Volunteer Spotlight: Nancy Cotcamp
By Flannery Winchester
As a volunteer in CCL’s Northwestern Michigan chapter, Nancy Cotcamp writes op-eds and LTEs, has chaperoned a group of students to the conference in June 2017, and makes many calls to Congress. She’s all-in for climate advocacy, even driving a Prius and contributing to the community solar program.
“Here comes the great irony,” she says. “My brother, my father and grandfather are or were all in the oil business. Here in my little home town of Traverse City, there are 3 gas stations still run by my brother.” But even he is doing his part. “He does his rounds on the stations in a Chevy Bolt.”
About three years ago, Nancy found CCL through a friend. Today, she shares why CCL’s approach resonated with her. She also tells the story of how she progressed from being hesitant to write a letter to the editor to publishing fantastic op-eds in the Forum of the Traverse City Record Eagle.
Why did you decide to join CCL?
I was becoming more and more concerned with the direction of policy in our government in many areas. We had side-lined public education; we were no closer to passing the Equal Rights Act than we were 30 years ago; and we were behind much of the world when it came to caring for our environment. I had lost my husband in 2005, and without that ever-present sounding board to commiserate with, I found that in the run up to the 2016 election (and since) my anxiety levels were skyrocketing. Grandchildren had arrived, one who has asthma, and I really began to question the quality of my legacy, the legacy of my generation in sullying the planet. I had to do something, but at the same time I had to find an organization that did not deal in hyperbole, antagonism and extreme partisanship.
Please tell us about your main efforts or projects within CCL.
“Hesitant to write” is putting it mildly. My training was in physical therapy, and that was eons ago. As a housewife without strong professional credentials, I wasn’t sure I could be helpful. But as my grandchildren came into the world, I knew I had to do something. Ever so gently I was asked, encouraged and mentored by the incredible leaders (all female, by the way) in our chapter. I put out a couple of Forum pieces, one debunking some of the common climate myths and the other describing the phenomenal efforts of the high school group I accompanied to the national meeting last June. There were a couple of LTEs also. I began to realize the value of these opinion pieces. Indeed, if you have read the Ron Chernow book, you see him quote Alexander Hamilton near the title page: “Opinion, whether well or ill founded, is the governing principle of human affairs.”
What keeps you motivated to do this work?
Credit goes to both CCL and their unrelenting focus on a bipartisan CF&D approach to rapidly bring down our carbon footprint. But also to the strong leadership in our chapter which could be a blueprint for commonsense governing everywhere. They don’t let their egos get wrapped up in their mission. They’ve built a strong, active organization of women and men. The workload has fluidly passed from one to the other, and they all support one another and all members.