Green New Deal Town Hall: Students and community members discuss climate change solutions

Caroline Buck, Staff Writer

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Andrew Stuhl hosted the Green New Deal Town Hall in the Elaine Langone Center Forum on April 23. The event brought together concerned University faculty with Green New Deal Lewisburg, a chapter of the Sunrise Movement, to discuss the Green New Deal. Over 100 people attended the Town Hall, with some attendees even driving hours to be there.

Inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression Era New Deal, the Green New Deal is a 10-year plan to transition entirely to clean and renewable energy sources. Along with clean energy, the Green New Deal guarantees a living wage job for all Americans by employing millions to upgrade roads and bridges, support family farms, and build energy infrastructure. The resolution was sponsored by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey but failed to make it to the Senate following a Congressional vote in late March.

Local musician Billy Kelly kicked off the event with his original song “Get Down Into It.” He was inspired to write this song as a response to staunch global warming deniers during the 2008 presidential election. Referring to the rapid climate change the world faces, Kelly sang, “I want a world that I can believe is gonna be alright, but I don’t know how we get there without a fight.” His act was followed by four key speakers from a variety of backgrounds.

One of the Town Hall’s student hosts, Liana Irvine ’20, explained that the Town Hall’s “goal is to talk about this situation as a local and national community.”

The first speaker was the University’s own Dabreon Davis-Darby ’19 who spent his past summer living in the wilderness of Colorado in the Willow Lake Basin. Darby spent his days hiking, studying natural resources, and doing trail maintenance in the area. He shared a poem about his experience in Colorado and some personal stories about why he is so passionate about environmental protection.

Another student and team member for the Lewisburg chapter of the Green New Deal, Jenny Davis ’20, spoke on the specifics of the Green New Deal. She explained to the audience exactly what the plan entails and how it will go about achieving its goals.

Coal Township native Nicole Faraguna, co-founder of the Brush Valley Preservation Association and a leader of the Otzinachson Group of the Sierra Club also spoke. Faraguna comes from “a town built on coal, by coal, and eventually abandoned by coal,” she said. Growing up in an area centered around coal meant that the resource had a huge impact on her family. She discussed how she was inspired to become an activist fighting against pollution because of the tragedy that coal inflicted on her family. Much of her talk focused on distressed coal towns across Pennsylvania and how the Green New Deal would benefit them.

“When we talk about environmental justice, I want you to think about the communities that suffered so much because they deserve this natural beauty,” Faraguna said when explaining the importance of land preservation.

Pennsylvania dairy farmers Brenda Cochran and Barb Troester were the final two speakers. Both women are members of Farm Women United, an organization of female farmers seeking change in farm policy. As president of Farm Women United, Cochran described the group as “motivated by justice.” In their discussion of the Green New Deal, Cochran and Troester highlighted the farming aspects of the proposal and how farmers across the nation would benefit from these changes. They focused on the politics of farm policy and prompted audience members to call their own representatives.

The Town Hall closed with a question and answer session with the four speakers where issues of corporate farming, government intervention, and tax policy came up, among other topics.

Irvine reflected on the success of the event, saying it “helped to raise awareness about climate change in our community at Bucknell and in Lewisburg, and was a good way to facilitate a conversation about what our environment and government are doing in relation to one another.”

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