Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Day on The Hill - Meetings with Congress!

What an exciting day! We made our way into the nation's capital for two very exciting meetings. The first was a meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren's office, and the second was a meeting with Congressman Dana Rohrabocher, our CA representative. As we were walking to the senate building, we noticed a lot of commotion on the streets and in a building to our left. We quickly figured out that we were walking past the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, as we walked through a protest of pro-Kavanaugh and then through a protest against Kavanaugh's confirmation.

The energy was electric this morning. We met with Courtney, a staffer in Warren's office. We spoke with her about climate policy that Senator Warren is working on. Our most important finding was when Shahir asked how close we are to putting a federal price on carbon. Courtney's answer was a bit disheartening, but at the same time energizing. She said that they are just not feeling sufficient pressure from the public to prioritize the issue of climate change and addressing carbon emissions in Washington. There are not enough phone calls, not enough letters, or people in the street. Therefore, other issues, such as consumer protection, are taking priority. This reinforced our feeling that our "Road for Climate Action" is an important and worthwhile endeavor.

This picture features Shahir, Courtney, and I standing outside of Warren's office.

We had quite a different conversation with our Congressman Dana Rohrabacher at his office. Rohrabacher merely refers to climate change as the "CO2 theory," reluctant to acknowledge the crisis we're facing. He nonetheless listened to our concerns. And although he does not attribute human activity as a cause of the changing climate, he did accept the gift of Beyond Debate that Shahir brought for him. Our two meetings on this day could not have been any more different!

Following this, we traveled to Annapolis where we had a climate talk at the Friends of Annapolis Quaker House hosted by the Climate Stewards of Greater Annapolis, and Citizens' Climate Lobby. It was a great evening filled with insightful questions and conversation. By the end of the day, we were completely exhausted and were happy to hit the hay!

Click here to learn more about "On the Road for Climate Action!"

-Athina Simolaris

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

First Day in D.C.!

Today was the day that we delivered our two Parachutes for the Planet to Barton Rubinstein, co-Founder of the Mother Earth Project. To remind you, we had been carrying a parachute to different Native American communities along our route to add to the intertribal parachute that we delivered to Barton. We also took with us a parachute that Santiago High School had painted. Meeting Barton in person was great! We learned that he is actually a talented sculptor and is doing a lot to bring awareness to environmental causes. Barton has been receiving parachutes from youth from all over the world. Actually, he has received over 200 chutes from as far as Africa! After we met with Barton, we took some time to work on our computers and catch up on as many emails as we could. We also prepared for our meeting with our congressman, Dana Rohrabacher the following day. We made it into the city for dinner and over all had a productive and enjoyable day!

Click here to learn more about "On the Road for Climate Action!"

-Athina Simolaris

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

From Philly to the Nations Capital!

Today we traveled from Philly to the nations capital, Washington D.C.! We had a busy few days working and doing climate talks in Philly, so we figured on the way to D.C. we would take a quick detour to see a bit of the city. We found the Liberty Bell and took a nice stroll through the national park where it lives. Whenever possible we try to see what we can of the sights and history of each city. We had lunch in the historic district in a restaurant which originally opened in 1773! We had to get on the road to D.C. for our afternoon event. The skies opened into a torrential downpour for most
of our drive, and we arrived at our destination, Solid States Bookstore, for our event. The book store was a great space, and our event was hosted by the local CCL chapters in D.C.. Solid State Books even had a happy hour during our event so that attendees could enjoy a glass of wine or local brew. We enjoyed speaking to the community about concerns and questions related to climate change, like electric cars, and melting permafrost. After the event, we stayed with some family friends who made us feel very welcome and even made us dinner. There is nothing like a home cooked meal after almost two months on the road!

Click here to learn more about "On the Road for Climate Action!"

                                                                           -Athina Simolaris

Monday, September 24, 2018

West-Chester University, Pennsylvania

We woke up in Philly and had some free time, which we totally took advantage of! We went for a run around the neighborhood which was lined with beautiful row homes. Then we headed into West Chester, PA, where we had an event later that evening. We found a coffee shop and settled in for a few hours of computer work. This type of time is hard to come by, and when we find a few hours like this, we try our hardest to be super productive! We have had the fortune to work in some really unique coffee shops across the country, and this cute cafe was no exception. We then met some wonderful CCL volunteers who helped organize our event for dinner. It is always great meeting motivated volunteers from all over the country. Our event at West Chester University was great! We had a mixture of students, university staff, CCL volunteers, and individuals from PennEnvironment (an local environmental organization). Interestingly, the campus had a small coal-fired power plant on site. In the last 5 yrs, however, the University made a very responsible and healthy decision. They replaced the coal plant with a zero-emissions geothermal plant. The coal plant was previously the highest source of air pollution for the area, and you can still see the smoke stack in the middle of the campus. The great news is it exists no more. Well done WCU! Shahir also had a chance to video interview the campus director of sustainability. Video interview coming soon!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

NY to Philly!

We woke up tired from all that walking the night before, and packed to head to Philly where we had an evening event. Along the way we stopped for lunch and we stumbled upon a Lebanese cafe. We ate some delicious food that reminded Shahir of home, and had me happily satisfied!

Foul- fava beans, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil
Baba Ghanoush with Fresh Pita


Continuing on, we made it to Philadelphia. Here we stayed with Karen, a CCL volunteer who was very kind and opened her home to us. She organized a pot lock dinner at her home prior to the event. About 10 local CCL volunteers attended, and everyone contributed something delicious, from guacamole, to homemade pumpkin bread, and we felt very fortunate to be welcomed with such delicious eats. The event was held at Summit Presbyterian Church, and although it was a rainy evening, over 20 attendees came out to the event.     

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Big Apple!

We woke up this morning feeling refreshed, and headed to a small coffee shop in Brooklyn that was walking distance of our stay. We worked on catching up with emails, scheduling events, and starting the next newsletter. The coffee shop had pierogies, which we HAD to try. Neither of us had ever had one. Basically, they are central European dumplings. This is not doing them justice, but they are like little calzones. Ours had spiced cabbage inside. It was truly delicious! I want another one right now! We then headed into Times Square, where we would be speaking to a meetup group. We decided to take an Uber only halfway, and then walk the remaining half. We always enjoy walking! The city was bustling. We walked for about an hour before reaching our destination. On the way we popped into a pizza place that was selling slices with no cheese. How exciting! We got a slice, which was delicious. Cheers to low carbon transportation and food! The meetup went well. We shared our project and presentation with the group. By the time we finished it was 4PM. We then had to make some decisions - what to do with the rest of the day? Stay in Times Square? See a show on Broadway? Head back to Brooklyn? We decided on an urban adventure. We would walk from Times Square to the Brooklyn Bridge, and across. This was nearly the entire distance home! It was no small walk. On the way there, we stopped to get some appetizers from different restaurants, and had dinner at a small Italian place with a view of the Empire State Building. By the time we got to the bridge, I didn't want to walk anymore… but we had to cross it! It was beautiful at night. The bridge is truly an amazing structure. There were so many people there, even at 10PM! Once we crossed the bridge, we took an Uber home. At this point we logged 30,000 steps, according to our iPhones. This meant that our walk totaled 12.5 miles! You could say we got our steps in for the day! Needles to say, we slept way that night!

        Click here to learn more about "On the Road for Climate Action!"


Friday, September 21, 2018

Return to the Road - 2 Schools in a Day!

Today was the day - the big departure from Boston! We woke up at 4:45AM and left the house an hour later. We said goodbye to my mom and Kathy, and also gave Winkie (my dog) a kiss. It was sad to say goodbye, but the journey continues. Our first stop was in New Haven, CT. The traffic on a Friday can be terrible. Hence our early departure! In New Haven, we spoke to sixty 6th graders at The Foote School about climate change. It was our first grade school event! The students were so adorable, interested, enthusiastic and smart! 

Our first opening question was "Do you think the earth is healthy?" One boy responded, "No! Because of the CO2 in the atmosphere!" This set the tone for the entire talk! The kids had so much to say, and were so knowledgeable about climate change. It was truly inspiring to hear their concern and care for the planet. Shahir and I couldn't help but think that if this class was an accurate sample of the up-and-coming youth, then our world is in good hands! After the event we had a quick tour of the school. It turned out to be a rather sustainable school in it's architecture. Our next stop on Friday was at Purchase College in New York. Shahir guest lectured for Professor Allyson's class on Conservation Biology. 

We had a great time with the students and appreciated the questions and concerns they shared with us! Shahir packed us some lunches the day before, so we ate on the way into the Big Apple! As we approached the city, we definitely felt it. Jeesh, the traffic was bad! Eventually we arrived to Brooklyn, where we were to stay with generous Citizens' Climate Lobby volunteers. They were so kind, and even treated us to an Ethiopian dinner, which was delicious. All in all, it was a long day, but a great one!

Click here to learn more about "On the Road for Climate Action!"