Shift Happens: Dumbledore’s Army
Chip Giller is founder and CEO of that crazy organization Grist.
It’s a bad sign when writers frequently compare the U.S. president-elect to dark lords in fantasy books. There’s even a quiz for Who Said It: Trump or Voldemort?
Last night, I was reading my 7-year-old son the final Harry Potter book. We were close to the end, when Neville brings Harry, Hermione, and Ron into the Room of Requirement, where they will prepare to take on, against all odds, Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Then, in walk Fred, George, Lee Jordan, and (the radiant) Ginny. I started to cry. Cho, Luna, Dean, Padma, Parvati, Seamus, even Michael Corner. They all are prepared to fight for what’s right. Harry’s not in it alone. Dumbledore’s Army will take a stand.
Trump’s recent cabinet appointments read like a who’s who of environmental Death Eaters. We have Rick “Expelliarmus, Department of Energy!” Perry. EPA pick Scott Pruitt and the chamber of Big Oil secrets. And then there’s Hex Tillerson, current petro king and possible secretary of state.
Given what’s at stake, I don’t want to offer false assurances that this unfolding story of horrors will end well. But it’s important to know we’re not alone. And to look for signs of progress. You never know when there’s going to be a plot twist.
Here’s the third edition of this newsletter, in which — lumos! — I’m casting a light on a better path forward. It’s time for Dumbledore’s Army to take another stand.
–Chip, Grist founder
People you should know
Check out what these rad folks are up to — I’ve been lucky to be around them this fall:
- Architect Bryan C. Lee Jr. made the news for criticizing the head of the American Institute of Architects for welcoming the Trump administration with open arms. I saw Bryan, director of place and civic design for New Orleans’ arts council, give a rousing talk on “design justice.” He argues that the field of architecture ought to use art, design, and cultural spaces to break down barriers, rather than reinforcing privilege and power.
- Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman make up the duo Climbing Poetree. They use art — hip hop, multi-voice spoken word, and world music — to educate and to organize, with the aim of making a better future visible, immediate, and irresistible.
- Yinzer Scott Bricker helps make Pittsburgh bikeable through his organization BikePGH. He strolled me around the city this fall; I’d go back just to bike it. The Burgh ain’t hell with the lid lifted no more, folks.
Stuff I’m reading
We’ll always have California: The election outcome there may help the state meet its ambitious plans to tackle climate change. Says its governor, in response to fears that a Trump administration may jeopardize climate science: “If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite.” The two other West Coast states are also committed to fighting climate change, with Portlandia leading the way.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, Illinois and Michigan passed bills that will give clean energy a chance to thrive, and Rhode Island is playing host to the country’s first-ever offshore wind farm.
Across the pond, Paris is dealing with pollution problems by making public transportation free for periods of time. Can we just make transit free everywhere, already? In Vancouver, half of all trips — let’s say that again, HALF — are already taken by public transit, foot, or bike, a milestone the city met five years ahead of schedule. By the way, did you know that you can rate the bike-friendliness of a business establishment on Yelp? Yup. Yulp.
In other good news: Google, one of many companies forging ahead on sustainability, will be powered 100 percent by renewables in 2017. To spur clean-energy solutions, Bill Gates and other big-shot gazillionaires launched a 20-year billion-dollar fund. (Gates conceded that $1 billion doesn’t exactly put a dent in their combined net worth — come on, guys, shell it out.)
Have hope! More than two-thirds of Americans want to stay in the Paris climate accord, according to a Yale survey. It also found that 70 percent of Americans want to set strict carbon-dioxide emissions on existing power plants, even if it means electricity costs going up.
Eye candy. Check out the growth of solar from 1984 to the current day in this part of China’s Qinghai province, compliments of Google.
On my nightstand
I’m combing through books like these for insights into our political situation and for input on a way forward. If you have a question for one of the authors, send it my way and I’ll do my best to get it answered.
- Terry Tempest Williams’ essays in The Open Space of Democracy ring as true today as they did in the liberty-constricting years after 9/11. Her words are one part salve, one part wake-up call.
- The Water Knife, Paulo Bacigalupi’s novel, takes us to a drought-ridden Southwest in a future that’s not so distant, a reminder of where our current policies could land us if we don’t change course. One of his earlier books, Ship Breaker, which envisions a world in which ice caps have melted and New Orleans is underwater (sorry, Bryan Lee!), is about to be made into a schmancy movie directed by Paul Haggis.
- Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City tells the story of eviction in America’s cities and trailer parks, where rent prices overwhelm people working to stay above water, and where landlords treat poverty as a way to enrich themselves.
How to make a better world right now
- Read this piece on how to slow down Donald Trump’s anti-climate agenda.
- Or these: a Yale professor’s 20-point approach to defending democracy under Trump and a guide by former Democratic staffers on how to resist Trump.
- Don’t tweet at or email your elected reps — calling them or showing up at town halls makes much more of an impression.
- Sounds dorky, but start a club.
- Join Van Jones’ Love Army. Watch his six-minute video.
- Give to these environmental justice–focused groups.
- Support independent journalism like Grist’s.
- And if you need inspiration to get started: Watch this 13-year-old water protector celebrate the Standing Rock victory.
- 350.org is looking for a U.S. communications manager. It’s got other open positions, too.
- The Sierra Club is looking to hire a senior campaign director for its work to protect public lands and resources.
- The Environmental Law Institute is hiring research associates to begin in the spring — great for recent grads interested in law, policy, or politics.
- The Climate Justice Alliance is looking for a just transition organizer.
- The Nathan Cummings Foundation is hiring a director for inclusive clean economy.
- Grist is hiring a senior editor to shape our coverage of environmental justice.
Do you know of a sweet job waiting to be filled? Do tell!
Grist guide for the holidays
- First off, don’t freakin’ overbuy! For a reminder of why not, here’s Marilyn Monroe in a dump in China:
- Make stuff for the people you love (aw). Check out Grist’s DIY guide (aromatherapy! books! jewelry!). Note that Grist tried to give DIY gifts to kids a few years ago and filmed the hilarious results. (Lesson: Know your audience.)
- Every holiday season, you seem to end up with a useless mountain of crap (no really, Aunt Hilda, I loved the margarita jug hat). Read this article on how to gently tell your loved ones what you want — and don’t want — this year.
How to spend your Sunday
- Eat at a place you love. This post from a favorite restaurant tells you why.
- Read this poem by Seamus Heaney; it’s my favorite spirits-lifter.
- Make this treasured Grist recipe:
- 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons of white Karo syrup
- 2/3 cup bourbon
- 5 cups crushed vanilla wafers (or about 120 pre-crushing)
- 2 cups of chopped walnuts (or other nuts)
- powdered sugar for coating
- Melt chocolate in a double boiler or microwave, and then remove from heat.
- Crush wafers in a food processor — or you can smash them in a bag (good way to release rage!).
- Stir sugar and corn syrup into the chocolate. Once combined, add the bourbon.
- Add wafer crumbs and chopped nuts.
- Form the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar, then let them sit in a cool, dark place for three to four days to ripen.
- These delicious bonbons last about a month when stored in an airtight container.
Voilà. A zesty kick for your holiday party — and a little extra bourbon to steel your courage to take on He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
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