Volunteer Spotlight: Erika Robertson, a Climate Justice Steward
This year, you can feel the momentum building for climate action. You can feel it just by talking with our ever-growing community of volunteers and activists, like we did when we met Erika. Hear from Erika why she’s compelled to spend her time recruiting others to support climate progress – and perhaps you’ll want to volunteer yourself!
What connects you with Washington’s environment?
I graduated high school in 2008, just as the great recession hit my rural town. Small businesses closed, folks who had stable lives were suddenly unemployed, and my own future seemed suddenly insecure. In this uncertain world, I chose to work on an organic farm. On the farm, I worked alongside Mexican migrant laborers and Washington hippies, and I saw that a strong community with diverse skills can build a thriving local economy. I saw the resilience of Washington’s people and environment.
How did you get involved with the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy?
When I moved to back Seattle in April after earning my Masters in Museum Studies, I was really motivated to start becoming the person I wanted to be – and part of that was volunteering with an environmental group. I showed up at the May Day march and it seemed like nobody was ready to take volunteers. But then I met Stina, an organizer working with the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. She said ‘we have a plan, and we have a role for you.’ I felt welcomed, and their concrete plan to introduce a carbon tax in Washington State impressed me. So I started volunteering and became a Climate Justice Steward. I help recruit other volunteers and we collect pledges of donated time or money, and we help organize events to get the momentum going.
Who else is part of the Alliance?
It’s important to me that the Alliance represents and includes all of Washington’s residents, from the most recent migrant workers to the Native American organizations. I like when I’m in a room with people who are volunteering with the Alliance, because they all come with their own motivations: the people who are working to install solar panels, or the people who see more respiratory illnesses because they’re doctors and they want to prevent that becoming more common. It’s so important we’re collaborating with people of color because they have been – and will be – the most impacted by climate change. Our strength comes from having all of those perspectives present.
What’s your hope for the future?
No matter the outcome, we’re building capacity. We’re building networks of people who care about the environment for a huge variety of reasons and want common sense, practical plans. We’re gaining knowledge and skills from each other, so we’re going to be a stronger community of democratically involved people no matter what happens next.
I’m ready to become more actively involved in Washington State’s democratic process. The Alliance’s carbon tax initiative seems like the most effective way I can protect its precious soil, crops, and workers in the long term.