Citizens’ Climate Lobby chapter of the College hosts 2024 Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference


Saturday, Feb. 24 to Sunday, Feb. 25 the Citizens’ Climate Lobby at the College of William and Mary hosted the 2024 Citizens’ Climate Lobby Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business. Titled “Climate Legacy and Inheritance: Uniting Generations for Action,” the conference featured a series of back-to-back talks and interactive sessions focused on intergenerational collaboration in climate change activism.

CCL-WM is one of 400 chapters in the United States of the international grassroots organization. The core mission of CCL is to slow climate change by fostering relationships with members of Congress and securing their votes for pro-climate policies.

“We believe that democracy works and that climate change is a nonpartisan issue,” CCL-WM’s mission statement states. “In action, this means showing our members of congress that addressing climate change is important to their constituencies. We call this building ‘political will.’”

Sabrina Fu, CCL regional coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic, approached CCL-WM last summer about hosting the annual conference after Chapter Outreach Chair Emily O’Keefe ’24 successfully launched the Carbon Fee and Dividend Movement.

“Our William and Mary chapter of CCL is probably the most active CCL chapter in a college,” CCL-WM President Corina Chang ’25 said. “And so that’s why they reached out to us. Especially since we had a bunch of momentum from the Carbon Fee and Dividend Movement last spring. I said yes, because I thought it would be really exciting and a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.”

The conference drew primarily retired individuals associated with CCL who were eager to learn how they could support younger generations in combating climate change. Kate Heavner, a freshman  environmental studies major at Virginia Commonwealth University, attended the conference to better educate herself in the field.

“I was super interested in any opportunities to both do networking and learn about what other organizations are doing about the climate,” Heavner said. “And just trying to get more experience and knowledge in the political side, but also the implementation side.”

CCL-WM Vice President and Outreach Organizer Helen Tiffin ’26, moderated the Plenary Talk. She spoke with a panel comprising three individuals with varying religious and political backgrounds including Princella Talley, a writer and former CCL diversity outreach coordinator; Max Blalock, the campus minister for the Wesley Foundation at William and Mary; and Bob Inglis, the executive director for and a member of the CCL advisory board who joined virtually via Zoom.

Tiffin addressed the conference’s notion that intergenerational collaboration is necessary to sustain climate work efforts for as long as it takes. She then asked the panel in order to have this collaboration, what values were imperative to be able to bridge generations and different backgrounds.

Talley advocated in her responses for individuals to first check their own privilege and bias to better understand another’s perspective.

“Bias sometimes can be with good intention and favorable, just as it can be negative,” Talley said. “So sometimes I think we should approach things with grace and cautious leniency to accept that people are people and if we’re not building that human connection from a place of being able to say ‘I’m not perfect, neither are you, let’s still have these conversations,’ then we are not going as far to be as far as we could in this movement.” 

Their conversation steered towards the emerging barrier of politically-associated semantics that often halt meaningful discussions, particularly in regards to climate change. However, through a personal anecdote of providing students’ sanctuary against a hate group, Blalock underscored the power of community in helping overcome these barriers.

“Students would come over and say, ‘I just experienced this with them over there, but I come over here and its music and its joy and its community,’” Blalock said. “And that’s what I think is so important in this. We want to offer an example to people of which kind of community and which kind of people you want to be associated with and who we want to continue to live with.”

Later, Olivia Parker ’27 and Noa Rudisch ’27 led a two-and-a-half hour workshop titled “Introduction to Intergenerational Climate Advocacy” in the main room as attendees dispersed into one of three options. Seminars on “Using Media for Climate Engagement” and “Working Toward Intergenerational Group Leadership” were held for an hour each in the neighboring rooms.

Additionally, the conference offered an additional nontraditional workshop in both the morning and the afternoon called “Healing Our Communities.” The guided “Racial Healing Circle Experience” discussion was designed to mediate some of the current intergenerational tensions surrounding climate change.

“Well, the theme is intergenerational climate action, and my first instinct when I think of that theme is how a lot of younger people have sort of a grudge against older generations for creating the problem,” Chang said. “And older generations also have a similar grudge towards younger people for being overly consumerist and things like that.”

According to Chang, the guided meditation and much of the conference’s itinerary were designed, in part, to heal a gap between older and younger generations for the longevity of climate work.

From even the initial talk, attendees gained insight of what intergenerational collaboration could look like in climate change activism.

“The opening panel, that was really helpful and just reminded me that climate is an issue that people on both sides are trying to deal with and being able to be open to both sides of thought is a really important thing when you’re trying to bring both groups together like this,” Heavner said.


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