Volunteer with the MN350 Policy Action Team
As 2020 began, I felt deep anxiety but also an unexpected sense of hope. It’s difficult to overstate the impact that this year’s elections will have on our collective future. But until recently, I struggled with a sense of futility about the political process. I’ll vote, but what could have a deeper impact? When I learned about MN350 Action’s Caucus for Climate campaign, I realized that this was a way to channel my sense of urgency into action.
Precinct caucuses are the first step in the parties’ process to select candidates and set party agendas. They’re a direct way to get involved in local politics and truly make our voices heard. We need our voices heard: too many politicians from both parties are unwilling to act on climate change. Caucuses are a way for us to change that by getting in early in the process and making ourselves impossible to ignore.
To make that happen, we must have conversations all around the state. I decided to host a house party to recruit people I know to attend the caucuses. Immediately, uncertainties and doubt began to creep in… I don’t know who to invite, the process is too confusing, there’s no way that I know enough to speak about this… I soon realized that these were fear-based justifications for not taking action. I struggled to feel more confident, but the almost daily barrage of headlines on the climate crisis brought me to another realization. I knew that the reassurance of staying in my comfort zone would never overcome the regret I’d feel if I didn’t act. MN350 Action staff and volunteers helped, providing everything I needed to get started.
A friend and I hosted our house party together. The people who attended were mostly our friends and family, and we also put a notice to our local paper. As we talked, I realized that people were grateful to have a space to talk about the reality of the crisis we face, without distancing ourselves. Acknowledging what we’ve already lost, and what we stand to lose in the future, was powerful. So was imagining what our lives and community could be like in a future with 100% clean energy and a fair economy.
We came to a consensus that the most important thing we can do now is push for structural changes that allow a truly sustainable lifestyle to become possible for all. What’s possible depends on us and on what we choose to build together. When people from all around Minnesota turn out in mass to their precinct caucuses as climate delegates, we can show that the movement for climate justice and a just transition are strong and cannot be ignored.
Caucuses are not just for party insiders. Anyone can attend and volunteer to become a delegate, moving forward to the senate district endorsing conventions where candidates try to get their party nominations. All you have to do is show up and raise your hand when they make the call for delegates. It’s that easy!
As I’ve seen the momentum building around the 2020 caucuses, my anxiety is being replaced by excitement about the real potential for transformational change in front of us. If you’re also distressed by the climate crisis but unsure of how to get more involved, I urge you to attend your precinct caucus — and bring as many people with you as you can! Even a single person can have an impact, and by building a statewide movement, the possibilities are growing. See you at the caucuses on February 25!
Logan Rieder joined MN350’s Policy Action Team as a volunteer last spring and has been supporting the Caucus for Climate initiative over the last few months. He is a University of Minnesota student currently on a leave of absence and living in Delano, MN. He has appreciated the opportunity to help bring MN350’s work to his community in greater Minnesota and is excited for the possibilities in 2020.