Bluegrass, bourbon and climate outreach: CCL tours in TN & KY
By Flannery Winchester
For most of April, CCL’s Appalachia Regional Coordinator Jon Clark traveled across Tennessee and Kentucky on Earth Week outreach tours.
The Tennessee Earth Week Tour 2022 kicked off on April 13 and ran through April 24, and Jon hit the road in his electric car, joined by Tennessee CCLers Don Kraus and Jan Berry.
One tour stop included a youth climate art competition in Knoxville. “One young woman had a huge family crowd there,” Jon said. “It was great to hear from young people about why climate change was important to them.”
In Murfreesboro, Jon and Don joined forces with another local environmental group who gathered about 40 local advocates for lunch and a presentation from CCL. They followed that with a hike with one of CCL’s local group leaders. “We ended the day at a Braver Angels-style workshop with a group called Common Ground Nashville,” Jon said. “There were liberals and conservatives who engaged in respectful dialogue about climate change and other issues.”
The next day, Jon attended a local CCL chapter meeting and potluck dinner. “I’m finding many volunteers really eager to get back in person,” Jon said after the potluck. “People left here really recharged and ready for more.”
At a tour stop in Jackson, Jon gave a presentation at the local library and the local news station showed up with a camera person! That’s thanks to Tennessee At-Large chapter leader Mary Legan sending out a press release about the event. “The crowd was small, but it included the Executive Director of Tennessee Soy and the Executive Director of Tennessee Corn. The event turned into a news story and a grasstops meeting,” Jon said. “We started a nice relationship that I’m sure Mary will continue to grow.”
The Tennessee tour wrapped up with two days of events in Memphis, including tabling at Shelby Farms Park, tabling at a rock climbing gym, giving a presentation at a library, networking at an architectural firm that does green building, and connecting with folks at a social gathering. “I’d say Tennessee was a great success!” Jon summed up.
Then, the Kentucky Earth Week 2022 tour launched on Earth Day and ran through April 30. “It was great to connect with our group leader there,” Jon said after his first tour stop in Benton. “The local Sierra Club leader came, and we made plans to coordinate some of our efforts in that part of Kentucky. Our group leader Manny Matos and his wife treated me to a phenomenal dinner, and we did a moonshine tasting afterward.” Nothing like Southern hospitality!
The Kentucky tour picked up more and more steam with each stop. When Jon hit the small town of Lebanon Junction, he had an audience of 18 people for his presentation. In Lexington, he gave two more presentations — one at a university for 30 students, and another at a brewery that has endorsed the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.
Jon also did three radio interviews across the state and a TV interview on KY Newsmakers, which you can watch here.
The Kentucky tour’s final stop was a meeting with Kenton County Republican Committee members, including one former staffer for Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Another cool feature of both tours is that Jon and other local volunteers thoroughly documented them on social media. They posted photos and updates on Twitter all along the way, demonstrating how to get even more mileage from our grassroots outreach efforts. Here’s a roundup of some posts from the tours so you can see and share them.
Congrats to Jon and all the CCLers across TN and KY who helped make these tours a success!