The truly important work of Step It Up is being taken on by the hundreds of local organizers working on the ground in their own communities.
Behind the scenes, there is a small team of us based in Vermont. Our days our filled organizing logistics, providing support to local organizers, and reaching out to spread Step It Up 2007 far and wide. We also enjoy playing basketball, eating sandwiches, and ringing a small bell every time someone registers a new action for Step It Up 2007.
Onward with the movement,
The Team (Bill, Will, May, Jeremy, Jon, Phil, and Jamie)
Hopefully you all know, or are getting to know, Bill McKibben (or
Billy-the-Kibs, as we sometimes refer to him when heís not around), but
you might be wondering about the rest of us. So let us provide some introductions...
Iíll go firstÖ
I am only 23 now, as a recent newspaper article pointed out, Iíll be 66
by the time the goals of Step It Up are accomplished (give or take a
decade). I had little idea 4 or 5 years ago that my life
would be devoted to fighting global warming, or more specifically
aiming for a political commitment to reach 80% carbon emission
reductions by 2050.
Nonetheless, for over 2
years now I have considered myself a ďclimate activist,Ē spending much
of my time organizing forums, summits, marches like the 5 day walk across Vermont over Labor Day weekend, and other actions all somehow related to overcoming the climate crisis. Itís an exciting life. Working
with my close friends and developing a remarkable sense of community Ė
the true answer to our societyís troubles Ė our activism becomes a
process of personal growth and spiritual fulfillment.
Personally, Iím more hard-wired for the outdoors, but time is of the essence in this movement. So Iíll put in some hours now in the hopes that weíll all be able to enjoy a more peace, sustainable world in the future.
Thanks for everyone thatís joined us in Stepping It Up so far. Hereís to a fun and powerful few months. Letís get movingÖ
Yesterday morning, I had my first radio interview
for Step It Up. The conversation took place on the show "Uprisings,"
broadcast on KPFK out of L.A. Throughout the course of the 15 minutes
talking about Step It Up, it brought to mind the experience that first
pulled me into the climate movement, when I took part in a three-month
biodiesel tour of the U.S. with Project BioBus.
During that time, I spoke on many radio programs about the need for an
alternative to the fossil fuel economy. Now, more than two years later,
I'm working as a co-coordinator of Step It Up, and couldn't be in a
better place. This work draws together my interest in building the
grassroots climate movement, as well as focusing on political change.
It's been incredibly exciting to watch all the amazing action plans
unfold, and I look forward to working with you all until April 14--and
I wanted to bake bread. Donít ask me why; Iíve never baked bread
before in my life (though Iím working on that). I was part of this
beautiful plan to head west, live with friends, and do some local,
community organizing. I could settle in a bit, get to know a place and
a community, and get a nice job in a bakery. Ah, the good life.
thereís this thing with having guys like Bill McKibben around. Theyíve
got ideas. My friends and I talked our plan over with Bill, and he
said something like this: ďYa, thatís a good plan, but how about this
oneÖĒ The initial pitch of Step It Up turned out to be too good to
So here I am in Burlington two months later, having
worked with Bill and this crew to bring Step It Up into the zeitgeist
of US activism and to all of you so that you can take it and run with
it. Thereís no reason to complain really. Iím living and working with
friends, Iím in a beautiful, small city with an incredible community,
and I have an incredibly rewarding job. The job is worth delving into
a little more deeply however. When I was in college, my brother used
to joke to me that since he was working a serious job he would live
vicariously through my adventures. Well, Step It Up is a little bit
like that too. Weíre rocking out here in the office on the computer
and phones, and largely, I feel like my brother. I sit in the office
and blurt out, ďOh, man, look at this action thatís happening out in
So while Iíve missed out on my bread baking dream
for the time being, Iím sharing in so many dreams through Step It Up
that I donít think Iíll miss it. My friend once wrote an application
explaining that, ďlike bread in the oven, I rise to the occasion.Ē For
the next few months, Step It Up will be that bread for me, and even
now, two weeks into the job, it has risen way beyond my expectations.
Keep it up. I dig it.
Here at the Step It Up headquarters, people are starting to call me the
ďtechie.Ē This freaks me out a little bitówhen I decided to dedicate
my adult life to global warming activism, I didnít exactly envision
spending my days in front of a computer screen. I was expecting
high-paced action: hitting the streets for some old-fashioned community
organizing, perhaps some media-savvy corporate campaigning, maybe even
the occasional act of civil disobedience.
Step It Up needed a webmaster, and everyone else on the team was still
trying to figure out how to plug in their abacuses. So, with the help
of some awesome allies,
Iíve stumbled my way through the management of various technological
aspects of Step It Up. Now I find myself spending my days typing and
clicking my way around a blossoming internet-based social revolution.
And I love it.
The role of web-geek is one that I have
grudgingly embraced, and I am only now starting to realize the
incredible potential of all of these new cyber-tools. Itís almost
enough to make you optimistic about our planetís future. No doubt,
global warming is still downright scaryóbut if a problem of this
magnitude had to hit humanity at any time, it may as well be now.
Never before have we had the ability to spread information, coordinate
events, and link up so many communities with such ease and grace. We
have folks in Alaska brainstorming about actions with organizers in
Omaha, people in Maine streaming a new climate change song recorded
hours earlier by a band based in Californiaóthe possibilities for
collaboration and collective inspiration are pretty much endless. So
though my retinas are a bit strained from all of this screen-time, I
couldnít be more psyched the way web-powered campaign is actually
coming together. If I could manage to separate the mouse from my hand,
Iíd be raising my fist in solidarity with all of you--the thousands of
people across the county who are making this thing happen. You all are
This morning I jumped off a large stone monument into four feet of
new snow. Three weeks ago, the thermometer showed 72 degrees in Central
Park. This seems a little weird to me. The new Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) report
says that scientists are 90% sure that humans have affected the climate
through fossil fuel emissions, which means that freak weather events
like the ones this winter will become much more common. Over the past
decade, like most people around the country, Iíve borne witness to some
of the worst weather events of the century; droughts, blizzards, heat
waves, tornadoes and hurricanes have become more frequent and more
intense. If we donít start to curb carbon emissions now, weíre in for a
very different future for us and our children, even beyond the
devastation that Hurricane Katrina wreaked on the gulf states.
Not that Iím thinking about children right now; Iím only 23. But global
warming still scares me. Some folks say that people my age arenít
engaged in social issues, that weíre self-interested. I know from my
work with thousands of student activists trying to stop global warming
that young people are creative and pack a serious punch when it comes
to getting things done. Thatís because itís our future at stake. Lots
of young people worked on a recent campaign in my home state of New
Jersey to get state legislators and the governor to take strong action
on climate change, and they succeeded. On Tuesday, Governor Corzine
signed an executive order to make a statewide goal of 80% carbon reductions by 2050!
Iím hopeful that all of the folks around the country who are organizing
Step It Up 2007 rallies in their communities will take this youthful
energy and make the movement move on April 14. If we all do our part,
even my kids (who Iím not thinking about right now) will be able
experience snowy winters and balmy summers in the northeast.
I grew up in New England and many of the most important places for me
are here in this small, crowded corner of the country. There is the
summit of Mt. Chocorua in New Hampshire, that I first toddled up as a
child with my mother and father; the certain campsite on the Allagash
River in Maine, one of our few remaining wilderness waterways, where on
a clear night you can see the stars reflected in the slowly flowing
water; and, the Lynx ski-trail at Mad River Glen in Vermont, down which
I often tumble head over heels, enjoying the view of the birch trees
is also the park where I grew up playing soccer, my favorite
neighborhood bar, and a nearby church where our community gets together
for a craft fair every winter. These locations are not nearly as
dramatic as my wilderness places, but that doesn't matter: they are
important less for their physical beauty and more for the people who
are often there with me. In my life, community has defined space just
as much as a good view or peaceful feel.
What makes Step It Up
2007 so thrilling is getting to meet the hundreds of you around the
country (all be it only by email or phone) and learn a little about
your communities. What a network we have built in only these few short
months! And, while here at Step It Up headquarters (a two-room office
certainly defined more by the people here than the cramped space) we
often talk about the power of the internet, blogs, and emails in
organizing this movement, it's really the power of all of you, the
power of community, that is going to make this change happen.
raise up your right arm, bend it at the elbow, and give yourselves a
hearty pat on the back. Better yet, congratulate your neighbor or
friend for joining you in your April 14th action. I look forward to
getting to know more of you over the coming months. Let's do this!