As a little boy nearly 50 years ago, Mike Tidwell saw some of his favorite trees in his neighborhood being cut down and, so, he decided to write a letter to President Nixon to ask the federal government to take action and protect the trees. To his surprise and delight, the White House wrote him back a few weeks later thanking him for sharing his concerns. It was the first time he took action to protect the environment.
Mike had not always been in the climate fight. During the late 80s and throughout the 90s, he read about it and stewed about it, but did not act on the issue. Then, in 2001, he saw the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report with its new evidence of accelerated global warming driven by human activities and catastrophic projections for the future -- unless we take action, individually and collectively. It changed everything. Mike decided to make his house entirely green and started hosting weekly open houses so people could tour it. They talked about climate change and what people could do to make their houses more environmentally sustainable. Everyone who toured Mike’s house shared their contact information; it was the start of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), the first climate change organization in the Chesapeake Bay area.
From CCAN’s inception, our supporters have played a significant role in getting major wins, including passing some of the nation’s earliest renewable energy portfolio standards in Maryland and DC in 2004 and 2005. In 2011, to stop the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline, CCAN turned out hundreds of our supporters to the White House for days on end to risk arrest and demand that President Obama halt what James Hansen dubbed a climate “bomb.” In 2020, after 6 years of rallying and protesting, our supporters helped to defeat the Atlantic Coast Pipeline after a federal judge revoked an air pollution permit for a compressor station in the historically Black neighborhood of Union Hill.
Our story started with Mike making a decision to organize and build a community of people committed to advancing policies that mitigate climate change. And our movement has grown for 20 years because thousands of people have decided to make a commitment and actively support our work and organize in their communities. Now, given our narrowing window to address climate change, we must step up together with even greater urgency.
We’re pushing for groundbreaking solutions on the state and federal level: to reach 100% clean electricity by 2035, to electrify buildings with renewable energy, to protect our coastal communities, and to revolutionize public transportation. We’re working on big solutions that match the magnitude of the climate challenges we face.
We’re so thankful for our supporters. Because when they make a commitment to CCAN by investing their time and financial resources in our work, their investment enables us to invest back in our communities, to meet the threats of climate change head on, and to build a world oriented towards climate justice.