The Skywriter

Building the climate movement one story at a time

28
Mar

Building the climate movement one story at a time

RC Retreat

Just one week ago, 30 climate activists from across the country descended on D.C. for a huge training on grassroots organizing and team building for the climate movement. This week, we will be highlighting a few of the stories coming out of that training. We hope you are as inspired as we are by the dedication, excitement, and talent these 30 activists bring to the movement. Matt Smith, from Wyckoff, NJ, is new to the climate movement, his story is our first featured story from the weekend:

Boarding Amtrak train 118 headed for Washington D.C. last Friday afternoon, I didn’t know exactly what to expect from my upcoming weekend. I knew a girl named Danielle from 1Sky had invited me to attend their climate retreat, but what exactly were we training for and what were my intentions for the weekend? I wasn’t finding any meaningful answers to these questions during the three and a half hour ride down the Northeast Corridor. When I arrived at 1Sky headquarters later that night for the meet and greet, the only thing I knew for sure was that I knew very little about national climate activism or community organizing. Joining the handful of volunteers and 1Sky staff gathered around the conference room I received a friendly, warm greeting and began hearing everyone’s stories.

There was Vince from Tucson, Arizona, a longtime climate activist who was as comfortable talking about chasing girls around climate events in the 70’s as he was describing the inner workings of fly-wheel technology in hybrid cars. There was Linda from Buffalo, head of her local Sierra Club chapter who after a few minutes of conversation demonstrated an unwavering passion and devotion for protecting our living world. Lauren, a librarian from Iowa told me how she used our country's economic crisis as an opportunity to reconstruct her life around the pursuit of climate justice. There was Miracle from Ole Miss University, who at 19 years old has already embraced climate activism with a maturity and commitment that belies her age. Bianca from Santa Fe dedicates her life to organizing her community around the principles of ecological and social harmony. And then there was Andrew from Columbus, who’s single greatest passion is working to create a sustainable world for his 2 year-old daughter and 4 year-old son to inherit.

There were so many interesting stories being told throughout the weekend that it would be nearly impossible to fit them all into this one blog the 1Sky team asked me to contribute. But perhaps no other story from the weekend resonates with me more than the overarching story of hope.

The diverse group of people that gathered in D.C. this weekend embody this hope with every petition they sign, climate event they organize, and group of people they educate and inspire to join our national movement. The 30 volunteers I met at the 1Sky retreat have given me hope that a local climate movement can work in my hometown of Wyckoff, NJ. They also gave me hope that through our collective local efforts we can build something big enough to create the national changes we need to get back to 350ppm.

What this weekend taught me became evidently clear upon boarding the train back to New Jersey on Monday night. As I settled in for the ride and began reflecting on the retreat I knew one thing for sure. The climate movement is being driven by two forces that guarantee our success: the power of truth and the talents of those who care about climate change across America, people that share the same hope as the 38 volunteers and staff who got together in D.C. this past weekend. In the fight for our climate future, I’m excited to get to work for the winning team.

Matt Smith lives in Wyckoff, NJ where he works in finance. His interest in the environment stems from epic family vacations in Yellowstone and Glacier National Park as a child, and he has been hooked on the outdoors ever since. After reading Bill McKibbon's newest book, 'Eaarth,' Matt realized it was time to start doing something about climate change, and linked up with both 350.org and 1Sky in his newfound quest to protect the outdoors. He currently serves as the Regional Coordinator for New Jersey, and is looking forward to ramping up local efforts to help build the national climate movement needed to combat climate change.
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