This Group of Moms Has a Plan to End Climate Change Forever

Mothers Out Front can no longer be silent about the real danger climate change poses to our kids. #globalgoals #heyworld

This fall, the United Nations is preparing to launch its 17 Sustainable Development Goals—an extraordinary action plan to solve the world’s biggest problems by 2030. Over the coming months, we’ll be connecting with The Local Globalists: 17 nonprofit founders, entrepreneurs, and social innovators who are working every day, wherever they are, to turn one of the U.N.’s #globalgoals into reality.


Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

In the fall of 2006, Vanessa Rule stepped outside the movie theater after watching An Inconvenient Truth and stood shell-shocked, trying to absorb the scale and speed at which climate change was occurring. At the time, her two kids were aged 3 and 6, and Rule had spent many nights lying next to them while they fell asleep. “I felt life moving from generation to generation. The instinct to fight for your young is unbelievably powerful. If we can tap into that, we’ll be able to do amazing things,” she said.

That’s the premise of Mothers Out Front, an organization of mothers, grandmothers, and caregivers who “can no longer be silent and still about the very real danger that climate change poses to our children’s and grandchildren’s future,” as their website states.

The organization’s concrete goal is to transition society from fossil fuels to renewable energy as swiftly, completely, and justly as possible. “We feel really strongly about the just transition,” Rule explained. “We want communities most affected yet least responsible for burning of fossil fuels and climate change to play a big role in shaping the future we need. And we want people whose livelihoods depend on fossil fuels to transition in a way that doesn't sink them economically, and that actually creates more opportunities and stronger, safer communities,” she said.

Rule recalled, “Climate change had been taboo in my friend group of mothers. It was a voice of doom and a bummer.” So Mothers Out Front built its constituency by holding house parties which provided a quick overview of latest climate science, emphasized the situation’s urgency, and concluded with a review of social movements as one of the most effective ways to create change. They referenced abolition, civil rights, marriage equality, women’s suffrage, even the American Revolution. But the real value of the parties was for moms to speak about and listen to how other moms were feeling about the climate crisis.

Because it was such a huge problem to tackle, Rule felt that a lot of moms put their fears about climate change into a box and avoided looking at it. The house parties provided a safe space to open that box and look at its contents together. “We have tapped into something really powerful, which is that there are millions of moms out there who are scared and feel completely powerless and isolated and can’t do anything about the crisis on their own, so they aren’t acting. We’re saying to mothers, ‘Look, you don’t have to do this by yourself. Together we can do things that we can’t do alone,’” Rule said.

Since its inception in 2013, Mothers Out Front has hosted 211 house parties in Massachusetts and New York that have reached 1400 moms; the organization has 360 active volunteers and a 4,500-member mailing list comprising 47 states and 44 countries. “We get emails from all over the world from women writing saying, ‘When are you coming to where I live?’” Rule said. Over the next five years, they plan build to grassroots networks in four to eight additional states.

Mothers are the locomotive for this work. They represent a tangible connection to life—and the symbolism of a group of mothers captures the imagination. But this is not an exclusive club - women who aren’t mothers are involved, and several men have become allies as well. Rule explained, “Mothers join the group hoping that the values and experience of motherhood can trump a lot of the silos we face, and will help us come together across political divides to save the lives of our children.”

There are three levels of action Mothers Out Front asks of their members: The personal, in which those who can afford to switch their households from fossil fuels to renewable electricity. The community level, which asks members to work with their communities to switch to renewable energy. And the state level, to work to get states to switch to clean energy, and lead the way for national and international policies.

“We are building the bottom-up political will that has been lacking for the US delegation to come to international climate talks ready to play ball with the rest of the world to ensure a livable future,” Rule said. She is referring to the Paris Climate Summit that will take place this winter, when 190 nations will gather and try to reach a global agreement aimed at decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2014, six Mothers Out Front moms met with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to ask him to sign an Executive Order that would make Massachusetts the first state in the country to meet all new energy needs with renewable energy and to refuse any new fossil fuel infrastructure. He’d received many calls to action from environmental and student groups but never before from a group of mothers. They sat with him around a long table. One mom held up a photograph of Patrick on the campaign trail holding her daughter as an infant. She said to him, “I worked for your campaign and this is the child I want you to protect.” Rule reflected, “Science and facts are critically important but what brings people to action is empathy and emotional recognition of a human situation. Mothers are very well placed to speak from there.”

Rule told Patrick about the moment she witnessed her daughter understand the impact climate change would have on her. She was driving her daughter home from school when she was in 8th grade and had been studying climate change. Rule recalls, “We had just reached 400 parts per million, and scientists say the safest number is under 350 ppm and she had learned that today’s emissions aren’t going to be felt for another 40 years. I saw her do the math. She sort of had this puzzled look, and then I saw her understand the implications of this for the first time and saw the panic in her face. She asked, ‘Why aren’t they doing anything?’ Seeing my kid feel her future slip though her fingers—it was heartbreaking,” Rule said.

Patrick didn’t sign the Order, but the mothers got themselves on the map in the Massachusetts State House. Armed with careers, resources, networks, and love for their kids, Mothers Out Front members will continue pushing until state decision-makers transition to clean energy, and will work to hold elected leaders and business leaders accountable to the interests of children instead of corporations. “This is about kids,” Rule says, “not just about parts per million, or abstract science… Even though it’s me speaking to you today, this is not about me; it’s about every mom who’s given her time and passion and her love. That’s the only way we’re going to make it: together.”

Articles

We've all felt lonely at some point in our lives. It's a human experience as universal as happiness, sadness or even hunger. But there's been a growing trend of studies and other evidence suggesting that Americans, and people in general, are feeling more lonely than ever.

It's easy to blame technology and the way our increasingly online lives have further isolated us from "real" human interactions. The Internet once held seemingly limitless promise for bringing us together but seems to be doing just the opposite.

Except that's apparently not true at all. A major study from Cigna on loneliness found that feelings of isolation and loneliness are on the rise amongst Americans but the numbers are nearly identical amongst those who use social media and those who don't. Perhaps more importantly, the study found five common traits amongst those who don't feel lonely.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
WITI Milwaukee

Joey Grundl, a pizza delivery driver for a Domino's Pizza in Waldo, Wisconsin, is being hailed as a hero for noticing a kidnapped woman's subtle cry for help.

The delivery man was sent to a woman's house to deliver a pie when her ex-boyfriend, Dean Hoffman, opened the door. Grundl looked over his shoulder and saw a middle-aged woman with a black eye standing behind Hoffman. She appeared to be mouthing the words: "Call the police."

"I gave him his pizza and then I noticed behind him was his girlfriend," Grundl told WITI Milwaukee. "She pointed to a black eye that was quite visible. She mouthed the words, 'Call the police.'"

Keep Reading Show less
Good News


Rochester NY Airport Security passing insulting notes to travelers caught on tape www.youtube.com

Neil Strassner was just passing through airport security, something he does on a weekly basis as part of his job. That's when a contract airport security employee handed him a small piece of folded cardboard. Strassner, 40, took the paper and continued on his way. He only paused when he heard the security employee shouting back at him, "You going to open the note?"

When he unfolded the small piece of paper, Strassner was greeted with an unprompted insult. "You ugly!!!"

According to Strassner, and in newly released CCTV of the incident, the woman who handed him the note began laughing loudly.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Facebook: kktv11news

A post on the Murdered by Words subreddit is going viral for the perfect way a poster shut down a knee-jerk "double-standard!" claim.

It began when a Redditor posted a 2015 Buzzfeed article story about a single dad who took cosmetology lessons to learn how to do his daughter's hair.

Most people would see the story as something positive. A dad goes out of his way to learn a skill that makes his daughter look fabulous.

Keep Reading Show less
Lifestyle