Written by Lauren Brown, CCAN 2018 Spring Intern
Since I’ve been a little kid, I’ve always been a nature lover. Many of my happiest and most memorable times growing up were when I was traversing, connecting with, and observing nature. As I have grown older, my feelings of love and responsibility for the Earth have become more clear and palpable. It was exciting to enter college and take on this responsibility in a new way. As an environmental politics & policy major at UMD, I was able to learn all about environmental science, economics, law, and politics and share it with others.
I had some really amazing professors and mentors that helped support and empower me. Liz Lee from CCAN was one of those people.
Liz came to do a lobbying training at UMD and I was moved by her story of leaving her job as a government regulatory counsel to volunteer with CCAN, then join the staff at CCAN. She had experienced an awakening; that she wanted to do something more, for her legacy and for the world. She told me she wakes up every day and her purpose is clear.
We connected that night and I embarked on my journey as a CCAN intern.
As an advocate, one works in front of the scenes and behind the scenes. Everyone works as a unit. That’s how fracking bans are passed, people’s voices are heard, and miracles are made. It was a cool thing to be part of the team and to support each other. The main bill I worked on was the Clean Energy Jobs Act. This important bill will increase our renewable portfolio standard from 25 percent to 50 percent by 2030, providing thousands of new clean energy jobs. It also works to phase out incinerator incentives and provide support for minority, veteran and female-owned renewable energy businesses. I had lots of interesting tasks from setting up lobby appointments with legislators, making communications materials for constituents, leading lobbying training breakout groups, and tabling at student events. As I was a part of planning for crucial events to advance our bill, I felt fulfilled in that I could see the results of my hard work and the successful momentum we gained this legislative session.
The first event that I had the chance to participate in was the Clean Energy Jobs Act Rally in January. I felt immediately supported by over 150 volunteers and staff. There is something about just getting out there, being a part of something bigger than one’s self, and finding that strength in numbers.
This rally was especially striking because we had a parade of electric vehicles around the State Capitol. Each car was artfully decorated with campaign slogans, streamers, and hand-written signs. The parade was followed by speeches by impassioned community leaders and legislators; each so excited they were vying for time with the microphone. The location was just right and tons of government workers passed by; their attention sparked by all the activity. I made my goal in gathering petitions that day but I also made friends. I went home that day riding on the wings of hope. I felt joy in the camaraderie and meaning in the work we were doing.
Another event I helped with was a Clean Energy Jobs lobbying night in February in Annapolis. What a powerful swarming of our state legislators with CCAN and Maryland Climate Coalition volunteers! We had over 130 spirited, compassionate, knowledgeable frontrunners who were not afraid to speak their truth. This was especially exciting for me because I had never lobbied before. I was really touched by my delegates and senators from Montgomery County who wholeheartedly supported our bill and even participated in its creation. Gathering people together for lobbying is a good example of the steps we need to take to bring our state together, to spread pro-environmental inspiration, and to address climate change. I have also enjoyed educating the public and talking to regular citizen one-on-one about important issues. I am so grateful for having been part of CCAN and helping to contribute to this mission.
Although my spring internship ended, I have continued working with CCAN as a volunteer! It’s been fun tabling with other dedicated CCAN volunteers and interns this summer and helping out with the recent candidate forum in Charles County. It is exciting to see my impact in making the Clean Energy Jobs the priority environmental election issue for voters and candidates!