We’re off to a turbulent start to the new year. We, like you, are anxious and frankly spent after four years of continual blows to justice and progress, topped off by recent attempts to overthrow a legitimate election. With deep sincerity we say that we are grateful for this incredible team that has come together to fight for a better future. We are also cautiously optimistic about the climate team that the incoming administration is putting together.

As horrible as the past five years have been, the Martin Luther King Jr holiday reminds us that the fight for justice has been a long and torturous one. We are two decades into the 21st century and almost 60 years away from passing the Civil Rights Act. Yet today the White Nationalist movement is unleashed, and we can see how the roots of racism impact beliefs and political decisions across all areas of our society. This has deadly results, from systematically violent responses by law enforcement towards people of color, to redlining and dumping toxins into the air, water and soil of communities of color, to a tacit agreement that corporate profits and concentration of wealth at the top excuses the fact that we, one of the richest countries in the world, refuse to take care of our people in the way that most other countries do by making adequate food, safe housing, education, and health care available for everyone.

At the cusp of a welcome change in leadership at the federal level, we can take a moment to celebrate. And then it’s back to work, for there is much to do. We can implement all of the model policies to reduce climate emissions, but until we confront and dismantle structural racism, we will not dismantle the unspoken social contract that enables and fosters climate denialism, because they have the same goal of continually concentrating wealth and power at the top and justifying the notion that that wealth and power is predominantly white. For those who seek justice and a livable climate, it’s the fight of our lives. 

At 350 Bay Area, our work focuses on policies to reduce emissions in a way that seeks to repair disadvantaged communities first, and our work also supports our allies in the environmental, racial, and labor justice movements. We all have a role to play in creating a just and safe future.

Sometimes optimism is an act of courage,

Laura Neish, Executive Director