Meet the CREDO Climate Heroes

Nov 12, 2015 · 7 min read

President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline last week is a historic victory for the climate movement — one that would have been impossible without a massive, years-long campaign of grassroots activism and direct action.

Even as a decision on Keystone XL was delayed and delayed, a newly invigorated movement of everyday people were taking on other fossil fuel projects all over the country, and winning.

The lesson is clear: When hundreds of thousands of ordinary people take extraordinary action — including putting our bodies on the line and getting hauled off to jail — we can take on the fossil fuel industry and win, even when Beltway insiders tell us it’s impossible.

CREDO is proud to have strengthened this movement through our donations program — which funds organizations on the leading edge of the climate movement — and through the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance, which trained hundreds of activists around the country to organize and lead civil disobedience and direct action.

It was in this same spirit that we launched CREDO Climate Heroes, a program of small grants designed to empower and fund local organizing to protest and confront the fossil fuel industry, and the decision-makers who are standing on the wrong side of history.

Today, we’re excited to announce the CREDO Climate Heroes, 63 exceptional activists and small groups who are taking bold and confrontational action on climate.

The program offers $500 grants to local activists working on the ground to slow climate change with direct action, including by nonviolent civil disobedience.

Many front-line activists lack the funds for even basic campaign materials. We hope these grants empower local organizing including actions that literally might not have been possible otherwise.

We received hundreds of applications from activists across the country — many times more than than we had available grants. Selecting a final group of climate heroes was an incredibly difficult task. At the same time, it deepened our resolve in this fight to read local accounts of so many projects that continue to threaten communities across the country. And it was incredibly inspiring to see the scale of activism and organizing taken on by so many.

We chose 63 outstanding activists and small groups working in 32 states on a wide range of campaigns, including campaigns to block coal mining, stop oil and gas pipelines, ban fracking, shut down the tar sands, defend clean energy and change policy to speed the transition to a fossil-fuel free economy.

CREDO Climate Heroes

Afrin Catalano, Seattle, WA
Aldo Seoane, Wica Agli, Mission, SD
Alex Budd, Southern Oregon Rising Tide, Grants Pass, OR
Angeline Antoine, Idle No More Michigan, Williamsburg, MI
Bakken Coalition, Ames, IA
Bradley Stroot, Bloomington, IN
Bill Hamilton, Environmental Youth Council, St. Augustine, FL
Carl Wassilie, ShellNo Alaska, Anchorage, AK
Cathy Eberhart, Citizens Acting for Rail Safety Twin Cities (CARS-TC), Saint Paul, MN
Cecelia Smith, Chukchi Sea Watch, Anchorage, AK
Cherri Foytlin, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, Rayne, LA
Chad Cordell, Kanawha Forest Coalition, Charleston, WV
Charlotte Keys, Jesus People Against Pollution, Columbia, MS
Chris Schimmoeller, Frankfort, KY
Cindy Spoon, Frack Free Denton, Denton, TX
Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Educational Network of Turtle Island, Brookfield, IL
Dave Easley, Tammany Together, Covington, LA
David Pike, Weaverville, NC
Deirdre Aherne, 350NYC, New York, NY
Denise Abdul-Rahman, NAACP Indiana State Conference, Indianapolis, IN
Donny Williams, We Are Cove Point, Lusby, MD
Duncan Tarr, Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI-CATS), Lansing, MI
Gloria Fallon, Chicago Rising Tide, Chicago, IL
Helen Yost, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, Moscow, ID
James Collins, Climate First, Newark, DE
Janet Johnson, Sunflower Alliance, Richmond, CA
Jay O’Hara, Climate Disobedience Center, Burlington, VT
Jesse Peterson, Northwoods 350, Duluth, MN
Joan Brown, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, Albuquerque, NM
Joe Womack, Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition, Mobile, AL
John Hernandez, Redeemer Community Partnership, Los Angeles, CA
Jonathan Henderson, New Orleans, LA
Joni Stellar, Frack-Free Butte County, Oroville, CA
Judy Hogan, Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash Dump, Moncure, NC
Julie Eldridge, San Diego, CA
Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth, Kutztown, PA
Kaye Fissinger, Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont, Longmont, CO
Laura van der Pol, 350 Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO
Columbia Pacific Common Sense, Astoria, OR
Lisa Leggio, Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI-CATS), Holland, MI
Michael Bowersox, Seeds of Peace East, Athens, WV
Molly Stuart, Rising Tide Vermont, Burlington, VT
Nancy Wilson, Stop the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline, West Roxbury, MA
No Coal in Oakland Coalition, Oakland, CA
Nicolas Katkevich, Fighting Against Natural Gas (FANG), Providence, RI
Oscar Medina, Southern Arizona Green For All Coalition, Tucson, AZ
Pat Freiberg, Sierra Club Loo-wit Group, Vancouver, WA
Patricia Popple, Save the Hills Alliance, Chippewa Falls, WI
PAUSE — People of Albany United for Safe Energy, Albany, NY
Pennie Plant, Idle No More SF Bay, San Pablo, CA,
Peggy Salazar, Southeast Environmental Task Force, Chicago, IL
Randy Ertll, California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network (CLEAN), San Gabriel, CA
Renee Allessio, Hewitt, NJ
Rod Tharp, Olympia, WA
Ronald Martin, Fresnans Against Fracking, Fresno, CA
Rosemary Lytle, NAACP CO MT WY State Conference, Colorado Springs, CO
Roxanne Groff, Athens County Fracking Action Network, Amesville, OH
Shirlene Rogers, Gallup Solar, Gallup, NM
Steven Norris, Beyond Extreme Energy, Fairview, NC
Sweetwater Nannauck, Idle No More Washington, Camano Island, WA
Tracey Eno, Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community, Busby, MD
Yvonne Taylor, Gas Free Seneca, Burdett, NY
Zarna Joshi, Seattle, WA

Afrin Catalano (Seattle, WA): “I live in Seattle and got involved in activism when the Port of Seattle signed a lease allowing Shell to park the oil rig in Seattle. It was local, it was urgent, I had to get involved. I began to volunteer with the ShellNo Action Council and also got involved with Rising Tide Seattle. I am now in the core collective of Rising Tide Seattle and continue to work with them on direct action against the fossil fuel expansion that is underway in the pacific northwest.”
Alex Budd (Grants Pass, OR) of Southern Oregon Rising Tide: “We are focused on opposing the Pacific Connector Pipeline and Jordan Cove LNG Export facility project, which would be the first export terminal for liquefied natural gas extracted through hydraulic fracking in the Rocky Mountain West and Alberta, Canada. The Pacific Connector pipeline would run 232 miles through Oregon — crossing 400+ waterways, traditional tribal burial sites, and creating a 100+ foot clear cut through old growth forests and more than 600 private properties — on its way to Coos Bay, OR. There, a new liquefaction plant would be built to export the gas overseas, in the process becoming the largest source of climate pollution in the state of Oregon by 2020. In addition to local impacts, this pipeline would support increased shale gas fracking in the Mountain West. Exporting this gas to fossil fuel markets in Asia would further lock us into the disastrous impacts of fracking in the communities where it takes place.”
The Bakken Coalition: “A coalition of organizations representing landowners, community members, non-profits, and interest groups united to stop the construction of the Bakken Pipeline,” a proposed fracked oil pipeline that would carry highly-flammable crude oil from North Dakota. “Through organizing community meetings, collecting objections to send to decision makers, and mounting a legal, legislative, and media campaign, the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition is mobilizing Iowans to stop the Bakken Pipeline.”
Bill Hamilton (St. Augustine, FL) and the Environmental Youth Council have worked on a wide variety of organizing campaigns, from leading a local Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance group attended by over 50 people to fighting to stop offshore drilling. “I and the people I work with have agreed to voice these concerns: All living things have an equal right to live their life, and none of us have the right to take that away. We have a fundamental responsibility to learn to live sustainably without damaging the natural world.”
Carl Wassilie (Anchorage, AK): “As a young boy living in between the melting ice-fields in Seward, Alaska; I became acutely aware of the fragility of life and massive ecosystem collapse as a first hand witness to the ongoing tragedy from the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill…The ShellNo Alaska campaign I am working on is to stop Shell oil company drilling in the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Ocean…I will share my individual and collective experiences of standing up to Big Oil throughout my lifetime as an indigenous Yup’ik man. I am motivated by the intense bravery of activists joining me in putting their bodies in the water in direct action to protest against Shell’s drilling fleet.”
Chris Schimmoeller (Frankfort, KY) organizes against fracked gas pipelines in Kentucky. “I am a homeschooling mom who homesteads with my family in rural Franklin County. I joined other Kentuckians in the amazing successful grassroots effort to stop the Bluegrass Hazardous Liquids Pipeline, which would have run through my county.“
Cindy Spoon (Denton, TX): “Frack Free Denton was a successful campaign to ban fracking within our city limits. However, Denton was immediately sued by the Texas Oil & Gas Association as well as by George P. Bush on behalf of the Texas General Land Office. A few months later, the Texas legislature passed a law (HB40) overturning Denton’s fracking ban and stripping all Texas cities of their ability to say no to drilling. This summer fracking returned to Denton, with reckless disregard for the democratic will of local residents. Frack Free Denton has become a campaign fighting for a community’s right to self defense and local control.”
Dallas Goldtooth (Brookfield, IL): “I currently work on supporting Indigenous frontline communities in the fight against tar sands & bakken oil pipeline infrastructure development across their traditional territories in North America. Specifically, I am working with tribal communities of the Oceti Sakowin, Anishinaabe, and Three Affiliated Tribes of South Dakota, Minnesota and North Dakota, respectively, to help acquire resources, develop strategy, and deploy direct actions all as a means to disrupt the development of extreme energy extraction on Indigenous lands.”
David Pike (Weaverville, NC) supports the Mountain Justice network in its fight to end mountaintop removal coal mining by providing medical aid to fellow activists at events and action camps. “Fossil fuels shoot through our society like a maddening drug. Now that I live in Southern Appalachia (Western NC) I fight to stop King Coal and end its decrepit reign over the land and people of this often forgotten region.”
Deirdre Aherne (New York, NY), who organizes with 350NYC: “I am enraged by the political obstructionism of those on the right who are bought off by corporations and fossil fuel industrialists. As an anti-rape activist in the early nineties we had a slogan for women that resonates for me now: FEAR into ANGER into ACTION. Activists need to help people channel their climate anxiety into challenging the deniers, obstructionists and profiteers by taking action to build a sustainable future.”
Duncan Tarr (Lansing, MI) is working with the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI-CATS) to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 tar sands pipeline. “Upon meeting the lovely band of hooligans affectionately known as the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands/Terrible Stuff (MI-CATS) I dedicated myself to biting back at the myriad forms of ecological warfare, environmental racism, and general oppression that are damaging the bioregion I live in. Whether it’s blockading construction sites or supporting struggles against the police, there is still a lot of work to be done in our community and I’m looking forward to participating in those struggles to defend our ecosystem and all the creatures that live in it!”
Helen Yost (Moscow, ID): “I organize clusters of committed activists in Moscow, Sandpoint, and Boise, across remote, rural, reactionary Idaho, to accomplish the morally urgent and necessary work of climate heroes. Together, Wild Idaho Rising Tide and amazing comrades confront tar sands and refinery infrastructure onslaughts, new oil and gas extraction, and coal, oil, and tar sands transportation and facilities across the region, to stop climate chaos perpetrators. For our protective resistance, peaceful protests, and courageous blockades, passionately defending sacrifice zones from further ecological and climate devastation, we have endured arrests, imprisonment, legal expenses, societal ridicule, police surveillance, and FBI harassment.”
James Collins (Newark, DE) is a student activist at the University of Delaware. Using peaceful direct action, James and Climate First work on campaigns to end the mining, shipping, and burning of coal for energy in the Mid-Atlantic region, stop the Keystone XL pipeline and pressure TD Bank to divest from TransCanada.
Janet Johnson (Richmond, CA): “Members of Sunflower Alliance have joined with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups in the fight against a proposed coal terminal planned for the former Oakland Army Base in West Oakland. Oakland has long been a center for highly polluting transportation activities, resulting in disproportionately high health impacts for the residents of West Oakland. At least a dozen mile-long toxic coal trains could roll through Oakland day and night every week, adding to the already serious noise and danger for commuters and residents. And burning coal contributes to global climate disruption more than any other fossil fuel, no matter where it’s burned.”
Jay O’Hara (Burlington, VT) is a co-founder of the Climate Disobedience Center. The purpose of the Climate Disobedience Center is to serve as a catalyst for direct action, creating points of vivid moral clarity, emboldening both climate activists and the unlikeliest of allies, capturing the heart and soul of the climate debate. The Climate Disobedience Center brings together an experienced team to provide logistical, legal and spiritual resources, on the ground assistance, and advice to climate activists engaged in civil disobedience across the country. The Center will deploy those assets to nurture strong, grounded communities of resistance willing to take risks of moral imagination, and is committed to supporting those who hold allegiance to a higher moral law through the legal process and consequences of action.
Judy Hogan (Moncure, NC): “When I learned in November 2014 that Duke Energy, the only electricity-generating company in N.C., was planning to dump 12 million tons of coal ash in my community, threatening the drinking water we receive from the Cape Fear River and also the air we breathe, those of us living along the secondary transportation routes, I helped form Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash Dump.”
Jonathan Henderson (New Orleans, LA): “By air, sea, and land, for years I have been, and continue documenting the rapidly disappearing coastal wetlands, barrier islands, and coastal communities across the northern Gulf of Mexico. This documentation process is far more than just a way of preserving the memory of communities that are simply washing away and vanishing: I have developed and honed my special talents for finding, documenting, and reporting pollution incidents in remote areas of the Gulf coast, like leaks from oil production platforms, wellheads, and pipeline ruptures, as well as illegal coal and petroleum coke discharges from coal export terminals.”
Joni Stellar (Oroville, CA): “Approximately 60% of residents in [Butte] County are dependent upon groundwater, including my own household, I became involved in actively fighting fracking after attending a presentation about the risks fracking presents to both supply and quality of groundwater… I am one of several activists who formed Frack-Free Butte County with the specific intent to pass a citizens initiative to ban fracking and other toxic fossil fuel extraction methods, as well as to fight the transportation by rail of volatile crude oil.”
Karen Feridun (Kutztown, PA) of Berks Gas Truth and Pennsylvanians Against Fracking: “Pennsylvanians Against Fracking has chosen as our target Pennsylvania’s new governor, Tom Wolf. We rallied after his election and at his inauguration. We bird-dogged him at dozens of events and met with him and members of his cabinet. In anticipation of Pope Francis’ visit, we decided to launch a sign-on letter from Pennsylvania faith leaders to the governor calling on him to put a moratorium on fracking and lead the transition to renewable energy. We co-wrote the letter with Sister Pat Lupo, a Benedictine nun in Erie, PA who had served on Wolf’s environmental transition team. She turned down the resulting invitation to his inauguration to participate in our protest outside. More than 100 faith leaders from across the state signed the letter. We wanted their message to be heard, so we were able to raise funds to purchase a full-page color ad in the September 20th Philadelphia Inquirer in a special section devoted to the Pope’s visit.”
Kaye Fissinger (Longmont, CO) is the president of Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont. Our Longmont was the first in Colorado (2012) to run a ballot measure to ban fracking and the disposal of its waste products within our city limits, for which Kaye was the Campaign Manager. Their victory inspired five other communities along the Front Range to run similar bans and moratoria.
Laura van der Pol (Colorado Springs, CO) campaigns with 350 Colorado to get Colorado Springs off of fossil fuels. “To accomplish that end, we have begun campaigns to unify the business community as advocates for renewable energy, educate the community about the health costs of burning fossil fuels, and pursuing legal avenues to hold the city of Colorado Springs accountable. Additionally, we partner with other energy groups advocating for clean energy to support educating the public about energy efficiency and fossil fuel divestment.”
Columbia Pacific Common Sense(Astoria, OR): “Hundreds of individuals and Columbia Pacific Common Sense have been working since 2004 to stop liquefied natural gas (LNG) import and export terminals and pipelines proposed for the Columbia River. We defeated one project in 2010 and now are focused on another reckless project proposed for Warrenton, Oregon by a company called Oregon LNG. Our members provide extensive testimony and information to state agencies and testify at numerous public hearings. We do massive outreach via email, letters to the editor, public information meetings, rallies, etc. It’s multi-faceted work at the local, county, state, and federal levels. Our motto: Onward to victory!”
Lisa Leggio (Holland, MI) of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI-CATS) was arrested after Lisa and two other activists locked themselves to machinery to block the construction of Enbridge’s line 6B tar sands pipeline — the same one that, in 2010, spilled more than a million gallons of tar sands, fouling a huge section of the Kalamazoo River. Lisa and her co-defendants were tried, convicted and incarcerated for over a month for their civil disobedience. Lisa, a mother of two, became a grandmother while in jail. “In the wake of disaster everywhere, including the Kalamazoo River Oil Spill, I felt it more than necessary to act — and act boldly and brazenly.”
Molly Stuart (Burlington, VT) writes “The campaign to stop the [Vermont Gas Systems] fracked gas pipeline aims to halt the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure, advance community energy democracy, and facilitate a just transition away from a system that puts profit over people and the planet.”
Nancy Wilson (West Roxbury, MA) is organizing to stop Spectra Energy’s dangerous West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline, which would carry fracking gas through West Roxbury in Boston. “Like other members of our organization, I live in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. When signs to Stop the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline started popping up, so did questions, without good answers.”
No Coal in Oakland Coalition (Oakland, CA): “Everyone in the No Coal in Oakland Coalition lives in Oakland. The group formed very quickly in response to the surprise news in April, 2015 that the bulk export terminal developers were planning to bring millions of tons of Utah coal through Oakland. The group’s formation and ongoing grassroots activism were a spontaneous outgrowth of our outrage over the prospect of coal polluting West Oakland further and destroying a livable climate, all with the support of our own tax dollars!”
Nicolas Katkevich, (Providence, RI) of Fighting Against Natural Gas (FANG): “For the past year and a half, FANG Northeast has been organizing resistance to three fracked-gas pipeline expansions proposed by Spectra Energy. The pipeline projects would bring fracked-gas to proposed LNG export terminals in Maine and Canada and continue the Northeast’s dependence on fossil fuels. To #StopSpectra, we have marched, organized communities, met with elected officials, built coalitions, led trainings, put pressure on Spectra’s investors and when necessary escalated to nonviolent direct action. This has come in the form of office occupations, a tree-sit and blockades. To date there have been 17 people arrested as part of nonviolent direct actions as part of the campaign.”
Oscar Medina (Tucson, AZ), is an active member of the Southern Arizona Green for All Coalition. Oscar is working to build climate resiliency in low-income communities of color by establishing a green pipeline in juvenile detention and the county jail that will mobilize future youth green leaders.
Patricia Popple (Chippewa Falls, WI) fights to protect communities in Wisconsin and beyond from the dangerous industrial process of strip mining silica sand for fracking. “My involvement as a leader helping others to form groups, learning about the many facets of this industry, speaking to many groups, writing the Frac Sand Sentinel, and sharing expertise from my professional background through networking with groups has raised the level of concern in many people in Wisconsin.”
Randy Ertll (San Gabriel, CA) is the Executive Director of the California Latino Environmental Advocacy Network (CLEAN), the first Latino-established and led statewide environmental protection community based organization in California. CLEAN advocates “for environmental justice issues in low income and middle class communities” and “for the protection of the environment-including clean air, clean water, creation of clean energy, protection of natural resources, and protecting communities from toxics and chemicals.”
Renee Allessio (Hewitt, NJ) of St Mary’s Advocates for Justice/Franciscans Response to Fracking (and Climate Change): “We believe that we have a moral obligation to work for environmental justice. Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si asks us so eloquently to ‘Pray that everyone can receive its message and grow in responsibility toward the common home that God has entrusted to us.’ Since 2006 we have been educating others about Climate Change and advocating against fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure and for support of conservation and renewable energy.”
Rod Tharp (Olympia, WA): “I am a kayaktivist with the Shell No movement which is opposing the Arctic drilling permitted by our government. I have been involved with and will continue to be involved with the movements to prevent Washington state from becoming a fossil fuel corridor for exporting coal, oil and gas. I have worked with and will continue working with Northwest communities that are opposing coal oil and gas terminals in their geographic areas.”
Roxanne Gross (Amesville, OH), who organizes with the Athens County Fracking Action Network, is working with residents of Torch, Ohio to oppose three fracking wastewater injection wells. “This dedicated talented group of grassroots activists are working on every front creating and implementing action plans to protect our water, air and overall health from the onslaught of these monster wells.”
Shirlene Rogers (Gallup, NM):“I am a board member of Gallup Solar, a non-profit organization whose mission is to reduce fossil fuel use and bring solar to all peoples in our area, especially the 18,000 Navajo homes without electricity. I am Gallup Solar’s representative and I make presentations with a small demonstration solar system at Navajo Chapter Houses throughout the Navajo Reservation.”
Sweetwater Nannauck (Camano Island, WA), a long-time community organizer, activist for police accountability, and for Native artist’s rights. Sweetwater started Idle No More Washington and has led dozens of Idle No More Washington events and peaceful nonviolent direct actions, including actions opposing Shell’s plans for arctic drilling.
Tracey Eno (Lusby, MD):“I live near the Chesapeake Bay in Lusby, Maryland. When I attended a town hall meeting in fall of 2013, hosted by Chesapeake Climate Action Network, I woke up as an activist literally overnight! That’s when I learned of Dominion Resource’s plans to turn my quiet, naturally beautiful home of 17 years into a dangerous industrial zone. I kept saying, ‘What? They want to do what?!’ attended every event I could to learn more. I started to recognize other familiar faces; we would end up talking in the parking lot after events. We decided to get together, on an ‘informally formal’ basis. That was the start of Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community — in a neighbor’s living room. We have continued to meet, research, educate and resist Dominion Cove Point LNG’s plans to build a fracked gas refinery, liquefaction and export facility in our neighborhoods.”
Zarna Joshi (Seattle, WA): “We have to do everything we can to build the movement to stop Arctic drilling once and for all and that’s why I’m engaged in building various outreach and education teams to tackle this problem. I’m part of Rising Tide Seattle, as well as the Women of Color Speak Out team, as well as part of Shellno’s media team. I’m also putting together a team to do climate talks in schools (from kindergarten) to college because our best hope is the youth and we have to tell them the truth about what is happening so that they can make the decision to act or not.”
Citizens Acting for Rail Safety Twin Cities (CARS-TC) was established in February 2015 in response to the dramatic increase of volatile Bakken crude oil being shipped by rail through Minnesota. We are a volunteer-run group working to bring the citizen voice to the issue of high hazard freight trains going through our communities. including the estimated 350,000 Minnesotans who live in the 1/2 mile evacuation zone of railroad tracks that carry Bakken crude oil.

CREDO Action

Campaigns and dispatches from the CREDO Action team.

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