(This report from the 9th Annual Citizen’s Climate Lobby (CCL) International Conference and Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. June 10-12, 2018 is provided by Joshua Keating, a student intern and Renewable Energy & Outreach Volunteer with CCL, Boise chapter, who attended the conference.)
Volunteering with Citizen’s Climate Lobby
A member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby since April 2017, helping with almost any task I could, when I was in need of fundraising to ensure I made it to the national CCL conference, the wonderful folks of my Boise chapter were unbelievably helpful. With support from all over the country, my grateful self was off to the nation’s capital, notebook in hand and my mind a healthy mix of exceptionally nervous and tremendously excited.
Before I share what ensued at the conference, I want to give a quick run-down on what exactly Citizens’ Climate Lobby is and what we stand for. Helping constituents discover and exercise their political will while building relationships with their congresspeople is what we strive for, opening the door for conversations as to how citizens and politicians can work together to take the best care of both our environment and economy. Remembering that we all are people, no matter our political label, is crucial to us. Being bipartisan is something we’re very proud of and a tool we harness when speaking of our Carbon Fee & Dividend approach to addressing climate change.
Participating at the Conference in Washington D.C.
I am lucky enough to have family in Virginia able to assist me to my hotel in Arlington, just outside of the capital. Using the D.C. metro and bus systems close to two hours every day, I must say I was extremely impressed as well as the general sense of safety I felt while within district limits.
With butterflies running wild in my stomach, I collected my nametag and sat for the opening session of the conference with fourteen hundred others. Between the personable nature of the environment and the amazing fellow members I had already met, those pesky nerves vanished by morning’s end. From training on how to respectfully and effectively lobby, to informative sessions on the future of our energy and the power of our youth, to having the opportunity to hear straight from the mouths of the high school students who got Utah to acknowledge that the climate is changing and something must be done about Salt Lake City’s air quality, I was filled to the brim with motivation and awe.
The following day was more of the same, in the best of ways. Knowledge and friendly faces in every direction. Being in the presence of so many people motivated to achieve the same goal was empowering, pushing me to really give it all I got and leave my comfort zone as much as possible. Day two concluded with me having a great dinner with the three other Idahoans chosen to lead the congressional gatherings, to learn a bit more about one another as well as complete some last-minute planning for the following day when I would be in charge of the meeting with Rep. Labrador. When I returned to my hotel, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning hashing out my meeting plan, a whole new wave of apprehensiveness hitting me as I dozed off.
On the morning of June 12th, I promptly found somewhere to print my finished plans and was off to the capitol within a sea of Washington Capitals jerseys due to their monumental parade celebrating their team’s Stanley Cup victory. We took the annual CCL group photo on the steps of the capitol building and then scattered to make it to early morning meetings, Idaho’s agenda beginning with Rep. Simpson and Senator Risch. Those meetings went well. Then, with the help of congressional meeting badges we were able to take the “secret” underground train to make our next meeting. Low and behold, it was the one I led, our group of citizens welcomed by Labrador’s extremely nice top aide, and while it was a bit nerve-wracking, it went swimmingly as well. We closed out the day with an excellent quarter-hour interaction with Senator Crapo and then sat in on both the House and the Senate, witnessing meaningful conversations in both sessions.
With those valiant tasks behind us, we Idahoans rejoined the masses back at the hotel for the closing ceremonies and to bid farewell, for now, to all the grand people we met. To have the opportunity to be in a setting like a national conference and soak up as much invaluable information as I did was absolutely amazing; an endless amount of thanks to those who helped me get there and assisted me while I was there. With all that I learned, I’m positive that I can do my part in making sure Idaho stays the gem that it is and takes steps toward making sure our future is sustainable.
(Cover photo: CCL group outside Idaho Senator James Risch’s office after a meeting with him. Left to right: Eve Simmons (California), Russel Maier (Washington), Jeffrey Ramsey (Idaho), Linda Engle (Idaho), Joshua Keating (Idaho), Linda Kraemer (California), Michael “Mac” Cantrell (Idaho), and “Pocatello” Paul Hancock (Idaho).