Abigail Mnookin

Commentator

Abigail Mnookin is a former biology teacher interested in issues of equality and the environment. She is currently organizing parents around climate justice with 350Vermont, and lives in Brattleboro with her wife and their two daughters.

Mnookin: Next Steps

Apr 23, 2019
Mnookin

Walkers came from around the state and stretched across age brackets: families with strollers, young children on bikes, teens, college students, partners, baby boomers, and an eighty-five-year-old from Windham County. I was one of them, joining both to speak out against business as usual and to grow a community with shared visions of sustaining life on this planet.

Abigail Mnookin

Last Friday morning, my family stood in front of Brattleboro Union High School for one of the local youth-led climate strikes. This strike drew a crowd of all ages, including grandparents and babies in arms, but teens were at the helm, chanting into the megaphone “No more coal! No more oil! Keep the carbon in the soil!”

Mnookin

A few days ago, my child came home from school dismayed that two kids from her class had made fun of her doing the floss.

Eesha Williams / ValleyPost.org

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its special report detailing massive action will be needed if we’re to prevent catastrophic climate change as early as 2040, I wasn’t shocked.

Megan Monday

I’m a white person living in a predominantly rural, white state, and a queer mother, doula, writer, organizer, educator, and facilitator living in perilous times.

Abby Mnookin

It was a wet, spring evening when my six-year-old and I set out to help salamanders and frogs cross the road a few miles from our Brattleboro home.

Megan Polyte, courtesy

Recently, my family joined dozens of others from Mother Up!: Families Rise Up for Climate Action, a project of 350Vermont, to make a presentation to the Climate Solutions Caucus at the State House .

I just biked after the first snow on our family’s electric cargo bike, and I’m planning to continue to ride through the winter with my kids.

Cross Class Dialogue Circles are designed to bring together community members with a diversity of class experiences to look at how class and economic inequality work on a system level, as well as how wealth happens - or doesn’t happen - in our individual lives.

Now that many in the federal government have become engaged in climate change denial, real climate leadership will have to come from somewhere else - like the courts, non-violent direct action, and strong political will at state and local levels.

Janet and Jay Bailey, of Fair Winds Farm in Brattleboro, have operated a diversified horse-powered family farm for more than 40 years. The farm’s previous owner had donated the land to Earthbridge Community Land Trust, who later leased the land to the Baileys. In 2011, looking toward aging but wanting to ensure this land continue to be farmed, they formed an untraditional partnership.

Last weekend, I traveled by bus to Washington D.C. with my 5-year-old daughter to attend the People’s Climate March. In crowds numbering more than 200,000, we marched with 350Vermont, holding a circular parachute banner that read “Vermont stands with climate justice, clean energy, water protectors, courage, workers, and bees.” When my daughter wasn’t running under the parachute, playing games or seeking shade, she was chanting into the megaphone about clean water, justice, and democracy. It was a powerful - and exhausting - weekend of collective action.

One response to the current political climate is that the number of people involved in political organizing and working for social justice throughout the state has increased substantially.

On Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday, the Brattleboro Literary Festival organized a Writers Resist event in solidarity with a nationwide effort spearheaded by PEN America to “re-inaugurate” democracy. Seventeen local authors spoke about their belief in “art and artists’ power and responsibility to resist.” My mother, Wendy Mnookin, and I attended.

I had joined a group of Vermonters who traveled by bus to the Standing Rock Reservation to join in solidarity with indigenous water protectors. Just hours after we arrived, heavily militarized police clashed with unarmed activists on the nearby front lines. Pickup trucks transported the wounded to medic tents; anyone entering had to be decontaminated from tear gas. More than 300 people were injured.

A few weeks ago, my four-year-old daughter and I traveled with other Vermont families to the Pennsylvania shale fields to see for ourselves how hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is impacting the region. We’re part of Mother Up! — 350 Vermont’s campaign to engage parents to take action, both in their own communities and those most affected by the fossil fuel industry.

Four years ago, my wife and I became mothers when I gave birth to our daughter. A few months ago, my wife gave birth to our second child. And this summer, I’m occasionally on call as a birth doula. I’ve become so captivated by birth that I now support other women through this transformation. Plus, studies show doula care brings real benefits, ranging from shorter labors to lower rates of intervention, including fewer cesarean births.

That Saturday, my wife and our two young daughters went to a Pride Family Picnic near our Brattleboro home. It was organized by Green Mountain Crossroads, a regional nonprofit creating community for rural LGBTQ people. We spent a peaceful, misty morning eating potluck food from rainbow-colored plates and swapping stories with other queer families. We felt safe, nurtured, and proud.

The Women’s Film Festival just celebrated its 25th year in Brattleboro. It’s the largest fundraiser for the Women’s Freedom Center, which works to end domestic and sexual violence in Windham and Southern Windsor Counties.

Almost daily, upsetting headlines point to racial inequality throughout the U.S. — from systemic poverty and mass incarceration, to shocking deaths at the hands of police and the war on terror. It’s true that some civil rights have been gained — but we’re a far cry from equality for all.

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