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What Can the US Do in 10 Years? July 21, 2009

Posted by Morgan in tcktcktck.
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I was one of 7 Astronauts who stood up in today’s EPW senate hearing to deliver an unmistakable message to our senators, both allies and obstructionists: be as bold as the Apollo mission. Fully clad in space suits complete with the NASA logo, the Avaaz Action Factory stood up in the middle of the hearing and unfurled our banners.

“What can the US do in 10 years?” The first banner asked. “Put a man on the moon (check); cut co2 40% (dotted-line-check).” said the 2nd.

Responses in the room ranged from excited smiles and laughs to uncomfortable grimaces. Senators Boxer and Sanders didn’t reach for the gavel to call for order. A confused capitol police officer kindly asked us to sit, but didn’t kick us out. After 15 minutes, another officer asked us into the hallway but let us back in after a warning. Walking in and out of the hearing twice only added to our visibility because of the bright and shiny NASA suits we all had on.



Will Gillibrand Score a Home Run for Climate? July 15, 2009

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In their second public appearance on Tuesday, the Strongmen and women showed up in full force this evening at Guy Mason Field for the first ever Congressional Women’s Softball match. Why? To cheer on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) of course!

With climate-themed ball game cheers, the Strongpeople attracted much attention and joined Gillibrand’s staff in pumping her up throughout the game. She seemed to recognize the Strongpeople, having seen them in the morning at an Environment and Public Works hearing. After the game, Gillibrand was excited to shake all of the Strongpeoples’ strong, muscular hands as they congratulated her on her excellent pitching and batting skills. The Strongpeople told her how much they are counting on her to “hit the climate bill out of the park too” and be a climate champion. They gave her a commemorative bat with information about ways to strengthen climate legislation and lead the US toward a global treaty in Copenhagen. The Senator thanked the Strongpeople for their advocacy and accepted the gifts graciously.
Senator Gillibrand is in a unique position to be a climate champion in the senate. She sits on the three committees that will probably play the largest role in piecing together a bill: Environment and Public Works, Agriculture, and Foreign Relations. To date, her statements on climate change are encouraging, including a recent indication that she “will use every bit of persuasive power” to restore the EPA’s authority to regulate pollution from old coal-fired power plants in the Senate version of the bill. This important EPA oversight is not included in the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill. Given that she sits on Foreign Relations as well as EPW, Gillibrand is also poised to help strengthen international finance provisions for adaptation and clean tech transfer. These oft-forgotten components of a US climate bill will mean a lot at international negotiations, and whether or not Gillibrand will lead in these areas as well remains to be seen.

Tonight, Senator Gillibrand played hard and even scored a run. The Strongpeople hope to see her do the same if not better in the Senate as the climate bill moves forward.

Strongmen/women want Strong Climate Bill July 14, 2009

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In this morning’s Environment and Public Works Senate committee hearing, Avaaz.org youth once again pushed for HARDER oversight of dirty coal plants, BETTER funding for international adaptation and clean tech measures, FASTER 2020 emissions reduction targets, and overall STRONGER domestic climate legislation leading up to Copenhagen. Six youth dressed in muscle suits and “HARDER, BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER” work-out tees filled a full row in the hearing room, and came face to face with Senator Boxer and other committee members.

The “strong” visual brought whispers of interest and cell-phone photos from hearing attendees and press. The strongmen/women also let out a burst of clapping after one witness’s testimony about the need to put a cap on carbon emissions. In response, Senator Boxer thanked demonstrators for their presence despite calling for order in the room. After a drawn-out debate over nuclear plants between the Chairwoman and Senator Alexander, the Avaaz strongmen/women stood in unison and slowly filed out of the room, creating a human wall of the STRONGER message.

The presence at today’s hearing follows Avaaz’s current theme: over the past week, the strongmen have visited another EPW hearing, delivered 5-pound barbells to committee member offices, created a “STRONG” aerial photo, and performed a core strengthening workout routine in the offices of primary targets. With their continued coaching, hopefully the senators will beef up and flex their legislative muscles to pass a strong climate bill. Stay tuned for another appearance of Avaaz’s strongmen and women.

Avaaz Action Factory helps Senators pump it up and make a STRONG climate bill. July 10, 2009

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With youth leading the workout routine, and the EPA spotting them with good oversight, the Senate can qualify for the Climate Olympics in Copenhagen.

Photo credit: Christine Irvine

This week the bell sounded for round 2 of the US climate change legislative hurdling event with the opening hearing of Sen Boxer’s Environment and Public Works Committee. Over 100 youth organized by the Avaaz Climate Action Factory DC were there, in senators faces, showing them how to get a strong climate bill. Kanye West and Daft Punk provided the inspiration for the week with the theme: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

Harder – oversight on coal plants.
Better – Renewable Portfolio Standard and investments in international adaptation.
Faster – emissions reductions targets.
STRONGER – leadership in the Senate and a stronger bill!

Tuesday, July 7th: first EPW hearing on Climate Bill
The Strongmen stormed the capitol! 6 activists in muscle costumes greeted senators going into the hearing, to flex their legislative muscles and strengthen the bill. Despite getting there at 7am for a 10am hearing, too many paid line-sitters were saving seats for lobbyists, preventing the Strongmen from entering. Their presence in the hallway was still impressive because it afforded the opportunity to talk to the press and flex for all the staff. The Strongmen also greeted energy secretary Steven Chu and Senators Kerry and Lugar walking in and out of the Foreign Relations Committee meeting room across the hall. Quote from Senator Kerry: “Stronger Climate Bill? Lets make it happen!”

Tuesday Afternoon: EPW Follow up
The Action Factory Strongmen visited 18 of the 19 senators offices on the EPW committee that afternoon to do personal workout routines. (Senator Inhoffe was skipped as he is too woefully out of shape to participate.) Workout routines consisted of three easy steps: 4 reps reaching high into the air to hit 40% reductions by 2020, three reps of five for 5% of allocations for international adaptation, 5% for REDD and 5% for clean tech transfer. And finally, since congress needs someone to spot them on the big lifts, we asked the EPA to provide oversight. Strongmen left bar-bells as presents in the offices, as well as teaching the receptionists how to do the workout for their bosses.

Thursday, July 9th: Aerial photo and more office visits:
As part of the Campus Progress lobby day, the Action Factory stepped up to organize a mass-action involving over 60 people in a guerilla aerial photo. Co-organizing with Energy Action Coalition and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, a team of letter captains, 50 volunteers walked into the Senate Hart office building and formed a ‘flash-mob’ spelling out STRONG in front of the baffled police. (See above photo)

This rapid-response call for a STRONG bill was followed by a group of 30 in strongmen outfits, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger shirts and Powershift09 shirts to visit the offices of primary targets in the fight for a strong climate bill: Senators Levin (D-MI), Snow (R-ME) and McCaskill (D-MO).

The visit to McCaskil’s office was particularly relevant because she has repeatedly expressed concern that the climate bill is ‘too strong’ (to paraphrase). With the Strongmen’s help, Claire can beef up her stance on climate, provide the green jobs Missourians want and the international leadership the world needs.

Avaaz Action Factories: www.actionfactories.org
Avaaz has formed action factories at two strategic locations in Europe and in Washington DC to gather and deploy youth climate activists. Each location houses 15+ ‘Youth Climate Fellows’ working as a team, and supported by Avaaz.org. These fellows are devoting their summer months to mobilizing stunts, lobbying campaigns, and other actions. The work of these activists will maximize the possibility of achieving a strong binding global climate treaty at Copenhagen, and will raise the expectations and demands of the global public that governments must achieve such a treaty.

Photos Here:

Media Coverage:

Roll Call – Covers news and gossip on Capitol Hill

Slate.com – Online news magazine with broad national reach and diverse readership

Free Speech Radio News

Treehugger.com – national blog on green politics, lifestyle, products and issues

Wonkroom – Center for American Progress blog

CNN – Lou Dobbs – Brief appearance on environmental groups not having a fair fight against big-money lobbyists.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger July 8, 2009

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Photo courtesy of Roll Call:

Yesterday we flexed our muscles in the senate, teaching senators on the Environment and Public Works committee about how they can bulk up to make the climate bill Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

Tomorrow, we need your help to send an even bigger message to the senate. We’re calling for:

Harder – oversight on coal plants.

Better – Renewable Portfolio Standard and investments in international adaptation.

Faster – emissions reductions targets.

STRONGER – leadership in the Senate and a stronger bill!

How are we doing to do that? By posing for a huge aerial photo spelling out the word STRONGER for the senate. But we need 80 people to make this happen. Can you be at the upper senate park at 12:30 pm tomorrow? Sign up on Facebook here.

Organized by Avaaz Action Factory DC, the Energy Action Coalition and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.


Posted by Morgan in climate bill, strongmen, tcktcktck.
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This morning, half a dozen youth in strongmen costumes showed up to pump iron and flex their climate bill “muscles” in Dirksen 406. Why? Because the first post-ACES Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on climate legislation took place there at 10 am today.
I was surprised to see such a clever ploy espousing that Congress must pass a stronger climate bill than the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last Friday, June 26th.

During the hearing the strongmen proceeded with their “climate bill workout” to illustrate the metaphor of strengthening the bill and encouraging Senators to “flex their own legislative muscles.” These antics were not only amusing and set a very friendly and light-hearted tone to the hearing, it clearly pushed the issue of creating a “strong” bill. They are pushing to buff up the climate bill which will prove to the world that the U.S. is serious about stopping global warming–and persuade our country and others to agree to an effective and equitable global climate treaty in Copenhagen this December. As articulated by the trainer to his brawny trainees, “Now, let’s build up the muscles for our strong, global climate treaty!”

And, if the muscle suits didn’t allude to the issue enough, each muscleman wore a t-shirt with “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” on them. The popular song by Daft Punk, later remade by Kanye West, correlated with the more specific asks of harder oversight on coal plants, better renewable portfolio standard and investments in international adaptation, faster emissions reduction targets and, more generally, stronger leadership and a stronger bill.

This action was also paired up with a series of deliveries to the offices of the Environment and Public Works Committee members. Later in the afternoon, the same strongmen traveled from office to office, delivering custom designed 5lb weights all encouraging the Senators to bulk up the meat of the climate bill and “lose 40% of carbon emission fat.” The 5lb dumbbells themselves represented the 5-5-5% targets for the international provisions in the bill. The dumbbells also had best exercising practices and even recommended that Congress “consult its personal trainer, the EPA, periodically to keep on track with the science.”
The connections between a total body workout and creating a binding treaty were both humorous and clever and I personally thought it was amusing to have a play off of the American culture of desiring a fit body by eating hamburgers and drinking diet soda. This, much like our current climate bill and Congressional process, is not a way to achieve our “target weight.” It is wonderful to see the youth climate movement pushing our senators to be more aggressive right off the bat with the first hearing in a fun and witty way that turns heads and demands the real targets our national and international communities need.