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Sustainable Missoula: Come together to change the system

Covid is raging. Over 150,000 Americans have died so far. Millions are without jobs. Soon millions may be without homes as the federal government struggles to agree on a relief package.

Racial injustice is rampant, systemic and entrenched, but emboldened and exacerbated by racist leadership.

These issues are on my mind, as is the 2030 deadline – put forward by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – for us to make significant greenhouse gas emission reductions if we want to give our children a fighting chance for a livable future.

These issues are all symptoms of one big glaring problem: our consumer focused culture doesn’t blend with justice. But it’s the system we occupy. How do we begin to wrap our minds around changing it, and shifting the balance toward an equitable future for all? (Let alone figure out a sane school plan for two weeks from now.)

If we’re going to change everything in 10 years, which is what we must do, we must come together, get creative, and embrace radical transformation, and if we’re privileged and in powerful positions of some kind, use our platforms and our positions to make a difference and push for change.

Starting in September and into next year, Families for a Livable Climate will be hosting a series of free System Change events. These are for people who want to take personal actions, as well as scale up their involvement to push for system-wide transformation.

Our September 10 “Decarbonize Your Money” event (4 – 5:30 p.m.) will explore where to put your money to do the least harm, and possibly do some real good. We will look at how to invest your money in ways that align with your values, and dive into what the future of money may look like (including carbon offsets that work), how investments are shifting due to the climate crisis, and more.

On October 1 we are hosting Decarbonize your transportation: Electric Vehicles, bikes and electric bikes, buses, and trains” to look at transforming transportation now on the home front, and what we need to do at a local and statewide level to transform this sector for all Montanans.

In November, we will focus broadly on justice, exploring the intersections of racial, economic, and climate justice through our “Showing Up for Justice” panel. Time and date will be announced in September on livableclimate.org and our Facebook page, and we hope to have the event coincide and align with the release of our third issue of The Changing Times centered on Justice (submissions now open).

Of course, also in November is the next election. We can use our collective power to show up for justice and system change when we exercise our right to vote and choose who to represent us in important federal, state and local leadership. One lesser-known but influential position on the ballot is the Public Service Commission; Families for a Livable Climate recently interviewed the two candidates seeking to represent the Missoula region (PSC District 4) and will share that video on our website soon.

And, you can show up for racial justice today, and join the BIPOC-led efforts to transform our communities, by following and financially supporting black- and Indigenous-led organizations in Missoula and greater Montana, such as:

Changing our systems over the next decade will require us all to stretch ourselves and grow in ways we may not have thought possible. It will require radical imagination to envision effective solutions, radical compassion to heal rifts in our communities and make space for each of us to change beliefs and habits, radical acceptance of our losses, and radical hope, forging ahead every day with our eye toward creating more connected communities, a healthy home planet, and a resilient and equitable economy.

To receive occasional updates and event notifications for the System Change Series (free events) from Families for a Livable Climate, sign up for our emails at livableclimate.org or follow our Facebook page or Instagram.

Winona Bateman coordinates Families for a Livable Climate. This Sustainable Missoula column is brought to you – via the Missoula Current – every week by Climate Smart Missoula and Home ReSource.

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Sustainability Happenings

As COVID-19 has altered many community events, some have moved on-line or found creative outlets. Here we offer ideas about sustainable ways to stay involved in our community. If you like these offerings, consider signing up for Climate Smart’s eNewsletter here. And sign up for Home ReSource’s eNews via their homepage here.

Weekly through September 3. Montana Renewable Energy Association’s Summer Series. Thursdays at 12:30 p.m., join in on virtual lunchtime presentations about renewable energy topics. More details and RSVP here.

August 19, 12 p.m.: Film and Panel Discussion: Unbreathable: The fight for healthy air. Given how air pollution is linked to worse COVID-19 outcomes, this timely film highlights how it continues to disproportionately harm low-wealth and communities of color. Join a fantastic panel, including Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins, for a live discussion on what we can do here in Montana. Sponsored by the American Lung Association of Montana, Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate, and Climate Smart Missoula. Register here to receive the link to view the film and join the panel.

September 10, 4 – 5:30 pm: Decarbonize Your Money: Investments, Banking, Offsets. Hosted by Families for a Livable Climate, this happy hour Zoom panel discussion will focus on how to decarbonize your money from personal investments, and business or organizational investments, to where you bank. And we will dive into the value of (LOCAL) carbon offsets. See more details and sign up to register.

September 13-26: Missoula in Motion’s Commuter Challenge. Create or join your workplace team and log your sustainable trips to win prizes. Yes, working from home counts!

All Summer. It’s farmer’s market season! The markets look different this year to protect public health, but both the Missoula Farmer’s Market (at the XXXXs) and the Clark Fork Market are happening. Check their websites for more details. CFAC also has a great list of local food resources for consumers.

Recommended reading: A new report shows that we can rapidly reduce emissions and add millions of jobs by 2035 by decarbonizing our electricity sector, using existing technology – here’s a helpful analysis from David Roberts at Vox.