By Flannery Winchester
Every spring, Earth Day brings a wave of public awareness about environment and climate issues. CCL volunteers capitalize on that with plenty of published media and grassroots outreach all month long. For Earth Day 2023, CCL chapters really put the pedal to the metal. We set a national goal of 500 outreach events during April, and across the U.S., CCL chapters held a whopping 837 events!
Check out our Instagram reel of Earth Day outreach photos from around the country. You’ll see volunteers with their Climate Anxiety Counseling booths set up, using that and other creative tabling materials to draw people into conversations about climate action. All of this outreach brought in loads of new climate advocates — in April, CCL had nearly twice our average number of monthly volunteer joins for 2023.
In addition to this wave of impressive grassroots outreach, CCLers also spread Earth Day messages in media outlets across the country, earning coverage in Utah and Virginia, publishing op-eds in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, and writing letters in California, Maryland, and beyond.
Several chapters found ways to extend their grassroots outreach into other levers of political will, by including local community leaders, messages to members of Congress, or members of Congress themselves. Here are a few stories from the field throughout April:
CCL Bainbridge Island tables with their Congressman
CCL Bainbridge Island is a chapter of about 250 people in suburban Seattle, Washington, led by Ted Larson-Freeman (pictured, middle), Sandy Spears, and Mike Kelly. Bainbridge Island Parks & Rec sponsored an Earth Day Expo at a local park this year, and the chapter arranged to table there. Their event got a special boost from their member of Congress, Rep. Derek Kilmer (pictured, right).
“We coordinated with the local Parks & Rec sponsor to have Rep. Kilmer attend,” Mike said. “They hadn’t planned on having any speakers, but they agreed to have Rep. Kilmer give remarks at CCL’s suggestion.” Rep. Kilmer spent about 45 minutes at the festival, touring the 30 booths and meeting constituents after giving his remarks.
This isn’t the first time the Bainbridge Island chapter has gone the extra mile with their member of Congress, or vice versa — Rep. Kilmer invited Mike as his guest to the 2020 State of the Union address.
CCL Charleston organizes a tree planting
CCL’s Charleston, West Virginia, chapter is a small but quite active group. West Virginia state coordinator Mark Tabbert says a “shining light” in the chapter is Dorothy Scharf, a volunteer who organized an Arbor Day tree planting at the Mary C. Snow Elementary School on the city’s west side. Dorothy (pictured, left) and a local garden club member worked with students in the classroom prior to the event, teaching kids about seed germination and urban forests. Two second grade classes participated in the tree planting.
Dorothy also got city officials involved, looping in the Charleston Beautification Commission and the city’s mayor, Amy Goodwin. The event earned a feature on the front page of the local newspaper, the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
CCL Chicago beats a trail to the Burnham Wildlife Preserve
By Joe Tedino
CCL’s Chicago chapter put its arms, legs, and backs into Earth Day, helping the city’s parks department lay mulch on 500 linear feet of new trails at Chicago’s Burnham Wildlife Corridor, a 100-acre ribbon of urban wilderness running through parkland on the shores of Lake Michigan. Besides mulching, two dozen CCL volunteers also picked up trash and learned about the city’s support for an artistic gathering space to make the park more accessible to nearby residents who live about four miles south of downtown in Illinois’ 1st Congressional District.
The La Ronda Parakata gathering space, CCL’s base camp for the day, is a circular sculpture created by local artists Hector Duarte and Alfonso Nieves. It was inspired by “the magic symbolism of the butterfly, harmony with nature, and migration,” according to the parks department website.
“We chose Burnham Park for Earth Day to help build our presence in the under-represented 1st Congressional District,” said organizer and CCL Chicago Chapter co-leader Mike Holler. By partnering with the parks department, which supplied the mulch and tools, CCL volunteers provided “lasting change that we could feel proud of,” Holler said.
Participants signed a letter to 1st District freshman Congressman Jonathan Jackson — congratulating him on his election to the House — that will be delivered to his office soon.