In early May, RAD members, local and national leaders, and community activists came together for a virtual gathering to envision what a Green New Deal could look and feel like for New Hampshire and Vermont. 

Just as the climate crisis threatens to do, the current COVID-19 pandemic has upended our lives, and we are witnessing and experiencing the failings of our system to secure a safe, healthy, and equitable future for all of us.

What does this mean for the climate crisis?

How do we reimagine thriving communities in a post-COVID future?

Yes, we are in a crisis that demands an immediate response, but it is also a moment that presents the potential for lasting, transformative change. A large part of enacting change is establishing a vision for the groundwork necessary to create the transformational change our communities need. 

The resources you find on this page will help guide you through how to envision your future in a more sustainable world. You’ll find videos to help educate yourself and your peers, resources, suggested reading, and opportunities to get involved, both with RAD and other organizations working throughout the world to bring about a just transition.

The following video from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez demonstrates the power in visioning our future after a just transition. 

“We commit to coming together as families, neighbors and New Englanders to build power, fight for and win a just transition that works for all of us.”

For a short, deeper dive into the policy behind the Green New Deal, look no further than this video assembled by Vox, featuring one of the Green New Deal’s authors, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, and some of the top climate scientists in our world.

“When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money” – Alanis Obomsawin, a Canadian filmmaker of Abenaki descent, born in New Hampshire.

Speaking truth in our vision.

You might have attended some of our regional conversations in New Hampshire or Vermont, and we hope you came away with an understanding of how this work will impact and better our communities. Regardless of whether you attended them, we’ve preserved the exercise here. 

Visioning what our futures will look like after a just transition is essential, and the words we choose to craft our statements and speech have immense power. When we speak with careful, thoughtfully chosen words that speak to our core values, our intent and impact goes further. In order to win policies, change laws, and secure the future we require to live equitably, we first have to speak compellingly about our work.

To help you understand how to do so, and why this is a crucial element in the success of our movement, let’s walk through how to craft narrative and re-frame our values.

Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world. As a result, they shape the goals we seek, the plans we make, the way we act, and what counts as a good or bad outcome of our actions.

Visioning in practice.

Identifying our hopes and fears lends greater definition to what our vision of a just and equitable future truly looks like. Here are some examples that participants in our visioning workshops and conversations have voiced.

“My hopes and fears are interrelated. My fear is that people who have power will double-down on neoliberalism after they did after the last Great Recession. That we will see an acceleration of the climate crisis, incredible austerity (such as the attack on public education), that people in power will say a lot of us are disposable, and that profits and maintaining the economy are more important than our lives. My hope lies in that collective resistance.”

“My hope is that leadership will emerge. In the meantime, we have to try to develop a collective to be able to support that leadership when it emerges. That leadership has to embrace people who realize that their lives are at stake.”

“My fear is that we rush back to the status quo, and my hope is that we never return to it. This pandemic is a real wake up call for people to reassess what is really essential in life.”

“So many of us are facing immediate problems like unemployment and homelessness. My fear is that we’ll be trying to address those problems alone. My hope is that we’ll try to address those problems collectively.”

A powerful vision, stated.

Once we’ve identified our hopes and fears, we can begin to communicate our values and vision. In our journey for a more just, sustainable, equitable future, we’re finding that visioning what our future will be after a just transition intensely motivating. When we see the personal impacts of policy, we fight harder.

Here’s a basic format to help you craft your own visioning statement:

“Because we value ___ , we hope for communities that *insert hopes* and fear *insert fears*. We the *insert core identities*, commit to come together with our friends, family and neighbors, both near and far, to build power for a Just Transition rooted in our vision and our values.”

Below you’ll find visioning statements others have crafted.

“I could help my son understand what he can do to change the climate crisis; winning a Green New Deal also means that Black and Brown people can jog outside and be in nature without fearing being shot. It means the elimination of racism. Black and Brown kids can go to school because they won’t be part of the school to prison pipeline.”

“I imagined a world where I feel celebrated and included in this country as a human being. I imagined a world where my kids can grow up in a community where our differences are uplifted.”

“A Green New Deal would mean going from outside the halls of power to inside the halls of power for the working class. There will be so much more hope, accomplishment, and unity.”

“As a queer dyke, my life would be different because I wouldn’t have to fear my safety / community members would not be harassed and killed because of their “identity”.”

“Under a Green New Deal I wouldn’t have to worry about my two adult children, who are doing relatively fine financially, but don’t compare to the level of security I had at their age. I wouldn’t have to worry about them feeling financially stable and able to have a home that they’d like to have – there would be plentiful access to fair housing. I also would be out of a job! Which would be fine with me, given I am a health insurance consultant and despise health insurance. My job is currently all about helping insurance companies to think about their members. I would be ecstatic if I didn’t have to do that. As for working in grassroots organizations, I would still participate, but we wouldn’t require strikes and direct actions in order to get things done. There would be a just, and equitable system looking out for the needs of all.”

“As a grandparent of a child on the spectrum who receives better services in the D.C. area that he would if he lived in VT, a Green New Deal would provide a new social structure that would account for the security of people of all abilities, no matter where they reside.”

Beyond Rights & Democracy.

In a similar vein to the visioning work we’re doing at Rights & Democracy, Climate Justice Alliance has been doing this work for awhile now. We highly recommend listening to their podcast series Stories From Home: Living the Just Transition in your continued visioning work.

A critical part of bringing about a just transition under Green New Deal policy is including, and leading, with voices from the frontline. Climate Justice Alliance recently launched A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy alongside our national partners, People’s Action. It’s the most definitive policy outline to date. On their site you’ll find an even more comprehensive toolkit than ours, teaching materials, and tools to help expand our knowledge around a just transition.

Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project focuses on “transformative action towards the liberation and restoration of land, labor, and culture,” by building thriving and resilient local economies. Their website contains a wealth of curriculum, webinars, and reading materials, all of which we find essential to this work.

The New Economy Coalition is a network of 200+ organizations working together toward a new economy grounded “in building a future where people, communities, and ecosystems thrive.” We highly recommend signing up for their bi-weekly New Economy round-up highlighting the work of their members and partners building just and sustainable economies worldwide.

FURTHER READING

FURTHER LISTENING

  • Heated by climate journalist Emily Atkin, a limited run series that demonstrates that COVID-19 and the climate crisis cannot be separated.
  • The Next System Podcast is a biweekly series featuring leaders from academia, politics, business, and the grassroots discussing movements, models, and pathways toward a new system.
  • The Elephant is a podcast that offers a different story, solution, or facet of climate change through illuminating on-the-ground stories, or conversations with leading thinkers, journalists, and scientists.

We hope this resource has helped you begin to develop your vision for a just and equitable future. Feel free to share this page with the share features below!