Chispa Calls for Intersectionality with Other Movements
Alex Rodriguez, Chispa Community Organizer | May 1, 2018
Hartford, CT - In anticipation of the end of the 2018 legislative session, Hartford Mayday 2018 brought together many labor, racial, immigrant, and women’s justice organizations calling for intersectionality among their movements.
Intersectionality is defined as the interconnected nature of social categories like race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group. These categories often create overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. Seeing so many groups come together in front of the Legislative Office Building to call on state leaders to pass laws protecting the undocumented community and giving workers a living wage was eye opening to me!
My coworker Merelys Torres Garcia spoke on her life in Hartford after fleeing Puerto Rico when her home was decimated by Hurricane Maria. She addressed the trauma felt by those who fled the island, as well as the lack of federal aid in helping displaced families receive housing vouchers.
I addressed environmental racism in the Hartford community, highlighting the problem with the city’s waste incinerator which burns a majority of the state’s waste, as well as Chispa CT's win in New Haven in regards to the board of education’s resolution to put forth a pilot program for electric school buses.
Chispa Attends Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs
Anderson Elie, Chispa Promotor | May 31, 2018
Hartford, CT - On May 31, our Chispa Team attended the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs meeting. We attended this event because we wanted to be a part of a diverse group of people looking to make conversion to renewable energies a top priority in our state. This meeting was not only made up of environmental advocates, but also labor union workers--which made for a more inclusive setting.
We broke into groups to discuss what improvements could be made to the Connecticut Energy Bill (Senate Bill 9) that we'd advocated for earlier. The bill was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Malloy this month. It requires CT to have 40% of its energy to be powered by renewable energies by 2030.
Following discussion was based on how we can advocate for cleaner energies around the electric, transportation, and building sectors, Taylor, Alex, and I joined the transportation working groups to share how important it is to secure clean transportation for kids. Our group was in agreement on striving to get DEEP to allocate a large majority of the Volkswagen mitigation fund towards zero emission electric school buses for children in environmental justice communities.
It is really motivating to see the environmental movement and the labor movement working together towards a clean future in Connecticut!
Chispa Lobbies Congress for Clean Energy
Dakquie Jones, Chispa Promotor | June 7, 2018
Washington, DC - From June 4-7, members of our CTLCV team and I traveled to Washington for the League of Conservation Voters Advocacy Training & Lobby Day. I had a great experience meeting with members of the CT Congressional delegation in discussions around protecting public health and advancing clean energy in our state.
In the lobby day training, I learned how to convey my personal story in Hartford and why I believe in environmental justice. Storytelling is essential to the community organizing experience. It has to be done in a way that captures our legislative leaders’ attention and motivates them to take action.
Having done advocacy work in the CT State Capitol previously, there were times I felt like legislators weren’t always receptive to issues affecting people of color and low income communities. Still, I’ve continued on with the help of our team.
Outreach and organizing the community at large is a challenging job, but I like it because I like using my voice to bring people up. Speaking out in February’s Lobby Day for Puerto Rican families and April’s Youth Climate Action Day’s press conference helped me gain the experience I needed to feel comfortable in these meetings.
Our team met leaders such as Senator Richard Blumenthal and Represenatives Elizabeth Esty, Joe Courtney, and Jim Himes. Our team was successful in getting Senator Blumenthal, Congresswoman Esty, and Congressman Himes’ signatures toward the Clean Energy for All campaign.
I enjoyed my time in our nation’s capital with our CT team. I was especially moved by the Martin Luther King Jr. monument. Seeing his statue standing tall and proud instilled hope in me. The civil rights movement he led resonates with me. His push for racial justice intersects with Chispa’s push for environmental justice.
Chispa Visits with Sen. Murphy in Washington
Taylor Robertson, Chispa Lead Promotora| June 7, 2018
Washington, DC - In June, I traveled to Washington with the CTLCV team to speak to the CT delegation about our Clean Energy for All campaign. Our Connecticut team was one of 29 other state leagues who had sent groups to speak with their legislators about clean energy.
Going to Washington to advocate for such an important agenda gave me butterflies. Traveling from one congressional office to another was fast-paced to say the least. I’d say there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of individuals traveling from the Russell, Dirksen, and Hart Senate Office Buildings to the Cannon, Longworth, and Rayburn House Office Buildings.
Our group met with most of the delegation. My favorite meeting was with Senator Chris Murphy. I felt he was genuinely interested in what our group had to say. He was polite, asked questions, and was relatable in his interaction with us. Overall, LCV Lobby Day was a great experience and I would love to do it again next year!
Chispa Applauds Passage of Climate Change, Clean Energy Bills
Alex Rodriguez, Chispa Community Organizer| June 20, 2018
Hartford, CT - When the League of Conservation Voters and Chispa signed on to the Clean Energy for All campaign, I was thrilled! Our pledge to fight for pollution-free communities, and to move our country toward 100% clean energy by 2050 is something I believe strongly in.
I recognize that this goal can only be achieved through strategic partnerships and aggressive legislation.
On June 20th, Governor Dan Malloy and Commissioner Robert Klee of DEEP held a bill signing ceremony for Public Act 18-82: Climate Change Planning and Resiliency and Public Act 18-50: Connecticut’s Energy Future. These new laws reaffirm Connecticut’s commitment to fighting climate change on a nationwide level and I’m proud to be apart of a community of bill constantly reminding our leaders to keep environmental justice at the top of the legislature’s priorities.
Why I Organize
Merelys Torres, Chispa Parent Organizer| June 21, 2018
Hartford, CT - My name is Merelys Torres I arrived in the US on November 15, and I am one of the refugees from Hurricane Maria.
I lost everything inside my home because of the hurricane and everything that happened in Puerto Rico. I had to make the decision to travel to Connecticut without a support network, family on the mainland, or anyone who could help us.
It was not easy, but here we are trying to push forward.
I decided to be part of Chispa and to be a parent organizer since Chispa helps the environment and advocates for a cleaner planet. It is because of global warming and everything that is happening in the environment that my island was destroyed by a Category 5 hurricane in September of last year.
Hurricane Maria made me aware that the world is trying to tell us something; it is asking for help. But people are still not paying attention to what the planet is trying to say.
Today I am a testament to that, and I want to help the planet to make a better world for my descendants and other human beings.
My experience at the Red Roof Inn--which is where I was sheltered here in CT--was not easy. We were one of almost 50 families who lost everything. We came with our children, only wanting to protect them and look for a better life to come for them.
4,600 people died on my island, and everyone who survived is here for a reason. I just want to make a difference and help other parents like me understand that we must fight for a better planet for everyone.