These are trying times for those who care about equity, sustainability and climate change—the issues that will shape our common future. In 2017, we saw the ascension of a US presidential administration that denies the reality of climate change, emboldens hate groups, and borrows from the future to bestow massive tax breaks on the wealthiest people and corporations.
Many of us watched in horror as police turned water cannons on peaceful protesters at Standing Rock, and as neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville. We mourned the rollback of Obama-era environmental protections, carried out by fox-guarding-the-henhouse cabinet appointees. And we lamented the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, against the backdrop of accelerating climate crisis. Indeed, from deadly wildfires to devastating hurricanes, 2017 was the most expensive year on record for weather disasters in the United States.
And yet, even in these times, there are extraordinary people working to create a fairer, greener world. Over the past year, the Island Press Urban Resilience Project, has collaborated with a diverse group of activists, academics and practitioners to sound the alarm about threats and—importantly—to lift up stories of sustainable, equitable solutions.
Those stories, originally published in a wide variety of news outlets, are collected in a new e-book Resilience Matters: Transformative Thinking in a Year of Crisis, freely available online. Here, you can read about community groups that are growing local economies while reducing carbon emissions and building climate resilience. That includes California’s Cooperation Richmond, which builds local wealth by incubating worker- and community-owned co-ops. It includes UPROSE, in Brooklyn, New York, which is reimagining its industrial waterfront as a hub for green industries that create good-paying jobs. And it includes PUSH Buffalo, in New York State, which organized residents to create a 25-square-block Green Development Zone, a model of energy-efficient, affordable housing. There’s more—from activists fighting against water shutoffs in Detroit, to the burgeoning local food movement in Milwaukee.
This upsurge of community action is a silver lining, of sorts, to the gathering dark clouds. As Cecilia Martinez of the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy observes in the e-book, “When the political system does not provide for the common good, those that deal with the consequences have to be creative, innovative, and action-oriented. And we do see that. All kinds of communities are coming together to try and figure out how to build systems that are both environmentally sustainable and equitable.”
In this e-book, you will see what those systems can look like. You can learn about the renewable energy revolution, which is proceeding despite the Trump Administration’s flat-earth climate denial and support for the fading coal industry. America’s cities are at the vanguard of that revolution: more than 200 U.S. municipalities have declared that they are “still in” on meeting the Paris targets. And dozens of cities—large and small, in red states and blue states–have pledged to shift by midcentury from dirty fossil fuels to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.
The clean energy and sustainability sectors are robust engines of US job growth— employing at least four million Americans, up from 3.4 million in 2011. Already, there are more US jobs in solar energy than in oil, gas and coal extraction combined. And jobs in solar and wind are growing at a rate 12 times as fast as the rest of the US economy.
And, as you will see, the federal leadership vacuum has spurred robust action at other levels of government. For example, the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact has put together a Climate Action Plan that shows what regional actors can do with little state or federal support.
In 2017, there was plenty of bad news for people and the planet. But there was much to cheer, as well. Even in these times—especially in these times—people are rising up to resist the status quo. We invite you to draw inspiration from their work, and join the struggle for a sustainable, equitable future.
Visit https://islandpress.org/resilience-matters-giveaway to download your free copy of the e-book!