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While massive CA fires burn, Yolo County Board of Supervisors declare a climate emergency, commit to justice and mobilization

Local Contact: Juliette Beck, Yolo Climate Emergency Coalition ​juliettegaia@yahoo.com​ (530) 902-8407
National Contact: Matt Renner, The Climate Mobilization ​matt@climatemobilization.org​ (510) 517-1343

Woodland, CA, Sept. 29 — ​With smoke still rising from one of California’s most massive wildfires on record, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to accelerate local climate action and to fund a climate advisory committee tasked with helping the county achieve just and equitable outcomes for marginalized communities and to retool livelihoods.

Yolo County joins over ​​1,750 local governments​ in declaring a climate emergency, part of a decentralized global campaign that has engaged local communities in policymaking.

Adelita Serena,​ a Woodland-based organizer for Mothers Out Front, a grassroots climate action organization and key supporter of the resolution, explained, “As a mother and Indigenous woman, what we are currently seeing is a very clear and loud alarm from our mother earth and ancestors. We must change course off fossil fuels before it’s too late. I have two sons and I want them to have a future. We must act now with great urgency.”

With their vote, county Supervisors committed the county to enacting a plan “to achieve a just economic recovery and transition to a countywide carbon-negative (climate-positive) footprint by 2030.” They also put the county on record recognizing the scientific consensus around the emergency and established an advisory committee to ensure the process is inclusive and effective.

At the meeting Supervisors committed $50,000 in county funds to support the advisory committee. Supervisor Don Saylor was emphatic during the hearing on the resolution: “We as a planet really have to get going on reaching the goal of zero carbon emissions by 2030. We need to hold ourselves accountable to real deadlines just to keep things from getting worse. The goal of carbon neutrality by 2030 might not be fast enough. I’d like to make sure we as a county have done our part and have made measurable progress by 2025.”

The resolution was spearheaded by a team of volunteers organizing as the Yolo Climate Emergency Coalition and endorsed by over a hundred grassroots organizations and individuals including representatives from small farms and businesses, faith-based alliances, educational institutions, student and youth groups, and climate, environmental, women’s empowerment, public health, and racial justice campaigns.

“We are on the frontlines of the climate emergency. With our COVID infection rate dropping, we know we can tackle big problems by working cooperatively. This resolution now puts in motion a collaborative response that centers the needs of our most vulnerable populations and provides pathways for a healthy, climate-positive recovery,” said Juliette Beck, an organizer with Yolo CountyClimate Emergency Coalition.

Yolo is an agricultural county just west of Sacramento. As of this writing, the LNU Lightning ComplexFire has been burning for 42 days, killed four people and destroyed over 1,400 structures and360,000 acres, making it the fourth largest fire in California’s recorded history. This has been a season of disaster for the county; prior to the fires, the community and local economy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, farmworkers who were already living on the edge have little choice and are working long hours inhaling toxic smoke to bring in the harvest —tomatoes, almonds, and other crops — around the clock from August to October, a period that also coincides with the lengthening fire season. A farmworker who requested to remain anonymous described the situation: “My lungs are still irritated from breathing contaminated air, all the smoke, dust, ash I inhaled while working in the fields.” Adding, “I’m still working every day even though I can’t stop coughing because I know the work will end soon and I need to be responsible and help take care of my family. What other choice do I have?”

This declaration is the latest example of local governments taking strong action on climate in the face of local disasters. This organizing approach has helped community groups win policies to achieve climate and environmental justice at emergency speed.

The Climate Mobilization​ and Climate Mobilization Project support climate emergency campaigns in the U.S., where over 11% of the population of the country now lives in a jurisdiction that has declared a climate emergency. The Climate Emergency Campaign is a pathway for people who want to “do ​something​” but have been told for decades that we must wait for federal or international action.

The resolution was spearheaded by a team of volunteers organizing as the Yolo Climate EmergencyCoalition and endorsed by over a hundred grassroots organizations and individuals includingrepresentatives from small farms and businesses, faith-based alliances, educational institutions,student and youth groups, and climate, environmental, women’s empowerment, public health, andracial justice campaigns.“We are on the frontlines of the climate emergency. With our COVID infection rate dropping, weknow we can tackle big problems by working cooperatively. This resolution now puts in motion acollaborative response that centers the needs of our most vulnerable populations and providespathways for a healthy, climate-positive recovery,” said Juliette Beck, an organizer with Yolo CountyClimate Emergency Coalition.Yolo is an agricultural county just west of Sacramento. As of this writing, the LNU Lightning ComplexFire has been burning for 42 days, killed four people and destroyed over 1,400 structures and360,000 acres, making it the fourth largest fire in California’s recorded history. (See​​Yolo County FireMap​)This has been a season of disaster for the county; prior to the fires, the community and localeconomy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, farmworkers who were already living onthe edge have little choice and are working long hours inhaling toxic smoke to bring in the harvest —tomatoes, almonds, and other crops — around the clock from August to October, a period that alsocoincides with the lengthening fire season.A farmworker who requested to remain anonymous described the situation: “My lungs are stillirritated from breathing contaminated air, all the smoke, dust, ash I inhaled while working in thefields.” Adding, “I’m still working every day even though I can’t stop coughing because I know thework will end soon and I need to be responsible and help take care of my family. What other choicedo I have?”This declaration is the latest example of local governments taking strong action on climate in theface of local disasters. This organizing approach has helped community groups win policies toachieve climate and environmental justice at emergency speed.The Climate Mobilization​ and Climate Mobilization Project support climate emergency campaigns inthe U.S., where over 11% of the population of the country now lives in a jurisdiction that hasdeclared a climate emergency. The Climate Emergency Campaign is a pathway for people who wantto “do ​something​” but have been told for decades that we must wait for federal or internationalaction.

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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 and Managing Director of Climate Mobilization Project

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 Executive Director of Climate Mobilization Project

Margaret leads organizational strategy for The Climate Mobilization and Climate Mobilization Project. In this role she has helped catalyze a burgeoning worldwide Climate Emergency Movement. 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 climate change. She is author of Facing the Climate Emergency: How to Transform yourself with Climate Truth available from New Society Publishers in April, 2020.

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.