Fighting Climate Change For My Daughter: Rachel Dawn Davis


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As we recounted in an earlier post, September 2012 is “ground zero” for activists on climate change around the United States; from fracking events in PA, NJ, NYC and Albany, to stand-offs over the keystone pipeline in Texas and a re-ignition of the Occupy Movement around the country, activists are not only being seen, but are also demanding to be heard.

Join us as we hear from a longtime ClimateMama colleague and friend, Rachel Dawn Davis, who reminds us that we as parents NEED to speak up loudly for our communities, our children, and ourselves and get ACTIVE now! We need to fight like “mama bears” protecting our cubs against the greed and corruption we see around us; we need to stop playing partisan games and stand up together for our children. Rachel holds nothing back in her post and shares an amazing array of links and resources with us. So grab the kids in your life, middle school and up and give Rachel your undivided attention; share Rachel’s story and her fight for all of our children – be inspired – inspire others…

Thanks Rachel…for waking us up!

CALLING ALL GUARDIANS, Guest Post by Rachel Dawn Davis

Used with permission

As a brand new mom, this activism thing I’ve been chipping away at has quickly become more up close and personal than ever and any patience I had for waiting longer for major change is now nonexistent. Parental activism must be a full time endeavor.

Without the spectacle 24 hours news cycle, citizens of this country would have ample time to lend attention to the real dealings affecting our lives and the lives of our children. These dealings involve a few wealthy people drunk with greed, incessantly bidding to dupe the majority into believing their votes count. The wealthy minority keep these masses misinformed, stuck in a tailspin of false information, disenfranchised. Redistricting, voter suppression, and election rigging are just some ways progress continues to be curbed.

With money in over 150 universities, dictating what can and cannot be taught, money in Congress pushing pipelines and deforestation, money in AstroTurf lobbying securing a facade of public support for ideological policies-the Koch Brothers are what 350.org Founder Bill McKibben calls: “Oil personified.”[1] The Koch’s have invested $500,000 in members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee[2] to strong arm the EPA rendering it incapable of protecting our habitat or public health. To promote their extremist agenda, front groups like Americans for Prosperity, with chapters in 34 states, and the American Legislative Exchange Council are given undisclosed resources to create misinformation campaigns and templates for right-stripping legislation. Some of us know these facts, but too many of us do not.

Through actual truth, not truthiness, we are empowered to drop everything and get organized. We need to invest in educating ourselves in civics, social change, and, most importantly, in building an alternative lifestyle together. When and only when parents and guardians understand organizing not in terms of “legislation and policies, elections and appointments, current issues or party platforms”[3] and “see the activity of organizing as something even more central and fundamental and radical…culture work”[4] we will see tangible results.

Used with permission

We can’t let silo-ed coalitions continue, ill equipped, muddling along failing to produce tangible progress. Parents and guardians have a non-partisan captive audience: each other and our children. Economic force is all the powers that be pay attention to. By taking collective actions to put our money where our mouths are, we will forge ahead forcefully.

MY STORY:
After 4 years without a car, last August I quickly got over my fear of moving vehicles and bad drivers to come to Trenton to advocate for legislation that would ban hydraulic-fracturing from coming to New Jersey. I drove in the pouring rain to the capitol to ultimately witness Governor Christie issue a conditional veto of New Jersey’s Fracking Ban bill. The Governor placed, “a one-year moratorium on fracking so that the DEP can further evaluate the potential environmental impacts of this practice in New Jersey as well as evaluate the findings of still outstanding and ongoing federal studies.” Understanding this to be a political move rooted solely in the Governor’s self-interests, I quickly grew unimpressed and impatient.

Last September I hauled ass to help surround Philadelphia’s convention center, where inside the Shale Gas Insight conference was being held by top industry leaders and Governor Corbett via the Marcellus Shale Coalition, to advocate for the banning of hydraulic-fracturing in the northeast. I arrived at Shale Gas Outrage 2011 courtesy of Food & Water Watch’s Eastern Region Director, Jim Walsh. While recording the AM press conference as Jim prepped for the rally, I soaked in personal stories from PA residents like Dr. Stephen Cleghorn, Craig and Julie Sautner, Susan Breese, and Josh Fox that brought me to tears, but it was my encounter with Alex Lotorto that caused my deep relationship to the Delaware River and Pennsylvania land to weigh heavy in my gut. Alex grew up in a place very close to where I spent my summers jumping in water holes, playing/making music, walking the woods, falling in love, learning, growing up. He’s what we used to call a “townie.” The thought of that land being tampered with in any way compels me to get with others and protect it at all costs. After getting petition signatures at the rally, I outwardly teetered as to whether or not I should bring children into this world. Before a Blessing the Waters ceremony, Rabbi Melissa Klein pushed me to realize the duty activists and advocates have to shift the power balance now and into the future. At the conference the following day, Dr. Sandra Steingraber sold me Raising Elijah while echoing the Rabbi’s nudge.

Countless tabling events, speaking engagements, and upwards of 20 screenings of GASLAND later, I continue to witness firsthand the sheer gravity of our non-democracy. The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) was formed under John F. Kennedy as the first federal body to oversee a River Basin. Comprised of the gubernatorial representatives of NY, NJ, DE, and PA as well as a federal representative from the Army Corps of Engineers, its mission includes: “oversight of the basin’s water quality and sources of pollution, ground and surface water quantity, water demands, withdrawals, allocations, conservation, protected areas and drought management.” With that, the DRBC strayed so far from this that they moved the vote to coincide with Thanksgiving to derail public attendance and they opted not to

Photo Credit: Rachel Dawn Davis, Shale Gas Outrage '11

hold a vote on draft regulations that could have disallowed the fracking industry from engaging in self-monitored activities relating to fracking. Seen by some as a small win for the fracking ban movement (farmers, landowners, activists, experts, concerned citizens, and artists), it seemed the realization that we unequivocally must work toward achieving a real representative constitutionality. At the November rally in Trenton, the day said vote was to take place, Mark Ruffalo assured me, “you have to celebrate winning battles like these.” While I appreciate his sentiments, I’m so fucking sick of war. If you are too, let’s reject the status quo and change our culture together for real. We not only “‘have to be ready to lie in front of the trucks.’” (Raising Elijah) We have to be dedicated to speak up in our communities, all the time.

4 Things My Family is Doing NOW:
1. Mobilizing our community -We’ve been recruiting others to accompany us on a bus to Shale Gas Outrage 2012 on September 20, 2012 to publicly demonstrate our opposition to further falsified science intended to back asinine policies to drill for natural gas we do not need.
2. Supporting our local farmer- This season we didn’t have to worry when a cantaloupe crop when awry and I get to swap stories about new motherhood with my farmer, Samantha Jany, and our mutual yearn for a year round CSA offering (Greenhouses aren’t cheap!).
3. Investing in renewable energy-We are now purchasing power from a supplier that buys renewable energy on the wholesale market.
4. Supporting organizations doing great advocacy work-Some are: Mother Jones, Mark Fiore’s cartoons, 350.org, CForward, Food & Water Watch, The iMatter Movement, Climate Ride, TruthOut.org, FlackCheck.org

Rachel Dawn Davis is a Teaneck, New Jersey native, activist and entrepreneur who holds a B.A. in Economics from Rutgers University and a M.S. in Sustainability Management from The New School for Public Engagement. Rachel also became a mother for the first time in the summer of 2012.

[1] http://www.kochbrothersexposed.com/
[2] Ibid.
[3] Gecan, M. (2002). Going public. Boston: BeaconPress.
[4] Ibid.

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4 Responses to Fighting Climate Change For My Daughter: Rachel Dawn Davis

  1. Boris Kofman says:

    An inspiring piece, Rachel Dawn!

  2. Jean-Marie Donohue says:

    Go Rachel!!!

  3. Rachel,
    Thoughtful, brave and committed.
    I agree, Go Rachel.

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