When you’ve struggled to reach the summit of a mountain, you’ve earned the right to a blast of exhilaration. When the struggle involves no more than navigating to the Brandeis campus for a day-long Summit of 350 Mass, well, you can still come away exhilarated, as many of us did.
Fueled by a sumptuous breakfast spread, almost 50 members settled down on November 19 to watch the keynote speakers. Jimmy Tingle, famed political comedian and founder of Humor for Humanity, gave us perspective on the weird times we live in, along with some laughs. Audrey Schulman, novelist and co-founder of HEET, gave us hope for a more upbeat energy future, enabled in part by networked geothermal.
Even more than the presentations themselves, just being massively together in the same physical space for the first time in three years lifted our spirits. And yes, for those who couldn’t make it to Waltham, the morning program was also available on Zoom.
The best way to win the hearts of activists is to feed them, and the lunch spread was even more impressive than breakfast. The noon break gave us a rare chance to socialize with each other without staring at a screen.
Then it was back to work. We split up into breakout rooms organized around hot topics like achieving power through direct action, working on a mission statement for the 350 Mass charter, and understanding the legislative choices our allies in Mass Power Forward are prioritizing. Following that, we took up the most important item on the agenda: developing a new two-year campaign for 350 Mass. Again, we broke into groups and brainstormed a bunch of approaches. Then a member of each group presented their ideas to all of us, as we followed their whiteboard scribbles.
We ended our day by joining hands in appreciation of each other and the movement that is bringing us all together. In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to develop these rough plans into full-fledged proposals, then hold a virtual “Campaign Discussion and Pitch Presentation Town Hall Meeting” in January. In early February, we’ll choose among contenders for one or more overarching statewide campaigns to shape 350 Mass plans and actions through 2024.
When you reach the summit of a mountain, you still need to climb back down to the base. We summiters, energized by our experience that November day, recognize that we need to keep on moving — following the best trails that will lead us to a more sustainable and just world.
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