Unicorns of the East

Posted on behalf of Tuula Perry, Team Leader, Team East

*Please note: no unicorns were harmed in the creation of these Climate Summer inside jokes.

My team has realized that we are the Unicorns of the East. In this blog post I would like to elaborate on how we realized that we are unicorns. It has made sense because our summer has been full of unicorn references. First, during our training when all four teams were together, we had something called the struggle bus; a place where climate summer riders could write down their struggles and put it in a box. Oddly enough, we were told unicorns’ tears of laughter fueled the struggle bus…and that’s all I have to say about that. Our second reference to unicorns was when Team East needed to create a ‘safety word’ that would allow us to take a step back from a difficult situation. We thought it should be a funny word or phrase that we rarely use. We decided on unicorn farts as our safety word.

The only kind of gas we should pass

The only kind of gas we should pass

Indeed, it is very important for Climate Summer riders to be silly throughout our travels because of the difficult situations we encounter at times. In addition, eating a huge amount of beans this summer, my team and I like to imagine that our farts are like rainbows (please bear with me as I get to my point).

Rachel and Jana embracing our unicorn identity

Rachel and Jana embracing our unicorn identity

Finally, in Ashburnham, our community partner, Lindsey Sundberg, explained that because all these different towns have been so excited for us to visit them, we are like unicorns. Out of all the mystical creatures that Lindsey could have compared us to, she chose unicorns, confirming that we must be the Unicorns of the East. Our new team name and identity stuck. We felt it truly reflected the positive attitude and determination of our team.

Upon further reflection, it makes complete sense why we are unicorns when you consider the impact we are making during our travels. While the Unicorns of the East are only in these different towns for short amount of time, we bring with us a lot of energy and a vision of a better future that many of the towns we have visited have expressed gratitude for. Unicorns are after all mythological creatures that people since the beginning of time have been in the search of; just like progress is something we must always continue to strive for. Furthermore, unicorns only exist because there are people who believe in them. My team finds the energy we need to keep going because of how much our community partners believe in us. I cannot express my gratitude enough to those who believe in what we are doing. We are even more grateful for everyone who not only believes that a better future is possible but are also committed to working towards it with us. If you are still on the fence about the difference we can make, I can assure you that there rainbows at the end of this fight for justice. All we need is to ban together, to believe that we can stop the pipeline and to have fun along the way!

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La Historia de Rosa – Rosa’s Story

by Rosa Gonzalez, volunteer for Neighbor to Neighbor Holyoke

Translated from Spanish to English by Ben Weilerstein – please forgive or offer correction to any mistakes in translation – for the original Spanish, scroll down

Traducido del español al ingles por Ben Weilerstein – favor perdone o dé correción si encuentre error – siga abajo por el original en español

So I’ll begin by telling you that I am from Puerto Rico. I was a single mother because the father of my children abandoned us. The reason I came to Massachusetts is because there were huge downpours in Puerto Rico that flooded into my apartment and I lost everything. And for that reason I came to Massachusetts. Here I got onto welfare for one year but after a month of being here, welfare obtained a job for me and they added an intensive bonus to my check, and they gave me food stamps. After a year I only had my job and coupons (food stamps?) and at times I was working three jobs in order to sustain my children. In 2001, I met my husband and we married. After that, I continued working two jobs.

The Climate Summer riders helped me make this meme about our fight for clean air.

The Climate Summer riders helped me make this meme about our fight for clean air.

And when I was laid off, I participated in Neighbor to Neighbor’s programs. I would make calls from my house in my free time. When the company closed, I dedicated more time to Neighbor to Neighbor. Later, I was undergoing a difficult situation because I was laid-off, and I had finished studying and working in a kitchen and also as a dressmaker. So I began to volunteer a couple of hours and thus I continued until I was in charge of office duties.

check out the Neighbor to Neighbor website for updates on our work

escrito por Rosa Gonzalez, voluntario con Vecino a Vecino en Holyoke

Pues empiezo a informarte que yo soy de Puerto Rico. Fui madre soltera por que el padre de mis hijos nos abandonó. La razón que vine a Massachusetts es que en Puerto Rico hubieron grandes lluvias y entraron dentro del apartamento y yo lo perdí todo. Y por tal razón yo vine a Massachusetts. Acá yo cogí welfare for one year. Pero al mes de estar acá el welfare me consiguió trabajo y ellos me daban un intensivo extra a mi cheque y me daban food stamp. Después del year solamente tenía mi trabajo y cupones y a veces tenía tres trabajos para mantener mis hijos. En 2001 conocí a mi esposo y nos casamos. Luego de eso yo seguía trabajando con dos trabajos.

Yo y Dominic, nieto mio.

Yo y Dominic, nieto mio.

Y cuando estaba en lay-off yo participaba en actividades de Vecino a Vecino. Y desde mi casa hacía llamadas en mi tiempo libre. Y luego que the company cerró le dedicaba más tiempo a Vecino a Vecino. Luego Vecino a Vecino estaba pasando una situación difícil que dieron lay-off y como yo había terminado de estudiar y trabajado en cocina y costura y me enferme de asma. Entonces me puse a hacer par de horas voluntarias y así seguí hasta que estaba encargada de oficina.

visita el sitio de Red de Vecino a Vecino para noticias de las campañas

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Solidarity with South Portland

Posted on behalf of Abbie Goldberg, Video Coordinator for Team North Shore

I usually don’t wait very long in a conversation to bring up the fact that I’m from Maine. In some ways my pride doesn’t make sense– I hate the cold, I don’t eat lobster, I don’t shop at L.L. Bean and no, I don’t live anywhere near Acadia. But still, I can’t help it. I’m called to the mountains and the stars and the Androscoggin river and the town where not only do you run into everyone you know at the grocery store, but you see them all again half an hour later on top of Rumford Whitecap picking blueberries. As much as I love being in Boston, Maine is a huge part of my identity, more so than I realized when I left.

Abbie on top on Mt. Moosilauke in nearby New Hampshire.

Abbie on top on Mt. Moosilauke in nearby New Hampshire.

So having already been thinking about climate change and fossil fuel infrastructure for a while, I was particularly upset to hear about a proposed tar sands project in my own little town of Bethel. The proposal would reverse the flow of the Portland-Montreal pipeline that currently carries crude oil from Maine to Canada to carry tar sands from Canada from Maine. The project is bad for a number of reasons (shocker). Without getting into too many details, it would lock us into further emissions, it would almost certainly lead to a catastrophic spill what with this pipeline being around 60 years old and tar sands being extremely corrosive as well as nearly impossible to clean up, and the extraction of tar sands is unbelievably destructive to the Boreal forest and indigenous communities in Canada.

Abbie in Helen’s backyard in “Nowheresville, Maine” aka Bethel. Representatives from Exxon came here to scout out the site.

One of the scariest parts of watching this fight has been seeing how effectively these big oil companies can spread misinformation and confusion among communities who have nothing to gain and everything to lose. Last year Bethel voted through a resolution saying we didn’t want tar sands coming through our town. A few months later I sat in at a town meeting where a big oil representative took the time to inform my 1,900 person town in nowheresville Maine that no such project was being pursued but if it were, he’d want our support. We revoked the resolution and since then there have been reports of these oil industry workers showing up along the pipeline—in my friend Helen’s yard, on the ski trails, just “checking on things”.

Small town politics aside, the real linchpin of the fight probably lies in South Portland. Last November Portland voted down the Waterfront Protection Ordinance which would have prevented the loading of tar sands onto boats, effectively killing the project, on the grounds that the ordinance, despite being incredibly narrow, would have hurt South Portland businesses. It probably had nothing to do with Exxon spending $135 per vote, more than Obama and Romney combined on this election. Because the majority of South Portland was (and is) against tar sands (they were just also against the ordinance) a 6 month moratorium on tar sands was imposed and in that time a small, unbiased committee has been drafting a new ordinance called Clear Skies which will be voted on July 21.

A recent Portland City Council meeting on whether or not to put the Clear Skies Ordinance to a pass. Opponents to the ordinance wear red, while supporters wear blue. The meeting had to be rescheduled because the first time they tried to meet opponents showed up early and took all the seats, preventing many Portland residents from entering. The city council voted 6-1 in favor of the ordinance, which will go to a public vote on July 21st. Photograph taken by 350 Maine.

To be honest, it’s hard to be fully present here at Climate Summer biking through the North Shore knowing all this is going on so close to home. To be honest one of the reasons I decided to do climate summer was because I thought I would be in Maine. I’m scared for our water, for the devastation further tar sands development would cause, that communities will not find their own strength, that they’ll be bought out and not know they have to. I’m scared that the lust for profit will triumph over truth. I’m scared and I’m angry because I know when it comes to tar sands, people are suffering at every point of production; extraction, transportation, consumption, all of it. And I’m too far away to be a part of the fight. I miss the mountains.

I miss the mountains, but what I’ve realized is this: in my little valley, what’s beautiful isn’t any mountain alone, it’s the whole range. It’s the entire circle of them, standing strong together. So often I’ve heard that any given tactic is ineffective be it divestment, or the Keystone pipeline. We’re not in this fight to stop any one project and then go rest on our fair trade, local, organic laurels, we’re here because we oppose all new fossil fuel infrastructure. Period. We’re here because what happens in Salem with the gas plant affects Maine, it affects Canada, it affects fracking sites in Pennsylvania and New York and beyond. In the fight for a livable climate and against destructive, dangerous bottom of the barrel, energy extraction our fates are all wrapped together. We have a responsibility to one another to stand strong against the projects near us not only for what they are, but also what they represent. We must stand up against the entire industry built upon the exploitation of living beings without consideration for long-term health and safety.

Abbie standing strong with the North Shore team of Climate Summer rider.

Abbie standing strong with the North Shore team of Climate Summer rider.

I am scared for my home, but I also have enormous amounts of trust, appreciation and total love for the people doing this work in Maine, like Kendall Mackey from Energy Action Coalition and Shaun, who was a climate summer rider last year and who live texted me quotes from the first city council vote. The times I am most scared are the times I have forgotten that I am part of something so much bigger than myself and I don’t have to do any of this alone. The community in Portland is vibrant and strong—just like the community in Salem that fought off the coal plant and the community in Ipswich where I am this week, where I’ve been inspired by their water conservation efforts and extensive composting program. There are people fighting everywhere. To me, that’s the meaning of solidarity: recognizing that our lives are interconnected and knowing that we’ll do everything in our power not to let each other down. It means loving each other and honoring our stories and our triumphs and our strength. I am prepared to commit myself to the North Shore because, like Maine, it is a part of the massive struggle to shift our entire economy away from fossil fuels. No piece is a silver bullet, we don’t expect them to be, but between all of them we’ve built a movement.  I stand in solidarity with Portland because I oppose all new infrastructure projects. We’re doing everything we can, every tactic we think of that will help us us get to that vision of a just and sustainable world. This movement is more than the individual mountains we’ll climb; it’s the whole mountain range, in all its glory

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What Intersectionality Means to Me

by Stephen O’Hanlon, Public Narrative Coordinator for the Western MA team
- siga abajo para el español -

After being warmly welcomed to town by the United Congregational Church of Holyoke the night before, we set off on foot on Monday morning to the Holyoke Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) office. Once there, Carlos and Lena, long-time organizers with the group, talked to us about N2N’s history and current campaigns. In coalition with other groups, they have recently won two huge victories – scheduling the closure of the Mt. Tom coal plant in Holyoke and raising the state minimum wage to $11 per hour.

Carlos and I planning an event and laughing in the N2N office.

I listen to Carlos as he told us about his background and his work with N2N.

Throughout the week, we helped N2N spread awareness of Mt. Tom’s successful closure, shared some of the social media skills we learned during Climate Summer training, and helped them transition to the next stage in their campaign – ensuring that the plant’s owner, GDF-Suez, provides a “generous transition” to the plant’s workers and the city of Holyoke. That transition includes hiring local workers to clean up the coal ash and other pollution around the plant and giving current workers the training and skills they will need to be competitive in the job market when it comes time to find another job.

I helped Carlos make this meme to celebrate the successful minimum wage raise.

I helped Carlos make this meme to celebrate the successful minimum wage raise.

Unlike most of the towns in which we are working this summer, Holyoke is a working class city with a large Puerto Rican population. N2N is a different type of organization as well. They intentionally focus their campaigns where different forms of oppression intersect and aim to ameliorate multiple types of injustices. For me, seeing N2N’s take on environmental justice organizing was incredibly insightful because I have never been part of work that is heavily centered around this type of intersectional organizing. One thing that N2N reinforced for me is how organizations really need to commit themselves fully to to doing intersectional work. That means more than showing up to rallies or re-tweeting other groups’ posts, but choosing to work on campaigns that tackle these issues from multiple perspectives. For instance, N2N did not move on after closing the Mt. Tom coal plant, but rather they recognized that the community surrounding the plant and those working in the plant deserved a generous transition away from coal. Even though they have successfully scheduled Mt. Tom’s closure, they still are organizing to pressure GDF-Suez to provide a generous transition.

Working in Holyoke also reminded me of the privilege I have to be here working with Climate Summer and working on climate justice issues more generally. My middle-class, white community has the privilege not to suffer from asthma due to a coal plant. N2N members like Carlos are very aware of the risks of climate change and are probably just as worried as I am about the effects it will have on the world. Carlos mentioned multiple times how his home country of Puerto Rico is already feeling the effects of climate change and rising sea levels. However, Carlos lives in a community that suffers from disproportionately high rates of asthma and where many people live paycheck to paycheck on minimum wage jobs. Many people don’t have the privilege that I have to be able to focus on ‘big picture’ campaigns like fossil fuel divestment or to organize full-time through a program like Climate Summer. If we want to create a powerful movement that professes to be working for climate justice (and for the survival of humanity as we know), we need to take more steps to challenge ourselves to be genuinely intersectional and engage a broader cross-section of the population.

Después de entrar en Holyoke y estar recibido por elUnited Congregational Church of Holyoke, fuimos el lunes por la mañana a la oficina de Vecino a Vecino Holyoke. Al llegar, Carlos y Lena, organizadores experimentados con la organización nos explicaron sobre la historia de Vecino a Vecino y su campañas presentes. Como parte de coalicion de otras organizaciones, recien logró dos éxitos: aseguró que la planta de carbón en Holyoke Mt. Tom va a cerrar y elevó el salario minimo en Massachusetts a $11.

Carlos and I planning an event and laughing in the N2N office.

Escucho a Carlos contarme su historia y como se hizo involucrado con N2N.

Durante la semana, ayudabamos a Vecino A Vecino informar el público sobre su éxito con la terminacion de la planta, compartíamos algunas habilidades de los medios comunicación social que habíamos aprendido en el entrenamiento de Climate Summer, y le apoyaban avanzar a la parte próxima de su campaña – asegurar que el dueño de la planta, GDF-Suez, da “transición generosa” a los trabajadores de la planta y a la ciudad de Holyoke. Esa transición incluye el emplear de trabajadores locales para limpiar la ceniza de carbón y otra polución en el sitio de la planta y dar entrenamiento y habilidades nuevas a los trabajadores que hoy estan para que puedan conseguir trabajos nuevos.


Diferente a la mayoría de los pueblos en los que trabajamos este verano, Holyoke es una ciudad de puertorriqueños y de la clase de empleados. Además, Vecino a Vecino es organización diferente. Se enfoca sus campañas en la intersección de múltiples formas de opresión y esperan mejorar múltiples casos de injusticia. De antes no tenía parte en organizacion que se centro en esta intersección, y por eso era muy poderoso e informativo ver la campaña de justicia ambiental de Vecino a Vecino. Vecino a Vecino dejó en claro para mi la importancia de este trabajo interseccional. Es más de asistir las demostraciones y compartir los anuncios de otras causas, que se elija trabajar en campañas que se enfrenta cualquier asunto con una variedad de perspectivas. Por ejemplo, Vecino a Vecino no siguió adelante después de cerrar la planta, sino puso su esfuerzo en obtener la transición generosa que merecían los trabajadores de la planta y la comunidad alrededor de ella.

Este esfuerzo en Holyoke también me recordó del privilegio que me permite estar con Climate Summer y trabajar más generalmente en los asuntos de justicia con respecto al cambio climático. Mi comunidad blanca y de la media clase tiene el privilegio de no sufrir el asma debido a ninguna planta de carbón. Miembros de N2N como Carlos son muy conscientes de los riesgos del cambio climático y probablemente son tan preocupados como yo sobre los efectos que tendrá en el mundo. Carlos mencionó muchas veces como su patria Puerto Rico ya sufría los efectos de cambio climático y el nivel oceánico subiendo. Sin embargo, Carlos vive en comunidad que sufre frecuencia de asma desproporcionadamente elevado y en que la mayoría de la gente tiene trabajos de salario mínimo. Muchas personas no tienen el privilegio de enfocarse en campañas con estrategias grandes e indirectas como el despojo financiero que yo tengo de combustibles fósiles ni de organizar por programa como Climate Summer. Si queremos crear un movimiento poderoso que de verdad se esfuerza por justicia climática (y la supervivencia de humanidad como se conoce), es necesario que nos desafiemos ser más interseccional y conectar con poblaciones más diversas.

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Meeting with the Mayor

Posted on behalf of Luke Sherman, Public Narrative Coordinator, Team For the MASSes.

After several phone calls, two impromptu appearances at City Hall, and an appeal via the radio, we finally have scheduled a meeting with Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter! Earlier this year, Mayor Carpenter extended an official invitation to two fellow activists

Alissa and Luke rejoice after getting a meeting with Mayor Carpenter of the city of Brockton.

Alissa and Luke rejoice after getting a meeting with Mayor Carpenter of the city of Brockton.

to discuss the proposed construction of a new gas­-fired plant here in Brockton, and we were determined to take him up on his offer. For the ten days we were in Brockton, we talked a lot with community members who oppose the plant. They’ve cited numerous reasons for which they are opposed to the project, ranging from the risk to people’s health through the inhalation of the pollutants the plant would emit into the air, to the danger of explosions that natural gas poses to localities where combustion takes place. Other community members with whom we’ve spoken have also lamented that the city is seeking to further our state’s dependency on fossil fuels in spite of the grave risk that these fuels pose to climate change.

We’ve been interviewing these people, and we’ve recorded many of their testimonies on video. We plan on showing them to Mayor Carpenter so that he understands just how deep the power plant’s opposition runs. We want him to understand that, if built, this 350 megawatt gas-fired facility would, in the eyes of Brockton’s residents, severely harm Brockton. Mayor Carpenter, we can’t wait to see you on August 7th at 4 p.m.

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Stoicism and Climate Summer

Posted on behalf of Gonzalo “Zalo” Crivelli, Video Coordinator, Team East

Stoicism is a philosophy originating in ancient Greece and later adopted by many ancient Romans, including Marcus Aurelius, the last of the Five Good [Roman] Emperors. It is a way of thinking and living that focuses on maximizing joy while minimizing negative emotions and life events: anger, fear, grief, loneliness, annoyance, being insulted, being exiled, aging, and dying. Practicing stoics use different strategies to make stressful situations into manageable opportunities to learn. For example, one maxim of Stoicism is: it could always be worse.

biking in rain

Tuula biking in rain? At least it’s not hail!

Throughout Climate Summer I have had many chances to put “it could always be worse” into practice. When our team, Team East, found ourselves at the end of our 40 mile bike ride to Ashby with a snapped bicycle chain, a snapped chain breaker, a heavy downpour all around us, and thunder and lightning booming louder and louder, I started thinking of ways our situation could be worse. A man shielded us from the rain by opening his garage-he didn’t have to do that. A bicycle chain is an inexpensive part of a bicycle to repair or replace-a rim could’ve been crushed. Nobody fell off their bicycles even if the roads were slippery enough for that to happen. Nobody was struck by lightning even when we were briefly in a lightning storm. Our bodies are waterproof and the water was refreshing after peddling for 37 miles. It was a balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit-it could’ve been an icy 20 degrees.

Suddenly the bicycle ride through a storm didn’t seem so unmanageable to me. Tuula and Nicholas, the team members that I took shelter with in the garage, seemed to think so as well. After a few minutes under the roof of the garage, Tuula and I strapped on our bicycle helmets, hopped on our soaked saddles, and peddled the last 3 miles to the Ashby church; Nicholas heartily running along with us, pushing Tuula’s 80 pound trailer. We sang, we made jokes, laughed at our misadventure, and listened to the soundtrack of Epic Battle Music blasting from my phone’s speakers. Not a bad way to handle a broken down bike in a storm.

Another strategy of Stoicism that has come in handy during Climate Summer is the Trichotomy of Control and the Goal Internalizaion. The Trichotomy of Control states that there are some factors you can’t control at all, like whether it’ll rain or shine; that there are some factors that you have only some control over, like how long you can ride your bicycle without a break; and there are some factors you can control fully (or close to it), like how you react to a canvasee telling you you’re wrong curtly or without evidence. Additionally, with the factors you have only some control over, you use Goal Internalization. For example, instead of thinking: “I’m going to ride my bike for 20 miles non-stop,” you think “I’m going to try my best to ride my bike for 20 miles non-stop.” That way, if you find yourself unable to continue peddling after mile 15, you still succeeded in your goal. “I tried my best and biked 15 miles” makes me significantly happier than “I failed to bike 5 more miles”.

Going back to the broken bicycle chain in our trek to Ashby, when I was hunched over in the rain beside Nicholas’s upside-down bicycle, I thought to myself: “I’m going to try my best to fit these extra chain links on Nicholas’s bike chain, even if it is raining and there’s time pressure to get out of the storm (two factors that were out of my control).” Unfortunately, since the extra chain links were surplus that came with my bike chain, the pin’s diameter was too large to fit into the outer and inner plates of Nicholas’s chain-a lesson learned with a broken chain breaker. Broken chain breaker in hand, I succeeded in trying my best to fix the chain considering the improper parts and poor weather and didn’t beat myself up for not being able to fix it. Instead, I chose to learn to always carry proper sized spare links, a spare chain breaker pin, and to have a plan B or even C.

Trying our best to raise awareness at a lemonade stand

Trying our best to raise awareness at a lemonade stand

Often times, whether we are joyful or not in life has not only to do with what is happening around us, but how we process the information. If you’re trying to organize a Pipeline Awareness meeting in your town or cycling to buy groceries for the first time, try internalizing your goals. Keep in mind the factors you can and can’t control, and if something unexpected happens, which will probably happen, think of the silver lining.

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Nuestras Raices Farm Tour – Video Post!

Team #WestMass toured the Nuestras Raices farm, an exciting place that promotes deep ties to culture and history, a healthy, organic, local and just economic food structure, and provides a strong community for the people of Holyoke. In their own words: “Nuestras Raíces is a grassroots urban agriculture organization based in Holyoke MA. Our mission is to create healthy environments, celebrate ‘agri-culture,’ harness our collective energy, and to advance our vision of a just and sustainable future.”

We had a fun time helping out at this amazing place!

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Lessons from Canvassing

Posted on behalf of Kelly Chen, Media Coordinator for the North Shore Team

This summer is a summer of firsts – firsts in tabling at farmer’s markets, biking tens of miles, sleeping in churches, and now, canvassing, in the name of Climate Summer. A month ago, I walked absentmindedly past a person clad in a bright yellow shirt. One hand reached towards me with a flyer, the other with a pen – but those I ignored in a rush to my destination. I empathized with her, and other people canvassing on the streets of Boston – I knew it could be awkward and uncomfortable on their end, and discouraging to hold onto the same flyer if no one bothered to take it. After standing on sidewalks and train stations, wearing an orange and equally bright shirt, with flyers and postcards in hand, I can say that those predictions are true. I did feel like an awkward teenager at points. It was uncomfortable to feel like an intrusion on someone’s day. And it was discouraging to be completely ignored by a few folks.

Ariel holding the flag and canvassing at the fireworks.

Ariel holding the flag and canvassing at the fireworks.

But it also was empowering to be able to move past those feelings, and from negative interactions, to a completely new person and to start again. It felt good to find again that approaching strangers wasn’t too bad and no different than talking to someone new at college. And it was a good surprise to share our message and to find a sympathetic ear on the other end. When my team canvassed at the Derby Wharf Fourth of July celebration, having a flag painted with our values made the job a lot easier. People were visually interested, and confused too at first, about our flag. Their slowing down to read the words we had written gave us the perfect opportunity to start a conversation. Here on the North Shore, my teammates and I have sometimes questioned our role in this movement, questioning what exactly it is that we are doing and whether that is useful. I still am not too sure. I’m still not too sure that canvassing is the most effective thing we could be doing. But in our goal to do everything that we can, canvassing does seem to have its place. I’ve already realized the power of connection and stories and chance encounters, and canvassing brings those all together.

Kelly looking professional- she's a pro at switching from sweaty biker to sleek media coordinator.

Kelly looking professional- she’s a pro at switching from sweaty biker to sleek media coordinator.

This also draws me back to my last blog post about changes in perception. This is a summer of gaining new perspectives about the same topic. Shifting from being the person a canvasser tried to engage to the canvasser, from a bystander to an active member, has made me anticipate how I’ll act the next time I see someone standing on a sidewalk with a flyer. Well, it’s definitely not my favorite thing to do yet, but I don’t dislike it, and I think it is a good life experience.

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Ashby Resident Speaks Out about Pipeline Project

Posted on Behalf of Deb O’Hanlon, Ashby resident, Photos taken by Deborah O’Hanlon

I am a property owner in North Central Massachusetts whose property is currently targeted in a route for a pipeline proposed by Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan.

deb image

Ashby, a Maple tree-lined drive

We own 30 acres in Ashby, MA, that abuts Willard Brook Forest. We have preserved this land by not developing it, putting it in Chapter 61 for 10 years, and have done everything we could to keep it pristine and organic land.   Having ancestors who broke ground in Ohio in the 1840′s and farmed it until they died; and having grown up on a large farm in upstate New York, I have an appreciation for land and forests. This pipeline will not only affect the pristine and organic nature of the land we own and the region we have come to love, but will also affect our property value. I am a real estate agent, and I know that having a pipeline run through an area will decrease the value of the whole region’s properties. Buyers will be cautious about moving to an area that could have many miles of chemicals used to keep brush cleared, with the potential for gas leaks, sound pollution from the pumping stations, and potential for gas explosions in a forested area. We are heading towards retirement one of these years, and if we lose a considerable amount of value in the land, it will gravely affect us. More so, this is an economically depressed area and no new permanent jobs will be created by this project and certainly our already low property values will only go lower.

If I wasn’t an affected property owner or real estate agent, I would have still gotten involved. I have an engineering background and have been interested to read and know more about the fracking process. This process is creating environmental disaster areas, wasting water, polluting with chemicals, and potentially wrecking important water aquifers. By allowing natural gas pipelines that bring fracked gas to Massachusetts, we’re condoning these disasters by providing the companies with outlets to transport and to sell their gas.

deb image butterfly

Monarch Butterfly by a pristine pond

deb image bee

Bumble Bee on Echinacea








As I drive around my region, I see a lot of solar panels and some wind turbines. I’m proud that my region is taking sustainable energy seriously, and proud that my state has supported incentives for sustainable energy technology. That is our future, not natural gas, which by the way, is not much less polluting than burning oil. I am not against progress. In fact if a solar or wind turbine company wanted to gain easements on my property to build sustainable energy sources, I would allow it. But a natural gas pipeline, blasted and drilled into the ledge landscape and maintained with dangerous chemicals, is totally unacceptable. And I’m joining with others to fight it.

Comment if you too are affected by this pipeline!!!

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Biking in the Rain

Posted on behalf of Rachel Eckles, Media Coordinator, Team East

Over the past few weeks, Team East’s adventures have included a lot of wrong turns, bike mechanical issues, thunderstorms, and ke-kawing (our team’s form of communication while on the road). Despite everything that goes wrong, I’m amazed by my teammates’ ability to remain calm and stay positive. After we went 20 miles the wrong way on our first day, I couldn’t believe how relaxed everyone was. They all just accepted it and turned their bikes around. Meanwhile I tried to keep a calm front while on the inside I was stressing like crazy. I learned a meaningful lesson from my teammates that day. I learned that things will always go wrong and there is nothing you can really do about that. Therefore, it’s better to just turn your bike around and keep on pedaling.

chain break

Team East staying positive!

On one of our rides, it rained the entire time. I thought to myself, “great, this is going to be awful.” But then it turned out to be one of my favorite rides ever. I didn’t mind when I got a flat or when we had to fix Nicholas’ chain twice. It didn’t even bother me that I was soaked from head to toe. Being able to ride through the shimmering, green forests with the sound of rain all around brought a genuine since of peace inside of me. And now, I love biking in the rain, especially when it’s with my incredible solid and supportive team.
I look at humanity, specifically in the United States, and how much we complain about everything. Then I wonder what could come from everyone being just a little bit more positive. Would problems go away? Most likely not, but I like to think that people would get less caught up in their own issues to focus on the bigger picture.

In the spring of this year, 22 college students set aside their own issues and problems and decided to dedicate their summer to the bigger picture. By being here at Climate Summer,we are showing that young people like ourselves have a unique opportunity to let go of the aspects of life that can consume us when we are older- such as paying bills and supporting our families- in order to do something that will impact communities outside of our own. We are very fortunate to not have to sweat the small stuff. This is not to say that someone who is not a college student can’t join in the movement. I have met so many people who are doing everything in their ability to stop this pipeline. The way they do this is by keeping positive and keeping calm when they hit a bump. I am in no place to say that you should drop what you’re doing to dedicate your time to stopping the pipeline but I do think that upon personal reflection, you might find there is always space to work on what you are passionate about.

It’s time we ditched the umbrellas, got our shoes a little muddy, and welcomed the rainstorms.

Posted in 2014, Team East, Team Massachusetts | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment