Clayton Rapoza, from the SEIU Local 2015, which covers in-home health care workers, shared the many difficulties disabled individuals and homecare providers face in the brink of natural disasters.  Photos submitted

Rural Green New Deal event hosted in Susanville

Susanville was host to an event that brought together members of the local and state Democratic Party, activists and activist groups from around the north state, hub leaders and educators from the Sunrise Movement’s Chico hub, plenty of local residents and even a candidate for California’s assembly.

The subject was the Green New Deal; what it is, its potential benefits to the North state and rural America itself.

The event was co-sponsored by the Lassen County Democratic Party and the Chico hub of the Sunrise Movement, and ended the afternoon with Democratic assembly candidate Elizabeth Betancourt signing the group’s Green New Deal Pledge.

Elizabeth Betancourt, right, stands with the Sunrise Movement’s Chico hub coordinator, Steven Marquardt, after just signing the group’s Green New Deal pledge.

The signed pledge means candidates will use their office to champion the GND and also not take more than $200 from oil, gas and coal executives, lobbyists or Political Action Committees. Instead, the pledge said candidates will “prioritize the health of our families, climate and democracy over fossil fuel profits.”

The Sunrise Movement that created the pledge is a national army of young people striving to make climate change an urgent priority across America; pushing for a 10-year plan to mobilize people from every walk of life to eliminate poverty and combat climate change.

They’re also pushing for legislators and candidates to champion the GND. The group seeks to, what they call, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.

You may have seen the group in places like the office of senator Diane Fienstein, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and others. The group’s website shares that they seek to bring awareness to what the climate crisis means for the people and places we love.

The event brought David Hildebrand, former California senate candidate and current northern vice chair of the California Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus.

Hildebrand called for bringing together local candidates who would “run for local offices, ‘cause that’s where it counts.”

He told the members of the audience, “Almost anyone can run for office. I mean, look who’s in office now.”

Steven Marquardt, hub leader of Sunrise who comes originally from Oceanside, and served in AmeriCorps in Florida, told those in the audience he moved to Chico shortly before the Camp Fire.

“I know that the Camp Fire, all these hurricanes and natural disasters may not be directly caused by climate change,” said Marquardt. “But I know the severity … is due to the effects of climate change. These things are going to be more common and more severe in the future.”

The Sunrise Movement, although championing legislation put forth mostly by those on the left of the political spectrum, say that they “are not looking to the right or left. We look forward.”

The GND itself is a proposed United States economic stimulus package that aims to address climate change and economic inequality.

The name refers back to the New Deal, a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms and regulations undertaken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression, between 1933 and 1936.

The GND combines Roosevelt’s economic approach with modern ideas such as renewable energy and resource efficiency.

Marquardt shared the group’s action for 2020 with the audience, “We’re going to run the biggest youth voter engagement we’ve seen. Sunrise is going to put 300 to 500 young people to go full time, to win congressional races across the country. To make sure we win in congress and in the presidency in 2020, that will push forward the vision of the Green New Deal.”

Abraham Santeria, sociology and international relations student from Butte College and Chico Sunrise member, said the GND was a resolution rather than a bill.

They clarified to the audience that the GND would “vary within the states and within the local government.”

Santeria shared that their group worked with an organizations called Chico 350, to enact climate resolution through the Chico City Council and also lobbied to gain a Climate Action Committee with 10 full-time staff. The group also marched in Chico’s annual People’s Day parade last May.

Another member of the Chico group, Michelle Warner-Payne, shared that the GND was about “lifting the people up who can’t lift up themselves.”

Warner-Payne said, “It’s not just about combating the climate crisis, it’s everything. It’s being able to support the social aspect, the communal aspect of who we are as people and better the future of not only us who are currently on the planet, but for our children and our children’s children.”

SEIU Local 2015 Labor Union representative for In-Home Healthcare workers, Clayton Rapoza, shared that these natural disasters disproportionately affect those who are disabled or elderly and that homecare workers deserve the dignity they deserve, due to the severity of danger they and their clients face.

Betancourt also took the stage to share her vision for the north state.

“We have an opportunity unlike anything we’ve had in recent history in this assembly district,” said Betancourt, “to really take it back for the people, and to have a stronger voice in Sacramento for rural communities.”

She pointed to the fact that the word “rural” wasn’t specifically in the GND resolution, but that “every single point in the Green New Deal relates to us in rural California. Healthy communities, healthy forests, healthy agriculture; we are in every single bit of that piece of legislation.”