Calls to action

Calls to action

Collective action can still make a difference in saving our planet

BRATTLEBORO — Last month, Pope Francis released an encyclical on climate change, describing it as the moral issue of our time and calling for immediate, global action.

The significance of this publication cannot be overstated. The Roman Catholic Church has 1.2 billion followers worldwide; when he talks, lots of people listen.

Even so, some scientists fear that changes in our atmosphere may already be too great to prevent catastrophic changes in the Earth's climate.

But as a parent of toddler, I can't allow this belief to prevent personal action. So I've joined a climate action book group spearheaded by Post Oil Solutions, a community-organizing group based in southeastern Vermont.

Twelve of us signed up to read and discuss Naomi Klein's book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. Distinct from some book groups, ours had the additional goal of using the book as a tool to inspire action - which it has.

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A number of participants started a weekly protest vigil outside of TD Bank, the bank used by the state of Vermont and an investor in the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Others attended a hearing for the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline nearby. Still others have written letters to the editor.

Though each group member is passionate about climate action, many also have a specific focus. One is the owner of a local bookstore and an anti-nuclear activist with two young grandchildren. Another is a filmmaker who's working on a project about massive deforestation in the southeastern United States. A third, herself a vegan, is an outspoken critic of animal agriculture.

Nearly all of us decided to continue the group after our first book. We just started our second one, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in Without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone.

They write, “Active Hope is about becoming active participants in bringing about what we hope for.”

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On the days when I still get discouraged, my fellow activists inspire me to continue.

In her graduation keynote at the College of the Atlantic, Naomi Klein declared, “That very idea that we - as atomized individuals, even as lots of atomized individuals - could play a significant part in stabilizing the planet's climate system, or changing the global economy, is objectively nuts. We can only meet this tremendous challenge together. As part of a massive and organized global movement.”

Her words echo a piece of tried and true activist wisdom: to think globally, and act locally.

And that's exactly the kind of action that Pope Francis called for in his encyclical.

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