Reflecting on a Summer of Organizing for a Carbon Price in DC

Reflecting on a Summer of Organizing for a Carbon Price in DC

Written By Danniele Fulmer, former summer intern for CCAN’s Price It D.C. campaign and current Executive Assistant

What happens when you put four young college students and recent graduates together for a summer of organizing? You get a dynamic and versatile team of advocates with a strong pool of talents and interests, ranging from English to Environmental Policy, Economics, and Social Justice Organizing.

I got to experience this phenomenon firsthand with Andrew, Maria, and Olivia, during my summer as one of the four interns working on the D.C. Put A Price On It campaign.

On a personal note, I moved to D.C. after spending a year in Vermont at graduate school and had very little experience in the city. Working on this campaign exposed me to a completely new side of D.C., outside of the traditional tourist attractions and historical monuments. I got to experience the authentic flavor of the District’s booming neighborhoods, many of which I had never heard of or visited before. It feels nearly impossible to dive into the details of everything we accomplished this summer, but I think it’s worth covering some of the most prominent highlights!

Our summer working on Put A Price On It D.C. kickstarted with a visit to the John Wilson Building to do a “lit drop” of a Washington Post editorial that came out in support of carbon pricing as a climate solution.  This is where you go door to door to each councilmember’s office to drop off “literature” and talk about the campaign with the legislators’ staffers — or even the councilmembers themselves, if you catch them at the right time. It provided a wonderful opportunity for us to meet some of the staffers and councilmembers face to face while pitching the campaign!

From that point, myself and the three other interns, Andrew, Maria, and Olivia took to the streets to educate residents about the policy by canvassing across the District. We talked to residents from across the city, including everyone from native Washingtonians to students attending university in D.C.  Canvassing can be hard work at times, but I have to admit that some of the most memorable moments from the summer were from the time I spent talking to D.C. residents. I engaged in some of the most authentic and candid conversations with residents about climate change, justice, and the quirks of the city.

The tedious work of petitioning in the above average heat this summer was made more than worth it by the supportive words and thank-yous we received from residents. By the end of the summer, through visiting neighborhoods, metro stops, and attending events across the city, the four of us  collected over 800 petitions from D.C. residents!

Later in the summer, we gained practical advocacy experience by attending a public hearing with Councilmember Mary Cheh. I had the great pleasure of preparing and offering testimony at the hearing in support of the campaign, a first for me. It allowed me to apply my past education in communications and advocacy in a practical real world environment.

Overall, I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish over the past few months as interns on the D.C. campaign. Further, I’m excited to see where our futures take us. Something tells me that the four of us will cross paths in the future. It’s just the nature of this work! Successful advocates know that building lasting relationships is the key to powerful campaigns and coalitions. I hope that we’ll all be able to contribute to each other’s work in the future in one capacity or another. At the very least, we will all be able to look back on our summer as interns for the Price It D.C. campaign and reflect on the key advocacy and organizing skills we developed… And cheer with gusto when The Climate and Community Reinvestment Act is passed by the D.C. Council!

The Pursuit of Climate and Social Justice Through Carbon Pricing

The Pursuit of Climate and Social Justice Through Carbon Pricing

Written By Danniele Fulmer, former summer intern for CCAN’s Price It D.C. campaign and current Executive Assistant

What is environmental justice? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

Unfortunately, the pursuit of environmental and social justice has been an uphill battle. Harmful environmental practices have taken place disproportionately in low-income communities of color for years — even decades — putting these communities on the front lines of pollution and climate change.

A prime example of this is gentrification of cities, which tailors to the tastes of the upper middle class and pushes low-income residents to the curb. Income inequality between the rich and poor looms as another related and potent issue. In the landmark report “Toxic Waste and Race in the United States,” it was found that race was the predicting factor for waste siting more frequently than income. To add another layer of complication, climate change threatens to exacerbate these issues of injustice.

This particularly concerning in the District of Columbia, one of the most clearly segregated cities in the United States, as highlighted by the Washington Post in 2015. Further, according to a report released by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, income inequality in the District ranks fourth among the fifty largest cities in the United States. To break it down further, the richest 5 percent of Washingtonians make roughly fifty nine times what the poorest 20 percent make. Perhaps more relevant to this discussion, the study also found that D.C.’s lowest-income residents are primarily people of color.

It may come as no surprise that environmental and economic policies have the potential to become regressive, impacting lower income communities disproportionately. Developing policies that take justice issues into consideration is more important than ever. With this in mind, it is critical that the environmental policies that we pursue within the District serve all residents, regardless of race and socioeconomic status.

Luckily, the Healthy Community and Climate Reinvestment Act of D.C. plans to do just that by placing a fee on carbon emissions and rebating 75 percent of the collected revenue back to residents. At its core, this legislation is an effort to curb carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change. However, the fee and rebate model being employed has the potential to correct some other critical injustices occurring in the District as well. In particular, low income residents would see a rebate of about four dollars to every one dollar that they pay through the carbon fee, taking a step toward leveling the playing field between the highest and lowest income residents in D.C.

At the end of the day, climate change is the single issue that unites us all. Put A Price On It D.C.’s progressive approach to address climate change has a unique social justice flavor that is critical in today’s fight for a healthy climate and community.

Fighting for the Future with Moms Clean Air Force

Fighting for the Future with Moms Clean Air Force

Written by Olivia Kuykendall and Maria Zlotescu

What is one thing every child deserves? The chance to grow up in a world free from worries of climate change.

On July 14, Moms Clean Air Force held its annual “Play-In For Climate Action” in Washington D.C. to fight for that chance. Dozens of eager climate activists filled the Upper Senate Park to advocate for a cleaner future. Attendees came from as far Texas to listen to speakers discuss the fate of our planet.

The event featured speakers of all ages to highlight that our climate is an issue that that will affect the present and future generations. Moms Clean Air Force offered plenty of activities to engage families. Children played with parachutes and bubble machines while families attempted yoga and dozens of other activities. The events made the rally not only a political event but a community one bringing together strangers united by a common cause.

Parents at the rally were not all fearful of their children’s future — they were hopeful. Hopeful that their children could one day have healthier water and cleaner air.

The experience made me hopeful, too. Many listened to our Put A Price On It campaign testimonies and were interested in getting involved. Plenty thanked me for my time, expressing the importance of advocacy in the fight for cleaner air. One attendee even expressed the importance of the involvement of young people in the climate action movement.

While young people are important, today’s parents are raising the next generation of voters. Children who see their parents involved in activism are more likely to follow. The children who attended the event today are the environmental leaders of tomorrow.

During the event, I also had the opportunity to sign up for “Dear Tomorrow” — a project where people share letters, photos and videos to their children, family or future self about their promise to take action on climate change. I’m going to write a letter to my little nephews. I want them to be able to visit the Potomac River like I did as a kid.

As we left the event, many rally-goers went to meet with their senators or representatives. I am confident that their meetings went well because I saw their passion and dedication with my own eyes. It gave me energy.

As Moms Clean Air Force fights on the national level, let us remember our local fight. Break out the signs, petitions, and phones. Let’s put a price on carbon pollution in DC. Not just for us. For the kids.

Photos courtesy of Moms Clean Air Force.

Building our Movement at Capital Pride

Building our Movement at Capital Pride

Each year Dupont City hosts the Capital Pride Parade to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots, which paved the way for decades LGBT rights activism. As a coalition working to create a greener and more equitable city, Put A Price On It D.C. is committed to working across all progressive movements.

That’s why last weekend we headed to the 2017 Capital Pride Parade to get the word out and speak with city Councilmembers.

Our committed campaign leader, Howard Crystal, recapped his valuable experience bird-dogging at the parade!

I’ve never been in the Pride Parade or witnessed the behind-the-scenes set-up process. This past weekend however, I not only got to be behind the scenes–I had the chance to join a terrific team bird-dogging councilmembers for the Put A Price On It Campaign!

The team started the day with an orientation from Climate Justice Organizer, Jeremiah Lowery. After the orientation, we searched the parade crowds for any councilmembers lined up to march.

We spotted Councilwoman Mary Cheh, a continued champion of sustainability politics, first and I volunteered to give her our pitch.  After speaking with the councilwoman, we spoke to her supporters as well as other councilmembers.

In the end, I got the chance to talk to four Councilmembers and several of their supporters in the midst of the exciting parade. Everyone we spoke with was supportive. One councilmember even assured us he is on board with the campaign!

I hope you have the chance to get out there and speak with councilmembers about this important campaign. They need to hear from all of us!

VIDEO: Why these D.C. residents are working to put a price on carbon

VIDEO: Why these D.C. residents are working to put a price on carbon

Our hot new campaign video has officially kicked off summer in the District! We spoke to four D.C. residents to explain why they want the city to put a price on carbon pollution.

 

It’s been over a week since Donald Trump’s reckless withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Thankfully, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser responded by affirming the city’s commitment to climate action. She pledged to reduce D.C.’s carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. Awesome!

Unfortunately, D.C. isn’t on track yet to meet its climate goals. With a comprehensive climate policy like the carbon fee and rebate, D.C. would be well on its way — and it would set an example for the entire nation.

If there there is one thing we’ve learned this week, it’s that we need real action. It’s more important than ever that states move forward on carbon reductions in a progressive and effective way. A comprehensive policy, like the proposed carbon fee and rebate, is the only way to reduce carbon emissions quickly and efficiently. And it’s what D.C. residents want: a full 74 percent of residents want to reduce carbon pollution in the District.

So what can you do? WATCH the new video, SHARE it with all your friends and family, and JOIN our campaign for a greener, cleaner, more equitable D.C.