By Nicole Ektnitphong and Danielle Trajano
At MN350, Nicole works as the Statewide Organizing Director and Danielle works as a Climate Justice Organizer.

Nicole here on the blog, and it’s my first time publishing a piece. I’m honored to be co-writing it with Danielle, one of our climate justice organizers at MN350 and a dear friend of mine. Within MN350, I serve as the statewide organizing director. To break that down, I essentially get to peek into all of the organizing work happening with MN350 and support training and leadership development as we work to win bold, visionary solutions at the scale of the climate crisis. This is a blog post about #EarthDay2020, but I want to begin with a personal note.

My organizing work began through the youth climate justice movement. When I was a student at Gustavus Adolphus College (where I met Danielle), I organized for fossil fuel divestment and (minimally) studied to get my degree in political science and peace studies. During this time, I felt continuous, nervous fear about doing something out of my comfort zone and new (organizing). I felt gut-sinking fear around the climate crisis itself. And I felt despairing fear that no one was taking it seriously, at the scale of the crisis. At the same time, I felt this raw, visceral possibility in my heart of what could truly be transformed if groups of people were more strategic, aligned, whole, and committed to building the pathway toward transformation.

This is what continues to ground me. In these moments of uncertainty, rapid change, and emerging conditions, I connect with my body’s wisdom and intuition to sense the possibility while holding the sadness and multitude of this historical moment we’re in. I invite you to take a moment to breathe deeply and listen to what is being called of you in this moment. I hope that felt nourishing.

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and given the conditions of our world, we spent it differently this year. MN350 hosted a community call on Earth Day, with the intention to celebrate the day and create a space for connection, to welcome the range of emotions and feelings that are alive in our spirits and bodies. Our focus on the call was also to make phone calls to support the Clean Energy Jobs Stimulus package in Minnesota.

This moment is asking a lot of us personally and collectively. To come out of this crisis stronger, there are many pieces to the puzzle. Passing legislation, like the Clean Energy Jobs Stimulus Package, is about centering solutions that promote public health, job growth, economic recovery, and resilient communities in this moment and in years to come.


And that’s where I come in: Danielle here, offering some insight into what the Clean Energy Jobs Stimulus Package is all about and why it’s important in this current moment.

To me, the Clean Energy Jobs Stimulus is important because of the connections it clarifies. For those in the climate justice movement, our fire and passion comes from knowing that the roots of the climate crisis are the same as those that perpetuate all other forms of injustice, including white supremacy and economic inequality. We know that building connections between movements to fight those systems is what makes us strong and how we can become whole.

Currently many Minnesotans are losing their jobs. But even before this pandemic, people were struggling to make ends meet and working low-paying jobs in toxic, dangerous conditions. The Clean Energy Jobs Stimulus Package asks our elected officials to address both of these issues affecting our community by creating new, family-sustaining, clean energy jobs. We can do this through public transportation projects, building solar on schools, and improving energy efficiency for homes and public buildings.

This Stimulus Package isn’t just about good-paying jobs or clean energy. It’s about lifting up both of these issues and responding in a way that sets the course for bigger, bolder action on a just transition in the future.

It’s also about recognizing the new possibilities of this current moment. The pandemic has brought about terrible hardship, but in it the opportunity to respond in a new way. The Clean Energy Jobs Stimulus Package is a new possibility, a set of policies that respond to the current moment.It has some bi-partisan support and a chance of becoming a reality this year!

That’s where all of us come into the picture: In order for a Clean Energy Jobs Stimulus Package to pass, legislators need to hear from constituents like yourself. We must let our legislators know: Now is the time for us to 1) respond to the needs of workers displaced by the pandemic and  2) set up a vibrant clean energy economy to prevent future disasters like the climate crisis. 

As you transition into your day and your new routine and reality, take a moment to think about what a Clean Energy Jobs Stimulus Package would mean for you, both in this moment and in your vision of a better world. Then take another minute and use our Legislator Contact Form to leave a message with your elected officials and ask them to stand with you and that vision.

Nicole Ektnitphong and Danielle Trajano are two friends and coworkers, living, loving and working in Minneapolis. Nicole works for MN350 as the Statewide Organizing Director and she performs as a comedian in the Funny Asian Women Kollective (FAWK). Danielle works for MN350 as a Climate Justice Organizer and has been honing her watercolor portraiture skills during quarantine.