Part IV - Poking the Belly of the Beast from the Inside
“I could only ever hope to dent the salacious appetites of my homeland and make us a more perfect union by living inside this amazing beast, poking at its belly from the inside with my one little life and the small, pointed sword of my pen.” – Barbara Kingsolver, from the essay Lily’s Chickens
This is the fourth and final post in the EcoWorks Climate Action Week series; it is also the beginning of the 4th decade since James Hansen’s landmark testimony in Congress. And still global emissions rise. We need to kick our fossil fuels habit pronto, but we can’t leave anyone behind. The solutions need to deliver on promises of racial equity, economic opportunity, and tackling an array of social and economic issues from joblessness to unaffordable housing and utilities to creating beautiful, safe, vibrant schools and neighborhoods. All of these must go hand in hand.
Our task is to lead boldly to both net zero emissions and one hundred percent equity. Because we are talking about emissions from every sector, not just municipal, our solutions need to be diverse, far-reaching, and perhaps most importantly, involve as many people and organizations as possible. We need to gather all of the low-hanging fruit, but then we will need to go much further. If the journey feels smooth and straightforward, we aren’t pushing hard enough or taking enough risks.
In Part 3, EcoWorks shared a commitment to support greater Detroit in achieving a just and equitable transition to net zero by 2030. It is a moonshot we believe is both necessary and possible. We’re looking for partners to join us; we start the journey by posing questions:
What will a just transition to net zero actually look like?
How can you help your organization begin the transition to carbon free?
What is one concrete action you can take this week to make this transition faster and smoother for your community?
What steps are you prepared to take to help Detroit and Southeast Michigan make bold and swift and equitable steps into a beautiful, resilient future?
What is your personal pointed sword and what are the bellies of the beasts you need to poke?
These questions emphasize concrete action, organizational leadership, and the boldness necessary to stabilize climate. We are asking you to think about a leap beyond what is immediately apparent and feasible.
At EcoWorks, we are engaging these questions with our own internal operations and in our approach to working with partners. Internally, we have an active green building committee that took on an LED retrofit, learning the ropes of how to access low-interest Michigan Saves funding and DTE rebates along the way. We are soliciting bids for HVAC and building envelope upgrades and have drafted a solar RFP to generate as much energy as we can onsite. Externally, our focus has historically been to run programs that benefit people and communities while making a dent in carbon emissions. We’ve tracked our energy savings, but we had never set a target for what we could achieve. That will change this year, as we think about a pathway for Detroit and the suburbs to get to net zero by 2030. Our goals will entail a combination of bold commitments, implementation milestones, and supportive climate policies.
2030 is a heartbeat away - only 132 months for action. 2030 is the year today’s first graders will be preparing to graduate high school, just starting their adult lives but facing chaos if we fail to act. We are each one small voice, all infinitesimally small among the 7.7 billion other souls with whom we share this fragile earth. And yet, individuals make choices, model leadership, and inspire and contribute to movements. Small teams of people driven to act have overturned the tables of environmental injustices; the people, time and time again, have managed to bend the arc of justice. And so we ask you, today, to join us on the journey. We ask you to become the leaders you want to see, to be the next small team of people who disrupt the status quo in a way that moves your community toward resilience, justice, and a bright future for today’s first graders.
As you launch carbon actions, we invite you to join the conversation with the hashtag:
Resources for Action & Inspiration
With our commitment to 0 by 30, we will work to bring the resources of EcoWorks to any organizations, small businesses, school districts or municipalities seeking support for their leadership on climate. Please check out our website to see how we can support your climate goals and your community. We are together with you.
Leap Manifesto Project Drawdown U.S Climate Action Network Sunrise Movement Green New Deal LEED for Cities Enterprise Green Communities U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit Detroit & Michigan: Detroit Office of Sustainability Detroit Climate Reports (commissioned by Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice) Detroit Environmental Agenda MI Energy Efficiency for All (MEEFA) MI Climate Action Network MI Environmental Justice Coalition Michigan Saves Resources for Detroit Residents