Vermont Business Magazine Over 270 climate justice activists today began a five-day walk of more than 60 miles from Middlebury to the State House in Montpelier, where they will call for rapid action on climate change. Organizers from 350Vermont are calling the event ‘Next Steps: A Climate Solutions Walk’. Over the next five days, walkers will highlight the climate consequences of the buildout of the Vermont Gas pipeline; celebrate and promote examples of climate solutions; and bring local and state attention to the climate crisis.
Since the United Nations IPCC report last year, grassroots activists have been building momentum across the country for what they say is essential action to match the scale of the threat. As governments across the United States and the world are starting to take more meaningful steps to slow climate change, 350Vermont activists say that Vermont needs to follow suit.
Among the organizations supporting the Next Steps walk and call for climate action are Migrant Justice, Sierra Club-Vermont Chapter, the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance, and Sunrise Movement Middlebury College and UVM. According to 350Vermont Director Maeve McBride, the huge support for the walk is because, “We’re walking to center this situation in a new way, both for ourselves and the broader community. We’re in an emergency, a climate emergency, a justice emergency. At this moment, the communities along the Addison County pipeline are at risk because of safety violations by Vermont Gas. At this moment, youth are striking across Europe, the Green New Deal is shining brightly, and people across Vermont are seeking fair and equitable alternatives.”
Next Steps emerged from a 350VT grassroots activist conference last November. Since then, hundreds of walkers have joined, including contingents from Sunrise Movement youth climate action groups from Middlebury College and UVM, and Migrant Justice. Abel Luna, from Migrant Justice, said that they joined the walk because issues of migrant justice and climate justice were connected, “As more and more people are pushed to migrate because of the climate crisis, it is important that we urge our legislators to strengthen policies that support and protect immigrants in our state.”
Divya Gudur, of Sunrise Movement Middlebury and member of the Next Steps organizing team, said, “We now have 277 people on this walk. From young walkers to people in their eighties, from people new to climate action to those that are long-standing climate activists, there is a place for everyone in this walk and in this movement. Given the gravity of the global climate crisis, and the importance of grassroots activism in advocating for climate action, the relationships built between walkers from all different backgrounds are critical to building a movement for change.”
Along the route, there will be three public facing events, starting with the Kickoff at Middlebury today, followed by a public ceremony in Hinesburg on April 7 to come to terms with the gravity of the loss caused by the fossil fuel industry.
The Next Steps walkers will march together on the State House in Montpelier on Tuesday, April 9, to demand that legislators take action to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Organizers are inviting concerned Vermonters to join them there for what they are terming a “Mass Call for Climate Action”. They will be urging legislators to pass one of the three bills — H.51, S.66 and H.175 — that would ban or limit the expansion of fossil fuel pipes and infrastructure in the state.
Next Steps is presented by Ben & Jerry’s, with additional sponsorship from Grassroots Solar, Green Mountain Solar, Eco-Equipment Supply, and donations from Bees Wrap, Nutty Steph's, SunCommon, Red Hen, Earth Sky Time Farm, Burlingtone Friends, Champlain Valley Apiaries, Affordable Transportation Hinesburg, and Middlebury Natural Foods Coop.
“This walk coincides with the waves of direct action against climate change, against uncompromising indigenous and youth leaders, and against the divisiveness that prevents us from solving the most important issue of our time.” - Ashley Bolger, 350VT Intern
“Our legislators continue to put our future at risk from inaction and we cannot wait any longer.” - Jaiel Pulskamp, 350VT Solutions Organizer
“Continuing on with ‘business as usual’ is unacceptable. Our children deserve a liveable planet and a healthy future. We need collective and legislative climate action now.” - Abby Mnookin, 350VT Mother Up! Coordinator
350Vermont is a statewide organization in Vermont working to build a grassroots movement to reverse climate change. 350Vermont’s mission is to organize, educate, and support people in Vermont to work together for climate justice – resisting fossil fuels, building momentum for alternatives, and transforming our communities toward justice and resilience. Although we are an affiliated group of 350.org with a similar mission, 350VT is an independent organization, with local campaigns to bring about solutions to climate change, advocate for a carbon pollution tax, and stop any expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.
Migrant Justice build the voice, capacity, and power of the Vermont farmworker community and engage community partners to organize for economic justice and human rights. They gather the farmworker community to discuss and analyze shared problems and to envision collective solutions. Through this ongoing investment in leadership development, members deepen their skills in community education and organizing for long-term systemic change. From this basis their members have defined community problems as a denial of rights and dignity and have prioritized building a movement to secure these fundamental human rights to: 1) Dignified Work and Quality Housing; 2) Freedom of Movement and Access to Transportation; 3) Freedom from discrimination; 4) Access to Health Care.
For more information, visit migrantjustice.net
SIERRA CLUB-VERMONT CHAPTER
The purpose of Sierra Club-Vermont Chapter is to explore, enjoy and protect the wild places of the Earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the Earth's ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
For more information, visit vermont.sierraclub.org/
THE VERMONT RACIAL JUSTICE ALLIANCE
The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance addresses racial justice in Vermont. They use of their collective strengths and voices to implement policy. It is their intent that this policy will positively impact Vermont on a Statewide basis. It is the intent that the policy will address systems and processes that surrounding the institutionalized as well as overt discriminatory components of racism in Vermont. The Alliance works collaboratively to develop strategy and allocate resources to ensure the implementation of these policies. Together, they are working to advance and defend policies that promote racial justice. These policies seek to address racial justice in the areas of housing, education, employment, health services and economic development and the criminal justice system.
SUNRISE MOVEMENT MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE AND UVM
Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. They are building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people. They are ordinary young people who are scared about what the climate crisis means for the people and places they love. They are not looking to the right or left. They look forward. Sunrise Middlebury and UVM are new hubs in the Sunrise Movement.