I first became involved in Colorado’s fight against fracking in April, when 350 Denver hosted one of the first circulator training sessions to canvass for signatures for ballot initiatives that would limit fracking in the state. This was before we had even received approval from the courts to print the petitions. At that meeting, I signed up as one of the volunteer captains for the Denver area, working under the indefatigable Lauren Petrie of Food and Water Watch. Despite all our hard work gathering signatures and recruiting volunteers, by June it was clear that we did not have enough people to reach our regional goal.
Then at the beginning of July, two organizers from Greenpeace joined us at our weekly meeting and I realized how much the campaign had grown. I was aware that we had recently received funding for a paid canvas operation, that Sierra Club had endorsed the campaign, and that Greenpeace had endorsed it and was sending staff to help out, but now I saw how many people were fully devoting months of their lives to make this happen. At that point, it wasn’t very difficult for them to cajole me into quitting my lucrative but lukewarm marijuana job and join the canvas full time.
From then on, it wasn’t a matter of structuring my weekends around gathering signatures at events and festivals, but of filling every day with signature gathering. I no longer looked at Lauren’s relentless schedule with awe and guilt but with an undiluted sense of camaraderie. For the first time in my life, I was able to devote my time entirely to a cause I am deeply passionate about. More importantly, I was working with a group of people who were doing exactly the same. I met a lot of amazing folks working on this campaign, and together we achieved something remarkable. In one month we gathered many times the signatures we had gathered in the previous two.
One of the principles of 350 Action is to build a movement of people to fight the climate crisis. The coalition we formed around this campaign is an exemplar of that kind of movement, and the relationships we formed will carry us through this fight and through this crisis. Together we fought for a safer and healthier state, and will continue fighting for a better world for all. For the first time in my life, such a statement does not seem hyperbolic or rhetorical, but reflects the reality we share.
Thank you so much to all who worked so hard on this campaign, and who will never stop.
Kevin Nelson is a philosophy alumni, part time activist, co-leader of 350 Denver, and nearly a Colorado native.