Reflections on the 2024 National LGBTQ Creating Change Conference in NOLA

Bridge, our Tonawanda-area Environmental Justice Organizer, attended the National LGBTQ Task Force’s 2024 Creating Change Conference in New Orleans from January 16-20. Here’s a few of their reflections on the experience.

Organizing can be hard and at times disheartening – and, I should say, I have been feeling that more than usual lately. It’s easy to get depressed this time of year when the outdoor conditions are unpleasant and the sun only visits us for a few hours. Add to that a rather oppressive feeling of dread I have as we enter 2024, and it’s no wonder I have felt so grumpy lately.

Thankfully, returning from the Creating Change Conference, I feel much lighter and more hopeful – given that much of the conference centered on combatting the legislative attacks on the LGBTQIA+ community and the larger overarching issue of resurgent fascism and authoritarianism, you might be scratching your head wondering how.

For one, it’s just nice to be able to share space with others with very similar experiences and worldviews as you – I am an introvert, so I do not gain as much from this as others do, but I still found it extremely refreshing to not only see others doing organizing work for various movements but also be able to talk freely without pausing for explanations.

Second, to know that there are others all across the United States and around the world fighting in parallel is also not only reassuring, but also a reality check – as rough as life may be in WNY, there are folks in far more dire straits fighting back, and they need us to be doing our part to make their work easier.

Third, the Queer Climate Justice caucus session was immensely encouraging –

Finally, bigger picture, it is clear that we are one organization in a much larger fight for democracy and against fascism, and it’s all ultimately tied into our need for a Just Transition. In one session I attended, I heard from organizers with BlueprintNC about how they’ve organized in the wake of a terrorist attack on electric substations in early December 2022. Although the investigation is still ongoing, all signs at this time point to a concerted and planned attack by white supremacists in response to a Drag Queen Story Hour.

I was struck by some of the parallels to what we’ve experienced in Buffalo recently – the Christmas Blizzard, which struck only a couple weeks after the attack, led to massive power outages throughout the region, particularly in the environmental justice areas we organize within, which are predominantly black and brown communities, and in most part the outages happened due to systemic underinvestment in protective housing for our substations. While overt attacks by white supremacists aimed at bringing down electrical systems is certainly an escalation, I also think that it’s worth noting that the constant acts by extractive capitalists also serve as attacks on the same communities those terrorists target – and is no less deadly.

We need to continue to forge ahead for a Just Transition despite what will be thrown our way this year and beyond.

Did you miss our pop-ed training and discussion on how to combat authoritarianism and fascism through local environmental justice organizing that we held as part of our January 2024 General Meeting? No worries! Here’s the recording, as well as links to a few of the resources referenced throughout.

Ladder of Citizen Participation

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