Last night I attended the Green New Deal Strategy Session: Fighting On Iowa’s Frontlines at Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI). I have heard good things about ICCI for years. My aunt and uncle have reported to our Quaker meeting about ICCI’s work to protect Iowa’s water from the waste from factory farms.
I have been really excited about the Green New Deal and the Sunrise Movement ever since I saw the Sunrise youth engage in nonviolent direct action by sitting in at Nancy Pelosi’s’ office last November.
On February 26 this year, Iowa Citizen for Community Improvement (ICCI) hosted a meeting with Senator Joni Ernst’s state director, Clarke Scanlon, to talk about the urgent need for a Green New Deal. A number of ICCI staff and members were at the event, including Adam Mason, state policy director, and Matt Ohloff, senior campaign organizer. Also there were Ed Fallon (Bold Iowa) and Peter Clay, a member of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). Virginia Wadsley, who I met while working with the Poor People’s Campaign in Iowa was also there.
ICCI is a Sunrise Movement Hub, and was the Iowa organization that sponsored the Green New Deal Tour at Drake University on March 22, 2019. Bold Iowa also wants to work with ICCI and the Sunrise Movement. I was really glad to see my friends Trisha and Lakasha, who walked on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March with me last September, on the program, talking about the importance of the Green New Deal being Indigenous led. Also there that night were Kathy Byrnes, Ed Fallon, Jon Krieg, Patti McKee, and Samantha Kuhn.
At the planning session last night were Samantha Kuhn, Virginia Wadsley, Jon Krieg and Patti McKee. Matt Ohloff, ICCI, was one of the speakers. I mention these names of who comes to various events to show how activist communities work. The same people tend to show up at a variety of events. This was definitely my experience in Indianapolis, too. The same people participated in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, Stop Dakota Access Pipeline, Kheprw Institute, Indiana Moral Mondays, Environmental Science Fair, Homelessness in Indianapolis, and related events.
As successful organizing campaigns do, the evening program began by asking each person present to give their name, pronouns, and why they were attending. Even though there were just around 50 of us, this took about 20 minutes to do. But this is a crucial step in creating social justice campaigns. It is the relationships that are created that make people feel included, and continue to participate and support each other. And creates a network to connect with for new campaigns.
Shawn Sebastian did an excellent job of laying out the principles of a Green New Deal. He said if you believe the scientific consensus, you know we have just 11 years of intense work to do if we are going to avoid climate catastrophe. You know there is no time for incremental measures. Politicians who talk about a gradual approach can not be supported.
The Green New Deal will include:
- 100% clean and renewable energy and net zero emissions by 2030
- Job Guarantee to get it done
- Prioritizing front line communities for a just transition
Shawn went on to talk about the New Deal that the Green New Deal’s ideas come from. Not only was the Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal designed to pull the country out of the Great Depression, but also to help those whose livelihood had been wiped out by the Dust Bowl, an environmental catastrophe.
Shawn talked about the Civilian Conservation Corp a jobs guarantee program that was part of the New Deal:
The legislation and mobilization of the program occurred quite rapidly. Roosevelt made his request to Congress on March 21, 1933; the legislation was submitted to Congress the same day; Congress passed it by voice vote on March 31; Roosevelt signed it the same day, then issued an executive order on April 5 creating the agency, appointing its director (Fechner), and assigning War Department corps area commanders to begin enrollment. The first CCC enrollee was selected April 8, and subsequent lists of unemployed men were supplied by state and local welfare and relief agencies for immediate enrollment. On April 17, the first camp, NF-1, Camp Roosevelt, was established at George Washington National Forest near Luray, Virginia. On June 18, the first of 161 soil erosion control camps was opened, in Clayton, Alabama. By July 1, 1933 there were 1,463 working camps with 250,000 junior enrollees (18–25 years of age); 28,000 veterans; 14,000 American Indians; and 25,000 Locally Enrolled (or Experienced) Men (LEM).Civilian Conservation Corps, Wikipedia
That history is really astonishing. In little over 3 months after the introduction of the legislation, there were 1,463 camps with 250,000 men working in them. The U.S. has already done what the Green New Deal proposes, guaranteed work for anyone who wants to work. This time, those jobs will be to build up renewable energy infrastructure and other work to rebuild broken communities, switch to regenerative agriculture, clean up sites of environmental contamination, etc.