2021 Year In Review – State and Regional Networking
KEC recognizes that environmental issues in our county are tied to bigger systems of government, corporate power, and lack of public information. KEC cannot address them alone. It is only as we band together with others across the state and region that we can have an influence. Of course, many issues go beyond both the state and the region but if we at least work together at those levels, we can start to make a difference in our county as well as state.
We are currently actively involved in three networks of particular importance:
- 350 WA Network. In 2020 KEC affiliated with 350 WA Network which is part of the parent global organization, 350.org. The 350 WA Network began with 12 community environmental and climate groups (including KEC) from across the state. It now includes other small environmental groups from both WA and Alaska.
The network is broadly focused on environmental issues and shares the overall focus of 350.org regarding climate change and racial justice. We work together to support one another’s mission through collaboration and shared resources. 350.org has a wealth of educational, organizing, and advocacy tool kits. 350.org in turn is connected to other national and international groups. Together we are making our overall efforts more effective and staying grounded in the interests of communities. KEC continues to grow with, and learn from, the members of this network.
- Pacific Northwest Forest Climate Alliance. In 2021 the 350 WA Network spawned a special network focused on forestry. This network is bringing together a growing number of communities that have been protesting certain WA Department of Natural Resources (DNR) practices regarding state trust lands. We are now part of an evolving group of organizations that are calling for protection of legacy forests, the use of more accurate research and science for legislative decision-making related to forestry, and setting forth specific petitions for action.
The group has connected with Peter Goldmark, a former WA Commissioner of Public Lands, who has proposed the establishment of a state Forest Ecological Reserve. This is a designation that the governor, current Commissioner of Public Lands, and the Board of Natural Resources could establish to protect all state forested Trust Lands west of the Cascade Crest over the next twenty years. This group has also helped us connect our petition for a 10-year moratorium on clearcutting on state forest lands with a broader group of people who share our interests.
This group is now an official work group within the Pacific Northwest Forest Climate Alliance, a group that also is active in Oregon. As the network works toward its goals of protection of state forests, a base of understanding, learning, strategizing, and connections is building.
- WA Community Rights Network (WACRN). From its beginning, KEC has been learning from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) about how to navigate the relationship of environmental activist groups to the governmental agencies and policy bodies that establish and enforce environmental policies. KEC sponsored a Democracy School in 2019 presented by CELDF through which many KEC members learned about how rigged the legal systems are toward the interests of corporations. Over the last couple years, CELDF has been increasingly focused on the rights of both communities and nature to protect local environments.
The WA Community Rights Network (WACRN) has recently been launched with the support of CELDF. This network brings Washington communities together to build collective power to protect their local rights and the rights of nature. KEC is a member of this network.