How long I’ve wanted to revive this blog. So much of my life is wrapped up in sustainability that sometimes I don’t realize how many amazing things are happening at once. It’s been a year since I started this blog, and now a year later I find that so much has happened and so many adventures are heading my way. In less than two weeks I head to Copenhagen, Denmark to study abroad and want to chronicle my adventures and then continue writing about environmental work as I enter my junior year. But first: I want to share some highlights from my last year…environmental adventures from May to May!
1. Interning with Environment Georgia, summer 2013. I worked as a conservation intern, mainly focusing on building coalitions to support funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The canvass at the Environment Georgia office collected thousands of petition signatures while I built a coalition of local businesses that relied on the Chattahoochee River (whose recreation area is funded by LWCF). We presented our work to Georgia Senator Isakson’s state director Edward Tate. While working on environmental issues in Georgia is tough, I did see that many people, regardless of their political leanings, relied on the Chattahoochee River and were willing to support conservation of the river.
2. Visiting the tree I planted when I was 16. When I was a sophomore in high school at Westminster, I propagated several sugar maple trees, one of which we planted at Westminster in honor of Earth Week. The tree (who I unashamedly had named Teo) was two feet tall when we planted him in 2010. In 2013, he was much much taller than me! I’m grateful to be able to see his growth whenever I visit.
3. Being featured in Change Magazine and The Hoya for my work in divestment. When I got back to Georgetown in August, we hit the ground running in GU Fossil Free, especially with student outreach. In the Fall, Change Magazine also opened a Georgetown chapter and did one of its first features on GU Fossil Free and the nation-wide divestment movement. I was also thrilled to publish an op-ed in The Hoya, one of Georgetown’s student newspapers, about divestment and the resolution we had recently passed in the GUSA Senate. Speaking of which…
4. Passing a resolution through GUSA in favor of our divestment proposal. In November, we lobbied to pass a resolution through our student government (GUSA) Senate in order to endorse our proposal to divest. It was some of the hardest but most rewarding work I’ve ever done–we produced packets of information for each Senator to read through and met with each of them (all who would meet with us) individually to discuss the issue. I also wrote the bill…completely out of my comfort zone and requiring much help from many people who knew more about the process than I did. The day of the vote was nerve-wracking but so exciting when the vote came to a yes, 17 to 6. While only a small step on the way to divestment, the vote reminded us that we were helping to make noise on this crucial issue.
5. Being arrested at XL Dissent. When we heard that we could be arrested at XL Dissent to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline, I suddenly felt completely out of my element. I had contemplated arrest for civil disobedience before, but now that the opportunity had actually arrived, I naturally was nervous. After attending a training and plugging through the nitty-gritty legal details, I decided I did want to go through with the arrest and post and forfeit. Starting our march at Georgetown since that had been the location of Obama’s 2013 summer address on climate change, we walked to the White House. We zip-tied ourselves to the fence and demonstrated for six hours before being arrested. While the day was tough (in the cold and the rain), it was also one of the most rewarding experiences in my short life so far. My friend Chloe and I are circled in the picture at left standing along the fence.
6. Being appointed as Secretary of Sustainability for GUSA. From March 2013 until March 2014, I served as Undersecretary of Sustainability in GUSA, time I took to understand as best I could the sustainability climate at Georgetown (no pun intended) while still having the Secretary, Gabe, to guide me. We worked on building up Georgetown Environmental Leaders (GEL), a coalition of environmental groups and departments at Georgetown, as well as to overhaul the recycling systems throughout dorms and apartments. Then in March, when the new leadership for GUSA was elected, I was appointed Secretary of S
ustainability. My undersecretary, Mandy, and I have been busy building up Georgetown’s TerraCycle brigades and showing people how to use them. We’re also excited to keep working with GEL in the year ahead, so look out for more about that!
7. Screenprinting divestment t-shirts for Earth Day. Being a student group (campaign) with no funding, GU Fossil Free often has trouble getting our name out there. For Earth Day 2014, we decided that some upcycled merchandise was in order. We screenprinted t-shirts, armbands, tote bags, and more in Red Square at Georgetown and invited other students to do the same. We also began our photo campaign for why Georgetown should divest. I beamed the entire day (let’s face it, Earth Day is like Caroline Christmas).
8. Marching at Reject and Protect. More protests, more activism! In April, 350.org partnered with the Cowboy and Indian Alliance (CIA) to put together Reject and Protect, a time to understand some of the implications of the Keystone XL Pipeline on indigenous peoples and other people whose land will be destroyed if the pipeline is completed. As 350 said in an email afterward, it wasn’t quite a protest, or a rally, or a march, but it was much like a spiritual ceremony. After many uplifting speakers, we walked a tipi that the CIA had made to the Museum of the Native American Indian which we gave in President Obama’s honor, asking him once again to say NO to KXL. 350 actually snapped this picture as we in GU Fossil Free were marching, and it was featured in Democracy Now!’s newscast the next day about Reject and Protect.
9. Strategizing with GU Fossil Free for a year ahead. After a year of hard work and amazing results in GU Fossil Free, we met one last time for the academic year to strategize about our goals and tactics moving forward. With one member graduating and a few going abroad, our group will fluctuate a bit next year, but we’re ready to involve new freshmen and other students who want to fight for climate justice. Excited by escalation happening all over the US like at Harvard, Stanford, and WashU, and at a nice moving point with the next draft of our proposal, we’re preparing to escalate. Let’s just hope Georgetown is ready!
10. And soon…to Copenhagen! And now to the short-term point that I’m reviving this site…I leave for Copenhagen in 12 days! I’ll be studying with the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS), where I’ll take two courses: one in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and one in renewable energy systems. See those wind turbines just on the coat of Denmark? I’m so excited to see them and also to travel a bit to Germany, one of the world leaders in renewable energy. My adventures are coming soon!