Dear 350 Colorado friends,

These past couple of years have been rough, and the last couple of days of 2021 were truly tragic. My heart goes out to our neighbors who lost almost everything in the Dec. 30th wildfires, which spread terrifyingly fast by 105-110mph winds. There used to be a wildfire season, but no more. We used to have snow in the fall and early winter, but not this year. Climate chaos and catastrophe is well and truly upon us. Increasingly dangerous and damaging record-breaking climate events – drought, wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes – are the new normal. We must support each other through these tragedies, while preparing for more. Above all, we must be relentless in our demands for real climate action and stop accepting half-measures and unfulfilled pretty promises.

Any leader worth their salt must acknowledge that we’re living in a state of climate emergency, and the first order of business must be a commitment to phase out all fossil fuel production in our state by 2030 at the very latest. Colorado’s oil and gas exports, when burned, produce 120% of the GHG emissions when compared to ALL emitting sectors (transportation, industry, electricity, etc.) in our state combined! Fracking company CEOs benefit at the expense of the rest of us, who suffer the climate impacts, ruined water supplies and air quality fouled with ozone, benzene and other pollutants… and we are facing an $8.2B liability to clean up their fracking mess!

A few days ago my family watched the dark comedy/satirical film “Don’t Look Up”, which I highly recommend. I both laughed and cried. I laughed at the similarities I’ve experienced with the film’s characters over the past 25+ years of climate organizing. I was reminded of my own naivety in my early organizing years in thinking that when politicians learned the science, they’d take appropriate action, but then being ignored or watching them repeatedly taking the politically expedient path. The politicization of issues of science, the profiteering of some at terrible expense to the rest of us, and the difficulty of getting the public to pay attention to this unfolding crisis were all too familiar. I wept when I heard the young scientist at the end say “At least we tried”. It’s so similar to the words I’ve heard myself say countless times – “We have a responsibility to keep trying, to prevent the worst.”

But we cannot fail. We cannot give up. Our leaders cannot be allowed to continue to turn a blind eye to this destruction and pretend to be climate champions. We must make them ‘look up’ and take appropriate action. Things sometimes feel hopeless, but remember – action is the antidote to despair. This year I am resolved (my New Year’s Resolution, if you please) to call out these failures of leadership and demand action to address them. I hope you will all join me in this resolve. As we know, there is tremendous power in numbers, when we all join forces.

As we embark on 2022 together, I’m strengthened by all of you and the growing united force we represent. May 2022 restore us and lead us toward a path of healing and regeneration.

With gratitude, love and friendship,


350 Colorado Executive Director

P.S. I’m pasting below a beautiful article I was granted permission to share. I hope it brings you strength and comfort.

Elias Amidon – Notes from the Open Path

Kindly Bent to Ease Us

“Here we are, wishing each other Happy New Year while there’s a heavy cloud of foreboding in the air. Greta Thunberg is angry and we know why. Children are walking in the streets holding signs, “You’re stealing our future from us!” Massive corporations and the rich are draining the wealth of communities. The commons — the air, the soil, the forests, and oceans — are being despoiled for private gain. Disinformation and distrust are fragmenting nations. The growth economy has cancer but won’t admit it. The sixth mass extinction of species is happening on our watch. Happy New Year!

I frequently hear people say they think humans are an evolutionary mistake, a blight on the planet, a dead end. We’re coming to accept the Hobbesian view that humans are fundamentally selfish and competitive, and that there’s just a veneer of civilization holding back our greedy, self-centered behaviors. It seems we’re losing hope that we’re capable of coming together, or that we have the collective will to clean up the mess we’re making.

The trouble with this view is that it ignores the obvious. We humans, in our everyday interactions, are most often kind and cooperative, not selfish or mean. Just think of the people you encounter every day, some known and some unknown — are they not trying to do their best to be kind and helpful? The lady at the post office with whom you make little jokes, the rough-looking young guy holding the door for you at the hardware store, the old friend who you haven’t heard from in years, writing to ask how you’re doing. I’ve been all over the world and the great majority of people I’ve encountered have been kind and well-meaning, or at least wanted to be.

It’s that ground of kindness that I’m pointing to here, for I believe that recognizing it will help give us the strength and courage we’ll need in the times to come. When Kurt Vonnegut asked his 20-year-old son, “What is the purpose of life?” his son answered, “To help each other get through it, whatever it is.”

I don’t believe there are many people who want the earth’s diversity of species to be destroyed, or who want our children’s future endangered. Our common desire for well-being runs deep ­­– it’s a source of good will and creativity we can trust as we contend with the magnitude of challenges ahead. Cynicism won’t help us.

Yes, there’s evidence of human selfishness and divisiveness everywhere, that’s true. But I believe there’s even more evidence of human kindness, solidarity, creativity, and resilience, of people caring and reaching out to help others in both everyday simple ways, as well as in the midst of disasters.

I was once in a subway car clattering underground from 125th Street to 59th Street in New York City, a long run between stations. It was the end of the day — everybody had that tired subway look, gazing away from each other. Suddenly the train went black and coasted to a stop in complete darkness. There had been a major electrical blackout that covered the whole region, though none of us knew it. We waited in the darkness, making nervous small-talk. Eventually a conductor came through and told us to climb out of the train and walk along the dim tunnel for nearly a mile to the nearest exit. It wasn’t easy going, following a few winking flashlights in the dark, but everyone helped each other, held each other’s hands, lifted up the ones who tripped — all of us complete strangers taking care of each other as if it was the most natural thing to do.

In his recent book, Humankind — A Hopeful History, the Dutch historian Rutger Bregman tells the story of the Nazi strategy behind the London blitz. Their plan assumed that by bombing civilian population centers, social chaos would erupt, people would act like brutes, and the norms of civil society along with English morale would evaporate. But it didn’t happen. After 80,000 bombs were dropped, the English responded with courage, humor, and caring toward each other. “Crisis brought out not the worst, but the best in people,” Bregman writes. Later in the war, when Churchill used the same strategy of bombing civilian centers in Germany, the German people reacted in the same way — not with chaos, but with mutual help and fortitude.

Bregman’s book contains many stories like this, stories that reveal how our innate tendency toward kindness and trying to do our best to make things better is a tendency that’s hard-wired into us. This is not to ignore the human capacity for violence, meanness, and abuse — that too is obvious, and has its own causes rooted in fear and ignorance. But if we believe the story that people are basically untrustworthy and uncompassionate, I think we’ll have lost perhaps the greatest source of strength available to us as we face the crises that are here, and the worse ones to come. In Anne Frank’s famous words:

“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

I don’t believe this goodness in the human heart is wishful thinking. Nor do I believe that “goodness” is an anomaly appearing here and there in an otherwise uncaring universe. Our altruistic tendencies, our predilections for kindness and cooperation, arise from the very nature of how this living universe works. We are kind because the whole “interdependent co-arising” of the phenomenal world is kind.

There’s an old Tibetan text by Longchenpa with the evocative title, Kindly Bent to Ease Us, that describes how the entire magic show of phenomena is luminous with compassion and generosity. And whether we call it “goodness of heart” or kindness, compassion, love, or interdependent co-arising, its evidence is everywhere.

When I take a deep breath, the anonymous air enters my body and gives what my body needs. Is that not friendly of it? My hands know how to move to make a cup of tea for me. How kind that knowledge is! My legs stand me up and I don’t know how they do it! All the trillions of cells in my body do their jobs in quiet friendship, cooperating. Even the cells that don’t seem to, the ones that hurt — like the pains in my lower back and my uneven heartbeat — are friendly in their fashion, telling me to take care, you’re not as young as you were, take it easy. At dawn each day we watch how light comes to the world so generously, and then evening comes in its merciful way to give us rest. Indigenous tribes have called the natural world “the giving place.” It is kindly bent to ease us.

When we recognize how intrinsic kindness is to the nature of things and to our own deepest nature, we can take heart. Yes, our forebodings are real, there are hard times coming and we have much good work to do, but we can be sure we have help. There are enormous currents of kindness and benevolence carrying us along, around us and within us. Our prayers and deepest wishes for each other are evidence of this, like every time we say:

Happy New Year!”