The Huntley and Tonawanda Tomorrow Team

This email comes to you from Clean Air’s Huntley and Tonawanda Tomorrow team, Diana Strablow, Maria Tisby, Sue Kelley, Gary Schulenberg, James Jones and Emily Terrana

Recently, we were asked the question, “what does Just Transition mean to you?” Our team member, Diana Strablow, answered it perfectly:

“Just Transition is the notion that we should not have to choose between a healthy environment and good paying jobs. We need both of those. We need to be able to transition from dirty fossil fuels and, at the same time, maintain good jobs and a healthy economy.”

When companies close, CEOs get lucrative buyouts, and we are left with the loss: poison in our neighborhoods and bodies, job losses that leave us vulnerable to low wages, unsafe working conditions and other forms of exploitation. We are a community that has seen and held more than its fair share of loss: decades of “economic transition” led by the elite and the outsourcing of our industries to maximize profits, leaving us to struggle for the leftovers.

We knew Huntley would close, and we knew we needed a different kind of transition, one where our people could decide the path forward and where our health, families and environment were prioritized. Over 1,000 residents of Tonawanda agreed. We came together to imagine a new kind of transition, where the loss of a major employer didn’t mean losing teachers or sanitation workers, or increased vulnerability for our community.

This summer, our team took the time to read Adrienne Maree Brown’s book, “Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds.” Through our collective study, we realized that our work is so much more than what we’re fighting against, but what we’re building for the future and how we are practicing those imagined futures now. We began to shift our thinking and pivot towards what is life giving, what sustains us and what has the possibility to be shaped in service of more joy, liberation and healing for ourselves and our more than human allies in this world. We have decided to be more like a flock of starlings or a network of mycelium; to adapt with intention, to be intentional and interconnected, to root in our resilience and work towards new possibilities and see ourselves and our work as a responsibility to something bigger than ourselves while focusing on the small that we can hold and shape.

For our team, the beacon of hope for a fair and just transition lies in the shell of the former Huntley power plant in Tonawanda. We see beyond the chain link fence and red tape, envisioning a community and environmental asset to our futures. We see the possibility for new life, new family sustaining green jobs and the hope of a better future for all of our people. We imagine a world where we all have what we need; we dare to create new possibilities.

We know that our dreams aren’t silly or unreasonable, they are what our people have demanded and fought for for years. In 2021, we are committed to organizing for the future of this Tonawanda site and for all of us who value joy over corporate greed and inaction. We are blessed with the world class Niagara River in our backyard where the power plant worked for our community for 100 years. The land deserves our best work to heal and continue giving and so do our people.

What sets us apart is our unabashed belief that the little people of the world have as much a right to our future as those who hold our society’s purse strings and pocketbooks. In order for us to put our plans into action and hold people accountable, we need your support.

Will you join us to fund our fight?

With hope and justice,

The Huntley and Tonawanda Tomorrow Team

Diana Strablow, Maria Tisby, Sue Kelley, Gary Schulenberg, James Jones and Emily Terrana

RSS 2.0 feed. Reply to post, or trackback.

Leave a Reply