By Kathryn Middleton, Vail chapter
Colorado’s CCL Grand Valley chapter is fortunate to have such an enthusiastic, environmental change-maker as Kate Daniel to inspire others and spread the word on the importance of voting as climate activists. Kate is the Grand Valley Chapter Development Coordinator. I met her via Zoom while participating in the “Get Out the Environmental Vote in Colorado Congressional District 3” phone banking events on October 25 and 26. Kate spearheaded and organized this event that gathered together new and experienced CCL phone bankers to call “low frequency” environmental voters to encourage them to vote. Many of the volunteers were “Green Allies”, as Kate puts it, who are committed, reliable volunteers in other climate focused organizations, plus a few new volunteers like me. Our goal was to call environmentalists to “Get Out the Environmental Vote” on Colorado’s Western Slope before the November 8 midterm election.
Both nights were a success. They were led by Susan Campbell of the Colorado Springs chapter who provided an orientation on the Environmental Voter Project (EVP) software, Hubdialer, and reviewed the scripted messaging that we would be using before we jumped in and started dialing.
EVP identified over 26,000 voters in District 3 who are environmentalists and prioritize climate change as a number one issue, but who don’t vote on a regular basis. Kate rallied 38 participants who collectively dialed and engaged with 196 low frequency voters (775 minutes of collective calls) over those two evenings. The final tally of phone numbers dialed was 5,225. The impact went further than just those who were called . In many cases, we reached other members of the household, and some “wrong numbers”, and engaged in conversations about our mission. Those conversations reminded people to vote, regardless of party affiliation or if they had been identified as an environmentalist. A win - win for democracy.
Kate’s passion for bringing groups together with overlapping philosophies and missions is an asset and creates strength in numbers, says Susan Hess, Grand Valley Chapter Co-Leader. Kate credits individuals around the state, like Susan Campbell, David Kline, Jim Hooton, and Susan Hess for helping her with communications and recruitment of phone bankers for the event. In addition to Colorado and out-of-state CCL volunteers, participants included volunteers from organizations such as Great Basin National Park Foundation, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Indivisible, and Sierra Club. A big thanks to Kate Daniel, from those of us who participated in the phone banking events. We can take pride in knowing that we were one of the nearly 2,000 events and outreach efforts that took place in the weeks leading up to the midterms to get environmentalists out to vote and to urge our Members of Congress towards prioritizing climate legislation.
Here are some interesting answers to questions I asked Kate in an email correspondence that provide insight on Kate’s passion for the environment through her founding of a nonprofit and how she came to be such an asset to CCL and the Grand Valley chapter.
Tell me about the nonprofit you founded on the East Coast to preserve the coastline?
I founded The Wetlands Project with a small Board of Directors, a really small amount of seed money, and a broad mission to “create and strengthen community-based programs that promote wetlands conservation.” As residents of a coastal Chesapeake Bay community in Virginia, it was clear that the wetlands conservation message was lost in graphs, charts, and confusing issues related to zoning permits and government regulations.
Our strategy was to identify and cultivate a broad base of local stakeholders and expert advisors from the wetlands sciences and regulatory agencies to communicate a clear and consistent wetlands conservation message. This group of experts crossed many organizational and jurisdictional boundaries, helping The Wetlands Project develop professional and pragmatic educational opportunities for shoreline contractors interested in providing nature-based solutions to landowners facing serious erosion issues.
My personal vision for The Wetlands Project was to build momentum for wetlands stewardship across many demographic groups and to increase awareness for local watershed and water quality issues as they related to wetlands conservation. Communicating the message that wetlands provide an ecological link to the historic, natural and cultural heritage of many locales was equally important to me. But — competition for funding in the conservation non-profit world is fierce and after six years, our Board of Directors evaluated our progress, agreed that we had surpassed our original mission, and voted to close our doors.
How did you find CCL and when did you become a member?
A dear friend of mine is an active member of the CCL Sacramento/Roseville chapter in California. She encouraged me to check out CCL and I became a member in November 2021. After meeting with Susan Hess, one of our chapter co-leads, I volunteered to take over writing up chapter meeting notes and to help with chapter development. Taking meeting notes is a great way to get to know an organization!
What’s your favorite part of being involved in CCL?
We moved to Grand Junction just as Covid took hold — so it was great to become part of the CCL Grand Valley “Zoom” community and find some like-minded people. I like the challenge of finding ways to expand our CCL network here in the Grand Valley and to build partnerships with other organizations as we all work toward our shared vision.