KFTC will be pilot site with Climate Justice Alliance

Posted by: KFTC Staff on July 23, 2014

KFTC has signed on to become a pilot site for the Climate Justice Alliance, a coalition of 40 organizations and networks working together to create a new analysis and a new “center of gravity” in the policy conversation about climate – informed by impacted communities.

During its annual retreat May 30-31 in Benham, the KFTC Steering Committee hosted a multi-state delegation of Climate Justice Alliance members for an exchange and discussion about shifting the political landscape to give impacted communities more of a voice.  

Friends from CJA had been in Kentucky the few days prior as part of a Chorus Foundation grantee convening. During that convening, they learned more about coal, energy and transition work in Kentucky and visited with folks leading transition work in Whitesburg, Benham and Lynch.

“I’ve been a great admirer from afar of KFTC,” said Miya Yoshitani of Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN). “I feel so lucky to have been part of the site visit … to be here with the people in the place.” She said she was impressed by the depth and strategic nature of KFTC and allies.

“Kentucky is a rich case study for us to glean inspiration, education and information,” said Cindy Wiesner of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. “I’m excited to tell the story of Kentucky and the work that is happening here and connect that to the work with the people and place I come from.”

CJA formed to unite frontline communities, combine book smarts with street smarts, and aggregate power to collectively fight at a higher level.

“We formed the Climate Justice Alliance because we realized we needed to get together around a just transition framework, around a shared vision and solutions that are truly needed.”       Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan Movement Generation

“We may not know everything on the periodic table, but we know enough … We know what impacts our communities,” said Michael Leon Guerrero, national coordinator of CJA.

CJA launched the Our Power Campaign last year at Black Mesa, Arizona, and KFTC members Elizabeth Sanders and Carey Grace attended the gathering of communities from around the country affected by coal extraction. CJA is holding two Our Power gatherings this summer in Detroit and Richmond, California, in preparation for a People’s Climate Summit in New York in September that’s expected to draw 250,000 people.

Like KFTC, groups within CJA are working for a just transition beyond their coal-dominant economy. They hope to develop local models of just transition that can be scaled up.

“Our groups have been forced to play within the current political reality of what’s feasible, which we all know isn’t anywhere near what’s needed,” said Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan of Movement Generation. “We formed the Climate Justice Alliance because we realized we needed to get together around a just transition framework, around a shared vision and solutions that are truly needed.”

Guerrero gave an overview of the current landscape around climate change.

“The United Nations’ solution is something they call the ‘green economy.’ That’s their word for more-of-the-same,” Guerrero said. “The new trend around the world is commodification of carbon and clean air. Corporations can now buy up land in the global south, grow trees and get credits for continuing to burn fossil fuels in the industrial world. That is supposed to save us.”

As the climate crisis intensifies, so does the quest for fossil fuels, Guerrero said. “All the fuels that could be accessed easily have been exploited. So now we see an explosion of more extreme approaches, including natural gas fracking and the push for deep sea drilling and mining. Fossil fuel companies are lining up for rights to mine under the ice as the Arctic and Antarctic melt.”

Guerrero noted there are multiple strategies to take on these challenges. One set of strategies is being led by groups like CJA and other frontline communities around the world.

The CJA delegation described three ways for organizations to engage in the work: participate in working groups such as capacity and technology, bring in other organizations to build cross-sector coalitions, and help develop pilot sites to advance the model of a just transition.

“For us to be able to scale this up, we have to show that a just transition is possible,” Guerrero said.

These ideas resonated with KFTC Steering Committee members.

“We don’t have any more excuses,” said Rosanne Klarer of Scott County. “We have to have the political will.”

“It’s about building empowerment of the people,” said Nina McCoy of Martin County. “I have a place here.”

The alliance wants to expand to key regions where transition work is being done. Because of KFTC’s ongoing work on transition and its network of local partners, CJA asked KFTC to join as a pilot site.

“We’re building our power,” said Wiesner. “It’s being done in Appalachia, in the Navajo nation, in Detroit. Part of the strategy to win is to show places where we’ve demonstrated something different.”

KFTC Steering Committee members asked what it means to be a pilot site – how it would affect funding, staff capacity and other factors.

CJA delegates explained that the vision is to create regional transition hubs and eventually lead a national legislative campaign for a just transition. Pilot organizations may be asked to send delegates to serve on the CJA steering committee.

Benefits for pilot sites include connecting with and learning from other organizations working for climate justice and gaining exposure for their work.

Yoshitani of APEN said her organization has not had to change its work to be a member of CJA. “CJA is helping me make my organizing work more effective.”

The Steering Committee voted to pursue the partnership with CJA and serve as a pilot site. Members prioritized learning more about:

  • who are allies in Kentucky for shaping the messages around climate change

  • using storytelling to talk about climate

  • ways to discuss climate issues in classrooms

  • pushing back against the jobs versus the environment frame

  • how climate change affects Kentucky.

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Rising Kentucky Voices: Coming Together for Tax Fairness

Posted by: Sarah Martin on July 17, 2014

Central KY Chapter Member Sarah Martin was among a group of folks with low-wage work experience who went to Washington, D.C.

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Louisville Housing Experiment

Posted by: Shavaun Evans on July 10, 2014

Think government-controlled experiments on our nation’s poor are a thing of the past?

Think again.

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VISION Smoketown

Posted by: Elijah McKenzie on July 9, 2014

Change abounds in the city of Louisville. As bike lanes begin to appear on familiar neighborhood streets, arrangements are being made to bring a Wal-Mart Supercente

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The journey to pass Fairness in Danville

Posted by: KFTC on July 2, 2014

On the evening of June 9, the city of Danville became the 7th city in Kentucky to pass a local LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance when the Danville City Commission approved a Fairness ordinance with a 4-1 vote. It was a long road to get there, one that local members of the Wilderness Trace KFTC chapter started walking back in 2012, shortly after the chapter officially formed.

Leading the way to pass Fairness in Danville were local KFTC members, Jane Brantley and Eric Mount. Well before their work on Fairness in Danville, both Jane and Eric worked in various ways for LGBT equality, from urging legislators to oppose the same-sex marriage amendment in 2004 (this amendment was recently ruled unconstitutional) to supporting their churches moving forward for LGBT equality. It wasn’t until 2012 that they felt moved to work for a Fairness ordinance in Danville.

 “I became aware that cities in Kentucky were beginning to examine passage of local Fairness ordinances,” said Jane. “When the small town of Vicco in eastern Kentucky passed its ordinance, I thought, ‘Why not Danville? After all, we’re supposed to be the City of Firsts. We need to get busy.”

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STAY Together Appalachian Youth 4th Annual Summer Institute

Posted by: Tanya Turner on June 30, 2014

The STAY (Stay Together Appalachian Youth) Project will host the 4th Annual STAY Summer Institute (SSI) from July 31 to August 3 at Camp Bethel in Wise, VA.SSI is STAY's largest gathering of the year and is open to 14-30 year olds from Central Appalachia, including eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, West Virginia, southwest Virginia, and western North Carolina.

The STAY Project is a diverse regional network of young people throughout Central Appalachia who are working together to advocate for and actively participate in their home mountain communities. STAY is about the need for communities now and in the future to have the basic human rights that everyone deserves no matter where they live, their economic background, their race, language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or cultural background.

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Many accomplishments celebrated at Shelby chapter annual meeting

Posted by: Shane Ashford on June 24, 2014

Music, food and new faces highlighted the second annual chapter meeting of Shelby County KFTC Chapter on June 19. More than 30 members and friends attended, including at least 10 who are new to chapter meetings.

Almost half of the chapter’s 67 members were present to review the organization’s platform and to celebrate work accomplished over the past year, as well as to discuss work to come. The scene was energetic and welcoming at the unassuming Stratton Community Center in Shelbyville, where a delicious spread was bracketed by homemade pies. The pies fueled much conversation and inspiration for the group’s upcoming pie auction in September.

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Central Kentucky KFTC holds 2014 Annual Chapter Meeting

Posted by: Beth Howard on June 20, 2014

The Central Kentucky KFTC Chapter held its Annual Chapter Meeting on Thursday, June 19 at the Northside Branch of the Lexington Public Library.CKY Annual Chapter Meeting Group

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth's Annual Membership Meeting will be held August 22 - 24 in Carrollton at General Butler State Park. Every year leading up to the annual meeting, each chapter of KFTC holds a special meeting to elect leadership, provide feedback about KFTC's issue platform, and vote whether to remain a chapter. These meetings are an important part of KFTC's democratic process. They provide a time to reflect and celebrate our accomplishments, set new goals, and engage all interested members in building a strong grassroots organization. 

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Kentuckians want better protection than what's in the general permit

Posted by: KFTC staff on June 19, 2014

Members of KFTC and ally groups asked state officials to care about the quality of the water where they live, and recognize its importance for social and economic activity, during a public hearing

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Jefferson County KFTC celebrates another great year at the annual chapter meeting

Posted by: Ryan Fenwick on June 13, 2014

The June 9th Jefferson County annual chapter meeting brought together 30 new and old KFTC members for the annual chapter potluck. 

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Modest clean air goals and better health bring loud howls

Posted by: KFTC staff on June 13, 2014

2010_06_13 Cane Run Rd. coal plant and coal ash landfill--bethb (2)

Kentuckians would realize tremendous health benefits from significant cuts in power plant pollution. Proposed EPA air pollution limits would require Kentucky to cut carbon pollution only by 18.3% by the year 2030 – a very modest and achievable goal. Yet many of our politicians and candidates are howling against the EPA proposal and ignoring the billions of dollars in health benefits.

Here's a KFTC statement in response to the EPA announcement.

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