2016 PFIG Recipient Laura Cross
Journal Entry #1
Wow I only started a few days ago but it’s already been quite busy! Over these first few days I have spent my time learning more about climate policy in Virginia and at the national level. My work has two primary components. The first is doing research and education about climate policy. The second (and more exciting!) component is about how we mobilize young people for government action on climate change.
Day to day this looks like canvassing young people who are interested in climate change and recruiting them to join our advocacy work. I spent this afternoon phone banking people who had shown an interest and invited them to a community dinner where they could learn more about the work. At first I was pretty nervous to reach out to new people, but over time it got a lot easier. With events like weekly community dinners, we were able to bring in new people to the work we are doing and give them an opportunity to get involved. Preparation for these community nights often meant a lot of food prep! After sharing a meal together, it was my job to give an overview of our work and engage them in a discussion about climate change.
Journal Entry #2
As its mission, U.S. Climate Plan works to support students pushing for bolder action on climate change. This August we hosted a 3-day convergence of students from states across the U.S. called the Youth Climate Justice Statewide Organizing Summit. The purpose of this summit was to bring together leaders in the youth climate justice movement who are building public demand for strong government action on climate change at the state-level.
This event enabled participants to build relationships across state-lines and vision together the change we need. The first day of the conference, our team led an exercise that practices listening with an open heart to the experiences of others. This practice of “resonance” is inspired by the idea that good relationships are at the heart of a healthy work culture. This line of work can be overwhelming and difficult, but good relationships and trust with my team supported me to keep working.
In order to prepare for the event I worked on a team to organize logistics for the event, as well as programming for a meaningful weekend. Organizing this event was the culmination of my work this summer. It was amazing to meet other young people, fighting for climate justice in their home-states.
Journal Entry #3
Today was one of the most rewarding days of my internship this summer. We had a great meeting, over skype since my program director was traveling. We had a call with the team from the Statewide Organizing Summit to debrief the conference. This group reflection space was so important because it gave us time to reflect on what we did well and what could have been better.
At U.S. Climate Plan, we take the time to reflect on our experience and my mentors welcome feedback. This focus on productive critique creates a healthy culture of honesty, trust, and accountability. As a result, I’ve been able to run more effective meetings and learned to listen honestly and openly. I learned how to facilitate group consensus, as well as handle conflict in a productive way. After working with U.S. Climate Plan, I feel like I am better equipped to work for climate justice on campus and with students from other schools across the state.
I’ve learned so much this summer. This internship has shown me the importance of educating and activating young people in the fight against climate change. I’ve learned new skills and improved existing ones. At first I really struggled to communicate effectively about the complexities of climate policy to a general audience. Working with my team, I was able to workshop presentations and publications to over come this. This internship supported me with the skills and knowledge I need to continue working to mobilize young people in my home state.