From Alarm to Action

More than 40 school community members joined an online workshop with student leaders about lobbying for climate action and pursuing environmental sustainability on Monday, October 19.

Members of the Loomis Chaffee Climate Action group and environmental proctors (e-proctors) led the forum, hosted by the Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies and the Norton Family Center for the Common Good. According to Eric LaForest, Keller Family Director of the Norton Center, the workshop aimed to appeal to community members who are alarmed about the climate crisis but are unsure of what action to take.

Climate Action group members, including juniors Tallula Johansen, Jordan Korn, and Karishma Lawrence, and sophomore Mattie McCann, discussed how they have gotten involved in various projects off campus to encourage climate action, and the e-proctors led a lively discussion that further highlighted tips for deeper engagement with sustainability efforts and climate action.

Many young people “feel the pressure and urgency of action but don't know how to take concrete action to mitigate the crisis,” according to Karishma. The climate group’s main objective at the meeting was to inform listeners and share ways that students can get involved right away.

Tallula spoke about the organization’s role on campus, and Karishma made a presentation about her work with the national organization Citizens Climate Lobby to persuade officials in her hometown of Rocky Hill, Conn., to declare a climate emergency. Jordan and Mattie presented an overview of lobbying as a means to influence public opinion and political action.

The meeting split into two smaller breakout sessions, where Talulla led one group in the creation of a photo petition and Karishma organized a letter-writing workshop with the other group aimed at demanding climate action from government representatives. Letter-writing is important, Karishma explained, because one letter is perceived to represent the thoughts of 50 people, according to her contacts in public service.  

“Our representatives want to align their actions with the desires of their voters, and therefore want to hear what their constituents have to say. The voices of young people are even more influential, so it's important we step up and speak up for topics, like the environment, that we're passionate about,” she said.

The Climate Action group leaders also shared information about current climate emergencies; strategies for building relationships with decision-makers; and proposed legislation related to incentives for using renewable energy resources.

“Lobbying is about both the informal conversations and relationships you build as well as the formal lobbying conferences,” Karishma said.

There will be more opportunities this fall for students to participate in lobbying conferences with the Climate Action group and members of local, state, and federal governments, and the group’s outreach team, headed by Talulla, has more activities planned. For more ways to get involved, Loomis students can reach out to any member of the group and watch the Daily Bulletin for future announcements.

“Our student leaders’ stories revealed that their path toward having a big impact corresponds well with the title of climate activist Greta Thunberg’s book, No One is Too Small to Make a Difference,” Eric said.  

Connect to Alvord Center and Norton Family Center webpages for more about the centers' programming.