Building Bridges and Growing the Soul of Chicago: A Blueprint for Creating a More Just and Vibrant City for All

New Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is taking climate justice seriously. The environmental justice subcommittee of the mayor’s transition team insists on taking a holistic view of environmental issues including water safety, access to energy and safe housing, and issues of pollution and climate change. The issue of wealth disparity and racism resurface in this report as issues embedded in the way environmental issues have unfolded. Environmental racism is real. They invite us to see the rubric of a “just transition,” and the policy framework of a “Green New Deal” for Chicago as guiding principles for efforts to realize a cleaner, healthier, more just, and sustainable city. In additional to a cleaner, safer, more reliable public transportation trains and busses, accessibility and affordability at all levels, and ample bike paths, an expansive view of Transportation must also factor in racism (such as racial profiling in traffic stops). Access to clean, safe reliable transportation is related to economic security, economic vitality and an overall cleaner environment. The transportation subcommittee insisted the City “needs to work with community in planning transportation strategy.” Again, the importance of engagement and ongoing accountability were uplifted in the transportation subcommittee report as they were in all the other groups.

Poll: Chicago parents concerned about climate change

A survey of 1,620 Chicago parents from community areas across the city found: 

  • Two-thirds of parents worry about climate change in general, while 30% said they worry a great deal and 37% said a fair amount.
  • Nearly three in four parents expressed concern about climate change affecting their family: 32% were very concerned and 40% were somewhat concerned.
  • Latinx/Hispanic parents were the most concerned about climate change affecting their family (41% said they were “very concerned”), followed by Asian/Other parents (36%), White parents (29%) and Black parents (17%).
  • Parents who reported they understood the issue of climate change better reported higher levels of concern.

Read the blog post here

The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act film

In 2021, the Illinois Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) was signed into law. This is the story of how a grassroots coalition helped pass the most equitable climate legislation in the country through years of organizing, advocacy, and centering the communities most impacted by climate change. This film features activists, politicians, residents, and others illustrating this climate justice success story.

Strategy and Execution of the Fight for $15 Minimum Wage

This series chronicles the Fight for 15 organizing campaigns in various U.S. cities and states over the past few decades. Examples include Detroit, Chicago, and Seattle. Various articles and interviews—written by different authors—describe the history of organizing efforts, policy goals, and organizing strategies behind both victories and losses. Multiple articles focus on the successful Florida 2020 minimum wage ballot question campaign—particularly the role of workers on the campaign, digital and communications GOTV tactics, and what overall lessons leftists and progressives can take away.             

Poll: Investing in American Clean Energy to Build the Industries of the Future

Key findings of a survey (phone and online) of US voters, with oversamples in key states include:

  • Voters across the political spectrum overwhelmingly support government investments in clean energy technologies in order to rebuild the economy (77%), create good jobs (76%), and eliminate the carbon emissions that cause climate change (75%). 
  • There's a widespread belief (75%) that investing in clean energy technologies will have economic benefits – including for "regular people." 
  • And also that by developing new clean technologies, we can replace many of the manufacturing and other blue-collar jobs that the country has lost over the last few decades (72%)
  • Strong support for various approaches to boost and develop specific clean energy technologies such as clean steel and cement, clean jet fuels, and energy storage and transmission.
  • Voters support investing $75 billion in clean energy tech RD&D as part of the upcoming infrastructure bill.         

How to Shut Down a Coal Plant: Lessons from LVEJO

This article draws from an interview with Kim Wasserman, executive director of Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), based in Chicago, Illinois. Kim Wasserman and LVEJO (pronounced “ell-VAY-ho,”) have spent nearly two decades "fighting the bad" in Chicago’s predominantly immigrant community of Little Village, engaging in a 12-year campaign to shut down two coal plants that ranked as the top three for most polluted in the US and contributed to some of the highest asthma rates in the country.  After the conversation with Kim, the article captures are the main lessons the author learned about how to be an environmental justice leader.

How does the American public perceive climate disasters?

Different parts of the country see various kinds of extreme weather as most concerning, perceptions which are largely in line with actual major disasters that have occurred in those regions. This report provides concern profiles for the 18 largest states, drawing on survey data from 2018 and 2019. Over half of Americans see such extreme weather events posting a high or moderate risk to their community in the coming decade, and two thirds see a climate link to US weather (though only a third think climate affects our weather "a lot").