Chapter Chair Update
Greetings! I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the big challenges and changes that 2020 has brought: we are still in the midst of a pandemic, we are confronting systemic racism head on, and there’s a really, really, (no really) important election in November. I think we are all assessing who we are, who we want to become, and where we want to go from here—both as individuals and as a society. Sierra Club Connecticut has started to ask itself these questions, and come up with some ideas on who we want to become.
Sierra Club is an amazing organization that has been instrumental in helping to preserve wild lands and National Parks, has stopped dams and fought to close power plants, and has championed clean air, clean water, and clean energy. I am proud to volunteer here. Although we have always tried to do what we believed was right, we know we have work to do to become a more justice-focused, inclusive, diverse, and equitable organization. We recognize the interconnectedness of the environmental movement with other social justice issues and know that these movements support and enhance our work. And we are committed to making sure our work supports and enhances theirs.
As part of this work, we stand against the systemic racism that is not only killing black people, but also is killing the planet (see Racism is Killing Our Planet). We have seen this problem here in Connecticut: from the building of power plants, to the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority (MIRA) waste incinerator in Hartford, to the highways and traffic patterns into the state’s industry centers that cut straight through neighborhoods. Our cities, lower income residents, and communities of color disproportionately bear the burden of our waste and our pollution. It has to stop. No person is expendable, and no community is expendable.
Connecticut is a beautiful state with open spaces and a thriving small farm industry. Unfortunately, these benefits often go to the whitest and richest towns in the state. Many of our urban neighborhoods are food deserts, where residents don’t have access to fresh, healthy food. Too many of Connecticut’s children grow up with very little access to green spaces, both within their city limits and in the more rural areas of the state. Sierra Club Connecticut is dedicated to supporting these communities as they work to solve these issues of environmental injustice.
So how do we put words into action? We start with the Jemez Principles of Democratic Organizing. We include all voices, and we listen. We support bottom up organizing. We let people speak for themselves. We work together in solidarity and mutuality. We build just relationships among ourselves. And we commit to self transformation.
If you share this vision, please reach out and email me. Talk to you next month.
Ann Gadwah is Chapter Chair and Political Chair of Sierra Club Connecticut.