Kick In For Climate Justice
When we first started developing CEBE nearly a decade ago, we looked at 2020 as a time when the transition to an ecology-based economy would be well underway. The local and global community would be united in addressing the existential threats of climate change and resource depletion. While things haven’t exactly gone the way we imagined, 2020 has been a turning point. And despite the obvious challenges, CEBE’s work has been vital to the transition, thanks in large part to the support of people like you. Together we have made a difference.
It is hard to believe that in early March, we hosted over three hundred people in Norway for 2020 Vision: Finding Hope in Climate Action. Dozens of volunteers, over 20 sponsors, and a generous appearance by Bill McKibben buoyed our staff and coordinators to make it one of the most inspiring climate events in Maine’s history. Over 50 talks and workshops catalyzed Maine’s climate movement in new ways and has deeply informed CEBE’s subsequent work, both here at home and in statewide coalition. It has even led us down the path of updating our mission statement.
Inspired by local and global youth organizers, we now realize that finding a path out of the climate emergency will take more than solar panels, windmills and electric cars. It will take building a movement grounded in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our calls for “climate action” have grown into demands for “climate justice.” The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of following the science. The Black Lives Matter movement has shown us that systems of oppression must be dismantled for true and lasting change. Climate science tells us we have a decade to cut emissions in half. Together we can make it happen.
In 2020 CEBE has centered our work on youth. We hired Jess Cooper to be a local coordinator for Maine Youth for Climate Justice. We have also doubled the capacity of Seal Rossignol, our Education Coordinator to work with our local schools on nature-based education to foster a new generation of earth protectors. I have joined the board of the Oxford Hills Technical School to help our youth prepare for the new jobs an ecology-based economy will bring. Our launch of Spoke Folks cargo bike service is creating a few of those jobs right now.
The pandemic has caused us to pivot in other ways. As an organization that has convened hundreds of gatherings over the last eight years, 2020 forced to go mostly virtual in our programming. While we miss seeing all of you in person, the silver lining is that we have been able to engage people who would otherwise be unable to participate. We built “Solidarity Gardens” for struggling families, elders and child care centers. We supported the launch of Foothills Foodworks which has already distributed over 1000 meals through local pantries while supporting local farms and food workers. Renee Igo, our new Communications coordinator stepped up to help transform our typical half-day Solar and EV Expo into a week-long virtual event that attracted people from across the country and the world. The videos and webinar recordings continue to garner attention. Work on an equity-based community solar model is getting us closer to panels on the ground. A few notable exceptions to the virtual programming were the socially distanced eBike Extravaganza, and the incredibly popular “She Built This,” a carpentry workshop for women.
2020 has also found CEBE focusing on the work of the Maine Climate Council. As active participants in Climate Maine, an inward facing coalition of Maine’s foremost environmental organizations, we have pushed the Council toward bold action that centers youth voices and adheres to principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. As Core Council members of Maine Climate Action NOW! we helped organize a critical youth rally at the Climate Council’s first public event in January, crafted an open letter to the Council, drove dozens of CEBE followers to respond to the Council’s surveys, and anchored the #VOTECLIMATEJUSTICE campaign. Together we are making Maine a model for bold climate action in the U.S. and beyond while creating a new local economy that will meet the needs of a rapidly changing world.
It is truly a new day. With new leadership in Washington, a bold plan for Maine, and a burgeoning local movement, I am more hopeful than ever. Please join us with your support. Together we can forge a just transition to an ecology-based economy that works for all of us and provides the opportunity for a liveable future for those to come.
Scott Vlaun, Executive Director
CEBE represents the best of the progressive ideas of Western Maine! Thanks for all you do for all of us.
As a business member of 1% for the Planet, we are eager to support groups bringing communities together to create a path toward resiliency and action.
There is no better work to be done for the Earth than that which can be done locally.