Highlights from the Archive!

When people are applying to Climate Summer (and then preparing for the experience), there are so many questions about what exactly the riders can expect to be doing all summer. These questions are best summed up as “describe a typical day.” As the 6th summer of the program draws near, a concise answer to this question still eludes us all (staff, veterans of the program, and community partners).

Team New Hampshire (2012)

Team New Hampshire (2012) Left to Right: Ann, Olivia, Anna, Morgan, Hilary

While this can be frustrating for applicants, I think that the diversity of experience team-by-team and day-to-day is a fundamental strength of Climate Summer. Each year, our community and state-level partners and their organizing campaigns shape the work of each team. The actual composition of each team also creates a new and unique mix of personalities, skills, and interests that necessarily shapes the way the team engages the work.

I just re-read a post written by Anna Larson, New Media Coordinator of the 2012 New Hampshire Team (linked below). Anna’s reflection, titled “Balancing Self Sufficiency with Our Interconnectedness,” may not satisfy your desire for certainty, but I do think she sheds some light on the value of the journey together into the uncertainty of a work plan that begins with a broad outline and is only made concrete by the people doing the work. Anna’s post is mostly about what she was learning and how her understanding of her own place in the world was changing.

Stay tuned for more highlights from the archive that focus on specific work in specific places. Also, get ready for a summer of new content! Climate Summer 2014 riders will start blogging soon!

Read Anna’s blog post here:


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And Finally, the Ten-Week Roundup

Written with love by Team Maine
August 16th, 2013

Yep, we're using another shot from this series (can't help that it was a perfect day for  some picturesque posin')

Yep, we’re using another shot from this series (it was a perfect day for some picturesque posing)

Best moment: The First Friday Art Walk in Portland – talking to people who would have never known about the issue of tar sands, and combining interactive art with climate change awareness
Worst moment: Running into Elena because her rain jacket got caught in her chain (totally destroying my wheel in the process)
Advice: Don’t worry if your team doesn’t gel right away, because things will work out in the end.
Favorite quote: “Hey guys, I just velcroed a granola bar to my handlebars!” -Janice
Biggest accomplishment: Going from barely talking to each other to always hanging out together.

Best moment: Getting to Barnstable and biking 350 miles in the last week alone
Worst moment: When you realize you have 50 miles to go and its 2:30 in the afternoon
Favorite quote: “Hey, can you toss me that knife?” – Janice
Lesson learned: Rain jackets don’t work in a deluge (or possibly ever).
Advice: When on the road, everything that can possibly go wrong, will go wrong.
Biggest accomplishment: Going from walking up hills to having no trouble pulling the trailer

Best moment: Realizing Team Maine operates like its own special family
“Worst” moment: Being on the road well after sunset and having to caterpillar ride (following closely together going 3 mph up and downhill due to limited vision) from Auburn to Augusta
Worst moment: Being on the bridge in Portsmouth that the policeman put us on a closed off walkway that was 2 feet wide and hitting two more obstacles that we had to lift everything over
Favorite quote: “Garrett, stop licking yourself!” (said by Elena on an exceptionally hot [and sweaty, salty] day)
Lesson learned: Bob Shaw’s house in Belfast is not the place to be if you’re allergic to cats (HE HAS FIVE!)
Something you’d change: My team doesn’t shower enough…
Advice: People born and raised in Maine adamantly call themselves Mainers. Talk to them about this, it’s a sure-fire conversation starter.
Biggest accomplishment: No longer having to say that I physically peaked in high school

Best moment: Team picnic in Belfast overlooking the water
Worst moment: Leaving the hummus in the fridge
Favorite quote: “Guys, I biked 1,000 miles. I’m allowed to do anything.” -Elena
Lesson learned: Climate Summer destroys all clothes that you care about.

Best moment: Watching my team become a team
Funniest moment: Watching Shaun bike with a severely warped wheel and all his possessions dangling off the back of his bike
Worst moment: Hearing Shaun’s tire explode immediately after (and realizing that the nearest bike shop was fifteen miles away and would close in an hour)
Advice: Bring as many ways to attach things to other things as possible – velcro, rubber bands, string, shoelaces, electric tape, bungee cords, glue – they are guaranteed to all come in handy
Biggest accomplishment: Never getting any of my things wet, and having more conversations with strangers than I’ve had in the last year

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Dear Old People Like You,

Written by A. McDevitt, New Media Coordinator, Team Vermont/New Hampshire
On August 12, 2013 


“Young people like you.” It doesn’t matter where we’re at—a Farmer’s Market, a church, a documentary viewing, a potluck, a Climate Cafe, a rally, a street corner, or a market square—someone like you always says those four words.

“What a great summer job for young people like you.”

“Thank goodness for young people like you.”

“We love the kind of work being done by young people like you.”

“We need more young people like you.”

“The future depends on young people like you.”

You always tell me how “neat” you think my work this summer is, enthusiastically insisting that you “support” it. You throw out words like “hero” and “role model,” and then you sincerely thank me for doing what I’m doing to improve the world. Ignoring the manners my parents taught me, I never say “You’re welcome.” I say “Join me!” and you laugh as you tell me you wish you could. You explain that you were involved in “this sort of thing” when you were in college, but that you’re too busy now, too old.

What makes you think that I’m not busy? And who told you that you’re too old?

I cringe at the occasional “I’m sorry that we really f*cked things up for you guys” and “Thank you for cleaning up my generation’s mess.” A moment of awkward tension between us always follows those words as they register; like we can physically see the burden you are placing on me, on young people like me. My generation inherited from you an unsustainable—even deadly—addiction to fossil fuels, and my generation will live to experience the planet’s hostile reaction to that addiction. You, however, may not be around to see the worst of it.

But don’t worry, you “support” what we’re doing to change things.

I wish you could meet some of the people I’ve met this summer. People like Ann and Pam, retired and committed to attending Newport’s town meetings every two weeks to get their tar sands concerns on the agenda. People like the men and women who walked with us for 18 miles along the route of the Portland-Montreal Pipeline to protest the tar sands. People like Rhett, from Brattleboro, who asked if she could contribute money to the movement because donating time wasn’t an option for her. People like Ruby and Andy of 350 Vermont. People like Marla Marcum, working around the clock to build the climate movement, who is as fearful of the future as I am. None of these inspirations are college kids—your so-called young people like me.

A few of the awesome men and women that participated in our Fake Oil Spill event. Ann and Pam are in the center.

A few of the awesome men and women that participated in our Fake Oil Spill event. Ann and Pam are in the center.

Please know that being past your twenties is not an excuse for passivity. We are never too old, too busy, or even too inexperienced to start doing what we know is right. And as people in vulnerable parts of the world suffer from climate induced food and water shortages, as rising sea levels endanger those who call coastlines or islands “home,” and as coal plants and mountaintop removal continue to cause cancer in surrounding communities, I need you to realize that transitioning away from fossil fuels is that right thing to do.

So, from this point on, don’t thank me for cleaning up this mess; help me! Quit praising the work of young people like me from the sidelines and, instead, recognize what we can accomplish collectively as us. And when I ask you to join me, don’t find excuse in your age. The future of our planet is as much your responsibility as it is mine.


Young people like me

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The Elephant in the Room

Written by B. Lilley, Media Coordinator, Team Vermont/New Hampshire
On August 12, 2013

One of the people I met at the farmer’s market, a man named Stuart, suggested that we make a list of things people could do to contribute in the fight against climate change. Quickly brainstorming with the team we came up with the usual suspects: conservation and efficiency, solar and wind power, writing letters to representatives, composting and gardening. Then we came up with a few things more outside the box: power generation from harnessing lightning, home energy retrofits, election reform, direct action to stop fossil fuel infrastructure.

When we asked Stuart what he would add to the list, he said that the thing no one wants to talk about is population. He said that we need to at least discuss what we can do about population instead of ignoring it outright and I agree.


There were 5.1 billion people alive when I was born and there are 7.1 billion today. By 2100, the UN expects 10.8 billion people to exist on this planet. That means every single person alive in 1988 will be replaced by more than two persons. On top of that, if we assume that everyone wants to increase there living standards at least to the level of Europe or Japan, that’s 3.7 billion new people demanding 127 kWh/day each. That’s an additional 470,000 GWh/day. In 2008, the world generated 395,000 Gwh/day. That doesn’t even account for the majority of the population that currently lives below European standards.

Bottom line: The new population will demand more two to three times the energy that is generated today.

Indeed, the IEA projects that between 2008 and 2035, the growth in China’s electricity demand will be greater than total current electricity demand in the United States and Japan. World electricity demand will increase three-fold.

Of course, bringing the European lifestyle to all humans will not be instant and may not be possible. But it is interesting to use simple calculations to get a picture of the brick wall we’re accelerating towards.

So let’s talk about population. An estimated 220 million women would like to avoid pregnancy but lack family planning. Access to quality reproductive health and family planning information and services is required for families to avoid unintended pregnancy and actualize their fertility preferences. Furthermore, the carrying capacity of a world without fossil-fuel inputs for agriculture range between 2 and 4 billion. That means that to affect real change we need to act on population too.

So, several huge things to add to the list of Activities People Can Do To Fight Climate Change are:

move population into the conversation

have a smaller family and/or adopt

increase access to family planning

increase access to reproductive health care

What would you add to the list?

Tags: energy, population, power, climate, change, emissions, fairness

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The People That Keep Me Going

Written by A. Cropsey, Outreach Coordinator, Team Vermont/New Hampshire
On August 12, 2013.

For our 8th week of the program team Vermont/New Hampshire ended up in Jefferson, NH; 10 miles outside of our assigned town, Lancaster. That meant a 20-mile commute everyday just to do our work. I was tired and worn out and almost nothing could motivate me to be excited for the daily ride. I was soon proven wrong as we arrived in town.

Upon our arrival to Jefferson we pulled up to what I would soon find to be two of the kindest people we have met along the way: Corry and Roger Hughes. They warmly welcomed us into their home for the week with showers and cold juice. Corry and Roger are actively engaged in the Climate Movement and were elated to see us arrive on our bikes. Corry even flattered us by explaining that we were “her heroes.”

Discussing tar sands at Corry's fun potluck!

Discussing tar sands at Corry’s fun potluck!

To kick off our week, the Hughes’ organized a potluck with about 12 other activists from the area. Our team was so lucky to have everyone come and share their enthusiasm for the movement, excitement for our work, and, of course, delicious food. :) Each and every person that came to the potluck made it a point to speak with our team and share any advice they had for us.

Specifically, we talked about our team’s efforts to approach New Hampshire’s Senator Kelly Ayotte. Our team had decided to create an art petition in which the names of those opposed to the tar sands pipeline made up a river of water droplets. The river also had drops of tar that were made up of facts about the tar sands. Everyone at the gathering loved the idea and was happy to add to our project by making a water droplet. The final project would be presented to Senator Ayotte to urge her to show her disapproval of the reversal of the pipeline.

Our work ensued throughout the week in Lancaster asking for hopeful honks and speaking with people at a couple of farmer’s markets. The initial potluck gathering followed us through the week as we kept running into familiar, smiling faces asking us what we were up to for the day. And, best of all, we were always greeted with a pat on the back from Corry and Roger!

Team Vermont/New Hampshire posing with Corry and Roger!

Team Vermont/New Hampshire posing with Corry and Roger!

As I said, I hardly felt like anything could motivate me to make the 10 or 20-mile commutes that I knew would happen every day that week. However, coming “home” to Corry and Roger’s smiles and support everyday made the long hauls worth it.

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What’s a Movement, anyway?

Written by Julie Rong, Team Eastern Massachusetts, New Media and Video Coordinator

Climate Summer was a summer of firsts. It’s the last Sunday of the last week of the program, and I still sometimes wonder how I ended up here. After all, stepping into the Camp Wilmot farmhouse for the first time two months ago was my first real exposure to the climate movement. Our two weeks of training were the first time I had learned, concretely, what movement building was and how we were somehow supposed to go about it this summer.

This summer was the first time I had made bread, the first time I had cooked anything substantive (now I’m the queen of stir-fry), the first time I had dragged a bike trailer (now affectionately named the Horcrux), my first time making a video (as my team’s video coordinator), my first time living out of sleeping bags and churches for extended amounts of time, and at one point, my first time not knowing where I would sleep at night. It was a series of challenges that pushed me out of every new comfort zone I had constructed as the weeks passed by. My biggest challenge however, by far, was being new to the climate movement and teaching others about movement building while I was still learning about it myself.

The Brayton Point protest two weeks ago was the first rally I had ever been to. It was also my fullest, most concrete experience of the movement. In previous weeks, I had considered myself a part of the movement (and sometimes even the movement itself), but it still seemed abstract because I had never seen it. On the morning of the protest, however, I was finally beginning to see what a movement, what the movement, really was.

It was seeing the faces of community members we had met in previous towns, and them greeting me like we were old friends. It was seeing a parking lot fill up with 19 Priuses and many, many more people who all cared about the same thing. It was singing songs with Melodeego and walking into the unknown. It was a sense of compassion for people I had never met, and a sense of solidarity with the 400 or so strangers I was standing among.

The movement had finally come alive.


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Why I’m Fighting

Written by Shaun Carland, Outreach Coordinator, Team Maine
August 9th, 2013

“Why do you continue working for climate justice?” If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me this question, I could single-handedly fund the Better Future Project.  From Divest Maine to Tar Sands Free Northeast and 350 Greater Portland, I have spent the last eight months living and breathing climate justice.  But why would any sane person take on such a herculean task when the odds are completely against our favor?

While I often give people a clichéd spiel on hard work and determination when asked what drives me to continue the work I am doing, I can’t help but feel as though I am being dishonest. In reality, I am paralyzed by the complexity of the situation. Working to build a movement toward the rapid transition from coal, oil, and natural gas to renewable energy makes me feel as if I could do anything in the world, but that “anything” sometimes seems like it could ultimately amount to very little.

Those in authority, namely big oil in this case, rely on society feeling this way.  However, looking back in history, every shift in society can be traced back to individuals, like myself and my fellow riders, having an idea that seemed impossible at the time.  From being able to wear jeans or marry whoever I want (in New England, at least…), to having the freedom to identify with my own religion (or lack thereof), the privileges I get to enjoy were not always there.

Unlike other social struggles such as those for abolition of slavery, gender equality, or freedom of expression, the fight for climate justice is a fight for the lives of all humanity.  Millions of people are dying yearly, and if something does not change, many more lives will be lost.  Living in the global north, I know that I will not be faced with the life-threatening catastrophes others will face in less developed countries.  I also know that the lifestyle I am living, having access to a nearly unlimited quantity of cheap, abundant fuel sources, is the reason why others will not be able to adapt for the climate crisis we are currently facing.  This makes me feel guilty.  Knowing that my daily lifestyle is the reason why others will be suffering pushes me to work for a just and sustainable future for all.

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Less is More

Written by Jamie Garuti, Team Eastern MassachusettsEvents Coordinator 

In the movie Castaway starring Tom Hanks, the main character gets stranded on an uninhabited island and must fight for survival, turning almost barbaric in the process. When he is finally rescued, he must reacclimatize to society. On the plane home, he is handed a cup of water with ice cubes in it. He marvels at the ice cubes – such simple, every day conveniences now seemed incredibly luxurious, as he had struggled just to obtain the bare essentials for so long.

Coming to Wareham this week, I felt like Tom Hanks being handed a glass of ice cubes. We have the incredible privilege of staying in the Wareham Community of Christ campground, which is a set-aside community with houses and communal buildings including a rec center and chapels. Amazingly, we have the second floor of a house to ourselves, which includes showers, washing machines, and – get ready for this – our own beds.

Coming into this living situation, we were awestruck. Last week housing was definitely a challenge. We did not have a key, and the kitchen was in a building across the street. Therefore, every time we needed to get into the church or into the kitchen, we had to call the Reverend, who would drive over and let us in. In addition, there were groups in the church and kitchen throughout the day, so we often had to find other places to go. Similar to this, most other weeks we have faced a challenge in terms of our living situation, whether it is only having a microwave to cook in, or not being able to find anyone in town who is able let us use their shower. But this week, we have it made.


We were incredibly overjoyed when a kind couple from the Community of Christ donated groceries to us!

Reflecting upon how incredibly overjoyed I was to be living here, I am realizing that the smallest thing can now bring me inordinate amounts of joy. The fact that I can shower every day is unbelievable to me, and having a bed to sleep in is almost overwhelming. Similarly, a few weeks back, I was able to see my friend from school, who brought us ice cream. He held the carton of ice cream out, and I jumped around, squealing with happiness for about 3 solid minutes, incredulous over this frozen treat that I hadn’t had in so long.

I hope that once Climate Summer is over, I will be able to hold onto this ability to derive pleasure from such small things. While I know that as I sink back into society and a consumerist world, I will grow used to having luxuries, such as a bed and shower. However, living for two months with just the essentials has been a surprisingly refreshing experience. Being able to carry everything I need to survive on a bike is a wonderful thing, and I would like to live more of a minimalist lifestyle after this. This summer has shown me that I really don’t need a lot to live, and I may be even happier without all the extra stuff.

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Building an Inclusive Movement

Written by Jamie Garuti, Team Eastern Massachusetts, Events Coordinator 

Last night I waited in line with my teammate to pay for our groceries. It had been a long day – it was already almost 9pm and we still had to go back to the church and cook dinner. I was staring into space and did not realize we had been waiting in line for a while, until I noticed the woman behind me muttering under her breath impatiently. Confused, I turned to look at the cashier. He was picking quarters up one-by-one off of the conveyor belt from a pile of coins. A girl of about 11 years old held the hand-decorated box that the quarters had come from, as the mother watched the cashier with a concerned face. As he counted, he told the woman, “This isn’t enough money, you’re going to have to put another thing back.” Her cart was half-full with food, most of which did not look very healthy, and she took an item out. She spoke to her daughter in another language as the cashier continued to pick up coins off of the conveyor belt. The woman behind me continued to shake her head in annoyance that the line was taking so long, while I stood there uselessly, unsure of what to do.

While we have a modest budget ourselves – $6 per person per day – we are able to buy ample amounts of healthy food; no one ever goes hungry. Even so, for most of us participating in the program, this budget is not our reality. Once the summer is over, we can go back to our normal lives. We will be able to spend more than $6 per day on food, and we will have a bed to sleep in every night. Many people though, especially here in New Bedford, cannot escape an uncertain lifestyle, and do not know where their next meal is coming from. New Bedford is a very low-income city with a lot of crime and homelessness. Many people here struggle to provide themselves and their families with even the basic necessities to survive.

Presenting to a group of kids in New Bedford, a low-income community

Presenting to a group of kids in New Bedford, a low-income community

For these reasons, it feels strange to come into a town where people have very real and immediate problems, such as securing a job or working long hours to pay the bills, and tell them they need to worry about climate change and join a movement against it. While I absolutely believe that climate change is the most urgent issue that humanity has ever been faced with, it is still hard to reconcile peoples’ everyday reality with a more existential, abstract issue. It is especially difficult when they are entangled in the system. For example, last week our team attended a rally to shut down the Brayton Point coal plant – a cause that I believe in, yet would result in a loss of jobs and tax revenue for the city of Somerset.

At the same time, people who are of lower income are the ones who will be more severely affected by climate change. They lack the resources to move to a more habitable part of the country, or to protect themselves from the affects of climate change. Because they will be disproportionately affected, they deserve to have their voices heard even more in the struggle against climate change, yet they lack a political voice in our society. It is also more difficult for them to participate in the climate movement due to a lack of resources such as time and money.

I understand that it is my responsibility to use the privilege that I do have – I can afford to attend rallies and spend my summer trying to build the climate movement without being paid – to help those without a political voice be heard. However, as I attend more rallies and events within the climate justice movement, I can’t help but notice that most of the other people who attend are also white, middle-to-upper class people. We are all doing an incredibly important thing by being there and trying to build the movement, but I believe that this needs to be a movement that represents everyone. We are fighting for the survival of all of humanity, and that calls for an incredibly inclusive movement. I think that the fact that this movement does need to be so inclusive gives it the potential to be extraordinarily strong, as everyone has an interest in joining, and everyone has something to contribute. However, the movement still has a long way to go in this area, and it seems to me that we need to be doing everything possible to make this movement more inclusive. In terms of Climate Summer, going to low income towns like Brockton, Fall River, and New Bedford to spread our message is certainly a start, and I am glad that these towns were a part of our route. As a whole though, as part of this movement, we need to be reaching out to all different groups of people so that a large diversity of voices can be heard and the movement can become even more powerful.

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The Pipeline Song

B. Rooney, Video Coordinator
Team VT/NH 2013

What can you do on a rainy day? Read a book, write a friend, watch a movie, practice your French – or maybe you can make an extremely cheesy music video. That happens to be what team VT/NH(/Honorary ME) decided to do last week when it was pouring outside one day. We spent the morning planning out our shots (“But what if I had TWO pairs of sunglasses?”) and trying to make this the most fun video ever.

As far as the music was concerned, we decided that we would sing a little medley that we’ve been singing all summer. It starts with “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King, goes to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” and then goes out with a glittery disco bang with “Turn the Beat Around.” This song has been our battle cry for every steep hill we’ve gone up, and for every patch of gravel we’ve had to traverse. We must have sung it a few dozen times by now, and we’re not (all) sick of it yet.

When it got a little less rainy out, we biked two miles to the nearest Pipeline signs and did some filming there. Luckily we were a few feet below the sightline of the passing cars, because I’m certain that there would be some very concerned passers-by pulling over if they could see our dancing.

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