THOMASTON — Climate complacency is fading almost as fast as new heat records are being set. More and more of us feel the need to do something, but what? A new group to the MidCoast, Climate Matters Maine, is organizing a Climate Matters Town Hall, Thursday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m., at Watts Hall, in Thomaston, to begin exploring that question: What can we do here in Maine to address the climate crisis and, at the same time, to promote social justice?
The speakers list will feature climate activist and state representative Chloe Maxmin, who introduced Maine’s Green New Deal act in the last session of the legislature and saw it through to passage into law in an altered form that emphasizes workforce development within the context of fighting the climate crisis. It was supported by the AFL-CIO.
Maxmin will speak on topics including techniques for organizing around the climate crisis. Despite being only 27-years of age, she has been a climate activist for 14 years and co-founded the Divest Harvard campaign aimed at getting her university out of investments in fossil fuel companies. Maxmin represents District 88, a previously predictably Republican area encompassing Chelsea, Whitfield, Jefferson, and parts of Nobleboro.
The town hall will also include break-out sessions, in which participants can hear from people already involved in -- and all share their ideas on how to engage with -- climate related issues. The local Indivisible group will lead a breakout session on climate protest. Other planned topics range from eco-socialism, to making our food system more climate friendly, to labor issues and local participation in nationwide climate strikes planned for Sep. 20-27 (See globalclimatestrike.net).
This is the second event in less than a month organized by Climate Matters Maine, a group formed just this spring in Midcoast Maine to help advance local, state, and national policy proposals that would address climate change. The new group has worked on both events in association with this area’s branch of the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America.
The brainchild of Isabelle Holt, science educator for the Hurricane Island Foundation, Climate Matters Maine’s first event, in August, was in Rockland and aimed at better educating and mobilizing other concerned locals about the benefits of the Green New Deal as outlined by the Sunrise Movement.
“I reached a tipping point this spring in my thinking about climate change,” said Holt, in a news release. “I went from thinking about it as an academic problem, something that was important but not something that would affect me personally, to seeing climate change as something that is already affecting us and that I am going to have to live with every day for the rest of my life.”
Holt goes on to outline her broadening view on the climate: “This is the one issue that touches and magnifies all other issues grounded in social justice. We need to address the root cause of the problem, a rapidly deteriorating climate, not just its symptoms. Together, we the people must mobilize to transform every aspect of our society from transportation, to healthcare, to who owns our energy grid. This is no longer an 'environmental problem,' this is a people problem. Climate change is the reality in which we live, and we each need to be a part of the solution.”
The group is hoping its September 12 event in Thomaston will draw an even bigger crowd and spur other groups to form and act on a variety of crisis-related issues around MidCoast Maine, according the release.
As Lisa Lattes, an organizer from Camden who’s also active in Climate Matters Maine, explains: “We’re running out of time for meaningful action. As Mainers, many of our livelihoods are at risk due to climate-related changes. We cannot afford to stay silent any longer.”
Watts Hall is located at 174 Main Street in Thomaston. Childcare available. All are welcome.