By Laura Zilverberg
MN350 volunteer

Every day seems to bring grim news for the climate justice movement. The Amazon rainforest is on fire. So is Australia. President Trump denies science, weakens environmental regulations and protections, and says he won’t jeopardize U.S. wealth on “dreams.” Our oceans are suffering from coral reef bleaching, acidification, and massive amounts of plastic debris.

Personal choices alone can’t get us out of this mess, especially when 71 percent of emissions are coming from only 100 companies—including Exxon, which knowingly misled the public on climate change.

It’s easy to feel discouraged and that we can’t really make a difference. But it’s times like this when hope must be part of our movement. I have two small children, and even on my worst day when I feel like giving up, I know that I have to keep fighting for their future, and the future of vulnerable people all over the world who will be heavily impacted by the climate crisis. 

There is hope. Recent research has shown that when 3.5% of a population becomes actively involved with a cause through civil disobedience and non-violent protests, change follows. This research has inspired many of the new leaders of the climate justice movement, including the Extinction Rebellion and the Sunrise Movement. 

To give us all a boost, we asked MN350 staff and volunteers about what gives them hope and what inspires them to keep striving for a cleaner, more equitable future. 

Chelsea DeArmond, founder of St. Paul 350, gets hope from her connecting with her neighbors. As she says, “The climate crisis is bringing us together across generations, cultures, and life experiences to face our energy challenges with imagination and courage.” As part of the St. Paul 350 team, she’s inspired by the team’s ability to become strong grassroots advocates with city leadership, the local utility, and St. Paul communities. This past year they engaged with leaders to provide input on the development of St. Paul’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan, which will include bold goals to reduce transportation and emissions. 

Kevin Whelan, former executive director of MN350, is inspired by the rise of the climate crisis as a voter issue across the United States, which is a sea change since the last election. We can see this change in the recent climate town hall from CNN and the voices of voters asking tough questions on the campaign trail. Kevin is also inspired by the youth climate strike movement, which brought all of us together in September for massive collective action. 

Kevin is also proud of the work from MN350’s campaign teams. He says he’s proud to know “such thoughtful, hardworking people who do all that is asked of them and then think of several more things to do.”

Ulla Nilsen, engagement director for MN350, also sees hope in the youth climate strikes as well as the teacher strikes in red states like Arizona, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. For her work with MN350, Ulla is proud of the 100% house parties and the volunteer-led welcome events. 

What gives you hope? Let us know on our Facebook page

Laura Zilverberg is a public relations professional, volunteer with, and mother of two. She used to be an avid runner and plans to be again once her kids sleep through the night. She enjoys reading and channeling her dread about climate change into baked goods, gardening, and blog posts.