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Corinne Hanson’s Blog

You Are Going to Bonnaroo for WORK?

Corinne Hanson

Posted June 30, 2014

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I have been canvassing for various causes since I was about 8 years old and let me just say, it’s rarely easy. I think few activists will disagree with me in saying that it can be a fairly demoralizing experience when you only get one “Yes” per every five “Nos” for a cause you care deeply about. But this was not the case at Bonnaroo.

Two weeks ago, NRDC sent seven intrepid young advocates from across the country to Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tennessee to campaign on two major issues: the EPA’s Carbon Emission Standards for coal fired power plants and its Clean Water Protection Rule. Coal-fired power plants are the biggest source -- 40% -- of uncontrolled climate pollution in the U.S. and curbing these emissions is essential to fighting climate change. And the Clean Water Protection Rule closes a loophole in the Clean Water Act that previously allowed industry to pollute small streams and headwaters without penalties. Both of these rulings are under comment period and need a strong showing of public support to ensure their success.

Over the course of four days our team collected over 1,200 petition signatures and photos from festival-goers sent directly to the EPA showing support for both rules.

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I spoke with countless young people from across the country about climate change broadly and the administration’s latest progress toward curbing emissions and protecting our environment. Some had never heard of NRDC and many more were hearing about the EPA’s recent rulings and comment process for the first time. But there was a certain openness to every individual I talked to that I’ve never experienced before as a canvasser. I’ll admit that even I was skeptical about what we would accomplish at Bonnaroo, but even just halfway through the first day I could feel the positivity radiating from the festival-goers. I so appreciated how receptive they were to hearing about efforts to protect the environment. Granted, I’m sure the atmosphere of amazing music and good vibes helped our cause, but this actual phrase of Bonnaroo -- “radiate positivity” -- was one that you could see embodied by hundreds of people who stopped by our tent to talk environmental policy in the middle of their revelry, who asked questions and genuinely cared about the health of the planet and its inhabitants. This was truly nothing short of inspirational for us NRDC-ers.


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Even as a young person myself I can get caught up in the abstract, wonky policy work of Washington, D.C.. This weekend in Tennessee was the perfect reminder of how enthusiastic and conscientious this country’s young people really are. With the right information and tools, they are a powerful force for a healthy, positive future.

A special thanks to the entire Bonnaroo crew for making this whole experience so amazing; Robert Friedman, Elise Shulman, Gillian Jaques, Anna Kheyfets, David Murray and Dylan Gasperik. 

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