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GH man trying to start local climate lobby chapter

Cora Hall • Jul 22, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Grand Haven native Jonah Johnson got involved with Citizens’ Climate Lobby a few months ago and now hopes to bring a chapter to his hometown.

Johnson, 23, learned there was interest in the area after meeting with a Grand Rapids CCL representative. He is now planning to host a climate advocate training workshop from 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25, at Loutit District Library, 407 Columbus Ave. The free, public event includes speakers and information about the organization.

“They actually did have a chapter here before, but I guess a lot of the members had a lot of major life changes,” Johnson said. “But there’s still a lot of really strong support, just not really any leadership. Being part of the community, some of my family … I know these kinds of issues are important to them. I see that in the community.”

Although the focus on top-down change is what Johnson likes about CCL, he said the Grand Haven chapter will focus on grassroots projects rather than lobbying. Johnson said he hopes that enough people get involved to get the chapter up and running.

“The way a lot of the other chapters around the area are run, they don’t have one leader or people in specific roles, but they have a core team that if something needs to be done, someone can cover it,” he said. “That’s what I would be hopeful for in Grand Haven, would be a sufficient number of people to be able to maintain an organization like that.”

The other facet of the organization is lobbying, which Johnson said is much more work than he realized before seeing it up close.

“You know, you see something like that and it’s hard to see all the work that gets put behind it,” he said. “It just seems a lot more realistic (now). I can see them and they’re very practical. It takes a lot more work than I thought, but it’s definitely possible. It’s not as complicated or scary once you see it actually in motion.”

Johnson said he wants to bring a chapter to Grand Haven as a part of the bigger picture of CCL.

“When you talk about lobbying and campaign organization, CCL does have the districts covered that we want for the lobbying," he said. "But when you look at individual cities and communities, you can talk to your representative and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got Grand Rapids, Holland and Grand Haven-Muskegon area. So, it’s really just about numbers and I think it’s beneficial to communities small and large, I guess. I think it’s really beneficial on a large scale to get people involved on a small scale.”

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