When I joined the Clean Air staff, it truly felt like coming home.

My name is Linnea and I work for Clean Air.
I come from a working class family from Niagara Falls. I am the youngest of six children — I have five older sisters (and thirteen nieces and nephews, with the fourteenth arriving any day now!). I grew up in my dad’s childhood home, with stories of the city he grew up in and how it had changed. He described a bustling local economy, full of jobs you could support a family on. As he tells the story: if your boss was a jerk, you could quit, go next door, and get a job with the same pay. By the time I heard those stories, the Niagara Falls he described was unrecognizable to me, and difficult to reconcile with the reality of the city I saw around me, where my family and neighbors struggled to make ends meet.

It was also years before I learned that the economy he described only ever worked like that for some people — that workers who weren’t white or weren’t men never had that kind of freedom.

I first found Clean Air in 2014. I had just finished grad school at UB, with a Master’s degree in Urban Planning. After months of cover letters with no responses, I was thrilled to find an energized, supportive, and loving workplace and a temporary position as a canvasser. I spent months knocking on doors in Buffalo and Tonawanda, and when my position ended, my mounting student debt and I were hired as a Sales Associate at Macy’s, but I was hooked on organizing.

I eventually found a 9-5 where I felt comfortable making rent, but kept in touch with the women I had met at Clean Air: they were brilliant, snarky, warm, strategic, and funny, and I often found the time to come to canvasses, meetings, and events. I also started organizing with Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) on nights and weekends, learning direct action, refining my canvassing skills, and learning the nuts and bolts of community organizing. When I joined the Clean Air staff in 2018, it truly felt like coming home.

We call the kind of work I focus on at Clean Air “Just Transition”: how are we moving away from an economy that extracts labor from our bodies and resources from our environment, and fills them both with poison in return, and what are we creating in its place that is better?

I know we can have an economy that meets our needs, that is rooted in our dignity, rather than the profit we can make for a select few at the top. But we need to demand it, and design it ourselves.

When Tesla workers come together to demand justice and accountability for a racist, sexist, and abusive workplace, they are doing this work for all of us: because we all need and deserve jobs that pay us enough to afford to live and where white supremacy and misogyny do not define our experiences or our opportunities.

When community members in Seneca Babcock see a derelict industrial site, whose owner spent more than a decade illegally crushing cement behind their homes, filling their yards and houses with silica dust and diesel fumes, and they say: we can take that land for ourselves, restore the soil, and plant trees, they are doing this work for all of us: because the climate crisis is upon us, and land restoration and community control are sustainable solutions for a livable planet.

So I’m asking you to invest in our work in 2021: we have raised $48,658 dollars so far, and this month, every dollar you give is matched, meaning your donations go twice as far!



Linnea Brett, Community Organizer

Linnea Brett first joined Clean Air as a canvasser in 2014, returning in 2018 as an organizer. The youngest of six, from a working class family from Niagara Falls, Linnea studied at the University at Buffalo, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy, and a Master of Urban Planning, specializing in Environmental and Land Use Planning. She is also a coach for Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) chapters across the country, and is active in her home chapter, SURJ Buffalo. She loves the rush and intensity of direct action and the new connections forged through door to door canvassing, finds data entry soothing, and feels best when she’s creating brave, loving spaces for folks to vision, strategize, struggle, and take risks together. When she’s not doing organizing work, you can find her trying new recipes, trying to keep her plants alive, and hanging out with her partner Clarissa and their cats, Waffles and Rafael.



Clean Air’s Membership Team

Hello! This post comes directly from Clean Air’s Membership Team… Sue Kelley, Gary Schulenberg, Rob Walsh, Jenn Carman, and Julia White.

Three years ago, we established our Membership Team. Well, we started as the Fundraising Team, but quickly decided that “fundraising” really didn’t encapsulate or do justice to the work that we were actually doing. Yes, we agree… money funds our work, but we believe that it can be so much more than that. Money can actually be a part of how we organize for a better world.

At Clean Air, we are in the business of building a movement
for justice that cannot be defunded, broken or stopped.

That’s why Clean Air’s Membership Team is building out Clean Air’s grassroots movement for health and justice. We bolster the work of the Battaglia, Tesla, Tonawanda Coke, Huntley, and American Axle Teams by creating intentional and welcoming space for people in our community and beyond to join us as we reimagine a world that works for all of us.

In a world where the strength of our people and our commitment to our shared liberation is everything, we refuse to be divided. We are rewriting our own story about money. For Clean Air, fundraising is part and parcel of our organizational identity. Who we are and what we believe specifically informs how we approach fundraising.

Because we know that when we fund our work from the ground up, we not only ensure that we maintain power over the decisions we make and the actions we take, but that if we raise this money through authentic and honest conversations, we are also building the community and the collective power necessary to win.

We are so proud of the work that we have done so far. We have created Clean Air’s first ever Membership Handbook, hosted Growing Strong Together: An Open House to Root our Power, created Membership resources on our website, and have had hundreds of conversations with our friends, family, and comrades.

With more than 40% of our 2020 budget projected to come directly from grassroots Members and Supporters, we know that we are building a movement that is stronger, more creative and more resilient than our enemies could have ever imagined.

And so we invite you to join us as we laugh with each other, cry with each other, and have one another’s backs as we reimagine a world that works for all of us.

Sign up as a Member or Supporter today and join our movement for justice!



This is the work of many.

Over the next few weeks, Clean Air’s staff and Clean Air’s campaign teams will be re-introducing ourselves… who we are, our beliefs and visions, and why we wake up each day and organize for a better world.

My name is Julia, and I’m Clean Air’s Grassroots Development Organizer.

Ten years ago, I walked door-to-door talking to my neighbors about stopping fracking from coming to our state. Little did I know then that those conversations and connections would be my entry point into 10 years of building the most beautiful and fierce community I could have ever imagined. I want to thank each of you for being a part of that… for so generously and courageously sharing your laughter, tears, and anger along the way.

For me, it has been 10 years in the making. For those that have been in this decades longer, thank you so much for welcoming me with open arms and instilling in me the armor of love that keeps me going each and every day.

For those of you that are newer to this movement for justice, welcome! I am here for you. I love you. And I am proud of you. In a world that too often divides us, wears us down, and leaves us hopeless… let’s continue to come together and show it otherwise.

I get to do that every day as Clean Air’s Grassroots Development Organizer. At Clean Air, we’re rewriting our own story about money. We know that the way money works in this country is not going to change overnight. So while we hold our institutional funders to our same values, challenging them to listen and respond to our lived truths through better practices, we are also creating our own grassroots fundraising systems.

And the heart of that reimagined system is you and me. I don’t just love my job because I get to raise money to fund badass organizing work. I love my job because I get to organize people and their relationship with money to create a grassroots movement that not only is ready to take on the most well-funded adversaries you could imagine, but actually has the power and heart to win. In a world where we are purposefully divided—fundraisers or organizers; nonprofits or foundations; delivering hard numbers or simply keeping the bills paid—we are pushing back.

On Giving Tuesday, y’all raised $21,586 to fund our movement for health and justice. I want to be clear… you did that. This is a movement. This is the work of many, not a few. This is why, as my fearless colleagues and comrades in arms will share with you over the next few weeks, we can take on Elon Musk and the largest Trump donor in WNY, and we can win.

This is why I love working for Clean Air. Because I get to work with the most fearless people in Tonawanda, Delavan Grider, Seneca Babcock, and across Buffalo that have come together to organize for a better world for all of us. I cannot wait to watch what we will do next.

Will you join our unstoppable movement for justice by becoming a Member or Supporter today?

This is the work of many, and we need you on our side.

Love,

Julia



Re-Introducing Ourselves

Over the next few weeks, Clean Air’s staff and Clean Air’s campaign teams will be re-introducing ourselves… who we are, our beliefs and visions, and why we wake up each day and organize for a better world.

Julia White
Grassroots Development Organizer

Julia joined the team at Clean Air in 2018 as the Grassroots Development Organizer. Julia was born and raised in Vermont. While she regularly returns to the green mountains to visit friends and family, she has come to call Buffalo home over the past six years. She received her bachelors at Syracuse University, and kept moving her way west to Buffalo. Julia received her Master of Urban Planning from the University at Buffalo. Prior to joining the Clean Air team, Julia worked as a Canvass Director and Project Coordinator with NYPIRG and the Development Specialist with PUSH Buffalo. Julia ran and organized campaigns to stop fracking (a dangerous form of natural gas drilling) from being approved in New York State and has directed grassroots fundraising campaigns, written and won millions of dollars in private and public grants and hosted large-scale fundraising events to fund community-based work across Buffalo.

Julia has been funding and training others to fund the movement for justice for over 10 years. This work has allowed her to deeply understand the tools and skills of fundraising, but more importantly has equipped her with a decade-long analysis of how we can align our fundraising practices with our values and build a stronger movement for justice in the process. As Clean Air’s Grassroots Development Organizer, Julia is a fundraising organizer. She organizes people, their relationship with money, and money itself to fund a movement for health and justice that not only cannot be defunded, but cannot be stopped.



Taking What I’ve Learned to the Next Chapter

Dear Clean Air Community,
This December, I will step down as Executive Director of Clean Air Coalition of Western New York.  In my over 10 years at the forefront of the fight for health, dignity, and justice in our region, I have had the privilege of working alongside our membership, staff and board to hold polluters accountable, work to eradicate systemic racism, and consistently make what seems politically impossible, inevitable.

Through Clean Air’s rigorous practice of community organizing, I have seen our communities stand up, work together, and build a movement centered on environmental, economic, and social justice for us all. I know that despite all odds, in this imperfect system that has beaten so many of our people down, Clean Air will continue to show up, we will continue to turn out, day in and day out, because we know that institutions are only as strong as we demand them to be. I know that we will continue to do the work and I know that we will win.

I am proud of the movement we have built together, and confident that Clean Air’s amazing board, staff, and campaign teams will continue to build off of our successes and lead the organization through this transition into its next evolution. Our campaigns; including at Tesla, in Delavan-Grider, Seneca Babcock, and the Tonawandas, will continue to fire on all cylinders, and continue to fight for our communities to have decision making power in the policies and practices that impact our lives.

Our membership led Board of Directors has created a Transition Team to lead the transition process. This team will lead our leadership transition, and will work collaboratively with staff and membership over the next few months to identify the next Executive Director that will guide Clean Air into the future.

Starting in December I will hit the ground running in my new position as Northeast Regional Program Manager for The Blue Green Alliance, and will organize to protect the environment and create and maintain quality, family-sustaining jobs across the economy.  While I am transitioning away from Clean Air, I will be staying in Western New York, and am committed to this movement we have created together. I’m excited to continue to look for ways to build the power of our people to create a world where our environment promotes health and equity and where systems place communities at the forefront of decision making.

At Clean Air, we know that our members have many differences. We differ along class, race and party lines, but what unites us is our belief in our shared values and our vision for a brighter, better and more democratic future for all of us.  I could not be more thrilled to see this powerful organization continue to grow and continue to punch above our weight class.

If you have any questions or concerns during this transition process, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at Rebecca@cacwny.org, or contact Jennifer Carman, Chair of Clean Air Board at yuhnjl@gmail.com.

With Hope and Justice,

Rebecca Newberry



Updated Goal! $75K TO FIGHT IN FLIGHT

Download (PDF, 7.22MB)

Big news! We have surpassed our original $60K goal. Thank you so much to our Members and Supporters… we are so grateful to have each of you by our side as we organize for justice.

TIME TO GO BIG OR GO HOME. We are increasing our goal to $75K!

Join us today so we can continue the fight tomorrow – and every day after that. Renew your membership or support to Clean Air, and your gift will go twice as far. Every dollar raised will be matched dollar-for-dollar, until we reach our goal!

Visit cacwny.org/donate or cacwny.org/become-a-member today! 



We Choose to Believe in the Power of Organizing

The people of this country – led by communities of color – have fired Donald Trump. 

We choose to believe in the power of organizing. Despite egregious voter suppression, the strength of American democracy has been upheld by the millions of people that stood in voting lines for hours on end , and the hard work of movement builders who, for the past four years, have fought harder than ever to stop the erosion of civil protections for our people. And let’s be clear: defeating Trump was a movement win, not a win for the Democratic establishment. 

Now is not the time to rest. Over the past 4 years, protections to our health, and environment have been eroded and we are on shakier ground than ever. While we have maintained a resemblance of our democracy, we must be clear that the reality of a Biden Administration also does not serve our friends and neighbors the way we need it to. 

Our democracy is far from perfect. This no surprise given our country was built by and for the wealthy and elite. We have seen its corruption over and over again. 

And we see it all the time, right here in WNY, when governments do not hold corporations accountable for making poor and working class white communities and communities of color sick, exposing us to pollution and hazardous waste; when people of color and women are kept from advancing in publicly subsidized workplaces like Tesla; and when our Mayor, police department and holding center are allowed to systemically enable officers and racist citizens to take Black lives. 

But despite all odds, in this imperfect system that has beaten so many of our people down, we continue to show up. We continue to turn out, day in and day out, because we know that institutions are only as strong as we demand them to be. Because this is our country, and we are not going anywhere.

Throughout his campaign, Joe Biden has made many commitments to the Environmental Justice communities where our members live. He has stated that all Americans should have a fair shot at getting ahead. He has called for energy and environmental policy to advance public health and economic opportunities. He has called for an overhaul of the EPA External Civil Rights Compliance Office, and stated he will strengthen pollution laws to reduce the disproportionate impact on poor and working class white communities and communities of color. 

While his promises are a good start towards the world we’re fighting for,  we know campaign promises often go undelivered. It is our job to make sure a Biden Administration holds to these commitments, and to spend the next 4 years fighting for a country and economy that centers our health and dignity.

 We must continue to work to change the conditions that make Black communities more vulnerable to COVID, that leave poor and working class white communities and communities of color exposed to pollution and hazardous waste, that keep people of color and women from advancing in the workplace, and that systemically enable police officers and racist citizens to take Black lives. 

 This is only the beginning. Now is the time to show up to ensure that Biden keeps the promises that he made on the campaign trail. 

We know the road ahead will not be easy. Our movement is going to have to fight hard against a Biden administration – and we’re up against an emboldened and organized Right. More white people voted for Trump in 2020 than in 2016 and the Right will not let up for a single second. We’ve got our work to do to continue to organize more of our people away from white supremacy and towards a world where we can all be free.



Make Sure Every Vote is Counted

At 2:30am, Donald Trump did what he has threatened to do for months– declare that he will remain President and insist that votes stop being counted even though the ballots of millions of Americans had yet to be tallied. Trump has spent months discrediting our electoral process, lying about mail-in votes and calling them fraudulent. Days before the election, Trump implied he would “go all in” and mount legal challenges to disrupt the vote, before all votes were in. Let’s be clear: if Trump is allowed to remain in power without counting all votes, this is an illegitimate, stolen election.

Presidents don’t decide elections. Voters do. The outcome is unclear in six swing states — Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — and all are still counting votes. Until every vote is counted, this election is not over.  

Our democracy is far from perfect. This no surprise given that it was built by and for the wealthy and elite. We have seen its corruption over and over again. In 2000, when less than 550 Floridian votes decided a flawed election while Florida’s right leaning court refused a recount.  We have seen it through voter suppression and intimidation carried out over the past several months. And we see it all the time, right here in WNY, when corporations and polluters are not held accountable for making poor and working class white communities and communities of color sick, exposing us to pollution and hazardous waste; when people of color and women from are kept from advancing in the workplaces like Tesla; and when our police department and holding center are allowed to systemically enable officers and racist citizens to take Black lives. 

But despite all odds, in this imperfect system that has beaten so many of our people down, we continue to show up. We continue to turn out, day in and day out, because we know that institutions are only as strong as we demand them to be. Because this is our country, and we’re not going anywhere.

We choose to believe the power of organizing. Despite possibly the most egregious voter suppression in our country’s history, the strength of the American democracy has been upheld by the millions of people that stood in voting lines for hours on end, the millions of calls to people in GA, PA, and swing states across the country ensuring voters had the information and resources they needed to cast their vote, and the hard work of movement builders who, for the past four years, have fought harder than ever to stop the erosion of civil protections for our people. 

At this moment, we cannot stand on the sidelines. The chaos and confusion caused by the President refusing to honor the democratic process is a strategic choice to make us feel confused, overwhelmed, and powerless.

But we are not powerless. We are powerful. We are stronger than they are, and we always have been. And right now, we have a choice. We are either on the side of freedom and democracy, or the side of corruption and suppression. We can choose what is easy, or what is right. What is just or what is immoral. This is not about red or blue, this is about democracy or facisim. The people of this country have spoken, and that voice needs to be heard, respected and followed.

At Clean Air, we know that our members have many differences. We differ along class, race and party lines, but what unites us is our belief in our shared values and our vision for a brighter, better and more democratic future for all of us. No matter who you voted for this election, we have a duty to carry out the will of the American people. We have a moral responsibility to uphold democracy. If we chose to stay silent, we are causing harm, and that is not who we are. 

We know that our voices matter. The voices and hard work of everyday people stopped silica dust from entering our homes and our lungs, benzene and PCBs from entering our communities and the racism and sexism of workplaces from staying buried and hidden. But this is about much more than what we are against, this is about what we are organizing for. We are fighting for clean air and water, healthy communities where everyone has what they need, for workplaces that provide family sustaining wages and dignity for all workers. Right now, we need to fight for all of that and more. We need to organize and fight for the future of our democracy. 

Your voice matters. Your body, on the street at a protest or on the phone providing support, matters. Your calls to elected officials matter. Your participation in a general strike matters. Whatever role you decide to play in this movement, play it and play it well. We’re not being trite, you really do matter. You have skills, talents and a network that count in this moment more than ever before. Do you do well on the phone? Do you have a big family or group of friends or access to a listserv? Can you sew? Can you cook? Do you have a lot of extra cardboard boxes in your house? Do you feel safe driving at night? We need you, all of you, to see this through.

Here are two ways you can get involved in this moment:

Join the New Georgia Project Phonebanks: Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots could be rejected this November because of mistakes, such as mismatched signatures or name changes. Help us ensure that every vote is counted as we call voters to inform them of how they can track and, if needed, cure their ballot. Register Here.

Join Our Election Debrief Thursday afternoon: If you are a member who wants to debrief the election, and how you can show up in this moment. Join us on zoom or by phone Thursday 4:30pm to be together, process and discuss ways we can save our democracy. Register here.



Vote On Our Values!

Early voting is open Saturday, October 24, 2020 – Sunday, November 1, 2020

Our communities have dealt with crisis after crisis this year. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the global uprising for Black lives and the ongoing climate crisis, we have been asked time and time again to turn and face ourselves, our neighbors and people that we do not know and ask ourselves “how do we move forward”? We have had to make decisions this year, large and small, around what we have to do to keep our communities safe, healthy and strong. This election, we have the same choices and question in front of us–how do we move forward?
We have learned hard lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have learned the value of data, science and medicine. We have been shown the value of everyday workers such as those who work in hospitals, grocery stores, schools and laundromats. We have seen the ways in which we have shown up for one another by delivering groceries and medicine to those in need, to those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. When we banded together, we moved forward. 
We have also seen what happens when our elected officials do not move swiftly to provide the basic needs of all people–death, loss of jobs, continued and worsening illness of those of us living and working in environmental justice areas, and a slow and uncertain path forward. We know that we may never be able to get back to “normal”, and we don’t want to go back to the normal of before COVID-19. Normal never served us. 
When we were overwhelmed with the weight of the world, our members turned to one another and asked the same question; “how do we move forward”? The answer was clear: we need to center the values we hold at Clean Air and use them as our guiding star for all that we do during a time of uncertainty.
At Clean Air, our work is rooted in our values, and our values come from who we are. As a working-class, queer and women-led staff, our passion for and experiences with fighting for environmental justice and liberation colors all that we do. We know what it is to create community, care for one another through hard times and build a more beautiful and clear vision for the world that we all deserve.
So, how do we move forward? We move forward united through our differences and standing in our values. Our members have many differences but what connects us all is our belief in a world where our environment promotes health and equity and where systems place communities at the forefront of decision-making. We do the work that we are passionate about, the work that lifts all of us up and makes us stronger together.
As a nonprofit organization, we are not able to tell you who to vote for, but we urge you to stand in your values and the values of Clean Air and remember what is at stake past November 3rd. Clean air and water. Racial justice and equity. A vision for a new green economy that provides family sustaining wages and healthy workplaces. The joy, dignity and health of our people. And, most importantly, the possibility of a more perfect union and democracy for all. On November 3rd, and every day after that, we will stand strong in what we know to be true for all of us–that is how we move forward. 
We ask you to join us and vote on your values this election, up and down the ballot. Our vote is one way that we show our power and achieve our shared goals. Our voices, our dreams, our votes, matter.
Early voting is now open in New York State until Sunday, November 1st. You can find a list of polling places in Erie County here, and Niagara County here. For additional nonpartisan resources on voting and voting safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the Erie County Board of Elections or New York State Board of Elections sites. You can find our nonpartisan voting resource guide, being added to daily, here.
Ever forward,
Clean Air