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We Are Making History – Climate Conference Recap

Speaking Nerves

Hello there!

Today I’d like to recap on this past weekend. Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) held their 2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference (2/17-19.) It was educating and inspiring.

Second day of conference, all of the attendees. We are going to have to get a bigger set of stairs!

With thanks to Peterson, who got my foot in the door, I opened the conference with a 15-min speech that did not hold back with the jokes. Honestly, I’m not one who evades nerves before speeches, and to say I was paranoid that the audience wouldn’t laugh at my jokes is a completely accurate statement. I even watched “stand-up comedy fails” the week leading up to the big night. Not helpful.

Knowing full well that CCLers are incredibly supportive, I didn’t take it as accurate feedback when I received a standing ovation. I really only understood my impact on the audience when, a few days later, my brother of all people stated “It was one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard. By the end, they were ready to march behind you to DC.” Being one who’s admittedly affected by feedback both positive and negative, I gushed. Internally.

Fantastic millennial representation

Final day of conference, members participating in an exercise

Following the speech, we had a panel of three officials, two who currently hold public office. On Saturday, we began with regional recaps of the past few months, leading into state organizing sessions for the upcoming few months. Productivity!

Although I can’t testify for what happened at most of the breakout sessions after this, I can speak to the Mobilizing the Youth track that I co-planned with a fellow CCL millennial, Nathan Graf.

We had three breakout sessions in that track, including “Carbon Fees in Universities,” which targeted internal carbon pricing at higher ed institutions; We Are #OnIt, which focused in on the national millennial carbon pricing campaign Put A Price On It; and “Climate for Whippersnappers,” which was a panel of millennials who have been doing environmental work for a while. That last one opened up interesting conversation about the relationships and communication among generations in this environmental world and the roles we play.

Closing thoughts

Overall, the conference was a raging success. Student registration was up 900% from last year. And we have renewed determination in our pursuit of climate action. So if you’re lacking a bit of motivation or hope, just know that things are happening and we will succeed.

Have a great week and don’t be trashy.

Author: Elke Arnesen

Elke Arnesen is an 18-year-old gap year student interning with Peterson Toscano. She's planning on studying environmental policy in college next year but for now is gaining support for carbon pricing in her free time.

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