These last two days have been difficult here at The Environmental Center.
Mostly, I am grieving.
The evidence from the presidential campaign is clear: a Trump administration will be hostile to environmental protection generally and to meaningful climate action specifically. Recent steps forward will be rolled back and climate leadership from our national government is over for at least four years. That’s hard to take, as it comes just when I felt positive momentum building.
I hope to be proved wrong about our new national leaders. As President Obama reminded me yesterday morning, we are all Americans, we all on the same team. So I pledge to do my best to watch for signs that I am wrong, to seek and seize opportunities to shape a different outcome. But I remain wary. I hear the echo of some sage advice from one of my college professors: “Don’t confuse your hopes with your expectations.”
Surprisingly, with my grief comes new energy too.
I am energized by the realization that my work to make change at the local level, in the place I call home, is more important than ever. Our great nation once again faces a climate leadership vacuum at the top. So citizens must once again pull ourselves up by our boot straps and take the reins. Which reminds me of a different piece of wisdom: “If the people lead, the leaders will follow.” And there I find the gift buried in the loss: a reminder of my, of our, power. Thank you for that, Mr. Trump.
So I make a second pledge: that here in Bend, Oregon, I will keep the climate conversation alive. I will do my best to keep the evidence building that Americans are ready to roll up their sleeves and do their part to leave a healthy climate, that we care about the future we leave for the next seven generations.
As Hillary Clinton reminded us in her gracious, presidential concession speech, our work matters. We must not give up. Together, we can build a better, more just, more sustainable future.
The Environmental Center will continue to bring people together—from all parts of our community—to take local action that makes a difference, for people and the planet. And we will continue to stand up for and defend the idea that all creation depends, fundamentally, on a healthy environment.