It's easy to get caught up in the facts of climate science. As a fossil fuel divestment campaign we fundamentally believe that stories connect people to the climate crisis. That's why we've started a new series call #whydivestwednesdays in which we share why tackling climate change is important and how divest works towards a just and sustainable future. This week we're featuring Sophomore Morgan Ayers and her #whydivestwednesday story. Enjoy!
I joined Divest Appalachian spring semester of my freshman year. Over a year later, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to surround myself with and fight with! Everyone involved are supportive and play a positive role in my life. It’s rewarding to work towards something as a collective and feel valued so highly. We all care greatly for the planet, the living things inhabiting it, and the well-being of the Appalachian community and region. Fighting to have our university to divest from fossil fuels requires our student body and community to recognize the climate crisis and violence that is a force to be reckoned with, but can also be subdued by a strong collective voice. Our university holds the power to stand for what the students deem morally upright and I cannot wait to see the day where Appalachian State truly invests in sustainable and responsible industries that represent our university’s morals.
Name: Samantha (Sam) Smyth
Fun Fact: I rode on an airplane nine times before I was one- didn’t waste time racking up my fossil fuel calories!
What made you want to join Divest Appalachian?
I heard about the Our Generation Our Choice protest through a member of Divest Appalachian and concluded there’d be no better opportunity than attending my first protest than in the nation’s capital! Afterwards I made a conscious effort to get involved with divestment work and direct actions. The welcoming, genuine, and forward-thinking individuals who taught and continue to teach me the ins and outs of divestment are what keeps me involved and motivated to keep fighting!
When I joined, the campaign was switching tactics; moving from working within the system, to harnessing student power. The root of the change was due to the necessity to include environmental racism and justice into our narrative as opposed to simply dealing with the bureaucracy of investments. This hit home for me because less than a year prior, my hometown, Baltimore made its voice heard. Hundreds of people hit the streets to protest police brutality and institutionalized racism. Institutions that were lawfully suppose to protect and uplift their community members were radically against the people. I experienced my city being occupied by the United States Armed Forces, I experienced a mandatory curfew, and I experienced the not so subtle side-taking between family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. To see my home wrought in violent polarization by forces larger than my tangibility to fix made me realize I had been blinded and misinformed about the real state of my city and country for nineteen years.
What does #ResistRejectDenial mean to you?
Douglas Adams once said, "All opinions are not equal. Some are a great deal more robust sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.” We will not let our government argue or legitimize the “fact” that climate change is not real or that it is a hoax. We must disavow the blatant disregard for our well-beings and futures by climate deniers in office. We must stand up for the millions of people who are dying at the hands of powerful, morally corrupt individuals’ who deny climate change. We must resist the notion that citizens do not have a voice and that elected officials call the shots. The time to stand up against Trump has never been more urgent than now.
Name: Olivia (Liv) Holman
Fun Fact: In the 2nd grade I won my school's turkey gobble off. I guess I had a talent for sounding like a turkey. Still not sure if that is something I should be proud of or not.
What made you want to join Divest Appalachian?
Being from the Midwest there are two prominent features throughout the landscape: corn and old factories. I grew up in a more suburban city but my parents and grandparents hail from good ole' Gary, Indiana. I guess one would say that Gary was once a poppin' place to live in for most of the 20th century. Located on Lake Michigan, Gary was a hub for coal plant and steel mill jobs; and for decades the communities thrived. But by the mid 70's the vast majority of these industries left, leaving the communities broken and surrounded by a whole host of air and water pollution problems. The aftermath of these industries, destroyed the once beloved lake front city. Gary is now primarily boarded up; people fled the city to get away from its slow and violent degradation, my parents were one of them. I joined and have stayed in Divest Appalachian because I have seen with my own eyes how fossil fuel companies can use and discard communities and the lasting effects that has on them. I am committed to this cause because my grandparents and other family members still live in Gary, breathing smelly toxic air and drinking less than desirable water. Divest Appalachian is my way of fighting to ensure the Appalachian community and communities all around the world are protected from the damaging effects of the fossil fuel industry.
What does #ResistRejectDenial mean to you?
Every so often I think back to when jokes were made about Donald Trump running for president. How funny it would be, and how people would vote for him just to see a celebrity in office. Two years and one terrifying election season later, that man who people once made jokes about is about to be inaugurated as the president of the United States. Donald Trump ran an ugly campaign built on isolating and inciting hatred of people groups, sexism, climate denial, and white supremacy. For me #ResistRejectDenial means rejecting climate denial, combating exploitation, standing for a just and sustainable future, and continuing the fight for freedom just as other generations past have. As a young black woman, I can’t afford to sit idly by these next four year. I must fight, endure suffering, celebrate small victories, and continue to push for what I believe to be just. When we ask our university to divest from the fossil fuel industry, we’re asking for to them to do more than speak about sustainability, but take necessary and bold actions towards that future. Now more than ever you have a chance to fight for the future you believe in. If you believe in creating a better future, in the rejection of Trump’s climate denial and divisive tactics, if you stand for equality, then I ask you to join us Monday, January 23, at 11am on Sanford Mall.
Happy New Year everyone!
In the spirit of new starts and resolutions, we are excited to announce a name change for our campaign: Divest Appalachian. Since our group’s inception in 2013, we have used Fossil Free App State to publicly identify ourselves as a campaign determined to win fossil fuel divestment at Appalachian State University. Over the last year, however, we have done a lot of growing, participated in many trainings, changed leadership, strengthened our political analysis, and have become even more dedicated than ever to build power as students to make this change a reality.
We intend to move into this new year, new semester, and new political climate with a name that we hope folks will come to associate with the bold and inclusive actions Divest Appalachian will be taking this semester to divest App State’s holdings from the fossil fuel industry and reinvest in a Just Transition towards renewable energy and an economy that works for all people.
Join us in our first action of the semester on January 23rd as we Resist and Reject Trump's climate denial and call on App State to do the same by divesting!
About the action:
As we get closer to the start of a new semester, the political climate around us has many people feeling fearful and hopeless, and for good reason. Just this year in North Carolina alone, we’ve seen the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the devastation of Hurricane Matthews, a horrendous drought with corresponding forest fires, the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, House Bill 2, McRory’s power grab, and a newly elected Republican NC House and Senate. There is so much at stake for the people of color, women, youth, queer, trans, undocumented, low-income, and religious minorities of North Carolina, the South, and this country. With just 9 days until Donald Trump is inaugurated as President, we are also faced with a presidential cabinet overflowing with industry conflict of interest, ruthless businessmen bigotry, xenophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, white supremacy climate denial, and patriarchal figureheads.
This crisis, friends, is about survival. So what is it that we can do as students, faculty, and community members can do? There are many actions to take, of course. But one thing is clear to our campaign: no longer can we stand for Appalachian State University (just ranked #1 for sustainability by AASHE) to profit of holdings in the an extractive industry that exploits both people and the planet, contributing to many modes of environmental racism and injustice.
We call on you, students, faculty, and community members, to join Divest Appalachian in a National Day of Action for fossil fuel divestment on January 23rd. Let’s show the administration that we Resist and Reject Trump’s climate denial, and demand that they do the same! We will be walking out of our classes at 11 am on January 23rd to demonstrate the moral leadership we desperately need. We hope you will join us. Look out for student blog posts about why they are choosing to take action on January 23rd!
We also want to plug an event taking place later in the day from 4-6 pm: The Peaceful People’s Parade! As part of the NC Statewide Day of Action for Climate Justice and a national movement of grassroots organizing to hold those in power accountable to protect our planet, communities, and people, the Parade calls on everyone to come together to harness our collective power in celebration of love, art, strength, and community! RSVP at their Facebook event to see more details. Come to the walkout, and then join the parade a little later to make the whole day one of bold action!
While many of us are in shock, and even grieving, over the result over last Tuesday’s election, we cannot escape the reality that Donald J. Trump has been chosen to lead our country and represent the interests of the American people. But one thing we feel certain about in the face of a Trump presidency is that our work is more important than ever. With Obama’s failure to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, the impending Atlantic Coast Pipeline across NC, VA, and WV, and the increasing number of climate refugees being displaced everyday, there is so much at stake for young people, women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, and indigenous peoples. We knew this before the election of Donald Trump, but now we are more determined to pursue our work than ever before.
For us, this means facilitating those difficult conversations with our peers, family, and friends we’ve been avoiding for years. It means telling a better story that resonates with those who saw hope in Donald Trump on November 9th. It means ousting democratic elites and instead building a movement of progressives that we can actually believe in. It means cultivating a vision for a just future that is worth fighting for. It means reminding ourselves and others that we have more collective power as people than our new president-elect.
We know that the fossil fuel industry helps hold up Trump’s presidency, that he will give them the green light to continue destroying communities, and that both human and non-human life cannot afford to wait four years. So we are joining thousands of students across the country to fight back and stand in solidarity with communities taking beautiful, creative action against the fossil fuel industry.
Particularly in this political moment, we need our university to stand up for us in powerful and instrumental ways. The climate crisis is interwoven throughout all of the issues our world faces today and it’s time for Appalachian State University to stand on the side of justice, protect its students, faculty, and staff, divest from the fossil fuel industry, and reinvest in a Just Transition away from fossil fuels. Whose side are you on, App State?
So now what?
We recognize that many folks feel the need to take action right now. There were many campaigns and movements already fighting before this election and they need your energy! To folks feeling lost - there’s no need to completely reinvent the wheel :) Fossil Free App State invites you to come to our meetings on Tuesday evenings at 6:45 in PSU Snake Mountain #136