Cathy Cowan Becker

I am an organizer, communicator, and activist.

Our world is in the midst of five interlocking crises: 1) ecological devastation, climate chaos, and mass extinction, 2) unprecedented levels of poverty and economic inequality, 3) systemic racism and social injustice, 4) pandemic and health insecurity, and 5) unending militarism, empire, and war economy. All of these issues are related and coming to a head at the same time.

As a single activist, I can’t change all of them. But I can start with one and see where it leads – because once you start pulling on one issue, you find it is connected to everything else.

My activism for the last 10 years has focused on animals and the environment. In 2012 I worked with Humane Society of the United States to lead the successful volunteer effort to pass Ohio’s Dangerous Wild Animals Act, cleaning up a cruel and unscrupulous industry of breeders and dealers that had taken root in the state, and sending hundreds of these incredible creatures to much better conditions in accredited sanctuaries.

From 2017 to 2020, I led the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign in Columbus, asking the city to commit to 100% renewable energy. We organized community dialogues and events, tabled at dozens of community festivals, and collected over 5000 signatures on our AddUp petition to the city. Our campaign culminated in 2020 when both Columbus — the 14th largest city in the country — and Grove City — its largest and fastest-growing suburb — passed ballot initiatives approving Community Choice Aggregation for 100% renewable energy. Issue 1 in Columbus passed by 76%, while Issue 10 in Grove City, whose campaign I personally managed, passed by 66% — proving that both majority Democratic and majority Republican cities value sustainability and support renewable energy.

In both issues, I found that in order to make change I had to get involved with politics. It hasn’t always been an easy ride. The first national-level politician who I heard directly calling for action on the scale needed to address the interlocking crises of our time was Bernie Sanders. I volunteered for his campaign in both 2016 and 2020, when I was elected lead Bernie delegate from OH-15, served as a Bernie Victory Captain, and traveled to both Iowa and South Carolina to help elect Bernie. We were not successful, but we laid groundwork for candidates all over the country to run for office at every level — and we changed the conversation about what this country needs forever.

My work for animals, environment, and progressive politics has shown me that everything is connected. Take the factory farms that hold animals in cruel confinement for life and slaughter about 9 billion animals in this country for years, mostly chickens with no protection under the Humane Slaughter Act. These facilities also massively pollute waterways, leading to dead zones in the ocean, contribute to the climate crisis, unleash diseases and feed antibiotic resistance, exploit immigrants and undocumented workers who can’t fight back, and drive family farms out of business, contributing to the desolation of our small towns and rural areas.

Take the fossil fuel industry, the most profitable industry in human history, that for 40 years has fought every attempt at sane climate agreements and legislation, from the Kyoto Protocol to the Paris Agreement, spending billions to fund increasingly complex climate denial misinformation networks from the Exxon echo chamber to the Kochtopus astroturf campaigns — all while the industry knew since the 1960s that burning fossil fuels would destabilize our climate and environment that supports human civilization and all life on Earth. If you want to see a textbook case of peddling propaganda and buying politicians, look no further than the fossil fuel industry — and all the wars for oil that the United States has waged for decades all over the world.

There’s no way to sugarcoat what is happening: Our world is in serious trouble — but all hope is not lost. As Bernie always says, despair is not an option, and all real change happens from the bottom up, never the top down.

Moving forward, we have just 10 years to cut carbon emissions in half if we want a chance of a livable planet — that’s according to a 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and since then the United Nations climate and environment reports have gotten even more dire. For each and every thing we do, we need to be asking ourselves, how will it help us reach this goal?

We must build a new world if we want to survive, both as individuals and as a species — and the place to start is from the ground up, on the local level. We need to remake our cities, rebuild our small towns and rural areas, and restructure our economies. We can just say no to a world run by a few global monopoly corporations with more revenue than most entire countries by building local economies and investing our money — both public and private — in ourselves. We have the resources to take care of our people and our planet, starting on the local level. What we lack is political will.

Let’s start building that will right now, together. All of the interlocking crises of today demand it.

For more information about me, see my master resume (pdf).

%d bloggers like this: