August 2017 Meeting Notes

Iowa City Climate Advocates (ICCA)/Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) Meeting
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Minutes (prepared by Peter Rolnick)

People present: Terri Macey, Maria McCoy, Linda Quinn, Charlotte Fairlie, Edward Agran, John Christensen, Chris Bergan, Del Holland, Eric Johnson, Beth Parker, Dianne Platte, Peter Rolnick, Martha Norbeck

  • We introduced ourselves and talked a bit about what is going on. Terri brought a delicious blueberry-peach cake. John told about getting arrested demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipeline where it crosses the Mississippi River near Keokuk, and about going to the Climate March in DC this past spring. Chris will be going to a Thorium Energy Alliance conference. Interesting fact from Chris: The US has a ban against mining thorium, and because most rare earth minerals (critical in certain manufacturing) occur with thorium we have in effect a ban on mining rare earths, so we have to buy them from other countries, mostly from China. We thanked Maria for her excellent work helping us this summer; she heads back to school September 6. Thank you Maria!
  • We talked about starting a regular (weekly? monthly?) meeting to help and encourage people to write letters to their members of Congress, and to local newspapers. What started as an idea to encourage ICCA volunteers to write letters about climate change and Carbon Fee & Dividend morphed into wanting to encourage anyone to write about whatever is on their mind (even if they want to write to encourage more fossil fuel use, for example). This could serve the purpose of getting a more diverse group of people together. It is not clear if this should be considered an ICCA activity, or just something that ICCA people who want help and encouragement writing could go to. Eric will look into making this happen, and Edward may help him out if it does happen.
  • I reported on plans for the meeting with Senator Ernst on August 17 and on trying to get Representative Blum to join the Climate Solutions Caucus. Charlotte agreed to submit an op-ed to the Press-Citizen for our September submission thanking Ernst for that meeting (I will forward to her info about how that meeting went after it is over).
  • We talked about a music/food fundraiser sometime early Spring 2018. I will look into using the back room of Beadology, and try to find two bands willing to contribute their talents.
  • We watched the CCL Monthly Call. Mark Reynolds suggested, for actions this month, that we:
    • Write letters to our members of Congress calling for legislative action on climate change. Most of the people present committed to writing one letter to Blum, Loebsack, Ernst or Grassley. Loebsack is already on the waiting list to join the Climate Solutions Caucus–if you write to him be sure to thank him for that! And whomever you write to please let me know (prolnick@truman.edu) that you wrote so I can report it to CCL.
    • Reach out particularly to left-wing environmental groups. Among other things, when Carbon Fee & Dividend comes up for a vote want to count on their support, which wasn’t there when the State of Washington tried to put a price on carbon. We made a decision about doing that which I’ll discuss later in these minutes.
  • The presenter on the call was Paul Hawken, editor of Drawdown, the first systematic cataloging of solutions to the problem of global warming based only on peer-reviewed research. I was surprised to learn that the biggest sector where we can address global warming is reducing food waste and adopting a plant rich diet (see vegan cake referred to earlier in these minutes!). The next biggest sector? Educating girls and making family planning universally available. Though reducing fossil fuel use doesn’t show up in either of those sectors, Hawken agreed that Carbon Fee & Dividend was definitely something important that we should try to get passed, because it would directly or indirectly push all the solutions they looked at.
  • We practiced, in pairs, the laser talk on the Climate Solutions Caucus.
  • Martha Norbeck, architect, member of Environmental Advocates, and member of the City of Iowa City Climate Action Steering Committee, suggested that, along with Environmental Advocates, ICCA coordinate a gathering of all local environmental organizations in which we would share our concerns and attempt to come up with a unified recommendation for outreach at the November 2 meeting of the Steering Committee.
    • This will be our way of doing Mark Reynolds’ 2nd Action Item (reach out to environmental groups), except we decided that our priority in this effort will be not shoving Carbon Fee & Dividend down everyone’s throat (to put it crudely) but to facilitate the City’s efforts toward sustainability in whatever way the larger environmental community wants to.
    • Martha had already been browsing the book Drawdown, and suggested that focusing on food waste and encouraging a plant-rich diet might be the kind of thing we could focus on. Thank you, Martha, for coming to talk to us about this!
    • Eric will try to book a room at the library for middle-to-late October. I will attempt to coordinate ideas–please email to me any thoughts you have about how the gathering (prolnick@truman.edu). Initially, we will use the following model for such a gathering as a starting point:

CCL chapter hosts ‘Day of Dialogue’ with environmental groups
By Davia Rivka

“Dear Jim, I know you are as concerned about climate change as I am. As we all regroup to face a Trump presidency and a Republican Congress, we are planning an event for a few of our colleagues in environmental groups. We at Citizens’ Climate Lobby know we can benefit from an open exchange of ideas on policy solutions and political strategies. It’s a good time to learn from each other and find points of agreement so that we can better support one another. Please join us for a Day of Dialogue.”

This is the opening paragraph of an invitation from the Pasadena-Foothills CCL chapter to four environmental groups: Food and Water Watch, Sierra Club, California Interfaith Power and Light and SoCal 350.

I’m scratching my head. A “day of dialogue” with environmental groups? Aren’t environmental groups already on board with our mission to preserve a livable world? Haven’t we practiced our speaking points hoping to find common ground with the right?

Well, yes. But in the fall of 2016, Washington State carbon pricing ballot measure I-732 was defeated for many reasons, with one piece of the puzzle being because some environmental groups were vocally opposed to the measure. This same situation is one that could also plague national carbon pricing efforts, so it’s important to bridge the gap.  Carol Kravetz is in the Pasadena-Foothills CCL chapter, which hosted the Day of Dialogue event earlier this year. She said, “We decided to do a forum with green groups, bring them together, and listen to their proposals for getting to zero emissions or 100% renewables.” Kudos to Pasadena-Foothills for their courage and willingness to listen.
The day began with opening remarks from Robert Haw, who reminded attendees, “We’re all after the same objective—decarbonization as soon as possible—although each of our groups has identified a different roadmap for achieving it. Yet that difference shouldn’t set us apart—we’re all travelers on the same road.”

Even before his opening remarks, much thoughtful consideration went into planning the day. The event’s stated purpose reads: “These are challenging times. Joining forces and understanding one another as environmentalists with common goals yet sharing different strategies can only make us stronger and wiser. The purpose of our meeting today is to learn more about each other’s ideas on how best to mitigate climate change in order to preserve our planet. And most important, we will explore how we can understand and support each other.”

The planning committee designed a concise agenda and paid careful attention to all the details. There were five representatives from each of the five organizations. The room was set with five round tables. The day opened with Rob’s welcome, introductions and snacks, then followed by five presentations, one from each organization. The presenters were asked to speak to three questions: what is your climate plan, what are its strengths and weaknesses, and what is your plan to get it adopted?

CCL’s John Odell spoke first, setting the tone. Each group was allotted 20 minutes to present and an additional 10 minutes for questions. In the afternoon, there was a working lunch. At each round table was one representative from each organization. Together, the groups discussed the common ground among all our climate plans, and they explored ways our organizations can understand and support each other.
All in all, it was a good day, Carol tells me. Not without its human foibles and some general grandstanding and chest puffing. But as Carol said, it was a good day because it was the beginning of a dialogue.

Turns out, people are people, whether they identify as Democrats or Republicans; men or women; black, white, yellow or brown. We, all of us, want to be listened to. We want to be heard. We get our feathers ruffled. We have a hard time letting go of being right.
But this is where the real work is: opening our hearts again and again and again, so we can build connections and achieve our common goal. All in all, I’d say it’s worth it.
If you want to consider planning your own Day of Dialogue, please feel free go to the Pasadena-Foothills Chapter website to read their planning documents and discussion notes, or email Carol Kravetz for support and advice.
*****

Upcoming Events:

  • Iowa City Climate Advocates September Meeting, Saturday September 9
    • 11 am – 1 pm, Iowa City Public Library, Room E
  • North Wind Regional CCL Conference, October 13-15
    • Lakeside Lab in Okoboji Iowa
  • 4th Annual Congressional Education Day, November 13-14
    • Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington DC
  • 9th Annual International Conference & Lobby Day, June 10-12, 2018
    • Washington DC, location TBA
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