Mainers go to Washington to lobby Congress to act on climate change

Campaigning with ART:  Volunteers with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby use art and pressure to push for solutions to a warming climate.


CANTON — Four years ago, Canton artist Laurie Sproul found herself deeply frustrated as she searched for ways that she, as an individual, could take action against what she saw as the impending threat of climate change.

She had come across local environmentalist groups working in their communities but craved something on a grander scale with the potential for “massive impact.” So in the middle of a snowstorm, she and her mother trekked to a climate change conference at the Augusta Civic Center where they ran across a booth for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a national group of citizen volunteers who, with laser-like focus, lobby members of Congress for a market-driven solution to carbon emissions.

“We saw that booth and it was about a national price on carbon, and I looked at (my mom) and said ‘this is it!” Sproul recalled. “The more I learn about the proposal that Citizens’ Climate Lobby has put forth, the more it is totally engaging and viable and the more I want to help the public know that that’s a real solution for climate change.”

Sproul now volunteers with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, helping them use art to start conversations about what can arguably be a dry and abstract subject. Along with Winslow-based artist Jean Ann Pollard, Sproul is hoping her art can help break down barriers to discussions on climate change, which over the last decade has transformed from a bipartisan issue — albeit with different takes on its causes and solutions — to one that is no longer acknowledged by large swaths of one of the country’s two major political parties.

“Art is a great communicator,” Sproul said. “It kind of communicates with a deeper, fundamental level in our psyche.”

This past week Sproul and Pollard’s artwork traveled to Washington, D.C., for the eighth annual Citizen’s Climate Lobby & Citizen’s Climate Education International Conference & Lobby Day, a three-day conference where approximately 1,300 volunteers from chapters across the country gathered to learn how to effectively raise public awareness around climate change and carbon pricing, grow the group’s ranks and lobby members of Congress to take action. Nearly 1,000 of those volunteers stayed on to lobby staff or officeholders from approximately 500 of the 535 Congressional seats.

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