The Green Flash

With Eve Simmons

The Transformative Power of Listening

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OK, so for years you’ve worried about climate change, prepared for months, travelled to our nation’s Capitol, found lodging, all out of your own pocket, and finally – you’re going to get to speak with your representative (or their legislative aide) for perhaps 15 minutes. (That photo is of me being whisked to a meeting aboard the underground Capitol tram.) What you really want to say is something like, “What in blue blazes is wrong with you guys?” Or, “Can’t you see what’s happening?” Or maybe, “Are you crazy? We have to take action RIGHT NOW!!”

However, if you’re lucky, you will have drunk  from the fountain of knowledge that is Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s water of life. It consists of more patience than you knew you had, gratitude, even when that’s a heavy lift and genuine, respect-infused listening. While  these things aren’t always easy to muster when you’re in that situation, they’re not only gratifying, they’re effective. Meetings last longer, questions are asked, a palpable sense of interest and engagement are achieved. What do yah know, the simple act of listening to their concerns, too often absent in the halls of Congress, disarms the most jaded staffer and the barriers of mistrust begin to melt into a common ground. It sounds ridiculously obvious in theory, yet it’s far too rare in practice.

We ARE seeing a nascent interest, even an eagerness, from many Congress members who were previously disengaged. There’s an increased sense of bridge-building on this issue, as evidenced by the newly-minted Bipartisan Climate Solutions Congressional Caucus (which is growing even as I type this).  Thanks to the remarkable efforts of CCLers like Jay Butera and relentlessly optimistic leaders like Mark Reynolds , what seemed impossible just a year or two ago are now attainable goals. Mark’s latest hat trick? We’re aiming for a game-changing revenue neutral carbon pricing bill by 2017!

So if you’re feeling hopeless about our environment, try listening… to CitizensClimateLobby.org

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