October 19, 2021 | NEWS | By Russell Van Duyne | Photo by Aida Hasson

While Congress returned to the capital on the week of Oct. 18, the Sunrise Movement, a political organization advocating equitable policy to combat climate change, announced a weeklong call to action to pressure Democrats in Congress for their support of a fully-funded Civilian Climate Corps (CCC). 

During the 2020 election, the Sunrise Movement pushed the idea of a Civilian Climate Corps to provide dignified jobs combating climate change. The Corps have been part of Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget bill, currently being discussed and altered in Congress. The amount of money and its direction, however, is a divisive subject among high-ranking Democrats in the House and Senate. 

Ed Markey, Democratic Senator of Massachusetts, proposes the employment of an equitable and diverse group of over 1.5 million people in five years to complete sustainable infrastructure, climate resilience, conservation, and clean energy projects. The Sunrise Movement uses mobilization efforts to pressure House and Senate Democrats to not only support the CCC, but also support Markey’s proposal.

Corps Members in the CCC could help areas impacted by climate change be more resilient through the implementation of conservation and infrastructure projects overseen by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service — all departments that are underfunded and understaffed. 

Additionally, CCC proponents wish to include scholarship opportunities for the Corps workers to transition into long-term careers when they’re done serving. 

The goals of the CCC aim to both alleviate the hardships of the pandemic and the existential threat of climate change. The success of the CCC, however, is contingent on its funding and how Congress structures it; this is the dilemma the Sunrise Movement wishes to address through their recent mobilizations. 

Additionally, the CCC in Senator Markey’s vision would ignite passion in the younger generation for the fight against climate change — a daunting issue that could easily fall into a fatalistic mindset. “The CCC is about saving the planet, but it’s also about making the planet a place where people feel it’s actually worth saving,” Markey said in an interview with CNN. 

“We want good jobs with good wages, but our goal is to unleash the idealism of young people in our country and give them the ability to work on solving this climate crisis,” Markey said.   

This idealism is demonstrated through The Colorado Springs Sunrise hub, one of 400 Sunrise hubs nationwide, and their participation in the Sunrise National Day of Action on Oct. 18. 

“The main goal of the event was to make our CC community more aware of the Civilian Climate Corps policy,” said Caroline Sandberg ’25, Action Coordinator of the Colorado Springs Sunrise Hub. During the event, hosted on Tava Quad, the first 15 minutes were dedicated to a summarization of the CCC, and its importance to both the climate, and the pandemic-ravaged economy. 

Students participating in the event held posters and yelled chants exclaiming their support for the CCC. QR codes directed students to their local House and Senate representatives, and to a call script advocating the support of the CCC. 

“People can contribute to getting the CCC passed into legislation by calling their respective representatives and voicing their support,” Sandberg said. 

While certain Senators’ offices were closed or limited to email-only, voicing one’s support for the CCC through call-ins and messaging, as Sandberg expressed, is a tangible way to participate in the fight against climate change. 

“The biggest thing is to get our voices heard and let it be known that we want action on the CCC,” Sandberg said. 

This event followed the “CC for the CCC,” a march on Sept. 20 to pressure Sen. Hickenlooper, specifically, to support a fully funded CCC. To learn more about Sunrise Colorado Springs, and any future events, email Rosalee Bayer at r_bayer@coloradocollege.edu to join the mailing list or follow @sunrisecoloradosprings on Instagram.

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