Iceland ‘Blog 4’ : Post-Iceland Action Plan

From: Sólheimar Ecovillage, April 23, 2018

Executive Summary: This action plan will focus on participation in municipal government with an emphasis on sustainability initiatives and. Additionally, it will come to include participation in the Citizens Climate Lobby.

In my time here in Iceland I have come to realize that there is a tremendous amount of room for improvement in the United States for sustainability initiatives and progress. One of those fronts is the development of renewable energies and the mitigation of human impact in the form of harmful emissions. It was in studying, witnessing, and discussing these issues through this CELL program that I first began to take a serious interest in tangible climate solutions. In one of my projects this semester I looked into Citizens Climate Lobby and I came to firmly believe that this can be one approach to unite Americans on a sustainability issue, which is why I eventually became a member.

My action plan would be to get involved with both the Chequamegon and San Diego (South) chapters of the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) and to start attending city council meetings in both San Diego, California, and Ashland, Wisconsin to determine what is being done in regards to the environment- and seeing what yet has to be done. In effect, my plan would be to stay informed and active with CCL and to be active in municipal government (which handles a myriad of environmental programs) as well.

Rationale: I chose this particular action plan because it has become abundantly clear that there is a significant need for many more Americans to get directly involved with addressing the issues of our times, and in particular, climate destabilization. Aside from my personal actions, I believe that I can expand my influence by working through collective action and by participating in larger-scale movements. When people synergize, they can create (and have created) meaningful impacts.

Background: In a recent joint session of Congress, French President Emmanuel Macron stated, “I’m sure, one day, the United States will come back and join the Paris Agreement.” This statement- combined with the recent condition of the United States Environmental Protection Agency- indicates the retrogression on overall environmental policy in the United States. It is my hope that President Macron is right; that the United States will participate in creating a more sustainable future.

To be fair, US decisions to refrain from certain environmental policies (and/or agreements) do not necessarily mean that Americans cannot be sustainable or that the country itself cannot progress. Rather, it is my position that the current trend in American environmental policy merely does not indicate a commitment to sustainability. More bluntly, I believe the recent trend does not reflect the best interests of current or future generations. When considering what the United States is currently doing to combat climate destabilization, I cannot confidently state that much is being done federally.

On a smaller scale, many municipal bodies are implementing bold environmental initiatives. Given how successfully small communities can organize, as evidenced by Sólheimar Eco Village, I believe that there is great potential and promise for environmental progress on the small scale. To my knowledge, the City of San Diego in 2018 alone has proposed a $128,084,300 budget for sustainability initiatives. The people of Ashland, Wisconsin, although a relatively tiny population, are also taking strong positions on certain topics. Particularly, Ashland County is the only county in WI, to my knowledge, that does not contain a Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). There is a proposition to develop one in Ashland and thanks to the efforts of many people, many of them being from Northland College, the CAFO has not been established. I look forward to learning what other environmental measures are being taken in Ashland and San Diego.

Population and Community: I chose to focus on both San Diego and Ashland because I will be living in both over the course of the next year. I would also be interested in working with Citizen’s Climate Lobby not only because of their proposals but also because of their receptiveness to my concerns and hopes. In all of my encounters with this community, I have found willingness to reach out, cooperate, and to act with confidence on climate issues. I would love to be associated with this group and I plan to become personally involved.
Objective: To become influential in San Diego, California, and Ashland, Wisconsin’s environmental considerations and possibly even policy. Ultimately, my efforts would also contribute to the adoption of CCL’s Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal.

Impact and Metrics: I would think that a useful baseline measure for this plan would begin by holding myself accountable in consistently attending CCL and City Council meetings. A secondary metric, if I am successful in recruiting others, could be to keep track of how many Northland College students attend CCL meetings. Impact and achievements made by CCL are displayed online. Ultimately, the aim would be to achieve a national Carbon Fee and Dividend. That would also be one of my main goals in the project; to contribute to this effort, and hopefully to see it happen soon.

Timeline: In the meantime, this action plan would only extend until my graduation from Northland College. This is mainly because upon graduation I would potentially be heading to Quantico, Virginia and possibly even overseas three years after that. This is a rough [2018] timeline extending until my graduation date:
• May: Arrive in Ashland, WI, and attend local CCL meetings. Talk with members and Northland College students. Educate and identify other students who would be willing to join CCL efforts. Develop collective goals for the upcoming academic year.
• June-August: Arrive in San Diego, CA and attend local CCL and City Council meetings. Establish contact with individuals that are receptive to my concerns as a resident. Ideally, I could also visit public facilities and get introduced to the current sustainability projects.
• September- October: Return to Ashland, WI and reorganize with Northland College students and resume CCL attendance. Work on getting a face-to-face meeting with Sean Duffy, the representative of Wisconsin’s 7th congressional district. Work with republicans and democrats in the local and state level to support bilateral efforts.
• November-December: Get more involved in national-level action, if needed. Look into the feasibility of organizing trips for Northland College students to attend meetings and CCL events outside of local functions.
• January-May: Continue working with Chequamegon CCL and Ashland City Council; take on any initiatives being pursued by CCL at the time.

Budget: NA

Resources Needed: I should be able to establish contact with the appropriate individuals from Chequamegon CCL and City Council (in both cities). Once I get more involved towards mid-semester next year, I will need logistical and financial support from Northland College’s Student Association, potentially, to achieve statewide impact.

Potential Challenges: My primary concern would be getting overworked with academics and sports while still maintaining my ability to lead other students on sustainability initiatives. I would also think that other students might be burdened by academics and busy schedules, so weekly meetings and discussions might seem uninteresting, unproductive, and too big of a commitment. I hope that this will not be the case. With good leadership, I believe that these challenges can be overcome.


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