As “12 Days of Xmas: No More Fossil Fuels” — a 12-day series of events calling for action on climate change — draws to a close, members of the New Haven Climate Movement are calling the inaugural demonstrations a success.
Billy Fischer, a local drummer and musician, led 20 activists from NHCM, the coalition of environmental activists behind the 12 Days, in a drum circle Sunday outside Sterling Memorial Library. The drum circle marked the third event of the week. The 12 Days kicked off last Sunday, when more than 30 Elm City community members assembled on the New Haven Green for a vigil commemorating victims of climate injustice. Last Thursday, the NHCM led a Fair Haven March for Climate Justice, which sought to bring awareness to the negative impact climate change has on low-income neighborhoods in the Elm City and beyond.
“Let’s drum together to tell the global as well as the local governments that we want climate justice now — we don’t want to wait another 30 years,” said Ceyda Durmaz, an NHCM organizer who also works with the New Haven/Léon Sister City Project, a nonprofit that promotes sustainable development in Nicaragua and Connecticut.
Durmaz said one of the New Haven Climate Movement’s chief goals in organizing the events is to spread local awareness. She said she and the other six members of the NHCM are calling on Mayor Toni Harp to update the Elm City’s Climate Change Action Plan and bring it to the forefront of New Haven politics. The action plan has not been updated since 2004, Durmaz said.
The New Haven Climate Movement has seven active members and draws from social and climate justice organizations around the city, such as the New Haven/Léon Sister City Project, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
“We started this group to bring together individuals who are concerned about climate change from different organizations around the city,” she said.
Diane Lentakis, an activist with Connecticut’s branch of 350.org — a nonprofit working to unite the world around solutions to climate change — said she thinks events such as the drumming circle are important for galvanizing support and compelling climate change action at a local level.
Lentakis said she thinks the events have increased awareness and upped the consciousness of New Haven residents. In total, nearly 100 community members have turned out to the events this week.
“It takes a lot of people to come out to actions like this, to write opinion editorials and letters to the editor and make their voices heard at the [state] capital,” Lentakis said. “We don’t have the money the Koch brothers have, but we have people power.”
Chris Schweitzer, an NHCM member and program director for the New Haven/Léon Sister City Project, said he was pleased with the turnout at the week’s events given that this is a hectic time of year. He emphasized the importance of consistency in talking and engaging with people in order to gain support for the climate change movement.
The “12 Days of Xmas” events were organized in response to heightened security surrounding the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, which has prevented similar activism on the streets of Paris.
Lentakis said that while she does not think the climate change talks currently going on in Paris will lead to substantial environmental progress, she thinks it is important to continue actions at a local level.
The New Haven Climate Movement will host an event Tuesday night at local bar Kelly’s On Crown, during which attendees will be able to learn low or no-cost ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions, such as changing light bulbs and reducing car use.