Montgomery County Council seeks reconciliation on climate action as 15 risk arrest

A key county council committee has responded to last-minute pressure from members of a growing climate emergency coalition, and nonviolent civil disobedience has been avoided for at least a few weeks.

On April 25, the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee of the Montgomery County Council supported a “reconciliation memo” by Councilmember Marc Elrich and introduced by Councilmember Sydney Katz as a sitting member of the Committee in response to the request of a new and growing coalition of Montgomery County (MoCo) climate activists (listed below.)

Originally, the Coalition requested a million dollars to fund the first, fully-staffed Office of Climate Emergency Mobilization in the country reporting directly to the County Executive. They also requested a broad 19-item “Mobilization” package of bills, resolutions and directions to County staff, two of which would also be “firsts-in-the-nation.”

Over fifty members of the coalition attended Council Budget Hearings on April 10 to request this new climate funding in the budget and over a dozen testified during the three days of hearings, making one of the strongest showings of the various groups providing input to the Council.

On the 25, fifteen activists showed up on a workday afternoon at the Committee hearing threatening civil disobedience—for the first time in Montgomery County history on a climate issue–if the memo failed. The Montgomery County police had been alerted and were on hand outside the hearing room. Fortunately, the memo passed.

Traditionally, the County forms a “reconciliation list” based on these requests for discretionary additions to the Budget submitted to the Council by the County Executive. This year, the County faces an especially severe shortfall. However, it is likely that there will be substantial funds for distribution to the list. A no vote on Wednesday essentially would have ended any prospect for any of that funding going in response to the coalition’s financial requests.

“As evidenced by nonviolent actions by climate activists across the country, I was willing to risk arrest to highlight as tool we need to consider in MOCO. Most of the people attending today expressed a willingness to risk arrest at the next stage of the process, in a few weeks, when the County decides whether actually to appropriate this small, but symbolic amount,” said Dr. Jim Driscoll, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran and former MIT professor.

Driscoll noted that the individuals risking arrest today were not representing the coalition or any organization. He was one of the key organizers of 13,000 people getting arrested including Carl Sagan and most of the national Convention of the American Public Health Associations in a successful campaign to stop U.S. nuclear testing in the mid-’80s. “That campaign began with a couple of people getting arrested.,” he noted.

Bill Christeson, who helped lay the groundwork for the People Power revolutions that began in the Philippines also was risking arrest today. He warned, “Talk is cheap (on climate), but inaction is prohibitively expensive, just ask the people in Houston, a city hit by three 500-year floods in just three years.


Organizational Members of “Spring ’18 Climate Emergency Mobilization” Coalition (in formation)

350 MoCo

Capitol View Democracy Crew

Glen Echo Heights/Indivisible

Montgomery County Green Party

Maryland Women’s Alliance for Democracy and Justice

MoCo Chapter of The Climate Mobilization

MOCO Education Exploratory Committee for The Climate Mobilization

Montgomery County Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions

Progressive for Equality and Compassion for Everyone (PEACE)

Takoma Park Mobilization Environmental Committee

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Kristen Cashmore

Senior Director
Kristen brings more than 25 years of social justice advocacy to Climate Mobilization. Her previous positions at human rights, public health, environmental justice, and clean energy organizations inform her work with the variety of stakeholders she is engaging with to bring an accelerated response to the climate emergency. Kristen earned a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from UC Berkeley, where she was a teaching assistant in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management.

Malik Russell

Communications Director

Malik leads Climate Mobilization’s press and communications strategy. He formerly served as Communications Director for the NAACP. He is a journalist, author, community-based educator, and former lecturer in the Department of Strategic Communications at Morgan State University. The former editor of the Washington Afro-American newspaper, he has worked as a journalist in the Black Press for over two decades.He has a BA in American history from Brandeis University and earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Baruch College in New York, where he was selected as a National Urban Fellow.

Ezra Silk

Deputy Director

Ezra is co-founder of The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project. He authored The Climate Mobilization’s Victory Plan, an influential exploration of how the federal government can organize and implement a mobilization to save civilization from the Climate Emergency and ecological crisis. This document directly shaped the demands of the Extinction Rebellion movement and the Green New Deal framework. Ezra was also a lead author of the climate emergency declaration resolution introduced in Congress in July 2019. A former newspaper reporter, Ezra has a BA in history from Wesleyan University.

Matt Renner

Executive Director of The Climate Mobilization

Matt has worked as a nonprofit executive in clean energy, climate policy, and journalism for over a decade, focusing on the near-term social and economic impacts of climate change. He leads organizational expansion and works closely with the communications and organizing teams. Matt earned a BA in political science from UC Berkeley, where he was deeply inspired by the work of Professor George Lakoff.

Laura Berry

Research & Policy Director

Laura brings over a decade of experience to Climate Mobilization in climate advocacy, organizing, research, and policy. She has worked on climate, environmental, and sustainability issues from local to global scales with organizations including the Stockholm Environment Institute, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, and 350.org. She is passionate about deepening democratic engagement in response to the Climate Emergency. Laura has a BA in human ecology from College of the Atlantic and an MSc in global environment, politics, and society from the University of Edinburgh.

Rebecca Harris

Organizing Director

Rebecca leads Climate Mobilization organizing efforts. Along with a history of social movement organizing, Rebecca he has worked as a journalist covering equity in Chicago public schools. Most recently, Rebecca worked as Development and Communications Manager at Latino Union of Chicago, an immigrants’ and workers’ rights organization. She is a 2017 graduate of the Reframe Mentorship in strategic communications and a 2019 participant in the Anne Braden Organizer Training Program.

Marina Mails

Operations and Community Manager
Marina manages operations and volunteers for both The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project. She brings broad experience working in non-profit organizations, health care settings, and running her own private counseling practice. Before joining Climate Mobilization, Marina maintained a practice focusing exclusively on climate-related emotional coping, helping people make bold choices for lifestyle and professional change in response to the Climate Emergency. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish from Wake Forest University and a Masters in Counseling from UNC Greensboro.

Sydney Ghazarian

Digital Organizer
Sydney leads digital strategy for The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization project. She is also a founder of National Democratic Socialists of America Ecosocialist Working Group and worked to establish climate as a primary focus of the American Left. Sydney has previously worked in journalism and in academic research. Sydney received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California San Diego.

Cris Lagunas

Strategy Director

Cris is helping to grow the Climate Emergency Movement by supporting creative campaigns and extending the reach of the movement’s message. Cris is a co-founder of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, an organization dedicated to using direct action tactics to expose, challenge and dismantle the immigration detention system.Cris got his start in organizing when he was 15 years old, getting involved in a local group of fellow undocumented youth.

Margaret Klein Salamon, PhD

Founder and Board President

Margaret is the founder of The Climate Mobilization (TCM) and Climate Mobilization Project (CMP) and helped catalyze a worldwide climate emergency movement through her work with both organizations. Margaret now serves as Climate Awakening Program Director. She is the author of Facing the Climate Emergency: How to Transform Yourself with Climate Truth (New Society Publishers, April 2020) and several influential essays. She is also a member of the Climate Emergency Fund’s Advisory Board. Margaret earned her PhD in clinical psychology from Adelphi University and a BA in social anthropology from Harvard. Though she loved being a therapist, Margaret felt called to apply her psychological and anthropological knowledge to solving the Climate Emergency.

AriDy Nox

Organizational Development and Engagement Manager
AriDy brings creativity, enthusiasm and a tremendous capacity for organization to her/their role, assisting the executive director with travel, communication and fundraising. AriDy Nox is a multi-disciplinary black femme storyteller and social activist. They have served as a national representative for The Young Women of Color Leadership Council, the Millennials of Color Leadership Bureau, and held writing positions with Advocates for Youth and RH Reality Check. She has worked as an administrative and executive assistant for a myriad of organizations including the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at Tisch School of the Performing Arts at NYU, the Youth Engagement Fund and the Community Resource Exchange.