Job Announcement: Virginia Director (Richmond, VA )

lobby day rally
*Remote option available during COVID-19 pandemic*

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is seeking a talented Virginia Director to lead our justice-centered movement — in the streets and in the halls of the state legislature — toward clean energy. A dream job for the right candidate, you’ll live in the dynamic city of Richmond while moving a Southern coal state toward a climate policy revolution.

Join our Winning Team

Step into a leadership role in the climate movement in the increasingly progressive state of Virginia where you will have the opportunity to play an integral role in crafting legislation and building grassroots strategy to build off of huge climate wins in 2020. Work with our diverse and committed supporters as part of a cutting-edge group that Bill McKibben calls “the best grassroots regional climate organization in the world.”  The Virginia Director will be joining CCAN at a critical time – a time where poor leadership and systemic inequities have worsened the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, especially in our most vulnerable communities. We need bold action to get us out of this crisis —  the same kind of ambitious action needed to solve the climate crisis.

About Us 

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is the only group in the Chesapeake region of Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. dedicated exclusively to building a powerful grassroots movement to fight climate change. We envision an equitable energy future where truly clean sources of power — efficiency, solar and wind — sustain every aspect of our lives, and dirty fossil fuels are phased out.

In Virginia, we fight for solutions that match the scale of the climate crisis the state is facing. Never has our work been more important as we continue to face the dismantling of our climate and environmental protections at the national level. For over a decade, we have been pushing the envelope of what’s “politically possible” in Virginia, using every tool available – from organizing to lobbying to the law. We helped stop an $8 billion pipeline, weakening one of the nation’s most powerful polluters (Dominion Energy), and we are standing in the way of two other fracked gas pipelines. In 2020, we led the charge towards the first 100% clean electricity mandate in the south. 

About the Position 

The Virginia Director will have the skills, passion and commitment to step up as a statewide leader on one of the biggest problems facing our planet in a state newly committed to tackling it. We are looking for a resilient, creative, and strategic problem-solver to join our team. The ideal candidate will see opportunities to build relationships, inspire mobilization, and urge faster and more equitable change to address the climate crisis. They are energized by building coalitions, crafting bold and ambitious long term strategies centered in community organizing, and motivating the team.  Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this position will initially have to rely on digital tools to build relationships and meet with legislators. 

What You Will Do

The primary responsibilities of the position include: 

  • Campaign Development and Management: CCAN’s VA Director will strategically shape and lead CCAN’s campaigns in Virginia. This includes goal and strategy development, translating that work into ambitious concrete plans, and work with CCAN’s field staff to map out the grassroots components. 
  • Policy Development and Issue Expertise: You will be CCAN’s primary lobbyist in the General Assembly, building relationships with elected officials and lobbying them to support our policy priorities.
  • Field Management: The Director will manage and develop field staff, who in turn will build a network of volunteers and community partners throughout the region who are committed to overcoming the power of Virginia’s top polluters and winning climate victories.
  • Coalition Collaboration: The Director is the lead liaison with climate, justice, environmental, business, military and other allies in Virginia to build a broad and powerful climate movement and win shared climate victories.

Qualifications 

In addition to a commitment to the mission of fighting climate change and promoting environmental justice, qualified candidates will display the following capabilities and qualities: 

  • At least 5 years experience in a leadership role
  • Demonstrated experience building relationships through organizing racially diverse audiences; experience organizing in Virginia is a plus  
  • Demonstrated lobbying experience and policy expertise; preferably in climate policy and/or environmental justice
  • Demonstrated experience in leading strategic campaign planning, and leading coalitions; media outreach a plus  
  • At least 2 years of staff management experience
  • Proven ability to be self-driven, while working effectively with a team 
  • Proven ability to multitask, while prioritizing measurable results 
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Problem-solver; someone who thinks of solutions more than barriers  
  • Willing to travel as needed, a valid driver’s license and car, a satisfactory driving record and auto insurance 

The Details

The Virginia Director position is based in Richmond, Virginia and, though initially remote, will eventually involve frequent travel within the state and periodic travel within the region. The Virginia Director reports to the Executive Director.

Salary is commensurate with experience with a range of $60k – $75k. We provide a generous benefits package including health care, dental and vision coverage and 4 weeks’ paid vacation. 

How to Apply: 

Please fill out the Google form application, you will be prompted to answer a series of short questions and asked to submit a resume. A writing sample is optional.

We are accepting applications on a rolling basis. CCAN is an equal opportunity employer, committed to a diverse workforce. We value bringing a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives on staff because it makes us smarter and more effective at what we do and, ultimately, we want our staff and supporters to reflect the communities we organize. We are seeking to recruit individuals from underrepresented groups to apply for this position.

“What Are You?” – How Struggles with Multiculturalism Have Informed My Activism

By Zamir Ticknor

“What Am I?”  

Mom and me celebrating Eid

I remember wearing my bright, aqua blue Panjabi with exquisite designs on the collars– that my family bought when I was in my home country of Bangladesh– at my high school’s international night this year. While I was munching on delightful roshroshogulla, a Bangladeshi dessert, I vividly remember a tall, poised, Indian man awkwardly yet confidently strolling towards me; he then blatantly stared at my Panjabi and my light skin. I recall him posing the following question: “Are you even Bangladeshi? You’re too white to be a true Bangladeshi.” His thoughts along with my lingering enigmas in regards to my culture led me to question my identity solely because I am lighter than most Bangladeshis- this was not an enjoyable feeling then and that still remains true today.

When discussing the racial, ethnic, and cultural identity of individuals, it is professedly dormant for people to assume that identity can be summed up in one word: Black, white, Latinx, Jewish, Muslim, Bangladeshi, American, etc. The concept of identity is much more complex than that. In today’s world, people immigrate and move around quite often whether it’s because of economic hardship or political sovereignty; the world is not as sectioned off as it has been in the past. With advancements in technology, specifically in modes of transportation, the world has unquestionably become more accessible. With more diversity among inhabitants in certain areas, there will subsequently be a higher percentage of interracial relationships. So in future generations, there’ll be a higher percentage of multiracial individuals. According to the US Census Bureau in 2010, nine million Americans identify as two races or more, myself included. 

Reminders from Multicultural Youth  

The USA is a country where people from all over the globe come for better opportunities and seek to build a more fruitful life for themselves and their children. My mother did this to better her education from the developing country of Bangladesh. And as a biracial Bangladeshi-American, I would like to provide the reminders that this country is built on immigrants, refugees, asylees, international students, from every single corner of the world. Multicultural families create children with valid, multilayered identities, which are the future of race, and it is time that they are discussed in a serious, open-minded, and accepting manner.

My nanu and I on a rickshaw, a common mode of transportation in Bangladesh

Multiculturalist Stigmas  

Biracial or multicultural identity is something that is not discussed sufficiently. This is partially because people often aren’t properly informed on how to ask a sensitive question about cultural identity. For many multicultural people, we’re familiar with the “what are you” question. I am sure that this question, when asked, makes you feel dehumanized and objectified as if you lack a valid and worthy identity. Aside from the fact that there’s a huge distinction between asking questions out of curiosity versus ignorance, being different doesn’t give bystanders a non-expiring free pass to always ask any cultural/identity-related question that comes to mind. It is most definitely different depending on the situation and the person. I myself welcome questions the majority of the time, but others may not appreciate constant questions. The topic of racial, cultural, and ethnic identity can be a sensitive one, but it’s absolutely necessary to be well-educated on racial relations and identity issues as a person of an increasingly diverse world. 

So, let’s break the stigma. Let us spark dialogue about multicultural identity to our peers, our parents, and our society. Challenge your enigmas- question your culture in order to learn from it; this has led me to finally vocalize confidently that I am proud to be multicultural and biracial, and you should be proud of your identity. Without the tall, poised Indian man who posed a question to me, I believe that I would have never found my true self, and I would have never been able to undeniably write this message. Diverse cultural backgrounds are a gift, and though I may never wholly be a part of one culture, I get a taste of lifestyles that most people never do. 

Me with a man in the market, specifically a bangle shop. Bangles are traditional ornaments worn mostly by women from the Indian subcontinent.

As a person who identifies as multicultural, I am a bridge for cultures to cross, continuing to attempt paving my way into an American society. 

Instead of saying “I am stuck between two cultures and communities, and I feel like I don’t belong in either”, I have reframed my multiculturalism to: “I’m grateful I have the option to move between differing cultures and communities and choose values and beliefs that serve me.”

Multiculturalism in Activism   

Some might argue that it’s not important to find our identity–molding you into a norm rather than an epitome: American instead of Bangladeshi and American. But, the language we use to describe ourselves frames our reality. My multicultural identity as a Bangladeshi-American shapes my perspective on the climate crisis, as I see the effects in my home country of Bangladesh and in the United States. My multicultural identity allows me to visualize and gain a personal perspective on environmental racism apparent in pipeline routes in Virginia, and even in predominantly POC communities/countries across the globe. My cultural roots in Bangladesh give me a somewhat personalized issue of the global refugee crisis, and have informed my lesson planning to a Syrian refugee I teach English to every week. 

Being multicultural allows me to view the climate crisis in a multidimensional, personalized way. Instead of automatically boycotting fast fashion, my perspective has informed me of how the fast fashion industry may be the only way of supporting millions of people across the world, especially in my home country of Bangladesh in the huge textiles industry; if these people were to lose their jobs, where would they go? Being vegan also comes with privilege, bringing socioeconomic inequalities and cultural differences in the forefront of my mind, informed by my multicultural upbringing. 

Identity matters. If only I knew more about what mine was, and I will, someday. 

Me at a mustard farm in rural Bangladesh, where parts of my family and family friends lived

When it Comes to Climate Activism, There is No “One Lane”

We’ve received pushback for supporting Black Lives Matter and voting issues being “out of our lane.” Here’s our response.

By Courtney Dyson

My friends tell me this photo is “very Court,” whatever that means.

When it comes to fighting the climate crisis, there is not one designated lane, climate activism is the spanse of the entire highway. Or, to put it in millennial terms, climate change being a singular issue is as far from the truth as me being a Slytherin (yes, I went there and yes, I am struggling with “she who must not be named”). So, why is it then that climate activists are often told to “stay in your lane” when we use our platform to support other causes like racial justice?

Over the past few months, this has become more evident as climate organizations across the country (including yours truly) have received pushback for taking stances in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and Defund Police. Groups across the country have been told, “stay in your lane, “stop being political,” “you’re a climate group, focus on that,” and so on. I don’t agree with this mentality. And I’m not alone. The United Nations would agree! 

I’d like to show you just how intricately entwined climate change is with other realms of activism and development by taking a close look at the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

It was the year 2016…

I was pursuing my master’s degree in International Cooperation and Development at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan (unsurprisingly substantially more affordable than a master’s in the United States, and I was working as an Au pair for three young Italian boys). I remember sitting in an ornately decorated classroom with twenty-foot ceilings in a historic Italian villa turned university, learning about the Goals along with my 23 classmates from 17 countries and 5 continents. The entire program was built around the 17 Goals and as my fellow students and I sat listening to professors tell tales about their experiences, something struck me as odd – we never specifically focused on Goal 13: Climate Action. And while every single Goal is important, in my mind, none was as important as 13.

UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals

I realized very quickly that the consequences of climate change are so far reaching, that they impact every single one of the other Goals. That if we did not achieve Goal 13, all other goals would be in jeopardy: food security, health, economy and jobs, global security, and of course environment and biodiversity. Climate change overlaps with them all, every single goal, every single lane. 

This post would be excessively long if I dug into all 17 Goals, so I will bypass the obvious ones: Affordable and Clean Energy; Decent Work and Economic Growth; Sustainable Cities and Communities; Life Below Water; and Life on Land. I will instead focus on three that are indisputably linked and relevant to some of the societal challenges we are facing today in the United States: Zero Hunger; Good Health and Well Being; and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Climate Activism is Activism to End Global Hunger

Goal #2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and to promote sustainable agriculture.

The climate connections here are pretty straightforward and I actually focused my studies on the climate impacts on food security and adaptive agriculture. The rapidly changing climate has a direct impact on agriculture and access to healthy and nutritious foods. Over the past decade we have seen the consequences of rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, increased frequency of extreme events, and the broadening of desertification.

“Each degree-Celsius increase in global mean temperature would, on average, reduce global yields of wheat by 6 percent, rice by 3.2 percent, maize by 7.4 percent, and soybean by 3.1 percent.”

If serious measures are not taken to mitigate climate change and adapt agriculture practices, staple crops will become harder and more expensive to grow, and even less nutritious, placing millions at risk of malnutrition. We will also see an increase in food deserts. Food deserts are areas with no access to a store with fresh and nutritious food options within a certain radius. In 2010, an estimated 23.5 million people in the United States lived in food deserts, more than half of whom live in low-income households – It will be interesting to see what the 2020 census shows.

What are climate activists taking action for? To reimagine the current food system, which is responsible for 21–37 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, and to make it “climate friendly.” To maintain a stable climate and increase access to healthy food. For there to be less food deserts. To avoid a global hunger crisis.

Climate Activism is Activism for Health Rights

Goal #3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Today, less than half the global population is covered by essential health services and 27 million Americans lack health insurance in 2020, with millions more at risk of losing it as the Affordable Care Act is currently under attack. This should be a huge warning flag for us all and is especially poignant as we are in the midst of a global pandemic.

The most severe consequences of climate change will directly impact health and well-being. Annoyed with the recent uptick in your seasonal allergies? That is just the beginning and minor compared to clean air, safe drinking water, heat exposure, sufficient food, and secure shelter.

“Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.”

How are climate activists, activists for health and well being? We are working to lower global temperature rise to lessen the severity of the related health consequences. We are working to stop new fossil fuel infrastructure and to shutter existing ones. And we know the necessity of and advocate for access to affordable health care for everyone.

Climate Activism is Activism for Equal Rights 

 

Goal #16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

One only has to look at the recent move by the Trump Administration to “revise” NEPA to see the direct injustices that oil and gas companies have been committing for almost a century. The policy has been instrumental in communities having a say in what projects are built in their communities and has been fundamental in many pipeline lawsuits (read more on this).

Environmental degradation and the forces that have led to the climate crisis have disproportionately taken advantage of and impacted marginalized communities for over a century. Sacrificing these communities air, water, and health for profit. In the mid 2000’s approximately 68% of African Americans lived within 30 miles of coal-fired power plants. And while coal plants have been shutting down across the country in recent years, the health consequences will linger for generations and other fossil fuel infrastructure is trying to sneak in.

Likewise, the consequences of climate change will not be borne fairly, with communities of color being disproportionately impacted.

“Weather patterns caused by climate change disproportionately affect African Americans and other communities of color in the United States — which is a particularly bitter irony, given that the average African American household emits 20 percent less CO2 per year than the average white American household.”

And this is not only an American problem, it is a global one. 

“Sadly, the people at greater risk from climate hazards are the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized who, in many cases, have been excluded from socioeconomic progress” – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Climate activists are speaking up with communities to stop further fossil fuel development (see our current work on the Header Injustice Project). Climate activists are part of a movement to reduce the energy burden of low-income households and improve energy efficiency. Climate justice, environmental justice, racial justice, LGBTQ justice, intergenerational justice – they are interconnected. Because we are working together towards an equitable society, just climate solutions, and the transition from an extractive society to a regenerative one.

The failure to make progress on this goal is evident today and speaks directly to the global movement we are seeing – Black Lives Matter. For more on this, check out Emily Frias’s post “Why Climate Activists Need to Be Anti-Racist Activists.”

It’s Not Just Climate Activists

All of this is not solely true for climate activists. We are all working together, crossing into one another’s lanes, and heading in the same direction. Equal rights activists are climate activists. Healthcare activists are climate activists. Activists to end poverty are climate activists. We are working toward a common goal. Toward a society that values life over profit, equality over power, community over individualism, and the planet over consumerism. We are all one moving piece of a larger movement. Put simply, ‘we will not stay in our lane.”

P.S. I’m a Gryffindor.

With some of my peers after presenting our final projects! Those of us pictured here now work in food, climate, migration, policy, and sustainable finance.

Additional Resources:

1,500+ Marylanders to Hogan Administration: Reject the Eastern Shore Pipeline Project

On the Heels of Massive Fracked-Gas Pipeline Shutdowns Nationally, Hogan Administration Considering Approval for a New Pipeline down the Eastern Shore of Maryland

SALISBURY, MD — Today, environmental organizations announced that more than 1,500 public comments were submitted to the Maryland Department of Environment opposing the Del-Mar Pipeline project. As the department considers its recommendation to the Board of Public Works on the project’s application for a Wetlands License, the comments explain how this pipeline would threaten the Eastern Shore’s wetlands ecosystems and contribute to climate change. 

Anthony Field, Maryland Grassroots Coordinator for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated: “This proposed fracked-gas pipeline is a bad bet for Maryland. At a time when the climate crisis is imminent and the fracked-gas industry is failing, expanding fracked-gas expansion is financially and morally irresponsible. The state should invest in a truly clean and safe future for Marylanders, instead of pumping millions into near obsolete infrastructure that fuels the climate crisis while threatening local ecosystems.”

The Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company (ESNG) — a subsidiary of Chesapeake Utilities — wants to build 19+ miles of new pipeline to carry fracked gas from Delaware through Maryland, to connect with another fracked-gas pipeline proposed by Chesapeake Utilities that would bring fracked gas to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) and the Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI). These two proposed pipelines would threaten the region’s ecosystems and drinking water supplies, and could cause irreparable damage to the land and climate. 

These comments come just after two massive national fracked-gas pipelines were cancelled or ordered to shut down. Companies behind the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline cancelled the project due to ballooning costs and legal uncertainties. And the Dakota Access pipeline was ordered to shut down for an environmental review.  Meanwhile, in late June, the fracking giant Chesapeake Energy filed for bankruptcy. These setbacks for the industry demonstrate that fracking is a risky investment, for the climate, the environment, and the economy. 

Susan Olsen, Chair of the Sierra Club’s Lower Eastern Shore Group, stated: “We submitted these comments today to tell our leaders what we’ve been telling them for years: Marylanders don’t want fracking, we don’t want fracked gas, and we don’t want dirty, dangerous fracked gas pipelines. It makes no sense to build unnecessary fracked gas pipelines when we could be investing in the clean, renewable energy sources that are affordable and abundant right now. We banned fracking in 2017, we threw out the Potomac Pipeline in 2019, and we should reject the Eastern Shore Pipeline now.”

The pipeline is already under construction in Delaware to carry gas from that state into Maryland. The seven miles of pipeline proposed for Maryland would supply concentrated animal feeding operations, businesses, and residential areas. The two “anchor” customers for gas delivery are the Eastern Correctional Institute (ECI) and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in Somerset County. If built, the Del-Mar pipeline would trigger the second pipeline proposed by Chesapeake Utilities connecting the prison to the university. The installation of the Del-Mar pipeline will impact 1,239 square feet of streams and more than 30,000 square feet of wetlands and wetland buffers. It is anticipated to come online in late 2021. 

These two pipelines are part of the Hogan Administration’s plans to spend $103 million massively increasing fracked-gas pipelines and infrastructure in the state. This includes $30.3 million administered by the Maryland Energy Administration’s (MEA) new Maryland Gas Expansion Fund “for the expansion of natural gas infrastructure.” The remaining $70 million is recoverable from MD ratepayers. Read more about it here.

Contact: Denise Robbins, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 240-630-1889

###

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Do the Next Right Thing: On Grief, Parenting, and Coronavirus

On Grief

I was talking to a friend recently who is living with grief – her mom is sick, she and her family have moved temporarily to be with her, and my friend is struggling with isolation-fatigue, as many/most of us are, at a time when she needs her friends the most.

Then George Floyd was murdered and grief was pouring out into the streets, on social media, and into the hearts of any decent human, and definitely into mine.

It got me thinking – grief has taught me a lot about dealing with a pandemic. In this particular piece of writing, I’m talking about COVID-19 because I can’t speak to the personal, lived experience of my Black and Brown colleagues and friends dealing every day with the pandemic of systemic racism taking Black lives. But, yes, we are living with multiple pandemics.

My mom – my emotional touchstone, who served so many roles that I needed (and still need) in my life, died in 2013 after an 8-month fight with cancer – made even more heartbreaking when she suffered a cancer-induced stroke a few months into her battle that wiped away much of her medium- and short-term memory. And, in a bittersweet turn of events, a few short weeks before she died, I found out I was going to become a mother. Thus began a long, long battle with grief.

I put off truly dealing with that grief. I didn’t want my baby’s life to begin in a womb full of depression. So I pushed through. I focused on what kind of fruit my baby was the size of in any given week (yes, there’s an app for that). I took a hypnobirthing class so I could focus on being calm. I focused on work…on moving into a new townhouse…anything but sadness. One foot in front of the other.

It would be quite some time before I learned anything relevant to this Age of COVID.

A little help from Disney

When I found out my first child was going to be a girl, my sister gifted me a DVD of “Frozen.” It would be years before my little one had the attention span for a movie, but eventually, it became her favorite. When I had my second daughter, I was pretty excited that we had a movie showcasing the love between sisters.

Say what you will about Disney – I personally have a very strong aversion to princess stories, with their unrealistic ideas of romance, manufactured definitions of beauty, and women always being saved by the men they just met.

But, I do kind of love “Frozen,” especially “Frozen 2.” I have found these movies to be helpful conversation starters with my kids – especially my eldest – about what it means to help each other, to be a strong, brave woman, to love your sister and protect and support her. What it means to care for our Earth, to grieve the loss of someone you love, to push through when life is REALLY hard.

Frozen, grief, and pandemics…oh my!

“Frozen 2” has some complex lessons that have been hard to explain to my kids at their ages (5 and 3), but I’m thankful for them nonetheless. One theme (don’t worry, no spoilers) is that when you aren’t sure what to do, or when you’re feeling sad or helpless, the one thing you can focus on is: “The Next Right Thing,” which is also the title of a heart-wrenching song in the movie that makes me cry EVERY. TIME.

The younger sister, Anna (not the one with ice powers, but my personal favorite), is the one that showcases the “next right thing” lesson. At a moment when she faces deep grief and a future that is unknown and seemingly bleak, she chooses to carry on and do what’s right (which, incidentally, turns out to be a pretty amazing lesson in reparations).

Our entire world is in a similar situation right now – on a journey into the unknown. We’re doing it with little, and in my opinion, misguided federal leadership. But so many of us are just trying to make the next right decision – staying home, wearing a mask, physical distancing, caring for our neighbors.

My mom’s death came just as I was embarking on my own journey into the unknown. I was becoming a parent, and though it was so very early in my pregnancy, I knew that my priority was keeping that baby safe. Somehow, I would have to choose to do the right thing for that embryo growing inside me despite my desire to stay buried in my covers.

There have been a two times since then that I’ve felt something very similar to that grief: Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 (did I mention I was pregnant AGAIN at that time?), and this spring as we began to make sense of our lives in a life-altering pandemic, followed swiftly by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others. So, here’s what I’ve learned:

Lesson 1: Perspective helps 

Even in my darkest moments after my mom died, I had a rap going through my head: I am very fortunate on the whole.

Yes, I’m hurting, I’d tell myself – but, I don’t live in a war zone. I have food and shelter and people who love me. My husband, my friends, my family, my colleagues are all supportive and have given their love and food and time so generously. I can rely on that…on them…until I feel better.

It didn’t make getting out of bed any easier most days, but I was able to talk myself through some of my dark moments. It helped to remind myself how small I am in this vast universe. That wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not writing this to tell anyone to feel fortunate. In this moment, some are clearly not. Some – more than 130,000 people as I write this – have been irreparably harmed. And, their deaths come with family, friends, and colleagues, who are grieving their loss and simply trying to get through this day. Some have sunk everything into their newly opened business that is fully reliant on patrons that cannot come. This crisis, as nearly every major crisis, is impacting Black and Brown people far more than others…on top of the systemic racism that threatens their lives and livelihoods every day. I’m not asking anyone to “get some perspective.” I’m simply sharing what’s helping me, right now, with a long period of grief as my guide.

And, yes, I’m struggling in the midst of this pandemic with fear (of getting COVID), anxiety (are my kids gonna be ok?), boredom (I miss my friends!), feelings of inadequacy (so many hats to wear!)…but, I’m able to gain some helpful perspective more quickly, more days, after practicing it through grief.

We’re healthy. We actually laugh a lot (thank goodness for these goofy little people in my life). We are learning more about each other as a family, and my girls are so very close. My spouse and I both have full-paying jobs with health insurance that allow us to put our passions to work. So, one coping mechanism I’ve put into practice is to truly take stock of what I have, to be thankful for it, and to find joy in it as often as I can.

Lesson 2: An “other side” WILL come

The strongest similarity between my experience with grief and the COVID pandemic is that it was (and is especially now as the numbers are even higher) so unclear how long it would take to get to the other side. Living with that uncertainty is bearable for me after seeing that I could get to the other side of my debilitating grief. At points in first few years that followed my mom’s death, I was positive there wasn’t another side. There was certainly no vaccine for my sadness.

There was a time when I was pretty sure I wouldn’t experience real joy again. I can now say I have. There was a time when I thought I’d never truly enjoy a holiday again. I can now say I do. There was a loooonnggg time when I thought there wouldn’t be a day I didn’t find a private moment to cry. Those quiet moments are now fewer and further between.

So, as I sit here and reflect on the fact that I’m not trying to plan my way of out this, that I’m not completely overwhelmed by anxiety (at least, most days I’m not), I think this is the lesson that has stayed with me the most. I DO NOT know when this will be “over.” And, I don’t know what life will look like in the near and medium term.

I’m sitting with our current unknowns better than I have in the past because I do have faith that it WILL be over, and I’m practicing daily patience with the fact that I have no direct control over that timeline. Life will not go back to just as it was, but I’ll move forward and find ways to adapt. And that I’ll do that by choosing to do the next right thing.

What is the Next Right Thing (for me)?

I’m looking at this question from many angles – looking at Anna’s example, I’ll start with the small (one foot in front of the other) and expand from there. 

Connection: Daily, I’m reminding myself to do the next right thing for myself and my family. I’m reading a new parenting book, because, as it turns out – I need some motivation to be a better parent when I have to practice parenting for WAY more hours each day. We’re making lots of time for play with the kids and reveling in the extra hugs. My husband and I are also taking time for ourselves on a regular basis and prioritizing exercise. We video-conference with friends and family. 

Giving back: As members of the DC community, our family is using our dollars to support our city’s most vulnerable people. We are so thankful to have full incomes at this time, so we’ve been finding ways to give more than usual. We donated most of our stimulus check to a fundraising effort by Sanctuary DMV and many other area organizations (see more information and partners here) because so many of our city’s residents got nothing in that modest stimulus package and yet are giving so much as essential workers. We’ve also paid full price for our daycare to help keep our hard-working and beloved teachers employed. And, we order takeout much more than we usually do, all from local restaurants, with an emphasis on Black-owned businesses. For our 10th wedding anniversary, we asked people to join us in making a donation to Stacey Abrams’ voter access and protection group, Fair Fight. We made our way into the streets, alone and with our kids, to support the Black Lives Matter protests throughout June. There’s more to do than we feel capable of, but we keep trying.

Continuing to act for our climate: As a parent and as a life-long climate activist, I lose sleep at night wondering if our elected leaders will be able to muster the will the do the next right thing as we emerge from this crisis. Yes, we’re experiencing a temporary decline in climate pollution. But, we know from the 2009 recession, our default is to make our way back to our cars, to our governments’ fossil fuel investments, and to our societal “need” for growth. 

At CCAN, doing the next right thing has been evolving. We started by making sure our staff had what they needed to work from home, stay safe, and take care of themselves. We also asked our volunteers what they needed from us during this time and have since put together various trainings, a comedy night to benefit DC’s largest foodbank, and continue to offer online avenues to participate in our campaigns. And, we’re also thinking ahead to (1) how our region’s governments will equitably distribute future stimulus funds, (2) ways the clean energy needs of our climate can be met in an economy-stimulating way right here in the DMV region, and (3) how we can give people avenues to fight voter suppression.

So, this is how I’m coping. Thanks for reading this overly long blog and I hope that you’re also figuring out your Next Right Thing. 

Environmental Groups Speak Out Against the Eastern Shore Pipeline for Fracked Gas

On the Heels of Massive Fracked-Gas Pipeline Shutdowns Nationally, Hogan Administration Considering Approval for a New Pipeline down the Eastern Shore of Maryland

SALISBURY, MD — Today, dozens of organizations and Maryland residents are speaking out against the proposed Eastern Shore Pipeline as the Hogan Administration holds a key virtual hearing on the project beginning at 6:00pm.  

The Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company (ESNG) wants to build 19+ miles of new pipeline to carry fracked gas from Delaware through Maryland, to connect with another fracked-gas pipeline proposed by the Chesapeake Utilities that would bring fracked gas to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) and the Eastern Correctional Institution. These two proposed pipelines would threaten the region’s ecosystems and drinking water supplies, and could cause irreparable damage to the land and climate. 

“The era of fossil fuels is over,” said Anthony Field, Maryland Grassroots Organizer at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “We simply cannot be building new infrastructure for toxic methane gas. Eastern Shore officials should promote the speedy development of clean energy sources like offshore wind instead.” 

This hearing comes just after two massive national fracked-gas pipelines were cancelled or ordered to shut down. Companies behind the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline cancelled the project due to ballooning costs and legal uncertainties. And the Dakota Access pipeline was ordered to shut down for an environmental review.  Meanwhile, in late June, the fracking giant Chesapeake Energy filed for bankruptcy. These setbacks for the industry demonstrate that fracking is a risky investment, for the climate, the environment, and the economy. 

Today’s hearing, held by the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE), is on the Wetland and Waterways permit on the Del-Mar pipeline proposed by ESNG. The pipeline is already under construction in Delaware to carry gas from that state into Maryland. The seven miles of pipeline proposed for Maryland would supply concentrated animal feeding operations, businesses, and residential areas. The two “anchor” customers for gas delivery are the Eastern Correctional Institute (ECI) and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in Somerset County. If built, the Del-Mar pipeline would trigger the second pipeline proposed by Chesapeake Utilities connecting the prison to the university. The installation of the Del-Mar pipeline will impact 1,239 square feet of streams and more than 16,000 square feet of wetlands. It’s anticipated to come online in late 2021. 

“With clean, renewable energy affordable and abundant right now, it makes no sense for the state to commit to burning dangerous fracked gas at ECI’s power plant,” said Susan Olsen, Chair of the Sierra Club’s Lower Eastern Shore Group. “Marylanders overwhelmingly prefer investing in clean energy solutions instead of committing to decades of dependence on fracked gas. At a time when Maryland is considering major budget cuts, we should not waste money on climate-disrupting fossil fuel projects.”

These two pipelines are part of the Hogan Administration’s plans to spend $103 million massively increasing fracked-gas pipelines and infrastructure in the state. This includes $30.3 million administered by the Maryland Energy Administration’s (MEA) new Maryland Gas Expansion Fund “for the expansion of natural gas infrastructure.” The remaining $70 million is recoverable from MD ratepayers. Read more about it here.

Contact: Denise Robbins, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 240-630-1889

###

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline is Dead. Dominion Energy and Duke Energy Abandon $8 billion, 600-mile Pipeline for Fracked Gas

After six years of protest by environmentalists, landowners, and justice organizations, the companies say court challenges prevent them from moving forward. Chesapeake Climate Action Network was proud to help lead the opposition within days of the original pipeline announcement in September 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Media reports today confirm that Dominion Energy and Duke Energy Corporation are finally abandoning the hugely controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The pipeline would have shipped fracked gas from West Virginia, through Virginia and into the Carolinas, while destroying critical forest habitat, farmland, human communities, and worsening climate change.

STATEMENT FROM MIKE TIDWELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CHESAPEAKE CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK:

“Just one day after July 4th, America is stunningly closer to true energy independence with the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The fossil fuel era is rapidly drawing to a close in Virginia and nationwide thanks to the ferocious six-year opposition to this destructive pipeline. That opposition was waged by environmentalists, farmers, justice groups and common residents across the region.

“This pipeline was a boondoggle from the moment it was announced by Dominion CEO Tom Farrell and then-Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in September 2014. The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is proud to have been one of the first statewide environment groups to take up this cause, to organize our supporters, and to protest with everything from letters to the editor to civil disobedience.

“We want to thank all our partners in this long struggle. They include, but are not limited to, Friends of Buckingham, Friends of Nelson, Wild Virginia, Rick Webb, David Sligh, the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, Lewis Freeman, Bill and Lynn Limpert, Appalachian Voices, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Southern Environmental Law Center, Pastor Paul Wilson, Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Virginia Conservation Network, and so many more. Special thanks to current and past CCAN staff and board members who put everything they had – for years! – into stopping this pipeline. We never gave up!”

CONTACT:

Mike Tidwell, Director, 240-460-5838, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, 608-320-6582, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org

##

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. To learn more, visit www.chesapeakeclimate.org

Communications and Social Media Fall Internship

FALL INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITY: COMMUNICATIONS AND SOCIAL MEDIA INTERNSHIP

DESCRIPTION
With a Trump presidency, state-based climate action has never been more important. It’s the collective fortress of the environmental movement. And state-based, people-powered, climate action is what we do here at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN).

We’re the largest and oldest grassroots group fighting for bold and just solutions to climate change in the Chesapeake region of Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland.

We’ve put a stop to new coal plants in Virginia, brought 100% clean power to Washington DC, and fully banned fracking in Maryland.

OUR CAMPAIGNS

In 2020, we’re going to keep fighting: to stop massive fracked-gas pipelines across the farms and forests of Virginia, to bring a Climate Stimulus to Maryland, and to make DC a national leader on climate action — right in Trump’s backyard.

We and our 70,000 supporters surrounding the nation’s capital are going to keep building the powerfully diverse grassroots climate movement our region needs – building local resistance, raising our voices, and taking concrete action.

And under a Trump presidency, we’ll be fighting for more than energy justice. Trump is a threat to all of our progressive values and we will work with our progressive allies across the region for paid sick days for all workers, an increased minimum wage, and more. We will pitch in wherever we can.

OUR COMMUNICATIONS INTERNSHIP

Interns at CCAN work side-by-side with our experienced communications experts to create compelling content and run impactful media campaigns across our region. They gain valuable experience for careers in the communications and media industries.

SPECIFICALLY, YOUR TASKS WILL INCLUDE

  • Learning the ins-and-outs of managing media lists and reaching out to reporters.
  • Developing fluency in a website management system for creating and sharing content on multiple websites.
  • Drafting social media posts and analyzing social media content.
  • Researching best practices for social media and search engine optimization.
  • Conceptualizing, editing, and/or drafting blog posts and language for the website.
  • And having an amazing opportunity to learn what it’s like to work at an organization that climate activist Bill McKibben has called the “best regional climate organization in the world.”

WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR

  • A driving passion to combat climate change despite a climate denier in the White House, and secure clean energy victories.
  • A commitment to a fair and equitable energy future.
  • A keen eye for new technologies and computer systems.
  • Strong organizational skills.
  • Excellent written and verbal skills.
  • A quick learner.
  • A good understanding of social media spheres.
  • And a sense of humor!

LOCATION
This internship will be remote during the coronavirus pandemic.

DETAILS
Internships are typically 15-20 hours per week from early September through end of November for the fall semester. Exact timing to be determined based on your course schedule.

Internships at CCAN are primarily education-focused, to arm you with experience toward your career and life goals. Interns receive a limited reimbursement for incidental expenditures. We encourage you to pursue course credit for this internship, or external grant opportunities if those are available, and we will support these pursuits in any way we can.

TO APPLY
To apply, fill out the following Google Form Application, where you will be prompted to upload your resume, cover letter and a writing sample. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Letter from the Director

It was the worst of times. It was the worst of times. 

Or so it seems lately in our country. Covid-19. Police brutality. The recession. And, in case anyone has forgotten, the climate keeps changing faster and faster. The temperature reached nearly 101 degrees Fahrenheit in Siberia last week, inside the Arctic Circle. That just flat out scares me. 

And, like most of you, CCAN has been very busy on many fronts this spring and summer. In April, thanks to a Zoom comedy show, we raised nearly $3,000 for the Capital Area Food Bank. In June, we joined the Movement for Black Lives to fight against runaway police budgets and abuse against Black and Brown communities. And all the while we’ve maintained the fight against climate change in the Chesapeake region and nationwide while protecting our staff through work-at-home practices and safe protesting in the streets. 

But here’s the thing: The only long-term solution to all of these problems is to elect competent leaders at the polls. And, you may have heard, there’s an election coming up in November – the most important in our lives. Which is why our sister organization, CCAN Action Fund, has launched a campaign to fight voter suppression everywhere and get everyone to vote. Won’t you join us by signing the “Fight to Vote” pledge?

Meanwhile, again, we’ve been busy on the climate front. In Virginia, we worked with an incredible coalition to help pass the Clean Economy Act, a bill that sets the state on a pathway toward 100% clean electricity while mandating the shutdown of all the states dirty fossil fuel power plants. 

In Maryland, we’ve joined wind and solar advocates in asking the Public Service Commission to speed up development of offshore wind farms, land-based wind, and utility-scale solar projects. We were pleased when the PSC voted in June to approve the long-delayed Dan’s Mountain wind farm in Western Maryland. Now the commission must do more, especially for solar power.

Finally, in DC, we cheered on the filing of a historic lawsuit. On June 23rd, the Attorney General of the District of Columbia Karl Racine filed a consumer protection suit against ExxonMobil and several other oil giants. The suit demands the oil companies financially compensate DC residents for the harmful climate change impacts already underway. The flooding and heatwaves we’re seeing now were effectively created by decades of tobacco-like denial of the science on the part of the polluters. Similar cases have been filed nationwide. The tide is turning. We’ll keep you posted.

And before I go, I want to give a shout out to a new book by former CCAN employee and climate legend Ted Glick. His book “Burglar for Peace” chronicles his dramatic efforts during the Vietnam War to destroy selective service draft records, including his own draft card, and the subsequent trials and time in prison he spent for this righteous activism. It’s an amazing read with lessons for modern-day activists fighting against the violence of climate change and for the peace of clean power. Check it out. 

Meanwhile, stay safe and well. And sign the pledge to get everyone to the polls in November. 

Sincerely, 

Mike Tidwell

Ahead of Vote, Dozens of Organizations Call on State to Reject Proposed Investments in Controversial Gas Retrofits at State Facility on the Eastern Shore

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Anne Havemann, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, (202) 997-2466

Retrofits are Premature and Would Increase Use of Fossil Fuels, Hurt Maryland’s  Push for More Renewable Energy and Create Health and Safety Risks

Citing climate change, environmental, and public health concerns, 32 environmental organizations are calling on the Maryland Board of Public Works to reject a proposal to invest half a million dollars for retrofits at the Eastern Correctional Institution, which would allow the state facility to begin to convert to burning fracked gas. The Eastern Correctional Institution will be an end-user of two pipelines that have not yet been fully permitted, and these investments are premature. The groups’ overarching concerns stem from plans to expand fracked gas pipelines on the Eastern Shore as part of a project to switch energy production at two state facilities to fracked gas.

The Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company (ESNG) is seeking approval to build 19 miles of new pipeline that would carry fracked gas from Delaware into Maryland. The seven miles of the “Del-Mar” Pipeline to be built in Maryland would connect with a separate 11-mile pipeline proposed by Chesapeake Utilities. 

The Chesapeake Utilities project is designed to provide fracked gas to two state facilities, Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) and University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), which would both switch their heating systems from other sources to fracked gas as part of this plan. 

The organizations are urging the Board, made up of the governor, state comptroller and treasurer, to halt investments in the project and recommit to renewable energy sources for state institutions. 

“Given that Maryland has banned fracking, it defies our state’s existing energy policy to bring the same public health risks to our residents by way of pipelines,” the letter states. “Moreover, enabling fossil fuel production runs counter to our state’s goals of increasing renewable energy production. We are appalled that the request for proposals put out by the State of Maryland to repower the university and prison foreclosed the possibility of clean energy by only requesting applications for fracked gas. We are equally angered that this proposal to repower with dangerous fracked gas is being touted as a ‘clean alternative.’” 

Click here for a copy of the letter.

UMES and ECI currently use environmentally harmful sources to heat their facilities (UMES relies on propane and oil and ECI relies on burning wood chips). By converting to fracked gas, however, these facilities are trading one harmful source for another. 

The Board of Public Works is expected to consider two contracts totaling $514,250 for planning and engineering of the ECI power plant conversion at its July 1st meeting. 

“With clean, renewable energy affordable and abundant right now, it makes no sense for the state to commit to burning dangerous fracked gas at ECI’s power plant,” said Susan Olsen, Chair of the Sierra Club’s Lower Eastern Shore Group. “Marylanders overwhelmingly prefer investing in clean energy solutions instead of committing to decades of dependence on fracked gas. At a time when Maryland is considering major budget cuts, we should not waste money on climate-disrupting fossil fuel projects.”    

The construction and operation of the Del-Mar Pipeline would impact 1,239 square feet of streams and over 16,000 square feet of wetlands in Maryland. ESNG plans to install its pipeline through at least one older, forested wetland that is vulnerable to construction-related impacts using the destructive “open trench” method of construction. While the specifics of the 11-mile Chesapeake Utilities pipeline are not yet known, similar impacts to our regional water resources are likely. 

“As a kid growing up on the Eastern Shore, I knew there was nothing you could ever offer me that would get me to allow you to poison my marsh,” said Dan O’Hare, President of Wicomico Environmental Trust. “We know pipelines leak. And when they do, they will make our community sick. We will suffer. We know fracked gas is one of the main culprits in causing the waters to rise and destroy our coasts. What value could there possibly be to us to allow this remnant of the dying industrial era to endanger our wetlands, our water, and the health of our community?”

“As someone with a background in environmental studies and marine science, I do not support UMES’s decision to utilize fracked gas as a means to heat the facilities when alternatives were not properly considered,” said Madeline Farmer, a graduate student at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. “The decision to support a fracked-gas pipeline is inconsistent with UMES’s reputation as one of the most eco-friendly Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the country. As one of the greenest HBCUs, it’s important that we continue to lead the green movement and set an example for other universities across the State of Maryland and the nation.”

The Eastern Shore of Maryland has been called “ground zero” for sea level rise due to climate change. It makes no sense to invest in pipelines that will lock the state into decades of reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. 

In addition to violating the spirit of Maryland’s renewable energy commitments and fracking ban, the pipelines would also endanger public health. 

“We are concerned that we are being asked to put our environment and public health at risk for a pipeline that we may not have use for in the near future as our state and the country moves towards clean energy,” the letter states. 

The following organizations have signed on to the letter sent to the Board of Public Works:

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

Greenbelt Climate Action Network

Manokin River Keepers

Maryland Legislative Coalition

Parkertown Car Care

Maryland Chapter, Lower Eastern Shore Sierra Club

Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter

Earthworks

Talbot County Hunger Coalition

Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Audubon Maryland-DC

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Ridge to Reefs

Talbot Preservation Alliance

Assateague Coastal Trust   

Organization of Environmental States

Wicomico Environmental Trust

ShoreRivers

Howard County Climate Action

Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community

Takoma Park Mobilization Environment Committee

Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter Veterans For Peace

Clean Air Prince Georges

Wicomico Interfaith Alliance

Wicomico County Creekwatchers

Environmental Justice Ministry Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church

Indivisible Howard County

Harford County Climate Action

The Climate Mobilization, Montgomery County

League of Women Voters of Maryland

Cecil Solidarity