Sooo … that happened. Donald Trump won the U.S. election and now threatens the progress we’ve all worked so hard to achieve. Does this mean our planet is gonna burn and our future is gonna suck? Many of us are in pain and fear for the future right now. Optimism might as well go on the endangered species list. Great time to kick off a newsletter focused on hope and progress for building a better world, right?
Actually, yes. Because change doesn’t begin — or end — in Washington, D.C. And it doesn’t rest solely on the actions of one person, or even one government. Innovators, artists, activists, cleantech pioneers, community organizers, city and state leaders, and many others across the globe aren’t giving up on the effort to build a better future for all humanity. That’s why Grist is here — to shine our beacon in the smog. To show progress and solutions and bring together the best and brightest to facilitate progress. Shift happens … let’s share it together.
–Chip, Grist founder
5 people you should know
One of the great things about my job: I get to hang out with cool people.
Check out what these five are up to:
- Alvaro Sanchez wows me with his work on environmental equity at The Greenlining Institute. He looks at public transit, for example, and sees a boon for communities and the climate — equitable transit can solve poverty and pollution at the same time. Sweet.
- Rebecca Burgess founded Fibershed (a play on “watershed,” get it?) after vowing to spend a year wearing clothing sourced within 150 miles of her home — the whole kit and caboodle, from fabrics to dyes to labor. She now envisions a system of regional textile communities that uses water renewably, builds up local soils, and creates “climate-beneficial” clothes … that look way comfier than mine.
- Michael Ford is digging into the social and cultural impact of architecture and urban planning on city-dwellers, and is designing the Universal Hip-Hop Museum in the Bronx.
- David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, is the chief anti-BS officer who helped take down Florida’s fake solar amendment. His main hobby? Haunting dreams of fossil fuel execs everywhere.
- Hard not to fanboy over artist and architect Maya Lin, who is working on a project to highlight biodiversity loss and climate change and what can be done about them. It’s called What is Missing? — take a look, and cue the jaw-drop.
P.S. Recently, Team Grist held a dinner in the Big Apple with a bunch of Grist 50 types, including NYC Councilmember Donovan Richards, sustainable fashionista Maxine Bédat, and attorney and community organizer Elizabeth Yeampierre. We like people who are getting shit done. Want to grab dinner soon?
Stuff I’m reading
Election Day wasn’t a complete disaster. Floridians cared enough about renewables to vote down a Koch bros-backed initiative masquerading as pro-solar. Seriously, the fight for climate and environmental justice is more important than ever — and a lot of it will shift to the regional and local levels in the United States. Last week, an important oil-producing county in California actually banned fracking — a huge environmental justice win for residents. Soda taxes won big in cities, too. Election Day also saw Seattle and L.A. voters boost public transit like crazy, and Nevada took a big step toward ending a state-wide monopoly on electricity. Yep, cities and states can be home to environmental solutions even in Trump’s America, but only if they dig deeper than canvas totes, and keep high-density development top of mind. (Good job on that, Santa Monica. Tesla, that means you, too!) And in some especially surprising news: Children can sue the feds over climate change. Follow the yutes.
On my nightstand
Need perspective on the election and the work moving forward? These books are a start. Got questions for the authors? Shoot ’em to me and I’ll do my mightiest to get answers.
- Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance, is an examination of the struggles of poor, white Americans — some of the same struggles that helped bring us a Trump presidency.
- Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything, by Bernie Sanders campaign organizers Becky Bond and Zack Exley. Important right now.
- Coming of Age at the End of Nature, a collection of essays by twentysomethings working to get us out of this planetary pickle.
- Sarah Jaffe’s new book Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt explores movement-building in America. I asked her what lessons she drew from the book that can be applied to the climate cause right now. Her response: While doubling down on our specific issues is important, we’re going to have to do better at showing up for others’ struggles to build unlikely alliances. Labor and the climate movement have to learn to talk to each other. Climate activists need to see protecting immigrants from deportation as part of their fight, because we’re going to have a lot more climate migrants in the years to come.
Action that inspires
Have any loose change lying around that you’re itching to put to good use? Big national charities like Planned Parenthood are raking in donations since Trump’s win, and that’s great. But if you want your contribution to reach the community-based groups that need it most right now, I asked around for suggestions.Here are some organizations to consider.
What are your favorite causes that merit special help right now? Zap me with suggestions to highlight in a future newsletter. You can also, of course, donate to Grist.
- Food+Tech Connect has a new job board for you foodies.
- Zooming in on foodie freelancers: Civil Eats needs a managing editor.
- The New School is hiring a visiting professor in the climate field.
- Hey, Grist is hiring, too.
Do you know of a sweet job waiting to be filled? Do tell!
How to spend your Sunday
Listen to stuff by soul singer/climate activist extraordinaire Antonique Smith, especially her take on Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Me.” What gives her hope after this election? People power, if we use it: Whether it’s in our personal lives or coming together to fight for our futures, our freedom and equality, our right to clean air and clean water, we, the people, actually have the power.
And read this letter from E.B. White. It helps.