Evo Morales spent 10 minutes of his high-level speech decrying the confusion and disorganization unique to the Copenhagen talks. It is strangely reassuring when a well-known head of state feels the need to continue in this vein for nearly a quarter of an hour. Throughout the last two weeks, I had no idea what was happening; I was lost, confused, and upset that I could not contribute more. I couldn’t make heads or tails of my situation; I stood in long lines and was daily criminalized; and when I finally understood the process, I was booted out of it along with the rest of civil society because someone had not adequately capped the number of accredited observers. Police arrested peaceful demonstrators, invaded the university, surrounded crowds and then bludgeoned them–generally for no real reason, other than the fact that no one knew what was happening.

I walked away from this feeling like a total failure, but when I compared stories with everyone else on my delegation, and in the youth movement, we all felt the same way. The feeling was absolutely universal, for civil society and party members and heads of state alike. Evo Morales was confused, Obama left with an air of depression, and even the Secretariat of the UNFCCC was beginning to show the signs of strain when he confronted a crowd of angry protestors who had been blocked from entering the Bella Center.

I support YOUNGO, but I am not sure we were any better organized. There were no systems in place, no method of response, no chain of command. There were so many of us that we either overlapped roles and got in each others’ way, or else we sat around bored with nothing to do. If you had an idea, someone had already thought of it. If you wanted to take leadership of a project, someone more experienced would already be in charge of it. Thus, for 85% of participants, our role seemed to be confined solely to standing around, showing strength in numbers.

Maybe that was part of the reason we failed as a planet. No one knew what to do, and it was impossible to take charge.

Our hostel didn’t make matters much less confusing. We were denied wifi access (all other hostels in the region seemed to provide this) and habitually treated condescendingly by the staff, like elementary school kids. I have written a scathing review right here, if you would like to hear the obscene details.

I don’t have a lot to go back to in Cincinnati. I had hoped that Copenhagen might somehow point me in the right direction, but that seems to have just been part of the larger Hopenhagen pipe dream. I do have a renewed sense of mission–it really is time to reach out, raise awareness, and start a movement. Not a hippie movement; I’ve had enough of that over the last two weeks. No, I mean that we have to mobilize citizenry to start thinking of money-saving alternatives to insane consumption and to start thinking across national borders. We need greater participation in the local system rather than this confounded Rube Goldberg machine that we call globalization. We need to find our pleasures and our meaning in the smaller aspects of life–not our brand-name clothes, not our number of Christmas presents, not our meaningless but well-paid occupation in corporate America. My sense is that it is time to love and forgive, heal old wounds, and make peace with life, because we don‘t know what tomorrow is going to look like, or indeed if such a thing exists.

This will be my last entry. This blog has served it’s purpose; I hope one day someone can use it as a reference on how to run a one-woman show, on the UNFCCC process, or what to expect at a COP. It may also be read as a testament to human failure and futility.

I don’t want to leave you on such a fatalistic note. Instead, I want you to join me. Get involved in a local group. Write to your lawmakers. Send me a message! Reach out to other people and get them involved–they need you. Help me in my ambition to live and die with dignity.

Thank you.

Love,

Liz Trombley

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It’s been a very demoralizing week, including failed fundraisers, meetings that did not materialize, and medical bills going to collection agencies.   I had this massive meltdown yesterday, which I do not need to discuss.  I can be glad of one thing, however–I’m glad that I did not die today.

There was a rally in Columbus to raise awareness about the Copenhagen talks today.  I was supposed to go up there and collect petition signatures again, march to another location, then address the assembled crowd about Copenhagen. 

I was driving up I-71 on my way to Columbus, just like I have done many times before.   The car is the sort that is supposed to beep at you when a light comes on, which is something my libertarian grandfather (who previously owned the car) had destroyed, illegally. 

As with pain, there is a reason that such a system exists, even if it is annoying.  In the case of my story, such a system might even save lives.  Luckily, and for no particular reason, I happened to glance down at my speedometer and gauges and saw that my brake light was silently on. 

For all the children out there reading this blog, it is very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very bad and dangerous to talk on your cellphone while driving, and your parents must not think that I in any way endorse such actions under any circumstance.  But that is exactly what I did, and you must admit it saved my life.

I called my mom, and said, “The brake light is on, what should I do?”  My first inclination was to ignore the issue, and I figured that’s what she would say too.  Instead, she told me to pull over and figure out why it was on.

I turned off at Field’s Urtel Road, where there conveniently happened to be a Michel Tire mechanics shop.   I went in.  I said, My brake light is on, and I don’t know why.

View Image

This is sort of what my un-trusty car looks like

Several minutes later they called me back to show me my car suspended in mid-air.  Apparently, the entire brake line had inexplicably ruptured on the left side, draining the car of brake fluid; it left a gaping hole in the line through which its life-blood now dripped onto  the floor of the shop.  They said it wasn’t safe for me to drive it home, and I must have had mere seconds before the brakes failed on me entirely.

What if I had been careening down the highway at my usual speed of 85 mph and I had to slam on my brakes?  I would have died, that’s what.  And maybe killed someone else.  Let this be a lesson–don’t disable the beeping devices in your car.  The next driver might not be as lucky as I was.

And that’s why I didn’t go to Columbus this morning.

I did, however, go to Columbus in the evening with my friend and co-activist Jeff.  We attended the Ohio Environmental Council’s annual meeting and Green Gala, which was a lot of fun. 

I didn’t know anybody, so I started talking to the woman next to me who told her husband about me and my trip to Copenhagen.  Because he showed enthusiasm for my mission, I had him introduce me to several other people who might be interested.  Then I asked them to introduce me to others.  If any of the kind people I spoke to at this event are reading now, then I thank them for their interest, and hope they will continue to return to this site and support me!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you network and not die.

…GETS WRITTEN ALL OVER MY BLOG.

Power Shift Ohio was so much fun!  Several people even confided in me that they thought this one was better than the one that had so inspired me in DC.

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/OHMap-doton-Oberlin.pngI persuaded my sister to come with me…so she could get volunteer hours…which we then forgot to do.  We left Friday afternoon on a little yellow school bus for Oberlin, which is 4 hours north of Cincinnati (see the red dot on the map).  Not a lot of folks from my alma mater came with us, which, given that our school has a population of 37 000 students, is horrible–but props to the two (three?) who did!  Cincinnati State more than made up for UC with their presence.  Props to Cincinnati State!!

The conference itself was great.  There were approximately 400 in attendence from around the state of Ohio.  Here are some of the awesome things that happened to me:

  • Katie and I stayed in the dorms with our gracious hosts, Sarah and Michelle.  We slept on the floor.  In sleeping bags.  With great cameraderie.
  • I met up extremely randomly with someone I met at the original Power Shift in DC.  She lives in the room next to ours.
  • I saw Jupiter and four of her moons through a telescope!  I did not come to Oberlin expecting this.
  • I did come to Oberlin expecting to make a presentation, but did not expect to do it under the following circumstances:  First, I was originally supposed to be part of a panel, but that got switched around so that I was supposed to give a workshop with Max (Max who took me to Athens that once).  That was okay, but they put us in the Health room, which was pretty much like being in Hell.  There were graphic and blood-curdling threats all over the walls, in poster form, demonstrating the effects of drugs and sex.  These posters covered literally every square inch of every wall; emanating from them were the wails of the damned.  It’s easy to make fun of now, but it was both distracting and offensive when we were trying to talk about climate legislation.
  • In addition to teaching about the Copenhagen climate treaty process, I attended 3 other workshops about environmental issues.  I can’t remember what they are now, but I did learn one thing.  It takes 1.5 gallons of gasoline to make 1 gallon of corn-based ethanol.  Ethanol=fail.
  • We got free lunch and dinner at Oberlin college’s cafeteria.  It was freaking posh.
  • I collected 130 signatures on my Climate Countdown petition (the same one I made a button for 3 entries downSign it already!).  That was the best part; I just took the clipboard around the dorm on Saturday night and went door to door to all the different parties asking folks to sign.  Oberlin is very liberal.  Everyone rides a bike, and everyone I asked signed the petition.  These people rock, and I wish I had gotten my degree here.
  • We formed a rally with flags and masks and stuff and marched through Oberlin.  Why we were raising climate awareness on the most liberal campus in Ohio I have not yet figured out…but Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich came to speak to us, and Jennifer Brunner gave a keynote, all right there at the rally.  She signed my petition as well, and when she runs for Senate this upcoming year, she most certainly has my vote.

All in all, it was a very fun weekend.  I got to meet with all sorts of awesome folks from around my home state, discuss various issues, inform others about my trip to Copenhagen, visit Oberlin, meet famous people, and bask in the warm sunshine and the joy of living.

I pity the fool who chose not to come.  And if you’re still reading at this point I pity you too, because you have too much time and not enough stuff to do.  Take some more time and look at my picture album.

So, as I was sitting here in my internet window, eating the ravioli out of the pot I cooked them in, I began rifling through our city’s biggest cool newspaper, CityBeat.  You’ll be glad to read the following:

http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-19224-pepper-portune-trombley-smitherman-gop.html

🙂

THANKS GUYS!!

Oh my, it’s November, and that means I have one month–yes, a mere 30 days–left to complete my campaign.  It seems like it hasn’t even been 30 days since SustainUS called to notify me of my acceptance!!

But now I have to really ramp up my efforts prior to departure (which will likely be the first day in December).  I just spent the last several days contacting all of Cincinnati’s media, which entails sending off individual emails to hundreds of reporters and/or their news desks, then calling the next day to follow up: “Would you be interested in this story?…yes, I already sent it to you by email…yes, please check your inbox…thanks for your attention, I look forward to working with you on this!!”

It’s always good to start by sending off an email to the press, but then you need to follow up…and keep following up.  You’ve got to be really aggressive!  And shameless.

I’ve always known about this, but I’ve got a few observations specific to Cincinnati.  First, the newspapers are hard to penetrate.  I never seem to find a reporter, and I usually talk to a machine.  Second, AP Cincinnati likely does not have any interest in your story.  Their office is there to sydicate world news from Cincinnati, not syndicate Cincinnati to the world.  Third, the TV stations were incredibly receptive to me, and I nearly always spoke to someone enthusiastic.  So, look for me on the news!

November is also the final stretch in pressuring the Senate to bring climate legislation to a vote before Copenhagen.  I will be heavily involved with this as well, and I urge you to write your Senators to do the same.  I spent the better part of yesterday morning trying to print letters to Ohio Senators Voinovich and Brown–this job would have been much easier if my sister had not somehow deleted Microsoft Word from the computer so that I couldn’t paste, edit, and print off a document. (Katie, if you are reading this, I DEMAND YOU FIX IT.)  Finally, I had to put it all on a flash drive and print it out at my grandma’s house…But come on.   If I still managed to write my Senators a letter, so can you!!

I also spent about two hours figuring out how to make the donation button you see in the top right hand corner of my screen, so I hope you can make use of it!!

Lastly, they just told me that I somehow need to gather 500 petition signatures to put some added pressure on Obama.  Apparently, I was supposed to be doing this at the 350 Day of Action (…?) but the word never got through to me for whatever reason…and, in no uncertain terms, I really need those signatures, so please please PLEASE click on the little “Sign the Petition” button on the floating entry above  in order to help me out!!

I think that’s all for now.  My next few days will be rather packed as I combine these ongoing efforts with preparing SustainUS’s policy statement on mitigation and preparing for Power Shift Ohio, where I will be speaking this weekend.  I’ll probably come here to vent my frustrations.  See you then.

So far on this quest of ours, I have shaken hands with Cincinnati’s elected officials, met Obama’s motorcade on the blockaded streets of Pittsburgh, eaten Skyline with a British diplomat–and now I have met Vandana Shiva, the physicist turned world-famous environmental activist.  I’ve sort of been a fan ever since I started reading her informative book, Water Wars (which I do recommend).

I feel so privileged to have heard her speak tonight at Xavier University about soil–its role in environmental health, in human societies, and how India’s green revolution has senselessly and needlessly destroyed their nation’s soil.  She  also made notes about COP15 in Copenhagen, for which I am grateful as well–she put into plain and simple words the issues that I have been reading about for months and slowly coming to comprehend: the UNFCCC is the only international environmental treaty that the world has (the Kyoto Protocol doesn’t count; the US Senate never ratified it) and the US is making moves to dismantle it.  Carbon trading is the same concept as indulgences were to the Rennaissance-era Catholic church.  And did you know that soil can act as a carbon sink?  I did, but I didn’t realize that well-managed, organically-tended soil could have 200% the capacity as regular.  GOOD TO KNOW since I am currently researching carbon sinks.

Dr. Vandana Shiva was a lively, authoritative and engaging speaker, and the only thing I regret is that it had to come to an end…I think learned more tonight than I did in my Environmental Science classes.

Because I’m turning into an attention whore, I went up and spoke with her after the lecture.  I thanked her for her presence and told her about my role as a youth delegate at Copenhagen–and I got her to sign my very well-loved (read: battered) copy of Water Wars.  I think I’ll put it next to my Sheikh Mohammed photo…or better yet, put it in my suitcase for Copenhagen where I hope to meet her once more!

Oh man.  You will not believe where me.  I just got back from meeting with the UK Deputy Consul General from Chicago.  Emily, my supervisor at the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council, asked if she could forward my email address, and lo and behold! the British consulate got in touch with me–about my participation in the UN climate talks of course!

So, we met at Arnold’s (famous) Bar and Grill.  Our conversation ranged from Copenhagen to Ohio politics to what I want to do with my life, to life in the American and British Foreign Service–and something I hope to do next July.  After drinking beers (except I drank a Shirley Temple because I’m only 6 years old or something…AND I love grenadine) we headed towards Skyline Chili, which the guy at the consulate urged him to do because it’s just so Cincinnati.  And speaking of that, what trip to Cincinnati would be complete without having desert at Graeter’s Ice Cream?

Mr. Brammer was then kind enough to run me home, where I now sit curled around the laptop. He’s heading out to Columbus to meet with some people there, but I really hope we hear back from him and the UK Consulate at World Affairs Council!

I am now 10 pounds heavier, and I am a happy, happy girl.  This is the part about this job that I love.  Not the food–meeting cool people from around the world.  Talking to them.  Listening to them.  Explaining what I do.  Gaining key insights into the way the world works.  Thank you for meeting with me, Mr. Brammer!!

 

And, as an aside, apparently the consulate heard about my name when searching for information on the Copenhagen talks this December–THIS is why I keep a blog!

 
And that’s how I feel about blogs in general.  I kept an extensive blog when I studied in Dubai as a Clinton Scholar, and though this was over two years ago, I still get folks writing in to me for advice!  Who knows, maybe Sheikh Mohammed himself has read it?  Lesson: ALWAYS KEEP A BLOG.