Hello, I'm Melanie Plenda host of the digital series The State We're In.
Saturday, April 22nd, 2023 marks the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day.
For many, April is Earth Month, a time for community conversation and action, according to a new study in the journal Climate.
That conversation is more important now than ever.
A look at temperatures recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration since 1900 show New England is warming faster than any other region of the world.
Winters are shorter, summers are longer, and these shifts in temperature are expected to wreak havoc on the New England economy, ecology and cultural heritage.
The question is what can be done?
NHPR, in partnership with New Hampshire.
PBS recently hosted the By Degrees Climate Summit and explored the role of community action in addressing climate change.
Following this conversation, join me for an interview with the moderator of the event.
Support for the production of By Degrees Climate.
Summit is provided by Global Seafood Alliance.
Casella Waste Systems, Kennebunk Savings, New Hampshire.
Businesses for Social Responsibility and viewers Like you.
Thank you and good evening, everyone.
I'm so excited to be here with all of you and this wonderful, wonderful set of panelists for our first five degrees climate summit.
You know, as a climate change reporter, I spend a lot of time writing about problems and challenges and about the things that New Hampshire and New England are losing as our climate changes.
And I think that loss and the feelings that come with it like grief and frustration are really important to talk about.
But we all know the saying that every crisis is an opportunity.
And tonight we're going to focus on the many opportunities that we have to take transformative action in the face of the climate crisis.
And we're going to talk about solutions that can improve not only the climate but also our lives the way we eat, how we get around the jobs we can have, the way we get our energy and so much more.
So without further ado, we're so excited to have this panel of New England leaders on Climate Solutions with us today.
I get to introduce the panelists now.
Doria, I'll start with you.
Doria Brown is the first ever energy manager for the city of Nashua.
She specializes in energy portfolio management, renewable energy project management and greenhouse gas accounting.
And she's also a skilled climate communicator making short form video content on her earth stewardess platform online.
So give it up for Doria.
Next, we have Aziz Dehkan.
He's the executive director of the Climate, the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, which builds alliances among diverse constituencies to combat climate change, create jobs and promote racial, economic and environmental justice.
And then we also have Hayley Jones.
Hayley's the Vermont and New Hampshire state director at Slingshot, which works alongside community groups to take aim at polluters and build community power.
They also serve on the Board of Migrant Justice, Coordinate, a bilingual culinary collective and volunteer as medical interpreter.
So give it up for Hayley and let's get started.
So Doria, I'd like to start this off with a question for you.
Often when we think about climate change, we're thinking about stopping something, you know, ending the burning of fossil fuels, keeping global temperature rise up under one and a half degrees Celsius, preserving our lifestyles in the process.
But flipping that around, what are you trying to start or create as you respond to climate change?
So as we respond to climate change, I think we're really creating a new type of technology that already exists.
Climate change, as you said, is a great opportunity to take what we already have like vehicles, electricity, heat in our homes and change it to something that is more efficient and more related to our everyday lives.
So I think that it's just a great opportunity to remaster technology and create something that's new but old.
I want to extend this question to the rest of the panel, too.
So Aziz, Could you talk a little bit about what the things that you're trying to start in the face of climate change?
Well, I think part of the opportunities that we have and I. I'm going to resist and call it climate crisis, because I think that's really where we're at right now.
We're at a tipping point.
So if we can take that tipping point and create jobs with it, create good union trade, wage jobs, sustainable jobs, I think that's that's the path that the climate crisis can actually lead us to.
It's not just about just transition from fossil fuels to renewables.
It's about creating jobs for people who have been left out of the job market to find out, to make sure that the people in marginalized communities who have not has access to these jobs, have access, and in particular, to make sure that we get rid of fossil fuels, plants and whatever else are in those marginalized communities, because that's where they've always been placed.
Hayley, I want to extend also to you the same question.
Thank you, I think for us at Slingshot, since we're a group of community organizers, the climate crisis, climate change, climate chaos is a really good opportunity for working with folks, folks who are most impacted by these problems, whether that's a coal plant, you know, next to next to your home, or whether there's a fracked gas pipeline going going through your town.
The climate crisis is really, really politicizing a lot of folks who maybe have not been centered before in the white dominated mainstream environmental movement.
And so even though we're dealing with so many challenging, heartbreaking, heartbreaking situations, it is a time when people can be getting together, making connections, building up their skills, and really fighting for change based on their own lived experience of of the climate crisis.
Thanks so much, Aziz, I know in your in your response, you mentioned just transition.
We hear about, you know, the phrase just transition often as a way to, you know, that climate action can better our lives.
But could you talk a little bit about what a just transition means, how you define it and how you see that show up in your work?
Yeah, sometimes I'm not sure I even know what a just transition is, to be honest with you.
I mean, the simplest is that we we move from fossil fuels to renewables and as I said before, create jobs through that.
That's a just transition if you don't, especially for the we work for the roundtable works with unions and trades.
And if we don't involve them, if we don't show them that there is a path from them leaving these fossil fuel jobs into renewables, we're done.
I mean, let's just be honest about that.
The trades and unions have a lot of power, and that power can move towards renewables.
So I see a just transition is just that.
It's a way to make sure that lost jobs in the fossil fuel sector are found and increased in the renewables.
And the you know, I'm older and I keep hearing this.
I have to watch my language, the that I keep hearing about, oh, there's no jobs, there's no future in renewables is not true.
I mean, you look at look at wind turbines, look at solar farms, look at all the things that, you know, building e-vehicles.
It's a huge growing sector and we need to take advantage of that.
That's what a just transition looks like.
And how are you seeing that show up and I can extend this to the other panelists, like, are you seeing moments of that already happening?
Yes and no.
So, yes, that in Connecticut, we passed a bill that puts trade standards, building standards on large renewable projects two megawatts or greater.
But the problem in there is that we see developers coming in with projects that are one megawatt, 2, 1 megawatt projects, so they skirt the law, they skirt the rules, and how do we stop that?
So that's an issue as well.
What was the I'm sorry, where we were?
How do you see how do you see the just transition either playing out or not?
So and just another piece that that we've been hearing a lot more about is that so the fossil fuel industry has been around for, you know, 100 years, whatever it is, hundreds of years.
And they know how they know the people who work in that industry know how that industry works.
The people who are starting work in the renewables, the offshore wind people, the solar panel, large solar panel people, even the home installers, they're making their own rules as they go along most of the time.
I mean there are government rules and whatever, but they make their own rules and it makes it really difficult for people to understand what are those rules.
So there's there's chaos, there's climate chaos in that, and there's an there's a level of uncertainty that we need to fix.
Dorian, Hayley, do you do you want to also talk about how you're seeing that play out?
So I think that's a really interesting question because there are consequences for climate action if we move too slowly.
So let's say there isn't enough climate action and resources become extremely limited and only the very wealthy are able to have access to those resources.
And then people who are living in poverty are left behind.
But then you have this issue where if we move too quickly, we're going to leave people in poverty behind.
So I think it's important that as we transition, a just, transition looks like bringing everybody along with it.
And I think a really interesting example of that is Nashua's Community.
So we started a program that allows us to purchase energy on behalf of the community at a lower rate than the utility right now, we're saving people, I think, $0.04 per kilowatt hour.
That's $27 on their bill.
But also in this program, it's connecting people to more renewable energy options.
It's building reserve funds that we can invest in the community and that everybody can have access to that energy.
It's going to take a little bit longer to build those community renewable energy projects, but it's a way to bring everybody along with it and have a just transition.
And do you see that that as sort of scalable, like when you think about New Hampshire and New England in general, I know New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island allow community power, but New Hampshire is sort of the third New England state on this wave.
Do you see that as scaling up in the state or in the region?
I know that New Hampshire is a little bit behind on the wave, but since we're behind on the way, we got to learn a lot from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and more specifically, California.
And I honestly think that we have a way more advanced and robust program here in the state that's going to bring more opportunity for that just transition.
Hayley, I want to turn to you.
I want to ask a little bit about the values that you think about when you're thinking about climate action and your work on climate solutions.
So how do you in the communities that you're working with sort of decide if something that's good for the climate, is also good for the community?
And how do you how do you have those conversations?
That's a great question.
And as a fairly new organization, that's something we think about every hour of every day, including non-work time.
And I think our biggest our biggest guiding principle is truly guide, Don't decide.
So we are like vampires.
We want to be invited into a community.
We don't want to go rampaging around saying, Oh, I'm an organizer, I've got this training.
Therefore I know what is best for you when I might not live in a town where where I'm working with folks.
So first of all, we want to get that call from people.
We want to make ourselves known.
We want to make ourselves trusted.
We want people to give us as references.
And then when we've gotten that first call, we say to folks, okay, what's going on?
What are you dealing with?
What's the problem?
And also, what do you want to see happen?
And then we'll go out and we'll meet people in community centers, in the synagogue, in the library.
I've sat in a lot of of older folks, kitch once again, I am never going to say I've done all this research and I've decided what will work for you.
It's about us working together.
And often, you know, I'm not a scientist, I'm not a policymaker.
I'll often make those calls and make those connections and say, Who can we draw on?
You know, what's your perspective on this, this influx of federal funding around climate solutions?
And how do you see that connecting with folks you're working with?
I've not done a ton of work on influxes of federal funding, but I can say knowing from some work that Slingshot has done with groups around PFAS remediation, which I recognize is adjacent to its environmental environmental injustice.
A real challenge There has been that even though there's significant federal funding available and this is echoing exactly what you said, even though there's this federal funding, the state's got some real chunks of money.
There I go again, folks in town.
Folks in town aren't necessarily sure how to access these rebates.
And we're talking $5,000, you know, to get a point of view system installed on your house to get yourself off bottled water.
And, you know, these aren't perfect solutions, but people at least need to be able to access them.
And so, you know, from my perspective, that can look like if it's grant writing, get grant writers out in the community, if it's a tech issue like set up, you know, set up a Wi-Fi hotspot and have like a tech come and support people or like I worked with a group in Londonderry and we held office hours with the Department of Environmental Services to walk people through, especially seniors in town, walk people through the process for getting these rebates.
So I know it seems loosely connected, but access, access, access, if the money's got to be there, especially in a state like New Hampshire, there's got to be a way for folks to for folks to get to it.
I've just got a question from the audience.
Susana in the audience asks, How do we make sure that available federal funding and state funding is inclusive?
How do we include small businesses, minority owned businesses, renters, etc.?
How do we lower the access bar or the bureaucratic hurdle?
Doria, do you want to take that first?
That's three questions.
If I could answer that question.
I could answer that precisely.
And with yeah, I would be paid a lot more than I am now.
And you get the status is genius.
Oh, my goodness.
I wish I had the answer to that question.
As somebody on the community on the city side, I think the best way to do that is through city or community organizing and implementing projects such as like community car charging, community renewable energy.
I think that resources that everybody has access to and everybody in the community owns is a great way to leverage those barriers to make sure that that funding is accessible.
Aziz do you in a way, oh, Hayley is raising her hand.
You know, and I'm so excited about this.
You know, I'm going to go I'm going to go, well, negative first and then positive language justice and language access is like my favorite thing in the whole wide world.
And, you know, we saw this.
I live in Vermont and did a lot of work in Vermont back in 2020 and 202021 on the inaugural environmental justice legislation.
And so we you know, we compensated folks from most impacted communities and had a bunch of conversations with people and asked, what do you want to see from the state?
And so many people said, it's great that you had resources about COVID or X environmental health problem or the PFAS down in North Bennington I'm an English language learner.
I don't know what the heck you were saying.
And so I think having language access, even in a state where there are a lot of English speakers like New Hampshire, I think that's a huge part of any sort of climate communication or learning or organizing that you want to do have your interpreters pay, your translators, make sure that you've got materials up on sites that people actually use.
If people don't trust government websites, no one's going to read it, put it on Facebook, put it on WhatsApp, and get creative with your organizing, because it's not just for organizers, it's for government, too.
I have a question, so going deeper into social media, what do you think the role that sites like Instagram and Tik Tok play with these things outside of Facebook and WhatsApp, What do you think of that?
Like shorter form content in order to communicate?
Yeah, that's a great question and I actually want to ask you about that as well.
You know, reversing it.
I will say that a lot of the groups that I've worked with, particularly in the north country of New Hampshire, where they're mostly working off of landlines, you know, some folks have cell phones but don't trust them or there's no cell service.
And don't even talk about Facebook.
People are like, we don't trust that.
And so I as an organizer in in the north of these two states, have not had a lot of opportunity to play around with these these shorter form social medias.
And it's something I'm really interested and I would love to hear your thoughts.
So I recently had a discussion with somebody who has a larger following or more friends on Facebook, whereas I have more following on Instagram and I think location wise, organizing on Facebook will get you closer to people who actually live in your community.
Whereas on Instagram and Tik Tok, you might have more of a national audience and be able to make more of a national like, Hey, this is how you might organize something in your community type impact, where on Facebook you can say, Hey, this is what's going on in the community.
Do you want to learn more?
Here's the event.
So I think that it's really interesting that you have people who absolutely are not on Facebook, no cell phone and are on a landline because that's something that is completely foreign to me.
So I find that fascinating.
I want to ask, I'm seeing that we're getting a few questions from the audience about resistance and how to handle that.
So Dan in our audience says, I'm all for community engagement in the clean energy transition.
I'm also mindful that communities often object to changes they can see.
NIMBYism is also NIMBYism, for those who don't know, is not in my backyard.
How to balance community voice and the urgent need to accelerate the transition with new energy infrastructure situated in communities.
Doria this is like what you were talking about earlier with the, you know, the timing of energy transition.
If we go too slow, we miss people.
If we go too fast we miss people.
So yeah, how do you how do you respond to Dan?
So the way I would respond to that is with my community power program, I think it's just such a great example with that program.
It got people to talk more about energy and it's expanded the conversation to talk more about energy infrastructure and now talk more about renewable energy.
And with this thing that has given people savings and decreased energy rates, now it's something positive that is leading them down a path to increase energy infrastructure to increase renewable energy.
And I do have to say one very surprising part about organizing that program was the feedback I expected to get.
A lot of people being very upset about community power programs saying, Oh, Nashua is overreaching or.
I don't want you touching our energy rates.
But it's actually been quite different.
It's been people being like, Wow, I'm so excited that my energy rate is lower.
Tell me more about what you're doing.
So I think that once you have that breakthrough program that gets people excited, that really shows the benefit from energy savings and financial savings.
Now you have kind of like this, I want to say a fire that's catching on across all of these energy platforms and opportunities.
So it sounds like it's really about communicating how the co-benefits are going to show up in people's lives.
And if you can get that one program where it's like an aha moment, it'll keep going.
Aziz I want to ask you about this, too.
How do you respond to folks who resist?
So I think one of the keys to that is community benefits that every when you put a when you do start doing renewables, fossil fuels never did community benefits.
So if you're going to place it in a community, you should have you should have public participation.
You need to have community benefit agreements in those standards.
You have to look at this through the lens of racial equity.
And, you know, let me just turn it around a second.
Where was NIMBY when they put fossil fuel plants in cities?
Where was the outreach for that?
So, you know, and I think you're right, if we can show the benefits not just economically, but, you know, community wise, I use the word I think that that's really important to show.
And again, I'll just say one last time.
Community benefit agreements help everybody.
And it teaches these developers that that it well teaches it makes them stay in line to make sure that they are doing the right thing.
Because, you know, we live in a capitalist system and money, money talks and everybody walks.
So we should be really careful about how we set this thing up.
Hayley, do you want to weigh in on responding to folks who resist?
Yeah, I think a classic strategy from polluters that we've seen time and time again, whether that's certain out-of-state waste management companies or, you know, the folks behind the Merrimack Generator station is to try to divide folks in town and to pitch people who might be originally more excited about climate solutions against folks who might not have had the time or the energy or the resources to dive into that world.
And so when when I'm thinking about that, I'm like, who's actually building up the resistance?
And I want to have conversations with folks who might not be as excited or who might be super pro landfill or super pro coal plant, like, what's your story?
Why, why, why are you resisting?
Let's let's talk about it.
And I particularly don't want to come in as this, you know, this young white upstart and be like, I know everything and I'm going to tell you what my solution is that you're going to love.
And why don't you love it?
So like having that conversation and teasing that out and then once again, like actual involvement and engagement and leadership from most impacted folks in in these new solutions is so important.
And that's that's something we see in places like Bow where, you know, the coal plant in Bow is an employer.
And I can't go up to somebody who has worked at this coal plant for 40 years and say, why don't you want this coal plant to shut down?
That's like a complete denial of someone's life and livelihood.
And so I have to I want to be saying to folks and we want to be saying to folks, what would you like to see?
Where would you like to work?
Do you want skills training?
Do you want a really sweet retirement package?
You know, how can we how can we make this work for you?
So just a reminder to our audience that you can submit questions for our panelists through the online form at npr.org slash climate.
We'd love to hear from you.
And thanks so much for responding to that question from Dan.
I want to move on to sort of how people can get involved, because I know, you know, lots of folks think about how they can participate in climate action.
Doria, I'll ask you this first.
What would you advise someone who's thinking about starting a climate change related project, whether it's a faith based group getting involved in town, government, you know, starting a presence on social media, how can they incorporate thinking about, you know, possible co-benefits for a wide range of people or incorporating, you know, social benefits into their into their thinking about their climate solution.
So the simple answer is talk to people.
And one thing that really got me into this local climate action space is by joining my local environment and energy committee.
I was originally a sustainability specialist for a manufacturing company, and they asked me to sit on our Nashua Environment Energy Committee as a representative from that company.
But from being on that committee, I learned a ton from the people there, as well as the people who came in and did presentations for us.
And from there I was able to come up with different ideas.
One thing that happened, I think in 2017 was Volkswagen had their their big oops and then a lot of money came in to bring opportunities like electric vehicle charging to communities.
And we have been trying to access that money ever since.
But so this is I want to just briefly explain to them what happened with Volkswagen.
So I'll try.
So Volkswagen was selling diesel vehicles.
They were not correct on the amount of emissions that came from those vehicles.
They were charged a very, very big fee because they were incorrect about that information.
I think that's the very simple answer.
And that money was then distributed to states to be able to do things like switch from less efficient vehicles to more efficient vehicles as well as some took the opportunity to pave more roads and a portion of it was supposed to be given to electric vehicle charging specifically on highway corridors in New Hampshire and Nashua sits on a highway corridor.
Tom in the audience is bringing up politics.
He writes, The greatest impediment to progress progress on climate and New Hampshire is political and as a result, statutory.
Does your advocacy recognize this fundamental hurdle and incorporate the need to use voting in elections to support action on climate as essential?
Maybe, Hayley, because you were just talking about power.
I'll give that to you and then other folks can respond.
First of all, huge shout out to all the organizations doing C four work during that electoral work.
We are C three, so we don't we don't get to touch that, but we do.
I think one thing that we've seen, particularly on on waste and PFAS policy is this like theme of unlikely bedfellows.
Like sometimes with this landfill siting regulation that I'm working on with a group, sometimes it means you're getting your environmentalists and your public health folks working together with people who are really passionate about hunting and fishing and who might not normally vote the same way on the same things, but are working together in a really powerful way that can.
I don't want to say trick the legislature, but get some bipartisan work going that might not otherwise be happening.
So I think that's one way to do it.
And it's it's deeply unsexy sometimes to have to say who you're working with, and it doesn't feel like you're aligning with all your values.
And that can suck.
But if you can win and you can push them and you change their minds a little bit, might have been worth it.
Doria I want to ask you next sort of what's the role of politics in your thoughts about climate advocacy and change in New Hampshire?
And this this question of like unlikely bedfellows, like, have you seen coalition building that you weren't expecting in your role in Nashua?
So first, I want to give a shout out to the Nashua Board of Aldermen.
There are politicians and as an employee for the city of Nashua, and I've never brought a project to them where they didn't at least listen and try to learn as much about it.
And they have just been incredibly supportive of energy projects and starting a sustainability department for the city of Nashua.
So I really want to give them that recognition.
And as politicians who are listening and really are trying to do what's best for the community.
With that being said, I'd say that in Nashua.
I find that when our aldermen are listening and learning, so is the community, because they have their.
I I think like I don't know what their official name is, so I'm going to call them fireside chats where they get their districts together and they talk about what's going on in Nashua and what they're excited about.
And if they didn't go to all of their constituents and tell them about community power, tell them about sustainability and energy, we wouldn't be where we are with our energy policy and our programing.
So I think that having leaders who are willing to listen, learn and then repeat some really great solutions is invaluable.
Aziz, how do you see this relationship to politics and coalition play out?
Did you use the word trick?
I think you did.
No, no, you did.
So I would like to use that word a little bit more often, but I'm ashamed to, so I'll use it as tip.
I think sometimes you can tip the balance a little bit instead of tricking the balance.
And that means build consensus building.
And that means in our case, sometimes working with Eversource to say, Yeah, I know, I'm really sorry.
Can we take that out of this?
But, but, but seriously, sometimes you actually have to do that because there are some common grounds, very small, but there are common grounds that actually work.
But having said that, I think it's really important not to give up your morals either.
Right now, I mean, we're a nonprofit organization and I'm running the thing, so I have to be careful not to take money from people who are just going to, you know, turn around next year and screw me on this.
Let's just be honest about that, too.
So it's a very bad it's a it's a it's a fine line to to to do.
We may trick people.
We may tip people.
But I think the word that the operative word is consensus building, you really have to find places where you agree, and I promise not to use it.
Well, maybe I'll do it one more time.
But Lyndon Johnson signed it, had a bill signed, and the Republicans on one side and Democrats on the other.
And he said, well, this must be a good bill because neither of you like it.
So that's consensus building, right?
So, you know, you find areas in some way that people can say, all right, I'll sign the bill.
And at that, that may be the way to work.
But you have to be careful about your morals and at least.
We have another question from from the audience.
Laura Lee from the audience says navigating the climate crisis can feel like a lot of gloom and doom.
What sort of positive messaging have you used to foster an environmentally friendly identity in your community?
And I'd add to that like, how do you stay positive when you're doing this work?
I'm tired of the gloom and doom stuff.
I really am.
Yeah, we're in trouble.
It's a crisis.
We're in real trouble.
But I work with a lot of young people.
You see a lot of young people.
You're here because I think you believe that there are ways out of this.
So the gloom and doom, I'm a community organizer.
I can't think that way.
I'm an optimist.
I have to if I go out in community, organize and say, oh, my God, the planett is going to burn up in three weeks, and it might.
That's not going to help anybody.
So you have to find solutions.
So the gloom and doom, with all due respect to the to the questionnaire, I won't buy into it.
I refuse to buy into it.
Yeah, we're in real big trouble.
But maybe that's the that's the that's the good part.
Maybe that's the positive part that people recognize.
We need to fix this and there are ways to fix it.
And how about you Doria in your work?
How do you how do you get your community to feel about positivity and how do you stay out of the the despair that I think can sometimes creep in?
One thing that has helped me is having my platform on social media.
I'm able to make content that is engaging and talking about climate solutions and kind of stamping out some of that doom and gloom.
But I've also have been able to meet a lot of other community organizers and creators, and we're able to have conversations.
I I'm in a TikTok house.
Do you know that?
I don't live with a bunch of teenagers, but I, I, I, I am a part of a virtual TikTok house called Eco Talk.
And we're a bunch of creators that we share a page and we post on the same page.
And we also have a group chat where we're talking about what we're doing in our community and bouncing off different ideas.
And one really positive anti doom and gloom thing that has come from that is through my friend, his handle is trash Colin, but his name is Colin Donaldson.
And what he does is he picks up trash on beaches every day, but through TikTok and through meeting other creators, he was able to organize an entire community program where he put toy boxes on beaches.
So when people go to Florida, that's where he lives.
They bring toys with them and then they leave them on the beach because they're going to go home.
But now they have a place to put those toys so other people can use them.
And he's putting them all over the beaches in Florida.
And that's something that he wouldn't have known how to do if he didn't have eco talk and our creator group to show him different ideas on how to implement that.
So I think that using social media to organize on that like TikTok and Instagram side to kind of get that national reach really can bring positivity and ideas and is kind of my escape from doom and gloom.
Yeah, I like that connection with other people.
And there's a theory out there, it's a book and I can't remember the woman who wrote this and who promotes theory, but the theory of pleasure activism, Right.
I think that's Adrian Marie Brown.
I'm a proponent of that idea.
If I can't go out there and not be happy about what I do.
And, you know, so you bring in you bring in culture, you bring in equity, you bring in people of diverse communities to make it fun, pleasure, activism.
And that's the way it has to be.
I think that really resonates with me.
So I was working on my taxes last week.
I'm sure a lot of you all were.
Lot of activism there.
I know, but there is.
I despise doing my taxes, but in starting to work on them and getting my documents together and then finally being finished with them, I feel so much better.
Like it's like 1,000 pounds have been lifted off my shoulder.
So I guess solving the climate crisis is kind of just doing our taxes.
I mean, it was first.
So, so Hayley I want to hear from you.
You know, do you struggle to keep positive and to to bring that positivity into the communities that you're working together with?
Yeah, it's a it's definitely an ongoing struggle.
I think when the doom and gloom hits hardest is when either I or other people feel really isolated and feel really alone.
And so this is nothing new.
But building that connection, which you can do through organizing or through, you know, household cooking nights, or through through calling up folks or or through, you know, educating yourself, I think building that connection is really helpful.
And it makes people feel a little a little less alone.
And then I also think like through organizing, there's definitely this this stereotype of like, you must work yourself to the bone, like you must do 80 hours a week and, you know, the reason that my my colleagues and I founded this organization is because we're like, no, we want this.
We want community organizing and movement work to be hate to say it sustainable.
Something you can do for all of your life in the ways that you would like to do it.
And and that means that we're going to enjoy meals together and that we're going to take time to rest and that we're going to give each other really honest, hard hitting feedback.
And we're also going to lift each other up and appreciate each other when we do something that's really cool.
So I think holding those values to of rest and of joy and of you don't always have to be working yourself so hard.
I think that's really important to keep in mind.
Yes, it sounds like it's not only about the work you're doing, but how you're doing the work.
So for all the panelists, I'm wondering if there's changes that you've made in your own life for the climate that have made other things in your life better, like a solution that you've applied to your own life that then has had another Doria you look like you.
I you're going to get me going.
But my my hobby is growing my own food inside.
I have a bunch of hydroponic gardens and in doing that I have stopped buying as much food from the other side of the country, decreasing my carbon footprint.
And also I have really good food to eat at home and it just makes me really happy.
Yeah, that's amazing.
What are you growing right now?
Are you sure you want to?
Right now I have strawberries.
Swish Char bok choy.
Two types of lettuce, tomatoes, arugula, mustard, greens, all growing inside good water.
Oh, and an added bonus.
I've got solar panels, so technically, it's all still powered by the sun.
Yeah, that's really cool.
Aziz and Hayley, Have you have other things happen in your life you know, for the climate.
I don't know what to say.
You got your hybrid car.
Yeah, that's true.
That's pretty cool.
I don't know.
I was early.
I was an early person in building.
I built a passive solar house many decades ago, actually in the seventies.
And so I learned from that experience and I'll just tell you a quick story.
When we couldn't find anybody to build a house because it was so different.
And so I lived in New Jersey at the time and we found a an older man carpenter, and he had a small business, about four or five people working, and he fought with the architect all the time.
And his argument was to the architect, everything lies flat on paper and it's not working here.
We can't build it this way.
So they, you know, I was young and I tried to get them between them.
And so that's a longer story.
But the best part of the story is this.
So the house was built, enclosed the house and started doing the interior work of the house.
And the man, his name was Keith Andrews, I believe, and he used to smoke lucky strikes like he was smoking blunts.
I mean, he was smoking down to here.
His fingers were nicotine stained.
He was a very cool guy, though, because and and so he says to me, why he couldn't pronounce my name.
He couldn't pronounce Aziz so he said he used to call me Zs.
And he said, Zs said, Look at my people.
It was January.
He said, Look at all my guys.
And I'm looking around.
And he says, How are they dressed?
He said, They're all wearing t shirts.
What's the temperature outside?
It's like three degrees below zero and he's looks at me.
He says, your house works.
So that's what I learned.
Hayley I'm curious also for you, you know, what what changes have you made that have other impacts?
Yeah, I think at an individual level, which we know is not, you know, the the systemic solutions that we're looking for, I've been vegetarian since I was 11 and other impacts wise, it means I save money.
I make some really good lentils, although I don't know if my partner would agree.
And it means that I get I get to use, you know, more local produce.
A lot of folks have like hanging gardens or pot gardens around around Burlington.
And then something else.
I will not get on my soapbox about this, but I feel like zero waste has been co-opted by the, like, wealthy white mommy bloggers of this world who are like, Ooh, a mason jar.
I'm going to put my chickpeas in it or whatever.
It's like, No, so many people in so many countries from so many cultures have been living the zero waste lifestyle for centuries and centuries and centuries.
And so when I say, you know, I'm trying to do like more book exchanges and puzzle exchanges and clothes exchanges, I don't mean to go into the realm of mommy bloggers, but there's real value there in working with your community, with your friends, with your families to do that, that sort of re-use and exchange.
And it's very little, but I got these pants from this exchange, so and they're great pants.
I, I wanted to add one thing, I don't want to interrupt you, but that's also a gateway to community organizing and bringing people to clothing swaps.
You have a community power table.
You have your local climate action table or something like that there.
So I think that that's just great.
Bloggers are cool too get a few of them upset about something that's going on in the community and they're great organizers.
I That's true.
They'll go first.
They'll go hard.
So as we wrap this up, which unfortunately we need to do pretty soon, I want to just end with a final question to all of you, which is, you know, as we think about not losing sight of the opportunity presented by the climate crisis, what do you hope the audience takes away from this panel tonight?
What's the big takeaway that you want everyone to carry with them?
Doria, do you want to go first with me first?
One thing that I'd love everybody to take away from this is that the solution is here.
And if you look in the mirror, it's you.
So what you do as an individual could start an entire movement.
You can organize your community two plus two plus two plus two.
You can expand something very quickly if you organize and communicate.
So I think that that's what I really want people to leave here with.
All of you rise up, rise up.
Look at everything through the lens of equity.
Look through what can be done, not what can't be done, because nothing can't be done.
Is that too many double negatives in there?
Everything can be done.
And that's what I would like you to leave with.
So get up.
Stand up and fight.
Because that's the way it works.
And that's the way it's the only way I know how to do it.
And sometimes fighting doesn't mean, you know, yelling, though it does and sometimes it doesn't.
It means not being angry, though.
And so, you know, there's a there's a certain balance that you all need to.
Well, I won't put it on you.
There's a balance that I need on my own self to make sure, like you were saying, that you don't burn yourself out and that you just continue to push.
But rise up.
Don't let them steal your narrative.
That's what I want to tell you.
Also, don't let them steal your narrative that the proponents of renewables love to take your language, our language, and twist it.
Don't let them do it.
Don't let them do it.
Make sure that your language is your your words are heard loud and clear.
There are a lot of really brilliant folks who have been hit really hard by climate change, and you should probably listen to them first because they'll have some great ideas.
Slash have already been working on this for anywhere between one and 200 years or more.
And so when you do that rising up, be careful that you're not obscuring voices of folks who are most impacted and be sure to be in solidarity with them in the ways that people are asking you for and not necessarily the ways that you've decided are best for someone else.
Well, with all of those amazing responses, that's all the time that we have for tonight.
I want to thank our panelists so much for sharing their time and their expertise with us.
I want to thank our audience for some really wonderful questions.
Thank you to UNH for hosting us tonight.
Thanks to NHPR and NHPBS and the teams that made this all possible and thank you so much to our panelists, Give them a round of applause.
Support for the production of By Degrees.
Climate Summit is provided by Global Seafood Alliance.
Casella Waste Systems, Kennebunk Savings, New Hampshire.
Businesses for Social Responsibility and viewers like you.
I'm Melanie Plenda.
Joining me now to discuss the biggest takeaways from the by Degrees climate summit is Mara Hoplamazian, NHPR climate reporter and host of the Summit.
Mara, thanks so much for joining me.
What was your biggest takeaway from the event?
Yeah, thanks so much, Melanie.
So this event was about climate solutions and how they can have other positive impacts in our lives.
I think the biggest takeaway for me was that there are solutions happening right now in New England that can be a big benefit to daily life.
But we heard from panelists that it also takes a lot of thoughtfulness and communication and community involvement to make sure climate solutions benefit everyone, particularly people who've been disproportionately harmed by climate change and the systems that have created the climate crisis.
And I mean, we know not everyone can become a community activist, but what steps can individuals take to learn more and or kind take action to combat climate change?
Yeah, So, you know, as a reporter, it's not really my role to tell people what to do or what actions they should take when it comes to climate change.
But I hope that my reporting through By Degrees at NHPR and all the other really great climate reporting that's happening across New Hampshire provides kind of a menu of information for folks that can help them make the right decisions for their own lives, you know, whether it's thinking about new ways to manage your waste or what kinds of legislative efforts to get involved in ways to lower your energy consumption and your energy bill at the same time.
I'm really hoping our local coverage of these issues sort of lays the groundwork for people to have conversations about climate solutions with their friends and neighbors and sort of connect with other people who are interested in the same things.
So Mara, can you talk to us a little bit about how you're approaching reporting on climate change in the Granite State for By Degrees?
So I think the core of By Degrees really is that in New England and in New Hampshire, we're living through this major transition.
You know, our environment's transitioning.
As the climate changes, our energy system is transitioning.
And through By Degrees, we're really trying to tell stories of the people who are grappling with those challenges and also exploring those solutions.
We're trying to really explain the science and the historical context of the climate, you know, and why it's changing and also how it's impacting Granite Staters lives.
But we're also just trying to connect people's information.
So answering listener questions.
You know, a lot of the the reason that we held this panel on Climate.
Solutions is because we hear from listeners all the time that they want to learn more about solutions and how they can get engaged and also, you know, holding decision makers accountable.
So really, it is connecting people with information about our climate, how it's changing this transition we're all living through together.
And there has been something interesting with a new state law that allows municipalities to set up community power programs.
So can you tell us a little bit more about that?
So this state law was passed in 2019, but the programs are just getting up and running this spring.
And these programs let municipalities buy electricity for their residents and sort of become the default energy supplier instead of the utility company.
So the utility company will still handle the poles and wires that deliver the electricity and people can switch back to the utility company at any time.
But the community power programs are planning to offer lower rates and also more options for renewable energy so people can choose to be on a default plan or bump up their plan to one with 50% or 100% renewable energy.
And so these programs are a really interesting new option.
They're launching this spring in 14 communities across the state.
And any municipality can start one.
So I've been hearing it's really helping people learn more about how our electricity system works and get more involved in their community.
It's so interesting.
Well, Mara Hoplamazian, NHPR climate reporter, thank you so much for joining me today.
Thanks so much for having me.
And thank you for joining us.
I'll see you online on The State We're In.