By Katie Zakrzewski
For this month’s Volunteer Spotlight, CCL recognizes Torrey McMillan, the group leader of Ohio’s Cleveland chapter.
Torrey first got involved with CCL as part of a New Years’ resolution to be more involved in her local community. Since then, she has worked to make her community more aware of climate change by handing out her excess hot peppers with her dog, Meadow. Torrey talks with people in the neighborhood about climate awareness and contacting Congress as she hands out her harvest leftovers, her faithful pup by her side.
The following is an edited transcript of our conversation with her.
What inspired you to get into climate advocacy?
Torrey: I have been a teacher focused on sustainability education for decades. As a teacher, I feel like I am in the long game for bringing about change in the world, but I had been feeling like, as important as that is, when working on climate, we don’t have time to wait until the students I work with get into decision-making positions. I also believe we need systemic change to fix this problem. I can make all sorts of individual efforts in my own lifestyle, but that won’t do the trick, even if all my friends and family do it, too. So I was looking for how I could get involved with something that worked at the system level and had the potential to make change more quickly. Climate advocacy fit the bill.
How did you first get connected with CCL?
Torrey: I first got connected to CCL through a couple of other CCL volunteers who both are alumni of the same university that I attended. We were all back on campus for a reunion event, and I was talking about my desire to get involved with climate volunteering in some way, and in two independent conversations, CCL came up as a great organization to work with. One of the two folks I was talking with works for Climate Central, so I really valued her endorsement. When I got home from the reunion, I checked CCL out and connected with my local chapter.
What initiatives are you working on right now?
Torrey: Right now I am working on building a relationship with the new representative for my district. We had a special election in November to fill the seat, so we’ve worked to establish a working relationship with the representative. We are also working on a letter-to-the-editor campaign, trying to submit two per week for a month.
What keeps you motivated to do this work?
Torrey: I stay motivated for a few reasons. Firstly, I think it is important to role model being a politically engaged citizen for my students. Secondly, the people I have met through CCL are so capable and committed. It is really fun to work with folks who I respect so much and from whom I learn. Additionally, I am constantly learning, which is great. Finally, the job isn’t done yet, but we can see progress.
What climate goals do you have for the future?
Torrey: I hope to help ensure a just transition to a carbon-free future and to make sure people of the global majority have the support they need to survive the climate impacts that we are going to face.