Climate Voices

December 1, 2019
By: Sarah Goodspeed, Senior Policy Manager

Creating Home through COP

Climate Generation roots our work in the stories we all have as eyewitnesses to climate change.

Growing up in Minnesota as a descendant from pioneer farmers, I did not learn the history of the Dakota people, whose ancestral homeland I also call home. I was lucky to spend my college years in California in my maternal home, and to learn about the incredible history of farming and farmworker rights in California.

I got involved in solidarity campaigns with undocumented neighbors and rallies to save the South Central Farm. I joined the Peace Corps and worked alongside rural farmers in Ecuador in a community that experienced the highest rates of emigration in the country over the previous decade of a weak agricultural economy. This time was also the peak of the Lago Agrio lawsuit against Chevron, when communities sued for damages from irreparable oil contamination on the other side of the country I came to also call home.

I returned to my original home of Minnesota with new eyes and new relationships, driven to continue working with communities to exercise their power to self-determine and shape their sustainable futures. My work with Climate Generation comes after years alongside Latinx communities who call Minnesota home, some for generations and some newly so, with LGBTQ+ communities who are often familiar with the loss and creation of a sense of home, and with the environmental sector which is coming to terms with its racist footprints and false one-size-fits-all policies. As I eagerly anticipate attending COP25, I am excited to bring this lens to the international climate change negotiations.

Chile remains in the Presidency of the negotiations, an opportunity to elevate the impacts climate change is having on Latin American nations.

It also highlights the dangers of false solutions that fail to address rising inequalities in our communities that have led to Spain host the event in the face of unrest and militarization in Chile. As countries come together for multilateral solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to stabilize our climate, we must be thoughtful of how solutions will also stabilize our social, political, and economic challenges as climate change tests our resilience worldwide. We must advance solutions that protect human rights and enable the movement of communities searching for safety and stability across borders as they are displaced by climate change and its many impacts.

Minnesota is a place where ancestral nations still call home and where pioneers stole the land for their home, with a modern history of refugees making a home; all who have shaped our current fabric.

Yet communities continue to face challenges from many unwilling to share their home or unwilling to adapt to a changing climate, whether meteorological or social. Some communities in Minnesota will also experience displacement from flooding river valleys, wildfires, contamination, and other challenges of our own creation. We must support one another near and far as we grapple to find our new normal.

Climate Generation believes that the solutions lie in the communities most impacted by climate change. I look forward to learning models from around the world and meeting partners at COP who are shaping solutions with their communities to protect their homes or search for new places to call home.

It is time to act on climate change with intersectional solutions as we build a resilient Minnesota on this planet, the home we all share.