Better Future Project is ecstatic to share that we have completed the first season of our Climate Justice Fellowship Program! The program ran from January-May and consisted of ten students from six campuses in Massachusetts.
When I joined BFP in September 2015 as the new campus organizer, I was presented with the idea of coordinating a new fellowship program as part of my campus divestment work. The interests were to deepen our student connections, offer more consistent mentorship and training, and facilitate cross-campus relationships. We have seen how youth and student power has radically shaped the urgency and direction of the climate narrative. If we were to be an organization that took seriously the enormity of the climate crisis, then we must take seriously the need to deeply build relationships with and train young people to be powerful organizers. After months and months of organizational soul searching, visioning, and extensive planning, Craig Altemose, Shea Riester and I developed the Climate Justice Fellowship Program!
Shea and I started the program with a kickoff retreat at the end of January, where we facilitated a space that allowed people to get connected, vulnerable, and real about their campaigns. Following the retreat, we held monthly daylong trainings that covered many issues that student campaigns often struggle with, including group structure, anti-oppression, facilitation, and strategy planning. At each training, we would try to end the day by making public commitments for what we wanted to get done by the next month. In between, I would have biweekly one-on-one mentorship meetings with each fellow to dive deeper into the training material, their campaign, and their leadership development.
You can read more about our amazing Spring 2016 Fellows here! These past months have been full of deep bonds of love for our earth and for each other, collective growth in our knowledge of the injustices that we face, and a commitment to challenge and support each other to be moral and compassionate leaders in action. Though their time together as fellows is now done, I feel confident that this group will continue to find support, joy, and love with each other moving forward.
The program was a huge challenge, and it felt risky for me to coordinate in my first year of this position. There have been mistakes made, late nights, and occasional tears, and I often felt overwhelmed with the enormous enterprise we had undertaken. But I end this season with the resounding certainty that I am not alone in fighting for a more just world. With every day at BFP, I get to be a part of growing this movement one person at a time, and thus making the load on my shoulders just a little bit lighter. While the Spring Fellowship is over, we are already deeply underway with the next season - our Summer Fellowship! If you are excited about our student engagement work, you can donate to support our summer fellows here! There will be another season of the Fellowship this Fall. Please subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated.
If you have questions about the Fellowship Program, please contact me at <[email protected]>.
2,000+ People Turn Out for "Jobs, Justice and Climate" -- the Largest Climate Action in Boston History
On Saturday, as world leaders signed a historic climate deal in Paris, people from across New England came together for a massive rally and march for jobs, justice and climate! WBUR reported that 2,000 people were there -- making for the biggest climate march or rally in Boston history.
It was an incredible day, with powerful speeches from leaders like Karen Higgins, RN, national co-president of National Nurses United; Adrian Ventura of the New Bedford Workers' Center; Derek Pelotte of 350 Mass Lowell; and many, many more.
140+ organizations co-sponsored the event, and it was a powerful demonstration of the strength and diversity of our growing movement!
Take a look at some of the photos here and here, and check out the media coverage from New England Cable News, Fox 25 Boston, WBUR, The Boston Herald, and the Associated Press. And don't miss the video highlights featured below!
From Future Focus Media Co-Op:
From Bob Lawson of 350 Mass Metro West:
Photo credit: Tania Gomes-Castro
No matter what happens in Paris, we know what we need: real climate solutions that create secure union jobs and strengthen community power and resiliency. And to get there, we need to build an unstoppable grassroots movement that can unite organized labor, immigrant rights, racial justice and climate justice groups.
It's up to us to lead the way -- and we're starting right here in New England with a massive rally on December 12, the day after the Paris talks end!
When: Saturday, Dec 12, 1-3 pm
Where: Parkman Bandstand, Boston Common, Boston
It's official: President Obama just rejected Keystone XL.
To the countless 350 Mass members who marched, rallied, took long bus trips to DC, and stood vigil in the winter cold: thank you.
This is OUR victory, and it shows the growing strength and power of our movement. When the campaign against Keystone XL started, many people said that the pipeline was a done deal. Now, it's officially dead.
Over the coming months, we will build on this victory as we fight to stop new gas pipelines and other proposed fossil fuel infrastructure projects across New England and beyond. Spectra, Kinder Morgan, and other fossil fuel companies should be getting very nervous right now: Keystone XL is one of the first fossil fuel projects to be stopped by our movement, but it will not be the last.
Massachusetts has the chance to make history by becoming the first state in the nation to put a price on carbon. The world's leading economists agree that the single best way to tackle climate change is by adopting a carbon price, which forces big polluters to pay for the carbon emissions that they put into the atmosphere. By adopting this ground-breaking policy, we can blaze a trail forward for other states and countries to follow and show our nation and our world what true climate leadership looks like.
On Tuesday, October 27, the Massachusetts Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee is holding a hearing on a bill that would put a price on carbon. We need to pack the room and show that the people of Massachusetts are eager for visionary leadership on climate!
If you can, please write a few brief paragraphs of testimony about why you support carbon pricing and strong action on climate and send it to Andrew Gordon,[email protected], before Monday, October 26. We'll all deliver our testimony to the committee chairs together before the hearing begins! If you can't make it in person, you can go ahead and submit testimony anyway -- we'll deliver it on your behalf. You can see sample talking points and sample testimony here.
On September 29, hundreds of people rallied on the State House steps and then filled Gardner Auditorium for a critical hearing on energy policy. The turn-out at the hearing and the rally was noticed by press and politicians -- thank you to everyone who was there! The hearing went incredibly long; if you didn't get a chance to speak, you can submit your testimony by sending it to Andrew Gordon, [email protected] Sample testimony is here!
Lawmakers are currently considering legislation that would affect solar, wind, gas pipelines, and almost every other component of Massachusetts energy policy. As the hearing made clear, there's lots of excitement in the legislature about solar and offshore wind -- but also plenty of support for new gas pipelines. We'll keep working with the Mass Power Forward coalition to call for legislation that promotes clean energy instead of new fossil fuel infrastructure. Stay tuned for updates! Interested in getting more involved? Contact Marlon Washington, [email protected]
The Baker administration is starting to move forward with a "gas tariff", a new policy that would add a charge to consumers' electricity bills to pay for new gas pipelines. It's outrageous -- Massachusetts residents and businesses should not be forced to pay for dangerous and unnecessary new gas pipelines that will primarily benefit out-of-state fossil fuel companies.
The 350 Mass ReNEWable team is working to figure out the best way to keep pressure on Governor Baker and stop the gas tariff from being implemented. Stay tuned! Interested in getting more involved? Contact Marlon Washington, [email protected]
Our state legislators are about to make a series of monumental decisions about energy policy -- the kind of decisions that come only once every few decades. Legislators are considering new legislation to support solar and wind, they're debating new transmission lines and gas pipelines, and they're preparing to spend billions of dollars replacing aging energy infrastructure.
On September 29, lawmakers are holding a crucial hearing about Massachusetts energy policy, including solar, offshore wind, hydropower, and new gas pipelines.
This hearing covers a much, much bigger array of topics than normal hearings, and we're working with our allies in the Mass Power Forward coalition to make sure we pack the room. The choices that legislators make after September 29 will determine where we get our energy for many years to come. The stakes have never been higher: we need you there to speak truth to power.
Huge news! Earlier today, Trillium Asset Management released a new report showing that the Massachusetts pension fund lost more than $500 million on fossil fuel investments between June 2014 and June 2015.
This is a big deal! For years, financial experts like former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and former SEC Commissioner Bevis Longstreth have been saying that fossil fuels are a bad investment. The Massachusetts pension board ignored those warnings -- and a result, they lost hundreds of millions of dollars that could have gone to Massachusetts retirees.
Several of the state’s major public sector unions have joined us in calling on Massachusetts to divest from fossil fuels. The Boston Teachers Union, which represents 10,000 teachers and support staff, endorsed divestment just a few days ago, joining SEIU 509, SEIU 888, and the Massachusetts Nurses Association! Thousands of hard-working teachers, nurses, first responders, service workers, and public servants who pay into the pension fund have joined the campaign for divestment because they’re worried about the threat of climate change -- and about the risks that fossil fuels pose to their pensions.
Fossil fuels are wrecking the planet, and they’re wrecking our pension fund, too. It’s time to #DivestMA!
To see the 350 Mass / Better Future Project press release about the report, click here!
In June, Pope Francis released a landmark encyclical, "Laudato Si", calling for immediate action on climate change to protect the earth and the world's most vulnerable people. Now, Pope Francis is coming to the U.S.! On September 24, Pope Francis will address Congress on climate change. Interfaith organizations are planning a march and rally on the National Mall right after the Pope's address to Congress. If you're planning to go, we encourage you to carpool with others from 350 Mass! You can find a ride, or let others know that you have spots in your car, by using our rideshare board.
The Ignatian Solidarity Network, a national organization that connects Jesuit and Catholic institutions around social justice issues, is also helping to organize house parties all over the country for people to watch the Pope's address to Congress together (either live-streamed or after the address is over). There are several watch parties already in the works in Massachusetts -- you can see the list here.
If there's no watch party in your area, and you're interested in organizing one, the Ignatian Solidarity Network has put together some great resources. And, of course, feel free to reach out if you need help organizing something or reaching out to people in your area!