A version of this post appeared first in the Missoula Current on November 15, 2019.
Last week, one particular headline seemed to rise above the noise of the 24-hour news cycle: “11,000 Scientists Declare a Climate Emergency.” And indeed, this week’s headlines are further evidence of that emergency: Massively destructive wildfires in Australia. Record flooding and damage in Venice.
Though the emergency is real, the movement for action is also growing. In September, over 7.6 million people around the globe took to the streets to demand action on climate, including several thousand in Missoula who came out during a day of rallies and demonstrations across the city.
To make the deep systemic change needed to address the climate crisis, we need a movement that channels the energy of these big gatherings into day-to-day action.
Many Montanans make choices every day in their own lives to fight climate change. Our individual choices do matter. But given the urgency and scale of the climate crisis, what’s even more important is using our collective power toward system-wide changes: writing letters or articles, attending governance meetings, showing up to discuss it with our elected representatives, protesting, and engaging friends and family in compassionate conversation on the issue.
So beyond what we can do on our own to push for system change, where can you find “the movement?” Where is it and how can you get involved?
I found myself asking this question nearly a year ago. As a busy parent of a small child, I knew I wasn’t alone in seeking ways to plug in and focus my care and concern for my daughter’s future. In January, I founded Families for a Livable Climate, a volunteer community group that works to empower families to advocate for their future in the age of climate change.
Since then, we have reached hundreds of families, creating connections, building community and raising awareness about the climate crisis. Through our efforts, we’re working to build a statewide network of families that can coordinate on concrete actions to affect change, as well as build a sense of community and connectedness.
We partner with many local organizations, and there are many ways to be involved. Through our free Community Climate Conversations program in partnership with Climate Smart Missoula, we offer a short climate presentation coupled with a storytelling workshop to any individual, group, business or organization willing to host it, across the state.
This event outlines the basic science of climate change and its impacts on Montana, and helps participants explore their personal climate story and how the climate crisis affects their lives already, empowering them to use their story for connecting in community and taking action. We are currently looking forward to 2020 and would love to bring this workshop to your community or group.
In Missoula, Whitefish, Bozeman, and other Montana communities, in solidarity with the “Fridays for Future” youth climate strike movement, we are hosting “Fridays for Action” working groups to support community members who would like to have a consistent working commitment to climate. During these gatherings, we work on specific actions, plan events or listen to guest speakers to become more informed on climate issues in Montana. Of course, not everyone can make Fridays work, so the signup is open to anyone who wants to volunteer on projects or even lead a working group on another day.
We also work with other groups such as 350Montana to help keep families informed on important issues and actions that are needed, providing family perspectives. And by the way, right now two important actions are needed from all Montanans (Here’s a chance to jump into the movement!): Submitting comments on the Keystone XL issue in Montana (by November 18), and submitting comments regarding NorthWestern Energy’s Resource Procurement Plan to the Montana Public Service Commission (deadline just extended to January 3).
As the end of 2019 approaches, join us or join another group, or consider how you could lead on climate in your field of work, place of worship or in another important area of your life. We need everyone and we are all in it together.