough actions is eating a plant based diet. Now, I might not be the one to speak on this because I am a vegan and I find it achievable, so maybe I’m biased. However, maybe that’s what makes me the perfect advocate. I made the switch from vegetarian to vegan about two years ago and found it extremely difficult. So, I can speak from experience that it is painful, and it is sad. But, if you believe in it strongly enough, that will all wither away and you will eventually be invigorated by this change. Although I can’t make any promises to you, I can tell you is that I felt healthier, happier, and more proud of the lifestyle I chose when I made the switch. Eating a plant based diet is almost always listed in the top 5 things we can individually do for the planet, sometimes it’s even listed first. Grist recently published an article about plant based diets making more of a difference for the environment than cutting down on flying and driving an electric car. I understand that a completely plant based diet isn’t for everyone, but I think we can all be more conscious of the food we consume. Perhaps we can start eating meat only a couple days of the week. Cut out red meat. Buy local produce when possible. The products we purchase have an immense impact on the world and it’s important we be aware of these impacts. 

These are just a few of the lifestyle changes we can make to help mitigate climate change, but they are among the largest. Maybe you aren’t in a place to make any of these changes, and that is completely understandable. But, perhaps you can start considering them and start creating discourse on them. Sometimes one of the biggest changes we can make is to simply talk. You never know whose eyes you may open, or who may open yours. 

Some of these topics will be explored more thoroughly in future posts, others will not. Let us know if there is something in particular you’d like me to write more about. Thanks for reading! 

Sources: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-effective-individual-tackle-climate-discussed.htmlhttps://grist.org/article/the-planet-wants-you-to-stop-eating-so-much-meat-and-dairy/

Organizations for a Sustainable, Healthy Future

By Mary Cappelletti

Seattle is an amazing city with a deep respect for the environment and a population of people driven to preserve and protect. These values were one of the biggest reasons I moved here three years ago, and the city has never disappointed on that front. I am constantly amazed by the amount of people that not only care about the natural world, but that strive to prioritize it in their day to day lives. One of the ways this presents itself is in the multitude of organizations here. There are groups that do everything from protecting salmon to educating the next generation to promoting environmental justice. Cascadia Climate Action is, of course, a climate action organization, however every organization is fighting for a different piece of the puzzle that holds importance. CCA has a history of working with other organizations in the area, and greatly values the relationships we’ve built through collaborations and publicizing events. Each organization holds unique opportunities to get involved in helping mitigate climate change and protect the environment. Here is a little information on some of these organizations. 

1. Spark Northwest, or what used to be known as Northwest SEED, aims to expand clean energy in the region that is both affordable and locally controlled. Their goal is to have the Pacific Northwest run 100% on clean energy, while increasing access for 

middle and lower income families and reducing the cost of renewable energy technologies. Their programs currently promote solar energy, wind energy, rural renewables, and energy conservation and efficiency. By conducting these programs locally and sourcing the energies locally they hope that communities will become increasingly more strong and durable. Overall they aim to reduce the use of high-carbon fuels and engage the community through their leadership in energy projects, outreach and education, and advocacy for policy change. To attend an event and get involved with Spark Northwest, click here to visit their calendar.

2. Puget Soundkeeper Alliance is a group founded in 1984 that is composed of both staff and volunteers that work to protect the waterways of the Puget Sound through first hand monitoring of the waters. Furthermore, the organization frequently engages 

with government agencies and businesses, and has taken on 170 cases with a near 100% success rate. Most of these settlements result in the implementation of systems that do less damage on the waterways through greater control of stormwater and wastewater treatment. The organization does not accept settlement money, but instead redirects it to third parties also invested in improving the Sound. Overall Soundkeeper does its best to enforce the Clean Water Act of 1972 and keep the Sound and its tributaries as clean as possible. To attend an event and get involved with Soundkeeper Alliance, click here to visit their calendar.

3. Islandwood is a learning center located on a 250 acre campus on Bainbridge Island. The center works to integrate education with the natural environment by immersing students in engaging, nature-based teaching styles and experiences. However, their goal is to do more 

than simply educate their students. They hope their work extends to help create a sustainable future that contains ecological wellbeing for all and greater environmental health. Islandwood also engages with students in Seattle and at its King County Brightwater Center through helping to develop a science curriculum for public schools, providing teacher training, producing their Nature Passport app, and presenting two Master’s level graduate programs. Ultimately, the center aims to educate the youth, and also the community, in a holistic way that fosters respect for the environment through nature-based learning and encourages a sustainable future. To attend an event and get involved with Islandwood, click here to visit their calendar. 

4. Tilth is the merging of Seattle Tilth, Tilth Producers, and Cascade Harvest Coalition into one alliance that promotes foods that are both nutritious and sustainable. They state that their mission is for “everyone to eat well everyday.” The alliance is targeting the way that 

food is grown, distributed, and eaten in the region to make it healthier for both the environment and people. Through both outdoor and indoor teaching strategies they are educating the community on better ways to produce and prepare foods. Their goal is to shift food culture in the region to prioritize food that is sustainable and beneficial for the planet, but also healthy and appetizing for those that consume it. To attend an event and get involved, click here to visit their calendar. 

Seattle is home to many other wonderful organizations that the CCA team would love to learn more about. Cascadia Climate Action is always looking to add more organizations’ events to the calendar and get involved with new partnerships. Feel free to contact us if you would like to have an organization featured on a future post, in our calendar, or simply open a line of communication. Thanks for reading! 

Top Down or Bottom Up Climate Action?

By Mary Cappelletti

Climate change is a complicated topic, as we all know, and this can mean it is a difficult problem to tackle. As people are becoming increasingly more aware of the topic, they also strive to get involved in the issue. However, the more people that get involved in the issue, the more differing opinions are developing on the best way to combat it. As part of my senior project with Program on the Environment at UW, I am not only completing an internship, but I am also conducting research. My research was initially on whether top down or bottom up climate action was more effective, but it is quickly evolving into more of an exploration of the differences between the two. I’m only in the preliminary stages of this research, but over the past few weeks I’ve been learning a bit more about the contention between the two approaches. Through reading articles, interviewing leaders in climate action, discussing with peers, and listening to podcasts I have learned a bit about the various opinions and the pros and cons of each. It’s been incredibly fascinating to hear such differing opinions on the best approach to climate change, and for me it is beginning to shed light on the need for both approaches. 

I have always been very invested in bottom up action. I’ve never been of the opinion that top down wasn’t equally as important, but to me it seemed there was something especially crucial about the foundation of bottom up change. If we think about the United States as a business, we can think about top down change as executive driven and bottom up change as employee driven. Of course, sometimes executive changes are necessary and very important. However, these changes can also cause resentment as well as defensive, self-justifying behavior from the employees that worsens the problem and ultimately creates an unproductive work environment. Employee driven change does more to alter the culture of a business and drive change in a more holistic way that allows it to last longer and be more effective. For a long time I’ve felt that the latter was the better way to approach most problems, including climate change. However, more and more as I explore this topic, my stubborn attitude toward the subject is being chipped away. Although, top down change isn’t always the most holistic approach, it is a necessity in order to stop climate change. 

I was recently listening to a podcast that Mary Manous shared with me about the straw ban in which two individuals argued about the pros and cons of removing straws from the market. One of the speakers discussed the problems the ban has, including the creation of a new sippy cup by starbucks that actually uses more plastic than the straws had. Ultimately, she points out how little good the ban will actually do, and she therefore believes it is “random” and derives from motivations other than environmental concerns. On the other hand, another speaker points out what the ban symbolizes. Environmentalists and everyday people are demanding a change. Seattle’s general public is widely in favor of the ban and eager to see the products disappear from the market. The ban signifies a shifting culture that is beginning to demand policies that favor the environment. 

The straw ban is in some ways an example of both top down and bottom up action. It is a ban, therefore a policy change, but it was pushed for by the public as well as environmentalists. It may not be the answer to climate change as it does little to actually reduce plastic production, but it seems to me that it is a step in the right direction. It shows that if people start changing the demand, the supply will change. Plastic is just one product that is harming the environment and there are so many other products we need to reduce or abolish. Pooling our efforts to not only limit our consumption of these products, but also to demand they are made more sustainably or eliminated altogether seems like it might be the best route. I don’t think anyone knows for sure what the best way to end climate change is, especially in this political climate, but if we can all make an effort hopefully change is on the horizon. 

Notes. There will likely be future posts that explore this topic further as my research advances. I wanted to introduce the topic with novice thoughts on the subject first. I would also love to hear anyone’s thoughts on the topic. Thanks for reading!

Link to the Podcast- Culture Gabfest: Grasping at Straws Edition from Slate Daily Feed in Podcasts. https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/slate-daily-feed/id75089978?mt=2#episodeGuid=459a5642-8a0e-11e8-83c9-8f7f9011fea6

Why is it Important to Get Involved in Climate Action?

By Mary Cappelletti

Climate change is one of the most pressing, complex problems facing humanity today. It wreaks havoc on the world as it causes damage to natural environments, endangers human prosperity, and disrupts many of the natural functions of the environment, such as weather. Few Seattleites would argue that climate change isn’t a scientific fact, however there are still many that don’t engage in climate action. This lack of action is often rooted in the idea that individual involvement “doesn’t matter.” It’s true that ditching plastic bags as an individual is not going to prevent the production of plastic or end the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Alone, your actions have a mostly intangible influence on the massive problem of climate change. However, this is all the more reason to make these small changes. Every independent action combines with the actions of others to make a joint impact. So, the more people that make a change, the greater the change. Each person that stops using plastic bags is helping to shift the demand away from these unsustainable products and redirect the demand for sustainable alternatives. The more people that don’t buy plastic, the greater the demand for another option. 

Ending your personal demand for plastic bags, as well as refraining from using air conditioning, not flying internationally, using public transportation, and eating a plant based diet, are all examples of actions that can join with others to make a difference. However, even when joined with others, these actions unfortunately are not going to end climate change alone. They are an important piece of the puzzle because they create a shift in the market as the public demands more sustainable products and infrastructure. However, it is also important that individuals start to pressure the government, both locally and nationally. It’s vital that the public start holding politicians responsible for the promises they make and the damages they cause. In future posts we will explore this further to discover the best ways to motivate politicians to act in the best interest of the environment.

Making lifestyle changes and pressuring the government are important measures that need to be taken, and they need to be taken now. As I stated above, climate change is already wreaking havoc on the natural world, however the worst effects are yet to come. If we wait until these effects worsen, it may be too late. Furthermore, getting involved in climate action can be a really fun experience. Attending events such as rallies, meetings, marches, and our very own Climate Science on Tap can allow you to meet new, interesting people. 

Winning the battle against climate change requires a group effort in order for us to be successful. It also requires that we maintain a positive attitude about winning the battle. It can sometimes be easy to let the current climate situation leave you discouraged, but there is a lot of good being done around the world, as well as in our own backyard. Becoming disheartened about the issue, doesn’t solve the problem. However, making lifestyle adjustments, advocating for policy changes, pressuring politicians, and starting conversations within your community might do the trick if we all pitch in.

Why Cascadia Climate Action?

By Mary Cappelletti

Hello. My name is Mary Cappelletti, and I am an intern with Cascadia Climate Action (CCA) this summer. My first task as an intern is to begin this blog, and from now on I will be posting weekly. In future postings I will feature different ways people can make a difference with climate action. But I’d like to begin the blog by introducing CCA and what it’s doing today.

Mary Manous initiated CCA in 2015 to fill a void in the climate action community. While many climate events were being held by various groups to educate and engage the community, these sometimes overlapped and it was difficult for people interested in climate action to learn about events without subscribing to multiple email lists. Mary herself, as well as others concerned about climate change, had trouble keeping track of myriad events to find ones they could support. They saw the need for a “one stop calendar” that aggregated these events and displayed them on a single calendar. This was the birth of the CCA Climate Events Calendar. This easy-to-use tool helped organizations avoid scheduling conflicts and offered the community a reliable place to find the wide variety of events happening in Seattle and the broader Cascadia region.

Soon after CCA started, the team identified another need and began hosting events that offered detailed information on the science of climate change and clean energy. The goal was to give accurate, interesting information on the causes and effects of climate change in a fun environment. Thus began “Ask a Climate Scientist” and soon thereafter “Climate Science on Tap.” 

“Climate Science on Tap” events take place at popular Seattle breweries, such as Peddler Brewing Company, Naked City Brewery and Taphouse, and Lagunitas Brewing Company. Each event features a distinct piece of the climate change puzzle, engaging and often surprising the audience. Topics have ranged from extreme weather events to the ethics of climate engineering to agriculture’s role as a cause and solution. But the most inspiring part of these events is the people. The expert speakers educate a receptive, eager audience that carries the information out to the broader community. Every person who attends an event, makes a lifestyle change, signs a petition, or takes any kind of action, is making a difference for the climate and the environment. The organization would not be successful without the individuals that help organize the events, speak at them, and attend them. As a college student majoring in environmental studies, I am truly inspired to see so many people getting involved at a grassroots level to make a difference in whatever way they can.

Welcome Back to the CCA Blog!

By Eden Cypher

Hello and welcome back to the CCA blog! Over the next ten weeks, the three University of Washington interns will be writing about their passion for the environment and experiences that have shaped their drive to educate the public on climate science. 

            To start off, my name is Eden Cypher and this June my student career will end and I’ll be entering the environmental field. I’m excited to join the work force with like-minded individuals who also want to make an impact on the public’s perception of climate, but I understand that not everyone has had the privilege of exploring the great outdoors. This is the main reason why my undergraduate education has centered around environmental studies and communication. 

            A few times every summer and winter, my family would make the three hour drive up to Lake Tahoe, California to ski, hike and swim. In the mornings, we’d take the dogs on long walks so they could run through the pine trees and chase after Steller’s Jays that they would never catch. In the sunny but frigid afternoons, we would drive out to Mount Judah and snow shoe through a foot of powdery snow to connect to parts of the famous Pacific Crest Trail. Catching our breath at the top of the mountain to only have it taken away by the panoramic views of peaks and valleys around us sparked my love of the environment. 

            As each year passed, I noticed small changes in my surroundings when we would go up to Tahoe. In the summers, you would hear the coyotes’ howls at night less and less. The snow would fall lighter and later every winter. Seeing my favorite landscape on the planet change before my eyes is how I realized my love of the environment and need to protect it.

            I went through college pursuing Environmental Studies with the thought process that I was trying to save Earth because of this deep appreciation for the plants and animals that inhabited the planet. Watching people throw single-use coffee cups in trash cans, seeing all the cars on the road and hearing about proposals to build pipelines across the country had me questioning: how can so many people seem to not care about the environment at all? 

            It wasn’t until I was back in Lake Tahoe and cross country skiing with my dad, when my question was answered. As we stood in silence and listened to the drops of water melting from the snow on the trees and the hidden birds in them, my environmental privilege hit me. Of course, my connection to the environment comes from my frequent exposure to it! My family has had the means and desire to take me on long hikes, ski through snowstorms, and drive the miles out of the city to do so, whereas not everyone has these opportunities. With over half the world’s population living in urban areas, nature can be can seem unfamiliar and distant. Why care about the fate of your state’s flower if you’ve never even seen it? 

            Living sustainably may seem like a choice, but a strong connection to the natural environment is what drives people to protect the flora and fauna that has cultivated human development. As I grew up immersed in nature, I found my connection to the environment, and going forward I hope to help others find that connection as well.

Welcome Back to the CCA Blog!

By Eden Cypher

Hello and welcome back to the CCA blog! Over the next ten weeks, the three University of Washington interns will be writing about their passion for the environment and experiences that have shaped their drive to educate the public on climate science.

   To start off, my name is Eden Cypher and this June my student career will end and I’ll be entering the environmental field. I’m excited to join the work force with like-minded individuals who also want to make an impact on the public’s perception of climate, but I understand that not everyone has had the privilege of exploring the great outdoors. My own This is the main reason why my undergraduate education has centered around environmental studies and communication.

          A few times every summer and winter, my family would make the three hour drive up to Lake Tahoe, California to ski, hike and swim. In the mornings, we’d take the dogs on long walks so they could run through the pine trees and chase after Steller’s Jays that they would never catch. In the sunny but frigid afternoons, we would drive out to Mount Judah and snow shoe through a foot of powdery snow to connect to parts of the famous Pacific Crest Trail. Catching our breath at the top of the mountain to only have it taken away by the panoramic views of peaks and valleys around us sparked my love of the environment.

  As each year passed, I noticed small changes in my surroundings when we would go up to Tahoe. In the summers, you would hear the coyotes’ howls at night less and less. The snow would fall lighter and later every winter. Seeing my favorite landscape on the planet change before my eyes is how I realized my love of the environment and need to protect it.

      I went through college pursuing Environmental Studies with the thought process that I was trying to save Earth because of this deep appreciation for the plants and animals that inhabited the planet. Watching people throw single-use coffee cups in trash cans, seeing all the cars on the road and hearing about proposals to build pipelines across the country had me questioning: how can so many people seem to not care about the environment at all?

    It wasn’t until I was back in Lake Tahoe and cross country skiing with my dad, when my question was answered. As we stood in silence and listened to the drops of water melting from the snow on the trees and the hidden birds in them, my environmental privilege hit me. Of course, my connection to the environment comes from my frequent exposure to it! My family has had the means and desire to take me on long hikes, ski through snowstorms, and drive the miles out of the city to do so, whereas not everyone has these opportunities. With over half the world’s population living in urban areas, nature can be can seem unfamiliar and distant. Why care about the fate of your state’s flower if you’ve never even seen it?

     Living sustainably may seem like a choice, but a strong connection to the natural environment is what drives people to protect the flora and fauna that has cultivated human development. As I grew up immersed in nature, I found my connection to the environment, and going forward I hope to help others find that con nection as well.

Lessons on Bicycle & Climate Advocacy

I started my journey on the environmental path with a keen fascination with plastic pollution and waste, but my interest quickly branched out to include all things related to climate change. As anyone reading this may relate, the more I learned about climate change, the more I saw the connections between climate change and numerous other issues, including some obvious ones like transportation.

I recently attended the Advocacy Learning Institute (ALI) organized by Cascade Bicycle Club, a nonprofit that advocates for safer bike infrastructure, leads bike rides, and educates community members about bike safety. The purpose of ALI was to provide attendees the tools to become better advocates for a bike-friendly city. I was not a typical attendee of ALI as I was far from a regular biker – all I had was a dysfunctional bike that was in such bad condition that even a recycled-bikes store didn’t have any use for it. As I listened to the speakers at the 2-day Advocacy Leadership Institute, I noticed several ideas that kept re-occurring that can be applied to a wide array of issues.

Here are three important takeaways from ALI that can be used for any kind of advocacy work:

    1. Whatever your goal or project is, try to connect with organizations and individuals whose priorities may be different from yours, but whose values would agree with your project and help propel it forward. For example, a campaign for greener transportation options can be led by a coalition of anti-growth advocates, environmentalists, affordable housing advocates, Parent Teacher Association (PTA) members, and many others. A cause that is supported by a variety of organizations will be stronger and more likely to attract the needed attention from the local government or whomever youŕe trying to communicate with in order to create the desired change.
    2. When stating your position on an issue, whether it’s in verbal or written format, strive to include both facts and a personal story. Why are you advocating on this topic? How are you personally impacted by it? Data and statistics will make you reputable while adding a personal story will make people emphasize with you and listen to your perspective.
    3. Choosing the right framework for a campaign can be immensely important for its success. A campaign for greener transportation options can be framed as an effort to reduce air pollution, make transportation more affordable and accessible, reduce traffic accidents, improve community members’ health, or help more kids to walk and bike to school. The framework that will make the campaign most effective depends on the priorities of the target audience, whether that is the voters or the City Council.

I went to the Advocacy Learning Institute because I wanted to learn how to be a better advocate for climate change issues. By the time I walked out of the last workshop, I had my own bike and was seeing my own city from the perspective of a casual cyclist.

Cascade Bicycle Club organizes bike rides, educates people about bike safety, and teaches people to be better advocates.  

Liepa Braciulyte

                                                       –  Liepa Braciulyte, CCA Volunteer 

Photo at top from Biking Bis.