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Illustrations by Josh Yoder for the Sunrise Movement.
Illustrations by Josh Yoder for the Sunrise Movement.

The Green New Deal: the last chance to save our planet?

May 8, 2019

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By Millie Olson

There wasn't a climate change doubter in the room when local students representing Youth vs. Apocalypse stood up to speak at the public meeting of the Sonoma County Democratic Party on March 12th. These youth were representing generations of the future who are in danger because of choices made today. But they weren't there to forecast gloom and doom. Instead, they have a plan to fight climate change, and they are mobilizing fast to make it happen.

Said high school junior  Ani Fowler, "While many of us are well aware of WHY climate change is such a formidable issue, what isn't touched upon as often is HOW we can mitigate climate change in a way that's realistic and fair for all people. The Green New Deal provides the answer."

On Wednesday, May 15, she and other students will be the lead-off speakers at a Green New Deal Town Hall, to be held in Garrett Hall1350 Bennett Valley Road, at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, from 6:00-8:30pm, in concert with a coast-to-coast tour by Sunrise Movement, the national climate action youth movement.

Initiated by  Sonoma County Conservation Action (SCCA), the idea of a community education event about the Green New Deal has brought together a powerful alliance of local organizations committed to climate change action and social justice, including 350 Sonoma, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Jobs with Justice, Sonoma County Indivisible, the Sonoma County Democratic Party and a growing list of other local groups. It's an opportunity for all of us to learn and ask questions about this ambitious plan to combat climate change, create good jobs, and increase justice in our community.

According to  Daisy Pistey-Lyhne, Executive Director of SCCA, “As we confront the global challenge of climate change, we have the opportunity to build solutions in our local economies that grow jobs, improve our communities, protect the environment, and create justice for our most vulnerable. What better place to kickstart this than here in forward-thinking Sonoma County?”

Congressmen  Jared Huffman (District 2) and Mike Thompson (District 5) who cover Sonoma, Marin, Mendocino and Napa counties will also weigh in. Rep. Huffman was among the original 10 co-sponsors of the Green New Deal resolution introduced to Congress by  U.S. Rep.Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) in February as a framework for transitioning to a sustainable energy economy, and Rep. Thompson was among the first 30 co-sponsors.

A panel discussion will feature  Mara Ventura of Jobs for Justice, Evan Wiig of Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Daisy Pistey-Lyhne of SCAA, and local experts from Sonoma State University. A Q&A session will follow, giving members of our community the opportunity to ask questions and share their ideas for how to bring this idea into action here at home.

What would a transition to clean energy mean for jobs creation? How can we mitigate the impacts of climate change on our rural lands and water supply? What can we do to enhance our housing and transportation systems to solve climate change? How can we re-imagine a brighter future for ourselves here in Sonoma County and around the globe?

The event is one of more than 300 town halls taking place in churches, classrooms, union halls, and community centers across the country during the Sunrise Movement's national Road to a Green New Deal tour this spring. Speakers have ranged from members of Congress and local elected officials, to artists, community leaders, and everyday people working to transform local economies.

Tickets for the May 15th Town Hall are from $10-$20 each.  Students with official school IDs will be admitted free, and no one will be turned away for lack of funds. More information about the event will be available at  www.conservationaction.org/GND, or at 707-571-8566.


Millie Olson  lives in West Sonoma County and is a member of the Sonoma County Democratic Party.

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