Sarah Lundquist & Winona Bateman

On January 20, a coalition of 17 organizations across Montana convened in Helena, centering climate stories and action at the Capitol’s very first Climate Advocacy Day. The rally drew over 300 attendees from throughout the state, including Billings, Livingston, the Flathead, Butte, Bozeman, and Missoula.

Singing songs and welcoming speakers from around the state, we gathered to have a public conversation about climate change in one of our most important public spaces–our state government.

The day included family friendly activities, information sessions, time to observe legislative sessions, and a rally featuring 13 excellent speakers from across the state. You can watch the full rally courtesy of Helena Civic TV on their website.

Attendees, speakers, and coalition members at the rally illustrated the ways they are experiencing flooding, wildfires, drought, heatwaves, and other climate impacts firsthand. They also spoke to their visions of a better future, where the dignity and worth of all people is recognized and protected; where good jobs and localized, clean energy economies are the norm; where communities are healthy, connected, and safe from extreme weather and pollution.

Gwen Lankford, President/Owner of Sapphire Strategies, Inc. and rally speaker remarked, “I feel so hopeful. In our Indigenous pathways there’s actually so many answers for the future. In our language there is embedded reciprocity, there’s mutual respect for everything, there’s a being-ness for everything in our language…I want to invite you into a pathway of reciprocity and one of the simplest ways to do that is expressing gratitude…When you express gratitude it means that whatever you are grateful for is valuable.”

Gwen’s daughter, Cecelia, added, “Fill your heart not with hate, not with dominion, not with the desire to crush others to achieve your own goals, but with love. Say thank you. Look at the people around you and say thank you to them. Fill yourself with gratitude. Walk forward with gratitude and love.”

We at Families for a Livable Climate are so grateful to be part of this coalition and the movement for a healthy, safe, equitable, and resilient home for all Montanans. This is the future of climate action in Montana: A massive and diverse coalition response to a worsening crisis that threatens our families, livelihoods, and life ways. A grassroots effort that promotes collaboration toward a clean energy future, and a thriving future for all people and other beings in our state.

Despite the many challenges this movement faces (including the flurry of climate-destructive bills proposed this legislative session and NorthWestern Energy’s increasing reliance on fossil fuels), we are hopeful that Montanans can come together to ensure strong protections for our people and home. Montanans are ready and the time is now for a just transition to clean energy.

We must stay engaged and heed Anne Hedges (Policy Director of Montana Environmental Information Center) to remain united, loud, and persistent!

Keep up-to-date with policy information and action alerts this legislative session by following MEIC, Northern Plains Resource Council and Forward Montana. Another way to add your voice and build climate momentum is by talking about climate change and sharing your story.

Our Montana Climate Stories project is a great way to engage, amplify climate impacts and solutions, and build community for climate action in Montana - submit your story by February 27 for a special feature and chance to receive $100 here.

Visit livableclimate.org for more ways to engage in climate action and to connect with other parents, caregivers, and community members working toward a livable future for all.

Sarah Lundquist is the Communications Director and Winona Bateman is the Executive Director of Families for a Livable Climate.

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