Morgan Margulies is a staff writer at CPR and a sophomore in Columbia College studying Political Science and Sustainable Development. He is a Field Advisor at Our Climate, a member of the NY Renews coalition.
This article was originally published in the Columbia Political Review on April 1, 2020.
Emily graduated from the University of Tampa in 2019 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology, as well as a commission into the United States Army as a Second Lieutenant. She is currently stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, MO learning how to be an Army engineer. Her passions include community service, spending time outdoors, traveling, and making connections with people. She joined Our Climate in 2019 as a Fellow and is excited to continue educating others on climate change and fighting the good fight alongside other passionate people.
Benny Smith is a freshman at Brown University studying Geophysics. He has been involved with climate policy and advocacy for a number of years, having helped start the Rochester Youth Climate Leaders in upstate NY and lobbied for carbon pricing at multiple levels of government. At college, he is involved with a number of environmental groups including Sunrise Brown/RISD and the Environmental Council of Rhode Island (ECRI). Benny also enjoys working on climate science data analysis and computer modeling, and is very interested in the quantitative side of environmental issues. In his free time, he enjoys reading, playing the violin, and going for runs outside. He also has four younger siblings (one of whom is a New York Fellow for Our Climate!).
On behalf of Our Climate’s Board of Directors, I'm writing to inform you that our Executive Director, Page Atcheson, will be stepping down from her position this summer. Page has contributed immensely to the character and growth of the organization, and we are saddened to see her go. Over these coming months, a search committee comprised of board and staff members will find a new Executive Director to lead the organization’s next chapter.
Page and her husband are excited to be expecting a baby in late June. After much thought and reflection, she decided that this natural transition point provided an opportunity to support new leadership to take the organization forward. Page’s leadership has positioned Our Climate well for this transition: we are financially healthy, we have an exceptional staff team, and we have many committed and visionary young leaders.
Page hit the ground running even before Our Climate (then Oregon Climate) officially hired her in 2014. After one auspicious phone call with Our Climate’s co-founder, Camila, she picked up her entire life to move to Oregon to mobilize young people for climate action. Before she had a home or a reliable paycheck, Page was traveling all over the state, her dog Nala faithfully in tow, energizing rural counties around carbon pricing.
After two years of on-the-ground mobilizing, Page stepped up as Executive Director in 2016. Under her leadership, Our Climate has metamorphosed from a motley crew in Portland into a national organization with campaigns in 6 states, 9 employees, hundreds of fellows and an annual budget ten times larger than when she started.
Her relentless commitment to create opportunities for our staff and youth leaders to advance climate legislation created a contagious energy that motivated all of us to be our best selves. The seeds of dedication that she planted in the organization in the early years have now blossomed into a full-fledged youth movement. Page's unwavering commitment to personal development, fostering healthy processes, and skill in communicating has grown Our Climate from an energetic group to an effective and powerful team. While Page will be dearly missed, the foundation that she helped lay is stronger than ever and we are well-prepared to deliver policy wins in 2020 and beyond.
It is with tremendous excitement for Page that we usher her into this new stage of her life. In this time of personal, organizational, and global transformation, our Board and staff are working together to ensure that Our Climate continues to empower youth to advocate for bold and equitable climate action in a world that needs systemic change now more than ever before.
We have opened our search for a new Executive Director to join the Our Climate team. The job description can be found here, and we encourage interested candidates to apply. We will host an informational webinar about the position and the application process in early April. Please reach out to the ED Search Committee with any questions or referrals at EDSearchCommittee@ourclimate.us.
We are thrilled to embark on this next chapter of Our Climate, working with you to implement equitable climate policy solutions that build a livable world.
The Our Climate Team is proud to introduce our newest full time team member, Laura Krouse. Laura is Our Climate's Oregon Field Organizer. As a member of our team, Laura will build a base of young leaders in Oregon who will advocate for science-based and equitable climate policy alongside partner organizations throughout the state.
Our Climate youth leaders were thrilled to join Governor Kate Brown and climate justice organizations from across the state for the signing of an extensive climate Executive Order 20-04 on March 10, 2020. We’re taking historic, bold action in Oregon to reduce climate pollution, protect our air and water, and do our part as a state to respond to the climate emergency. We’re improving our transportation, businesses, and buildings to lower pollution over time with clean, renewable options that will save money, protect health, and create jobs.
The Executive Order directs state agencies to cap carbon pollution in the industrial, transportation, and natural gas sectors, in order to reach new emission reduction goals, which require a 45% reduction below 1990 levels by 2035 and an 80% reduction by 2050. This Executive Order comes after years of targeted statewide advocacy, much of which has been led by young people who are committed to protecting our future.
The Executive Order will achieve its goals primarily through instructing the Environmental Quality Commission to set and enforce sector specific reductions in transportation, natural gas, and fossil-fuel intensive industry. Additionally, the Governor's Executive Order strengthens requirements for new buildings in Oregon to produce as much clean energy as they use by 2030, adds a climate lens to all new state projects, and extends and strengthens Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program. Finally, the Governor made strong promises to include funding for environmental justice projects, a just transition fund for workers, and wildfire mitigation in her next budget to support the implementation of the Executive Order.
Our Climate’s young leaders have been instrumental in the effort to pass science-based and equitable comprehensive climate policy in Oregon, and this Executive Order is a testament to that effort. Our journey began in 2013, when 1,200 Oregonians came together through a public art installation of a salmon swimming upstream to demand state-level action on climate. Since then, Our Climate’s young leaders have relentlessly mobilized communities statewide--from Medford to Cannon Beach to La Grande--to hold polluters accountable. We have engaged hundreds of volunteers in legislative advocacy efforts; organized 7 Youth Lobby Days; passed eight local government resolutions calling on lawmakers to price carbon; and published dozens of calls to action in local and statewide media outlets. During the last two sessions, Our Climate leaders held more than 120 meetings with lawmakers; testified at 15 committee hearings; gathered hundreds of letters of support from their peers; and published 9 opinion pieces in papers across the state.
Our Climate Fellow and Willamette University first-year Ian Curtis said, “I have been lobbying for the Clean Energy Jobs Bill for three years now, and was very disappointed when Republican lawmakers decided to walk out on generations of Oregonians again this legislative session. I applaud the actions of Governor Kate Brown to take bold and decisive action to ensure that Oregon is a leader in the movement to fight the climate crisis. Her executive order will benefit Oregon’s most vulnerable communities, including the tribes, rural Oregonians, and low-income communities.”
Moving forward, Our Climate will continue to build youth support for policies that ensure the state of Oregon achieves the science-based emission reductions we need to mitigate the climate crisis while centering justice. We will especially prioritize strong youth engagement throughout the rule making process to ensure the resulting policies benefit communities that are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis, including young Oregonians.
Photo 1: Our first Fellowship training in Spring of 2015
Photo 2: The Salmon Mosaic that sparked it all in Spring of 2013
Photo 3: Madison Daisy, an Our Climate Fellowship 2017 Alumni, leading youth as a staff member of Renew Oregon in 2019
Page Atcheson, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 206-669-4955
Laura Krouse, Oregon Field Organizer email@example.com, 360-672-1652
Youth leaders from across Oregon are available for interviews.
Our Climate empowers the generations most affected by climate change to advocate for science-based and equitable climate policy. Our young leaders work closely with state-based coalitions to hold polluters accountable and win state-level policy to protect our future. Our young leaders were also instrumental in the recent passage of Climate Pollution Limits bill in Washington State (2020) and the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in New York State (2019).
Contact: Laura Krouse, firstname.lastname@example.org, (360) 672-1652
Environmental Justice Groups Rallied at the Capitol All Month for the Clean Energy Jobs Bill While Republicans Fled the State
Republicans from the House and the Senate refused to vote on the Clean Energy Jobs bill during the short legislative session in Oregon. Oregon students and Environmental Justice groups rallied around the capitol all month long to show their support for bold climate action.
SALEM, OR - Hundreds of youth from across Oregon delivered a message to state legislators to support the Clean Energy Jobs bill and take strong climate action during the short legislative session. Students attended rallies, read testimonies at hearings, mobilized on social media, participated in Youth Lobby Day with dozens of environmental justice groups and youth led organizations, and signed petitions in support of Clean Energy Jobs. They came to the capitol during the Republican walkout in the final weeks of short session and pressured lawmakers to return and do their jobs. Unfortunately, with the Republican walk out, senators were unable to cast their votes for the Clean Energy Jobs bill along with various other important bills that lawmakers had worked tirelessly to get onto the senate floor during the short legislative session, such as relief for the recent floods in Umatilla County, funding for wildfire mitigation, and an affordable housing package.
Without climate solutions like the Clean Energy Jobs bill, young people are expected to lose billions in lifetime income, and face impacts including extreme weather events, prolonged floods and droughts, wildfires, infectious diseases, and mass migration. By putting a price on carbon, polluters will be required to account for the true costs of fossil fuels and reduce emissions. Holding polluters accountable has the potential to be a powerful, bipartisan policy solution to reduce carbon pollution, stave off global warming and its catastrophic effects, and allow renewable energy to flourish.
The inaction in Oregon comes during an exciting time for passing clean energy policies across the country. Our Climate youth leaders contributed to the passage of the Climate Pollution Limits Bill in Washington State today and the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in New York in 2019. “Bold action on climate must be passed in 2020 to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. We plan to hold these elected officials in Oregon accountable for endangering our future,” said Laura Krouse, Oregon Field Organizer for Our Climate.
During the short legislative session here in Oregon, Our Climate fellows attended rallies, hearings, as well as the Youth Lobby Day. Sharona Shnayder, an Oregon Our Climate fellow spoke about her experience this last month stating “The past few weeks have been eye-opening in the sense that I am now more aware of the political climate in Oregon and the necessity to fight all inclination towards inaction.” Though the Clean Energy Jobs bill did not pass this session, we were able to mobilize and demonstrate that Oregon youth care deeply about the future of this state and are not afraid to work hard for it. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, we refuse to wait until the 2021 legislative session to pass policies that will protect our future. We look forward to working with legislative leadership, the Governor, and our environmental justice partners to ensure that bold and equitable climate action is enacted in Oregon this year.
Grace Yang is a 15 year old student from Lexington High School, an Our Climate Field Representative and a Coordinator for Fridays For Future Massachusetts. She recently testified before the MA state house committee currently holding back key climate legislation.
Tony is a fellow with Our Climate. He was was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska and relocated to Spokane, WA this year. Growing up so close to forests, glaciers, and mountains, he has seen first hand what we stand to lose in this climate fight. After experiencing extreme wildfires, learning of coastal degradation leading to permanent Indigenous relocation, and receding glacial activity this past summer, he recognized the need to play a more active role in the solution.
2020 is going to be a hugely important year, for the climate and our democracy. Young people across the country are ready to take on the challenge, by registering their friends to vote, taking to the streets, and showing up in state houses to demand that elected officials act to protect our future. There's no question about it: this is not a year to sit out. Read on to see what we have planned and how you can get involved to make 2020 the year we turn the ship around.
READY TO WIN
After a long wait...we got a hearing in Massachusetts!
Last week, fourteen youth from Our Climate and partner organizations testified before the Massachusetts Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee in favor of an equitable and ambitious carbon pricing bill that has been stuck in committee all year.
On Wednesday, January 29th, we're organizing an Intergenerational Lobby Day with 150 students from across Massachusetts and our adult allies. We'll meet with legislators at the MA State House, just one week before time runs out to vote climate policies out of committee. Let's make sure they feel the pressure to support our shared policy priorities. RSVP here and spread the word! If you'd like to lead a meeting with your legislator, email email@example.com.
What's up in New York State?
In New York, Our Climate is joining our coalition partner, NY Renews, to host a day of action at the Capitol. We want to bring as many young people as possible to Albany on January 27th to demand money for climate justice in this year’s budget. We need to ensure that the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, a historic policy that passed last year, has a down payment to begin funding a just transition to renewable energy. Plan on a fun-filled day with singing, political education, lobbying and rallying! Can you join us? Please RSVP Here and email Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Youth Lobby Day coming in Washington!
Next Friday, January 24th, young people from across Washington State will come together to rally and meet with their elected officials. The morning will start off with breakfast and trainings, followed by a rally with a lineup of youth speakers and performers. Students will then hold meetings with elected officials from across the state to demand bold climate action (specifically, a bill to strengthen the state's greenhouse gas emission reduction goals to reflect the latest science) in the Evergreen State. The day will end with a raffle and celebration! Can we count on you to be there? RSVP at YouthLobbyDay.org.
Nebraska youth are stepping up
Our Climate leaders in Nebraska have been turning up the heat as the legislative session kicks off. In addition to holding demonstrations on the capitol steps to demand climate action and organizing campuses across the state, one of our leaders, Brittni McGuire, invited friends to her 21st birthday party...at a climate policy hearing (check out the press story here). For Valentine's Day, we're hosting another action to secure cosponsors for a bill that will require the state to develop a robust climate action plan and gain support for the Climate Crisis Resolution (which was drafted by middle schoolers).
Join us for an exciting year in Florida!
As we begin the new year, we are excited to welcome a new cohort of Fellows from across the Sunshine State. This semester, they will organize their peers in support of climate policy, register voters, and bring youth climate leaders to Tallahassee. If you'd like to get involved, apply to be a Field Rep! We're also looking forward to an event on February 6th with Rethink Energy Florida; visit their website for more details and to RSVP.
FEATURED STUDENT LEADER
Eva Milstein-Touesnard is a sophomore at Cornell University majoring in government. She is also pursuing an environmental science and sustainability minor and a social inequality minor. Eva is adamant about pushing for climate policies that combine environmental and social solutions and often advocates for change in her community of Ithaca, NY.
Over the past year, as a Field Representative with Our Climate, Eva focused on encouraging Cornell students to write letters to state representatives to demonstrate youth support for climate policies. She attended and organized meetings with New York representatives and wrote about these experiences for her local paper, as well as participated in a climate justice summit hosted by PUSH Buffalo this past December. In the future, she plans to mobilize more students to meet with their representatives to make sure New York State follows through on the ambitious laws they have passed.
CHECK OUT OUR DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION ACTION PLAN
In 2019, we invited Our Climate leaders to explore how we can grow our diversity and ensure our organization and programs are inclusive and equitable. We are proud of, and humbled by, the participation, learning, and important conversations we held with student leaders, allies, staff, and board members. After months of hard work, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee is excited to share a finalized DEI Action Plan. We hope you will read the two pager and check out the full plan on our website, if you haven't already.
If you have any questions about the process or our progress in implementing it so far, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Deputy Director.
OUR CLIMATE STANDS IN SOLIDARITY
We encourage you to support the work of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Recently, CAIR Washington provided support to Iranian Americans who were detained at the US/Canada border after the threat of war with Iran sparked renewed Islamophobia and dangerous racist rhetoric.
CAIR-WA's work and rapid response is an excellent reminder to support local organizations working to promote justice and equity in our communities. You can donate to CAIR-WA here.
Our Climate includes a solidarity action in every monthly newsletter. Please write us at email@example.com with your suggestions on what we should feature in the future.
SUPPORT OUR WORK
Our Climate simply can’t do our work without you. Your support makes a real, lasting impact in the lives of future generations. Please support our vital mission to mobilize and empower the generations most affected by climate change to pass strong climate policy. Click here to make your donation now!