North Carolinians Unite for Climate Justice

North Carolina Fellows


December 22, 2017

North Carolinians Unite for Climate Justice feat

Each November, North Carolinians passionate about climate justice unite for the North Carolina Climate Justice Summit. ACE is proud to join NC Warn, the NC League of Conservation Voters and a host of other organizations in sponsoring the Summit. ACE Fellows Zoë, Anika and April reflect on their very first Summit experience.

Zoë Bettmann

The North Carolina Climate Justice Summit is a statewide gathering for people of all ages to discuss climate justice. While it’s important to discuss climate change, it’s equally important to discuss how it disproportionately affects minorities. The goal of the Summit was to get that particular conversation started.

I had a new sense of belonging and my fellow Fellows felt like family.

This was the first major event I was to attend with ACE. I was nervous at first because I had to stay overnight with people I’d only just met, but by the second day of the Summit, I had a new sense of belonging and my fellow Fellows felt like family. The most exciting part about the Summit for me was the variety of people that participated and how everyone was considered as equals. Even though we were much younger than many of the other participants, everyone valued our thoughts and opinions like we were adults. It felt even more important because we got to discuss the issues with those who were older and who had more experience.

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Anika Palekar

As a new ACE Fellow, I was both nervous and excited. I had never been to anything like the North Carolina Climate Justice Summit before, so I had no idea what to expect from the weekend in Haw River. It turned out to be an amazing experience that allowed me to meet others with the same goals and beliefs as me.

The three days we were at the Summit were filled to the brim with exciting new experiences.

There were many things to do at the Summit, from lobbying workshops to night nature hikes to environmental organization fairs and more. In the lobbying workshops, we got to hear others’ experiences lobbying their representatives for climate justice, and the best tips on how to do it effectively. Every workshop was a learning experience for me to use, while the organization fair taught me more about what is happening within my community. At the fair, I got to meet the hard-working, amazing people fighting to protect what’s in our own backyard.

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The most powerful moment for me was from the activity that we, as ACE Fellows, facilitated over the 3 days – Climate Legacy Capsules. The Climate Legacy Capsule Project invited those fighting for climate justice to contribute something they love and are fighting to protect. The capsules were collected on November 18th, Dedication Day, a day to dedicate to fighting for a better world. In that same month, world leaders met for UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany to move forward with the Paris Agreement. These capsules became our way of fighting against the United States’s rejection of the Paris Agreement.

On the last day of the Summit, everyone had a chance to write a letter to their future selves including what they hoped the world will be like in 50 years. What I found so powerful is that when everyone brought up their capsules to place in the box, they each said a word on what they were feeling. It was amazing to watch people from all different ages and walks of life come together and share their thoughts and emotions on such an important issue. The three days we were at the Summit were filled to the brim with exciting new experiences that I am grateful to have been a part of.

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A look inside the Summit

April Springer

I have found that there is a strength that is carried through what I call attentive conversation. When people listen to each other and share their beliefs and perspectives, automatically, this transaction of knowledge and new ideas occurs. Throughout my weekend at the North Carolina Climate Justice Summit, I could feel and see the power of attentive conversation.

Most revolutionary ideas stem from pure conversation.

One of my personal favorite parts of the Summit was the group activity on grassroots lobbying. Professional lobbyists from North Carolina were not only able to teach us how we can become active in climate action in our governments, but guided us in engaging conversation on how we would lobby to protect the environment. I was amazed by the amount of new conversations and ideas that I gained from this experience! I know so much more about climate change and the environment than before I attended the Summit and I walked out with a fresh set of ways to help my communities combat climate change.

As former French President Francois Hollande once said, “The time is past when humankind thought it could selfishly draw on exhaustible resources. We know now the world is not a commodity.” The Summit has taught me that the world’s resources are not everlasting and cannot always support us unless we treat them with care. The diverse groups of people that I have connected with have instilled in me an awareness of the importance of attentive conversation. Most revolutionary ideas stem from pure conversation, and I hope that the Summit has inspired participants to take that upon themselves.

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From left to right, North Carolina Fellows Zoë Bettmann, Anika Palekar, Asher Wexler and April Springer

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