The People’s Summit, held June 9-11, 2017 in Chicago, brought together activists committed to a People’s Agenda and dedicated to holding all elected officials accountable to popular demands for affordable healthcare and education, equitable distribution of wealth, and climate solutions.
I was there on behalf of WildEarth Guardians to soak in the impressive list of speakers and the energy and inspiration of such an empowered gathering of allies. At Guardians, we understand that defending the iconic wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West relies on all of us and that we must support the intersection of social, economic, and environmental justice issues.
It was hot in Chicago, with heat breaking 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but the energy was matched inside the convention center as over 4,000 activists gathered from 49 states in what will prove to be the trend in highlighting the intersectional nature of the #resistance, working toward cementing the bedrock of progressive politics – affordable healthcare, free education, climate, clean air, and water protection, and equal access for all citizens.
We ran into friends of the movement. We saw familiar faces, and became acquainted with new ones.
Van Jones cultivated a “love army” to support black lung ridden coal miners marching in West Virginia. Wisconsin Congressional Representative Mark Pocan called his 75 member strong Congressional Progressive Caucus the “legislative arm of resistance.”
When former Ohio state Representative Nina Turner asked the crowd how many were currently or considering running for office, one out of every five hands were raised.
These people and their supporters believe in what is now being dubbed as “progressive politics,” and becoming “The People’s Agenda.”
WildEarth Guardians knows that if we are going to be successful keeping fossil fuels in the ground and maintain a livable planet, the People’s Summit is exactly where we should be. Our success in facilitating #JustTransitions away from fossil fuel economies is dependent on supporting and engaging our allies across issue areas and confronting the interwoven impacts of economic, social, and environmental injustices.
Some would say we are “radicals.” If it’s “radical” to believe that people should be able to work 40 hours a week and afford their rent and healthcare, that all citizens have fair representation in participatory politics, or that we have rights to clean air and water, then yes, we are “radicals.”
The thousands of organizers present at the People’s Summit are acknowledging the system as we know it is failing, and that this fail is inevitable. We are living at the end of one paradigm with the potential establishment of another. For our climate and our future, there is immense hope.
As Bernie riled up the crowd, he reminding us of what we already know. We have the power to imagine. And with this imagination, we have the power to create. Listen and love!
At WildEarth Guardians, we’re using our imagination to create a healthy world beyond the Paris Climate Agreement, working to #KeepItInTheGround and #JustTransition to more equitable energy economies.
We’re on the leading edge of defending the West from Trump and his fossil fuel cronies, and you can be sure we’re not letting up any time soon.
At the People’s Summit, I was able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. We are building momentum for a people’s movement across issues, and it our combined strength and support for each other bring us closer to real victories for our campaigns.