Category - Environment

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Moms turn out in force to call for action on climate
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Visionary Mom Inspires Play-In for Climate Action

Moms turn out in force to call for action on climate

Wednesday’s Play-In for Climate Action organized by Moms Clean Air Force was a great example of parenting meets civic engagement. The message the group wanted to deliver to Congress about climate change was: “Use your power to clean up our power!”

As the morning drizzle faded into a pleasant morning in Upper Senate park at 10:00 a.m., children and their parents donned red t-shirts that read, “Fighting pollution with mother love” on the front and “Tell Washington: Listen to your mothers!” on the back, picked up Moms Clean Air Force “MOMpartisan” buttons and Klean Kanteen stainless water bottles, and registered to win an organic mattress or pillow from Naturepedic. Children practiced yoga courtesy of lil omm yoga studio, enjoyed the healthiest snacks you’ve ever seen at a mass event like this, played with a parachute and with pinwheels, and worked on posters to carry for the march portion of the event.Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 posters

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 yoga

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 parachute

I had the chance to talk to a few of the moms who turned out for the event, which was conceived of by Biome Studio principal and NoVA mom of two Heather Clark, who shared more with us about her vision before the event in this interview.

Two of the attendees I spoke to were originally from the West Coast and had moved to Northern Virginia within the last two years. Elizabeth Epstein of Fairfax said she felt the “urgency of the moment,” especially as she prepares to welcome her second baby in September. After she learned of the event through an online forum, she thought, “How could we not attend?” It felt good, she said, for her and three-year-old Deena to be visible supporters of the effort.

Phoebe R. of Arlington, who has worked as a sustainability consultant, said she came because she didn’t want the generation of her daughters, aged two and a half and 4 months, to look at her generation and think it let the opportunity slip by.  “Let’s let our generation be the one to act rather than kick the can down the road. It’s not fair to our have it be our children’s problem,” Phoebe said.

At 11:00, children from around the country formed a semi-circle for the press conference, during which they held giant signs that would be delivered later that day to individual Senators to ask them to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan announced in June.

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 press conference children

Moms Clean Air Force’s Gretchen Dahlkemper-Alfonso emceed the event, opening with the hope that politicians would put aside partisan bickering so that her three children would be “gifted a world that is healthier than the one they were given.” With her message of hope and love – including the reminder, “Guess what? Love always wins” – Gretchen set the stage for an event that stuck to positive energy in the face of some scary possible futures that the sponsoring groups hope to keep from happening. The partnering groups for the event were Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environment,  Climate ParentsHealthy Child Healthy World, and The Mothers Project United for Sustainability.

Heather Clark shared the prediction that her children will see 12 times as many heat record days per year but offered that “visionary changes are here today” and called Congress to stand behind those promoting innovations that can address climate change.

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 press conference Heather Clark

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) opened by asking for a show of hands of how many people had or knew someone who had asthma. It was tough to spy any hands that weren’t raised. She introduced Senator Shelton Whitehouse (D-RI) who told the crowd, which numbered upwards of 200, that “nothing has the power to stop an idea whose time as come.” He optimistically spoke of gaining momentum for the understanding that you “can’t recklessly pollute air and water.”

When Danielle Hilton of Charlotte, North Carolina came to the podium, she spoke of having done “all the little things” one person can to limit her family’s carbon footprint but that, as the EPA tells us, it’s not individuals like her who are the major source of the problem: it’s the power plants. If regulation is not going to come from the states, as it likely won’t in North Carolina where Danielle lives in the 8th most polluted city in the country, we “need Congress to take the lead.” Danielle, who sits on the Board of Clean Air Carolina and is involved with Charlotte Environmental Action, called on Congress to put public health over private interest.

Director of Programs for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments Katie Huffling, RN, CNM, spoke of the harm polluted air can cause to a child’s developing young lungs, noting that ozone inflames the lungs like a sunburn hurts skin. Ozone levels in the metro DC area are high with the District and counties in Virginia and Maryland all receiving grades of F from the American Lung Association in its State of the Air report.

First-time expectant mom Leah Qusba is involved with Climate Parents and, in her work with the Alliance for Climate Education, has tried to “change the face of who cares about climate change” by activating and inspiring youth and helping lawmakers see that the issues of air quality and climate change are important to their constituents. “Climate change is apple pie and baseball,” Leah said; it’s not something apart from our reality.

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 baby with world

Keya Chatterjee explained how the issue of climate change hit her “like a ton of bricks” in 2010 when she was expecting her first child. Senior Director of International Climate Policy at the World Wildlife Fund, Keya is the author of Zero Footprint Baby. She expressed optimism that “we are going to win,” in part because renewable energy is getting cheaper than “dirty energy” and also because of people power, as evidenced by the Play-In.

After the press conference concluded, attendees gathered signs and marched across the street to the front of the Capitol building chanting, “Clean air for kids!” “Our children get sicker, their pockets get bigger,” and “What do we want? Clean Air! When do we want it? Now!”

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 marching

A group photo taken in front of the Capitol showed the event’s strength in numbers.

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 capitol front

Heather Clark closed the official event at 12 noon and invited interested attendees to stay to deliver messages to some 40 senators’ offices. A group of parents and children went door to door in the Russell Senate Office Building to deliver state-specific signs with children’s signatures and hand prints along with a letter calling on the senators to act on climate change.

Moms Clean Air Force Play-In 2014 New Hampshire office

 

Visit http://www.momscleanairforce.org for more information and opportunities to take action.

Visionary Mom Inspires Play-In for Climate Action

Northern Virginia mother of two Heather Clark is so serious about climate change that she’s organized a day of play to playin_logodraw attention to it! On Wednesday, July 9, parents concerned about the effect air pollution is having on climate change will join Moms Clean Air Force for a Play-In for Climate Action on the Hill to raise awareness and demand action from politicians.

I had the chance to chat with Heather to learn more about how this event came about. As principal of the Biome Studio, Heather has long been passionate about sustainability. Her work is involved in visionary projects that start to change the places we live and the way those places behave with an eye toward zero energy communities.

Heather says, “We currently have the knowledge to redesign the places where we live so that they can power themselves with renewable energy, clean themselves with plants and micro-organisms, produce food organically, and provide habitat.  This is the type of work I do – I have firsthand experience that it is possible. By overcoming climate change, we will solve other problems in the process – toxic waste, air pollution, water pollution, habitat destruction, etc.  As a society, we just need the vision and will.”

350.org climate change childrenAfter Heather had her second child, now two years old, she spent more time researching climate change in particular. In February 2013, Heather attended her first protest since she was a teenager, the “Forward on Climate Rally” in Washington, DC organized by 350.org, an organization that has led global climate action events since 2009. She brought her children, aged 1 and 3 at the time, in a double stroller with a sleeping bag with a sign that read, “We need a future. Please! Stop dumping carbon.”

 

When Heather got loads of attention from photographers, NPR, and other reporters because of her children, she saw the promise of parents getting together around climate change.

Inspired by sit-ins for civil rights, Heather mulled the idea over for an organized action around climate change, initially envisioning something in Congressional buildings. “It’s hard not to notice kids playing in a government space,” she says, adding that she hopes Wednesday’s Play-In for Climate Action will be replicated by informal groups across the country of parents and their friends. Wednesday’s event took off after a friend of Heather’s at the Natural Resources Defense Council pointed Heather to Moms Clean Air Force, which got very excited and ran with the idea.

Heather Clark 1

Here is a modified version of Heather’s blog post for Moms Clean Air Force:

“I have tended to be fairly quiet about sharing my thoughts about climate change, until now. As a mother of two toddlers, I realized that creating a smaller carbon footprint at home is not enough. I am deeply concerned about what the world will look like in 2045 when my children are my age and having children of their own. Climate change threatens our food supply, our homes, our safety, and most importantly, the health of our children.

I first learned about climate change in seventh grade. Then I studied climate change in college, but it seemed so abstract and futuristic that I had a hard time believing it would happen. Somewhere between Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, climate change became very real for me. Those storms prompted me to read climate change reports from the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) formed by the United Nations, the Pentagon, NASA, the National Academy of Sciences, The U.S. National Climate Assessment and other sources.

On YouTube, I watched the Philippine representative at the UN Climate Summit announce his hunger strike, as he spoke tearfully about how climate change is devastating his country. I also began looking at flood maps of Cape Cod and Virginia Beach, where my sisters and parents live. I cringe when I think about the world our families will live in if we don’t do something now to curb climate change.

As a parent, I know that we must take action! After attending my first climate change rally when my kids were one and three, I experienced the power of children and families together, calling attention to climate change. I recently came up with the idea of a Play-In – a family-friendly event that gives parents the opportunity to demand action from our politicians.

Sadly, some polluters and politicians are doing everything in their power to undermine solutions As parents, we must vocalize our power by supporting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency efforts to regulate carbon at power plants.

Please join my family at the Play-In for Climate Action in Washington, DC on July 9, 2014. As parents, let’s join together and let our voices be heard loud and clear!”

play-in horizontal

Thanks to Heather for talking with us here at Mindful Healthy Life!

For more information on Wednesday’s event, which will take place 10 a.m. to 12 noon in Upper Senate Park on Capitol Hill,  go to http://www.momscleanairforce.org/play-in-climate-action/ or the Facebook event page.

Attendees who register ahead of time are eligible to win either one organic crib mattress or two organic pillows from Naturepedic.

Here’s a glance at the schedule for the event:

10:00 – Arrival and sign-in

10:15-11:00 – Yoga with Holly Clay-Smith of lil omm yoga studio; Music with Rose Tootle; Parachute activity; poster-making

11:00-11:30 – Press conference

11:30-12:00 – March to Senate offices

Refreshments to be provided by MOM’s Organic Market

Copyright © 2015 Mindful Healthy Life. Created by MtoM Consulting.

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