Friday, April 27, 2007

Ms. Heide Goes To Washington

Antioch University's Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program Launches Its New US Congressional Progressive Caucus Fellowship: I am very proud to announce that EAOP master’s candidate Crystal Heide will serve as the EAOP’s first Fellow with the U.S. Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Fellowship Program, the first of its kind with the Caucus, is open to EAOP alumni and second-year students.

"I'm very excited to be representing Antioch's Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program in Washington, D.C., this summer. I can't wait to put all the skills I've learned during the past two years into practice,” said Heide.

Ms. Heide will work with Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ, 7th Congressional District), who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources’s Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. Rep. Grijalva also heads the Progressive Caucus’s Environment Task Force and has been recognized as a leader in environmental conservation by the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife. “I am honored to participate with the Congressional Progressive Caucus in Antioch University’s Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program’s Fellowship, and I welcome this year’s Fellow, Crissy Heide,” said Rep. Grijalva. “With Ms. Heide’s contribution, we will develop a model for border community environmental protection and economic enhancement that can be replicated by many border communities.”

“The Fellowship is a tremendous opportunity for Antioch New England students and graduates to enhance their skills and learning through public service,” said EAOP faculty member Abigail Abrash Walton. “We are thrilled to launch this collaboration with the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

The co-chairs of the CPC are also excited about this new partnership with Antioch Univerity New England. "I am so pleased that we have established the very first fellowship program for Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus with Antioch University New England," underscored CPC Co-Chair U.S. Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). "One of the CPC’s top priorities is strengthening environmental protection and achieving energy independence, and having graduate students like Ms. Heide from ANE's Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program will help us to achieve these goals."

"This is the start of a great, mutually beneficial collaboration between the CPC and ANE students and faculty," CPC Co-Chair U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) noted. “ANE’s Environmental Advocacy & Organizing Program graduate students will help CPC Members address a wide variety of environmental challenges from global warming to environmental justice."

Crissy came to Antioch’s EAOP after two years of working in the field of environmental education in rural New Jersey. During her graduate studies, she has organized Keene’s Earth Day Festival, the recent Step It Up Congress Rally in Keene, worked on Sierra Club’s Cool Cities Campaign, chaired Antioch’s Student Alliance, and has worked with Rhode Island’s Valley Alliance for Smart Growth to ensure wetlands protection on lands slated for big-box-store development. Crissy was raised in Indiana, where she graduated from Lafayette Jefferson High School and received a BS in Wildlife Science from Purdue University.

I am personally thrilled to announce Crissy's participation in this new partnership between the EAOP and the CPC. For those who don't know much about the CPC, a handful of members of the U.S. House of Representatives first established the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the early 1990s “to give voice to the needs and aspirations of all Americans and to build a more just and humane society.” Now numbering 72 members, the Caucus’s platform for action is The Progressive Promise -- Fairness for All, grounded in four core principles: 1. fighting for economic justice and security for all; 2. protecting and preserving civil rights and civil liberties; 3. promoting global peace and security; and 4. environmental protection & energy independence.

We wish Crissy great luck in this new endeavor!

Step It Up Rally Organized By EAOP Students

It was a great pleasure to read the Keene Sentinel’s April 13th “Step It Up” editorial supporting the local and national effort to push Congress to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050. It was even more fun seeing the brightly colored Step It Up banners in Keene’s Central Square, the great speakers and bands, and the over 200 citizens who came out on Saturday, April 14 to join the Keene Step It Up Congress Rally.

It was heartening to hear Mayor Blastos welcome everyone and read a resolution from the Keene City Council calling Congress to meet the Step It Up target for cutting carbon pollution. It was also heartening when New Hampshire State Senator Molly Kelly read a letter to the rally-goers from US Congressman Paul Hodes. He didn’t just say nice work, folks. He specifically committed himself to supporting two key pieces of climate change legislation that would meet the Step It Up target goals.

It was also great to have on display a low emission City Express Bus and a City of Keene truck that runs on biodiesel fuel, and have City Councilman James Duffy explain the significance of initiatives like this already underway in Keene. The importance of such initiatives was also really brought home when Antioch University scientist Rachel Thiet laid out the evidence for the growing problem climate disruption and Sue Hay from Mothers Uniting talked about the power of mothers to push for a peaceful and sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.

The weather also held. The three bands—the Pat Hardy Band, Rise, and Born Backward--wowed the crowd and got children dancing. Sherman Morrison was an awesome master of ceremonies. The crowd itself was high energy and ready for action. Step It Up Keene organizers had 120 postcards for each of our three federal legislators calling for support of specific legislation and these were all filled out before 2 pm. Over 200 people signed a general petition supporting Step It Up’s goal. People kept stuffing dollar bills in the decorated coffee cans to help pay for the rally’s expenses.

I also saw two little girls ask the organizers if they could wear volunteer name tags and help with tabling and handing out literature. They stuck with this for over an hour. With young children like this learning to embrace citizen activism, our future may be in better shape that we think.

It is amazing to me that local demonstrations like Keene’s were conducted by hundreds of thousands of people in over 1,400 communities in all 50 states. My thanks to all the organizers, volunteer helpers, co-sponsors, speakers, musicians, and citizens who made Saturday’s April 14 Step It Up Rally in Keene such a moving success. This is how successful movements for social change begin. If you want to see what other communities did, go to the Step It Up website.

What is perhaps most heartening to me is the the little known fact that the whole Step It Up Rally was a class project of the Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program's Advocacy Clinic. The student organizers of this event were Crissy Heide, Hilary Frenkel, Dave Morley, Seth Long, and Brendan Banerdt. As Hilary wrote in a reflection paper: "The Step It Up 2007 Keene event that our Advocacy Clinic class organized proved to be a huge success. It turned out better than I could have imagined and I felt proud to be a part of the amazing result! And thinking about the other 1,400 Step It Up events that took place around the country made our rally a part of something massive and powerful. This experiment was a worthwhile one for me to take on and in the end, the event came off strong. It was well organized, inspirational and so much fun. I am proud and honored to have been a part of the team that organized our Keene rally, and I cannot wait to see how Congress responds to the biggest environmental demonstration in the US since Earth Day 1970."