Tuesday, January 19, 2021

3469. Report: It’s Up To Us! Sonoma County Climate Summit

By Sonoma County Climate Activist Network, January 19, 2020

On January 10, 2021, almost 300 people gathered together for It’s Up To Us! Sonoma County Climate Activists Community Summit (Climate Summit) held on Zoom. In the minutes before the Climate Summit, participants were inspired by Alice Mayne-Ashworth’s renderings of Sunrise Movement songs. The Climate Summit Master of Ceremonies, Doron Amiran, EV Program Manager at the Climate Center, introduced us and kept us on track. Presenters excelled in bringing us together to connect, to pay attention, to transform through action – and to keep to the time provided!

Our first presenter, Dr. Brenda Flyswithhawks, spoke eloquently about the much-needed intersection of indigenous traditional practices and western science. Elizabeth Kaiser spoke about the value of regenerative agriculture practiced on small farms, their sheer productivity and positive impacts on soil health. Cory O’Gorman elaborated on his studies of fire, cultural burns and the great value of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) systems, and shared writing about his experiences. Writer and biologist Maya Khosla spoke of the value of natural wildfire in unlogged forests that regenerate naturally and beautifully. Wildfires are much misunderstood, post-fire forests are heavily logged. The dangerous emissions associated with biomass emit more carbon dioxide than burning coal (for an equal amount of power generated). There is a misguided notion that biomass is renewable energy. Sonoma Clean Power is currently exploring the possibility of biomass use as an option. Using forest-based products for generating energy is at least 1.5 times worse than coal.

Environmental educators Fabiola Maya and Vincent Tavani shared their poem, inspired by their recent travels through forests and other wild places, and reached out to reconnect us with what we love about our relationship with nature. Sunrise Movement youth members Christine Byrne and Janina Turner shared the origins and the power of the new Youth Movement, working toward stopping climate change, securing a Green New Deal, and creating a livable future for all. Greenbelt Alliance Advocacy Director, Teri Shore explained how Greenbelts can protect our communities and create climate resilience. Jenny Blaker and Woody Hastings explained CONGAS (Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations), a powerful new movement aimed at stopping the construction of new gas stations in Sonoma County. David Warrender discussed CCL (Citizens’ Climate Lobby); ways that people in our community can bring about a bold new climate policy. June Brashares and Woody Hastings described a prospective Sonoma County ballot proposition to establish a Progressive Wealth Tax for Climate Action – given the massive amount of wealth, and the associated carbon footprint, in the hands of the few who have the most. 

Frequent chats and questions indicated that participants were inspired by the strong messages of activism. Participants established a strong common ground; themes including a sense of faith in wild lands that regenerate on their own terms or in response to traditional fire treatments, the importance of producing local foods, of gathering to oppose large-scale projects that exacerbate climate change, the importance of being in conversation with our leaders: these prevailing themes were nurtured throughout the summit. Indigenous peoples kept ancient traditions that fostered balance and harmony between humans and nature. Green spaces are a vital part of that balance. Careful planning can limit urban growth, chemicals, monocrops, toxins and concrete. Growing food can be part of the balance when we build the soil instead of deplete it. A system that ignores people of color and over-extracts for profit ignores the wisdom that kept our land healthy for thousands of years. Wildfires can grow worse with large-scale logging projects. Biomass is decimating our forests while taking necessary funds away from real renewable energy like wind, solar and geothermal.  

It’s Up To Us! to preserve our ecosystem, locally and globally. When we come together we can hold wealthy exploiters accountable, and put an end to destructive projects. Even during the pandemic, we can gather, sit in virtual circles inspired by art, wisdom and nature, and find strength in sharing.    

Perhaps it was fortunate our March 2020 Summit was cancelled. Our event rose like a phoenix at the beginning of 2021. Long-standing activism combined with digital technology brought our event to life – and a short film served as a follow-up. ###

Contact: SonomaCountyCAN@gmail.com or call 707-595-0320


The Sonoma County Climate Activist Network (SoCoCAN!) is a strong and active network of 50+ local climate change groups and over 200 individuals working together to address and reverse climate change. We meet in months with a 5th Monday, 7-9 PM. Currently we meet on Zoom. Next meeting is on March 29. Join our listserv for lively discussion and information sharing. Contact us at SonomaCountyCAN@gmail.com. Sonoma County Climate Activist Network (SoCoCAN!) https://www.SonomaCountyCAN.org SonomaCountyCAN@gmail.com 


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