Two weeks ago Cedar, her friend Brooke, and I, via car, bus, and Amtrak, traveled to Washington D.C. for the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) Congressional Lobbyist Day. When we staggered off the train in the early afternoon, it was warm and sunny. The fall colors were in full splendor. The marble buildings, walkways, memorials, and pools of the Capitol and the Mall felt magnificent--symbols of something so important that they deserve their grandeur. The challenge is to live up to them--and that's why we were there.
Our first afternoon we welcomed Mindy and Ryan who had biked to D.C. from Oregon, talking climate solutions with hundreds of people along the way.
Our second day we worked hard with around 300 other Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) volunteers, gathering information, learning the "state of Congress," making agendas for our meetings, coordinating our schedules. We worked until 9:00 at night. The next day we walked (sometimes ran) the halls of Congress. We had up to six meetings to attend with members of Congress or their staff. Whether we agreed with them or not on climate solutions, all meetings were cordial at the very least, and usually very friendly. I found all staff and reps, on both sides of the aisle, looking to find common ground where possible and stand their ground where not. All were interested in our ideas for bi-partisan solutions (at least all the meetings I attended).
I emerged with a deep gratitude for the wisdom of CCL founders. Because we are truly bi-partisan with a middle-of-the-road solution, because we work on Congressional solutions (legislation being far more permanent than Executive Order) and because we timed this lobby day to coincide with the reshuffling of Congress, when agendas are being changed and developed, I feel we maximized our influence and are uniquely positioned to move forward despite a lot of chaos.
Most of all I have re-learned one of my dad's mantras when I was a kid: Action Conquers Terror. It really does. Cedar and Brooke had their own teenage reactions, of course--the strongest of which was "That was super fun and I wish we could do it again tomorrow." With the groundswell of engagement that has risen after the election, I've got to believe that we understand, as never before, that no one is going to save us from ourselves but ourselves, and that it's time to get moving. If joining a local CCL group is a possible path for you, start today.
p.s. A great read for this month: Reclaiming Our Democracy by Sam Daley-Harris