Bigger than all of us
March 25, 2020
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We’re all experiencing something that feels so dire, heavy, big and uncertain.

I don’t know what will happen right now. None of us do. I do know that I want to support all of you, our communities, our workers, our families, our leaders.

Yet even the step of offering what to support can feel complex and big. So I’ve gotten stuck on what to say. There are many directions to point for who needs support. 

As Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee recently said, “This is bigger than all of us.”

I think of Asian communities targeted by people experiencing racism and scapegoating fueled by fear, xenophobia, and even violence; those working in the healthcare profession risking exposure and showing up to take care of others; neighbors and others who continue to provide food, supplies and shelter to keep everything running and people safe; and news reporters providing critical, real-time information that we need.

We are told to stay home, but what about others for whom home is not safe, or doesn’t exist? We are told not to go out, yet what about thousands of small businesses and micro-economies that rely on people gathering together? How can we reach out and support those who suffer especially in times of physical isolation? All these people, and so many more, need help.

I also know we have to continue working to tackle the climate crisis. I’ll confess that it’s hard to watch elected leaders heed the advice of scientific experts and act decisively to confront the coronavirus crisis, while despite decades of increasingly dire climate warnings from the scientific community, many of those same leaders have shown little willingness to respond to that crisis with real action.

This is an opportunity for learning and drawing parallels when it feels right. We are all managing—with difficulty and sacrifice—to reorder our lives to keep one another safe. We all share a committed hope that we will make it through this crisis by understanding what is required, trusting our resilience, and doing what is necessary. 

That's why I will continue to show up every day for solutions to the climate crisis. Though we're physically separated, the climate community knows that we need to keep working towards strong collective action—by cities, states, and nations, by businesses and individuals, by all of us. I don’t want our collective home to be on fire with no safe place to go.

There are other parallels too. Our society is not going to escape from either crisis unscathed. Low-income communities and communities of color are most at risk and will suffer impacts disproportionately. Even if we turn back the worst effects of COVID-19, we have already lost thousands of people. Many more have lost their livelihoods.

We can still stop the worst impacts of climate change, but we have already lost millions of acres of forests, and billions of people are harmed every day by fossil fuel use. Those realities are not an excuse to throw up our hands. They are a reason to work harder and smarter together, and recommit to protecting those vulnerable populations by continuing to pursue immediate climate action.

For that reason, our staff and board remain hard at work advancing solutions to the climate crisis. We continue to collaborate with our allies on our quest to make the Pacific Northwest 100% clean—through 100% clean electricity, clean and equitable transportation, and 100% clean buildings. The vision remains vibrant, and we will continue putting one foot in front of the other to make progress.

In this time of information saturation and overload, we need to learn and listen to new ways to turn toward each other and connect. Feel free to share your ideas for the positive support you are seeing from your window.

Thank you for all that you are doing to support others any way you can.

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Author Bio

Gregg Small

Executive Director, Climate Solutions

Gregg brings nearly 25 years of experience working on environmental and public policy issues, including 20 as an Executive Director. At Climate Solutions, Gregg oversees a staff of two dozen policy experts, campaigners, innovators, and researchers across three Northwest offices, providing strategic direction for one of the most effective regional climate and clean economy organizations in the nation. 

Prior to coming to Climate Solutions, Gregg served as the Executive Director of the Washington Toxics Coalition for 7 years and as the Executive Director of the California-based Pesticide Watch for 5 years. During that time, he played a leadership role in creating and developing a number of leading coalitions working on environmental health issues, including the Toxic Free Legacy Coalition,Californians for Pesticide Reform, and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Bodies. At Climate Solutions, he helped to found the Washington-based Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy and Renew Oregon.

Gregg began his professional career as an organizer for Green Corps, working in Washington, DC, Vermont, and California. He received his B.A. in Political Science from Dickinson College.

When not at work, Gregg spends time with his family and raising awareness about Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease that his son Jude has and that he is passionate about finding a cure for.