Two weeks ago, Mike Tidwell roused GC students to step out of complacency about the impending climate crisis and instead, to get involved in local climate action efforts. He lauded the work of two Goshen College student groups who are already hard at work on this issue: EcoPAX and GC Divest, two groups working to create both grassroots and policy-level change.
Tidwell’s message was energetic, but not everyone agreed with the entirety of his speech. The week after his Yoder Public Affairs lecture, Hannah Barg, a senior and leader of EcoPAX, noted that Tidwell “missed the huge component of social justice,” which, for many, is the “main reason to care about climate change.”
In addition to Barg, other leaders of EcoPAX include Mimi Salvador, a junior, and sophomores Hannah Yoder and Ben Wiebe. According to Yoder, one of the club’s primary intentions is to “combine social justice with environmental justice.”
Salvador believes that climate justice should not be approached from Tidwell’s “privileged position,” evidenced by his ability to afford an “expensive car and expensive refrigerator” in order to reduce carbon emissions. Salvador believes instead that climate justice should be approached in a more inclusive way.
EcoPAX works closely with GC Divest, which is a group on campus that has a narrower, yet still environmentally-conscious focus. GC Divest has submitted a 30-page proposal to the GC Ecological Stewardship Committee urging the college to divest from fossil fuels and is working to get this proposal passed.
EcoPAX and GC Divest are also working this year to develop a partnership with Transition Goshen, an organization committed to transitioning the Goshen community away from “high levels of energy consumption” to a “lower energy future.”
Together, the three groups will utilize resources from the 350.org climate action network and will plan events for the broader Goshen community. Plans are currently underway for a climate march to take place in Goshen at the beginning of the UN Climate Summit in Paris on November 28. On that day, marches will take place all over the world, the largest of which will be in Paris.
EcoPAX leaders met with members of Transition Goshen last week to brainstorm for this march, reflecting on successful strategies learned from last year’s People’s Climate March, which took place in New York City. and in which several members of the Goshen community participated. According to Yoder, the march in Goshen will emphasize the “interdisciplinary, intergenerational, and intercultural aspects of climate change.”
Prior to the climate march, EcoPAX will be holding Food Week, which will take place immediately after fall break during the week of October 26-30. According to Yoder, “There will be many presentations and activities to generate conversation surrounding food issues including food justice, food waste and packaging, food insecurity, food and community, and food production.”
If you’re interested in helping out, contact EcoPAX leaders to get involved.