Vic Barret is a friend of mine and one of the ever so brave youth plaintiffs suing the United States federal government in the historic climate change litigation Juliana v United States. I am pleased to share that Vic is the focus of a new film, We Have Reached the Moment, that will premier publicly and without cost this Friday night at 8 PM EST, and with that in mind I want to invite everyone to join me in watching it.
We Have Reached the Moment is the work of award winning Director Christi Cooper of Barrel Maker Productions and shares Vic’s unique, deeply personal story including his important work as a climate activist. Here’s a synopsis of the film:
Vic Barret was just 12 years old when Hurricane Sandy devastated neighborhoods in his native New York City. Since then, he has used his voice to combat the climate crisis, including speaking in front of the United Nations, testifying before Congress, and joining fellow youth plaintiffs on Juliana v United States, the landmark U.S. constitutional climate change lawsuit.
His message has traveled far, but perhaps his most important audience remains: his own father.
We Have Reached the Moment follows Vic’s journey as he shares the impacts of the climate crisis with his climate-denying father. Adding to this deeply-emotional challenge is Vic’s concurrent gender transition, which simultaneously shifts their relationship from father-daughter to father-son.
Vic, like any one of us, desires acceptance, love, and support from his parent, but how do you connect with loved ones when their belief systems undermine your very identity and right to a safe future?
The film is 33 minutes long with a Q&A that will follow afterwards. It will be live-streaming in the US so you don’t need to purchase a ticket… just need to show up to the link below on Friday, February 5th at 8pm EST.
When the day comes we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid,
The new dawn blooms as we free it,
For there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it,
If only we’re brave enough to be it.
From the poem The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman
Yesterday’s inaugural events made me so very proud to be an American. Each thoughtful detail seemed to naturally nurture the soul of our nation while helping heal a country that has been desperate for hope and happiness for far too long.
And what do you know? Amongst the profound pageantry, eloquent speeches, amazing songs, and all of the rest, the most inspiring part of an inspiring day came from the youngest person called upon by our country in the form of the amazing Amanda Gorman, America’s Youth Poet Laureate.
Despite being “just” 22, her words and beauty were simply radiant. Her passion and power and life story inspiring to young and old alike. Amanda is an impeccable example of the perfect picture of America, of what we are capable of if only we embrace one another no matter who we are, where we are from, our political persuasions or, for that matter, yes, our age.
So we lift our gazes not to what stands between us,
But what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first,
We must first put our differences aside.
From the poem The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman
Amanda’s artistry as a poet was stunning in its depth and honesty of the American condition, of where we have been as a country and what’s truly possible in our collective futures as we continue to climb the hill that is our democracy. I don’t mind sharing that it brought me to tears while inspiring me to be better.
If you did not get to see her recite her poem, “The Hill We Climb”, I do hope that you will watch or read it here. And if you already saw or read it then please consider enjoying it a second time and sharing it with someone. It is a masterpiece.
Thank you Amanda.
Thank you America.
“The Hill We Climb”
When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
Democracy is imperfect and, at times, ugly but here in the United States of America it is ever so resilient. That is a key lesson that I’ve learned over these past four years and, in some ways, I am thankful to have experienced it so early in my life.
Our country has faced countless crippling challenges since its founding including world wars, much less a civil war, the Great Depression, and social strife over race, gender, and equality the likes of which are hard to imagine. And, as hard has these past four years have been, what with the Trump presidency tarnishing America to the world while attacking the concept of decency, the environment, and our own citizens, today we have again proven that ours is a political system that works. No matter the setbacks, no matter the mistake that otherwise good Americans made in supporting a selfish tyrannical madman, the time has come to get on with solving the solvable problems. And that most certainly includes our climate crisis.
Four years ago I was certain that our great country was about to elect its first woman into the Executive Branch and was so very honored to work directly with the person who seemed certain to become America’s first female President. When I was asked to meet and then introduce Secretary Clinton and Vice President Gore here in Miami at her campaign’s only environmental event of the 2016 election, I spoke with sincere passion not only for our environment but as a young woman inspired to see another woman about to be elected into our nation’s highest office.
When I went to bed the night of the 2016 election it was clear that my dream was about to come true, yet when I awoke the next morning America had stepped into what I surely thought was a nightmare. I don’t mind sharing that I cried for three days after hearing of the election’s final outcome, wondering how America could elect such a self-absorbed, seemingly shallow person, much less someone of such questionable character towards women and our precious environment.
That pain, and the extremity of the Trump Administration’s indecency, have strangely been, in retrospect, valuable lessons for me. I thought that I had sensed how difficult these past four years might be but the reality has been far worse than I could have imagined and thus makes watching things change for the better today all the more powerful.
Amidst a global pandemic, in which the only “winning” America has done is in death and sickness, finding happiness can seem hard but the change that now surrounds us, that was formally implemented during the inauguration, leads me to believe that Happy Days are just ahead for America. With a new direction, new leadership and (FINALLY) a woman in the Executive Branch I hope you don’t mind me sharing my sense of happiness before we get on with the hard work that’s ahead of us.
So rather than remaining fixed on that horror show that was the Trump presidency, allow me to consider some of the positive signs we can celebrate related to science the likes of which were impossible to find over the last four years.
Want happiness? Consider that before their first day on the job ends, President Biden and VP Harris have taken remarkable steps:
Today the United States began the process to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. Yes, we’ve lost four years at a time when we don’t have any days to lose and, yes, America has must regain its credibility in a world that rightfully has seen other nations laugh (and likely cry) over Trump’s attack on the environment, including rolling back countless regulations intended to address our role in warming, but today’s step is a positive one for sure. Rejoining the world’s nations in support of cooling earth is a no brainer, but the next steps will require serious, significant investment. And the sooner we make that investment and put our money where our hearts, minds, and mouths, the better.
For the first time in history a President will make our nation’s Chief Science Officer a member of the Cabinet. Just as education, transportation, defense, and other Cabinet roles are important to our society, so too will science join our nation’s focus as a rightful priority. And with 2020 setting the record for the highest amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, along with being the warmest year in history (tied with 2016), America needs to transparently focus on facts, truth, and science like never before. Bravo President Biden. Bravo indeed.
And as yet another symbolic step towards sustainability and away from our antiquated fossil fuel polluting past the President will terminate the Keystone XL Pipeline project. My indigenous friends in places like La Plant, South Dakota will be happy to see today’s Executive Order reversing President Trump’s, but all Americans should see this as an extremely positive step in the right direction.
4. The rollbacks to vehicle emissions standards that former President Trump induced have been reversed, decisions to slash the size of several national monuments have been undone, a temporary moratorium on oil and natural gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been enforced, and a working group on the social costs of greenhouse gasses has been re-established.
Of course I realize that “happy days” will not magically appear with the arrival of a new President or the reversal of some bad decisions made by his predecessor. And I certainly realize that there is excruciatingly hard work ahead of America and every American to fix what’s broken. But that’s okay. America is built to be resilient, to overcome its challenges and adversity, as well as to lead the world into the future. I truly believe that that is the case.
And to those not yet so sure, then let me take you back to downtown Miami on a sunny afternoon last November where I saw that spirit up close and in person on the streets the day President Biden and VP Harris were declared the winners of last year’s election. In what was one of the most special days of my life I joined a who’s who of Miami as we celebrated by dancing in the streets, as I shared in a blog that I posted last November that you can read here. It felt, well, like collectively we were chasing rainbows.
Every color and language and age and interest that you can imagine that makes up this incredibly diverse place that I call home was euphoric and in concert with one another that day. Music from all over the hemisphere washed over us as thousands of cars slowly rolled by, many with passengers leaning up and out and banging on pots and pans in sheer joy. We danced together. Sang together. Waved flags and signs and our hands together. Just remembering that day gives me goosebumps as I write these words. But what I want you to know is what I saw on the faces from my incredibly diverse fellow Americans that day was more than celebration or relief.
I saw a commitment to one another that was inspiring and leads me to know that our best days as a nation are ahead of us. By working together we can fix what’s broken and that’s especially true for my youngest followers. Today President Biden and Vice President Harris started to lead America down a historic and positive path, but it’s up to you and I to now do and demand the hard work to truly fix things. The work ahead of us will define our time here on earth and, yes, it will define us as Americans, but it is so very possible as it is important to our country and the world beyond.
Yes, Happy Days Are Here Again and I can’t wait to get to work.