But being truthful, I know we are not yet on the path that will lead to the change that is needed; but it is visible.

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Harriet Shugarman, Climatemama
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Dear Elliot and Alana,

Mother’s Day 2016 is another touchstone for me, and a reminder that this is indeed a seminal year for our family and for our country. As a mom, the reality that Elliot will be heading off to college in the fall still seems unreal, and the fact that Alana will be graduating high school next year, unimaginable. This year, we will also be electing a new president for the first time since I launched ClimateMama, 8 years ago. As an 18 year old, Elliot will have the privilege of voting too, for the first time. This will only be the second time I will be voting in a presidential election, as I just become a US citizen in 2006 – doesn’t that seems a world ago?  Where has the time gone?

This year it is really hitting home to me that time is passing and that those of us who know and connect the dots daily on the suffering we have inflicted on our planet, and the implications this brings for our species, must do so much more, and do more quickly.  We need revolutionary change and I lose sleep every night because I know that we as a society, aren’t prepared for this. One immediate thing we all must do is speak the truth, constantly. We can do this by voting for the truth as well, for reality and for candidates at every level of government that have a clear developed plan and strong policies to address and slow down climate change. I know you both know this as we talk regularly about our need to not only take back our democracy, but also of being active participants in making sure our country finds it’s soul again, and it’s moral compass on climate change.

It has been almost 10 years since the film An Inconvenient Truth was released, and since I trained with former Vice President Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project to educate the public about the climate crisis. 2006 was a hopeful time, a naive time perhaps, and a time which truly changed my life. It was a time of realization and recognition that we were running out of time. Science now shows us how true this is. To say that I am “all in” on climate change advocacy is an understatement, as you both well know. I live and breathe the facts, the reality and the urgent need for tremendous and immediate action – in large part because of you and my relentless hopes that you will and must have a future that isn’t complete chaos.

Its give me hope these days, to meet and see so many new faces in the Climate Movement and to know that the Climate Movement is so much more than a movement about climate change. Over the past few years the movement has been finding important ways to join together with other movements. We continue to grow into an interconnected web that connects the dots between health, inequality, justice and injustice, economic and social issues. Many of us are finding ways to accept our responsibility for what we know we have done to our planet, to grieve for what we have done to ourselves, and are spurred to action by what this means for your future and now.

As you both get ready to embark on what should be one of the most exciting and important times of your lives, I want you to know how sorry I am for the burdens my generation has placed upon you. We are forcing you to rise up before you may be ready, demanding that you become leaders and truth tellers even while you are still figuring out who you are, as the existential threats we have created block a clear and uncluttered way forward for you.

You know that I stand shoulder to shoulder with you. In front, behind or alongside, wherever my voice and actions will have the greatest impact. These days I am working hard to connect people that I know will and can make a difference so that together we can amplify our voices, our work and our impacts. I have been a witness to historic events around climate action. First, as a representative of the IMF at the United Nations, when the first Earth Summit documents were being written for the 2002 Earth Summit; next at the 5thWorld Conference on Women in Beijing; and following that as a participant and arrestee in Washington DC in August 2011, where you came and witnessed my first arrest, as we showed the country that we can and must shut down fossil fuel infrastructure if we are to create a path forward for the renewable energy that must be your future. We were together in the streets of New York City, in September 2014, when 400,000 people strong showed the world that we expected action on climate. All around the country, brave people continue to protest, to march, to rally, to slow down the vestiges of our problems and at the same time speed up our solutions. But being truthful, I know we are not yet on the path that will lead to the change that is needed; but it is visible.

Can our actions be enough to spur the transformation that is needed, I don’t know. There are so many forces fighting against us, and so much money and power trying to keep us quiet and perpetuate a way of life that is in reality a path that leads to the end of our lives. I am doing everything I can, to work to change the path we are on. We each have a role to play, every day. A differentiated role, but what we must all see is the actionable moments each of us can and must take. I have my eyes wide open and am working to get others to open their eyes too. We in the US have and continue to be the biggest roadblock the world over to fixing what we have broken, our planet Earth. Perhaps, finally, we are on the cusp of recognizing this.

All my love,

Mom

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