Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the March 10, 2022 edition of Three Things Thursday!
Before we get to this week’s Three Things, we have another monthly recap video of the Michigan LCV team’s work throughout February. Samantha Schubert, our Visual Storytelling Manager, continues to produce amazing content for us, and the latest video is no exception. Thanks, Samantha, for your incredible work!
This week’s focus is environmental justice; the climate crisis and the invasion of Ukraine; and how we are celebrating Michigan LCV’s women during Women’s History Month. Let’s dive in!
1. Last week’s environmental justice webinar
Amid a myriad of pressing national and global issues, the Michigan LCV team continues our work to build support for bold action at the federal and state levels to address the climate crisis.
Last Friday, our Federal Government Affairs team led the charge in organizing and hosting a virtual roundtable webinar featuring elected and community leaders and experts to discuss the importance of environmental justice in the fight against climate change. Hosted by our partners at Ground Mind Strategies and, notably, Londell Thomas who formerly served as Michigan LCV Advocacy & Outreach Director, the webinar featured Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, Donele Wilkins from Detroit’s Green Door Initiative, and Eastside Community Network’s Donna Givens Davidson.
As the impacts of climate change continue to accelerate, worsen, and disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), and historically marginalized communities, the esteemed panelists dug into the environmental injustices facing residents of Detroit and others in communities across the state. Climate change impacts experienced throughout the past year in southeast Michigan – devastating storms and floods, power outages, and rampant air and water pollution – will continue to impact neighborhoods and communities that are already at a disadvantage when it comes to building climate resilience.
As we all know, comprehensive, bold climate action to address the climate crisis is still stalled in Washington, D.C.. The panelists emphasized the critical need to deploy any and all existing federal resources to address much needed climate resiliency, with a sharp eye to ensuring that these resources are distributed equitably and that BIPOC communities are prioritized with a robust environmental justice framework in mind. (NOTE: the stories we have captured over this past year powerfully illustrate the need for these kinds of investments. I invite you to listen to the stories from Recovery Park in Detroit and Jasmin Maciel-Gutierrez as they share what the lack of climate resilient infrastructure has meant to their lives.)
As the work to get climate action across the finish line continues, so will our team’s work to ensure that environmental justice priorities remain front and center and that investments in our infrastructure are made in the communities that need it most.
If you missed last Friday’s event, you can find a full recording here. Please note that panelist Donele Wilkins of Detroit’s Green Door Initiative also did a fantastic television interview with Local 4 Detroit that was shown during Friday’s event and that you can find here!
2. Climate and energy during a time of conflict
Last week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest climate report assessing the climate crisis across the globe. The latest installment in a series of climate reports, last week’s report details the “bleakest warning yet” of what the future holds if bold, comprehensive action is not taken to mitigate carbon emissions and build resilience against the climate crisis. The report also strongly condemns world leaders across the globe and illustrates that we have a rapidly closing window to avoid irreversible catastrophe.
Members of the IPCC working group that compiled the report and UN leaders have been vocal about the gravity of what the latest data illustrates for our climate future without action:
The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.” – Hans-Otto Pörtner, a co-chair of working group 2 of the IPCC
I have seen many scientific reports in my time, but nothing like this. Today’s IPCC report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.” – António Guterres, UN secretary general
Unfortunately, news of the latest IPCC climate report was largely drowned out by the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine as the world’s global powers have introduced economic sanctions that have catalyzed conversations about energy security and fossil fuel dependence. Fossil fuel companies in the U.S. and abroad are blatantly attempting to profit from the war in Ukraine, calling for increased oil and gas production to account for lost energy resources European countries and the United States receive from Russia. Disregarding the fact that global dependence on fossil fuels is a root cause of the ongoing crisis, fossil fuel companies are trying to pad their own pockets without comprehensive energy solutions while locking the world into decades of fossil fuel use moving forward and threatening national security of the U.S. and countries across the globe. It is clear that a rapid transition to renewable energy in a holistic and equitable way is in the best interests of national security and the health of our planet.
Instead of doing everything possible to address climate change and make renewable energy more accessible in Michigan, corporations and politicians are doubling down on fossil fuels right here at home. DTE Energy recently proposed charging mandatory fees for future residential solar customers as part of its distributed generation program. Buried in a 672-page report with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), DTE’s proposed, additional fees for residential solar would charge customers “based on the three highest 60-minute demands for electricity by the customer over the past year,” charges that experts say could total more than $100 per month per household and put residential solar out of reach economically for many Michiganders. While the MPSC has yet to approve the proposal, the prospect of DTE economically gatekeeping access to solar energy to bolster their bottom line is reprehensible and in blatant disregard of the health of our communities and the planet.
Simultaneously, as the world grapples with how to account for energy needs exposed by the loss of Russian fossil fuel imports, the price of oil and gas is skyrocketing and Americans are feeling the toll at the pump. Yesterday – on the heels of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and five other governors calling for a pause of the federal 18-cent gas tax – the Michigan State House passed legislation that would suspend Michigan’s 27-cent-per-gallon gas tax. Lost state revenue brought on by the proposed pause would be supplemented by billions of dollars in surplus revenue from the state budget.
Although pausing gas taxes at the state and federal levels would help reduce the economic burden of surging oil prices brought on by inflation and sanctions against Russia, it is a dangerous, short-sighted solution. As the crisis in Ukraine clearly illustrates, historic (and continued) dependence on fossil fuels for our energy needs is a looming threat to U.S. national security. Instead of doubling down on fossil fuels, we should be investing in renewable energy solutions that will help fortify national energy independence while helping mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis. We must invest in upgrading our infrastructure, weatherizing homes and businesses, and catalyzing a holistic transition to clean energy. Making hasty decisions in the short term will have long term costs and impacts on the health of our planet and our communities.
3. Women’s History Month: Celebrating the amazing women who are part of Michigan LCV!
March is Women’s History Month, so I want to recognize the array of outstanding women within the Michigan LCV family of organizations each of whom – and together – make our work possible.
Across Michigan LCV and the Michigan LCV Education Fund board and staff, we are incredibly fortunate to have female leaders who tirelessly champion positive change on the issues that matter most for the people of Michigan. Without the passion, expertise, and drive that these women bring to our work, we would truly not be able to deliver what we fondly refer to as “the Michigan LCV difference”, running programs to scale, winning on the protection of our air, land and water, and fighting like crazy to protect the very essence of our democracy.
On our staff, these incredible female leaders are:
- Clare Allenson – Democracy For All Director
- Abigail Barker – West Michigan Regional Coordinator
- Arye Shannon-Carmichael – Development Administrator
- Abby Fischer – Digital Communications Manager
- Kaitlin Flynn – Data & Training Coordinator
- Hallie Fox – State Government Affairs Coordinator
- Brooke Harris – Voting Rights Manager
- Natalie Hayes – Northern Michigan Regional Coordinator
- Emily Magner – Advocacy & Outreach Manager
- Lauren Mallas – Senior Director of Development & Partnerships
- Kim Phinnessee – Southeast Michigan Regional Organizer
- Samantha Schubert – Visual Storytelling Manager
- Courtney Stanley – Senior Development Specialist
- Ruby Summers – Operations Director
- Jessica Schick – West Michigan Regional Organizer
- Suzanne Van Dam – Major Gifts Manager
- Nina Wimberley – Voting Rights Organizer
Across both the Michigan LCV and Michigan LCV Education Fund boards, our outstanding female board members include:
- Lisa Baker – Secretary, MLCV
- Julie Metty Bennett
- Laura Berman
- Janis Bobrin – Immediate Past President, MLCV + MLCVEF
- Lynn Brown
- Irene McDonnell Cahill
- Julia Cole
- Kerry Duggan
- Wendy VerHage Falb
- Palencia Mobley
- Erica Peresman
- Sally Hart Petersen – Treasurer, MLCVEF
- Lana Pollack
- Denise Thal – Treasurer, MLCV
I am so incredibly grateful to these outstanding women, not only for the time and talent they contribute to Michigan LCV, but for all they have done and continue to do to make this world a better place. American Poet Laureate Maya Angelou (April, 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) says it better than I ever could in her poems “Still I Rise” and “Phenomenal Woman”:
Still I Rise
(check out this video)
Your may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise…
(check out this video)
by Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Thanks to all of you for your support of our work! Until next week….