The Best Solution to the Climate Crisis Is Community Building

Hey Hot Cakes,

We're back! Mary lives in New Orleans now! You can read about that below, along with a look at the many things wrong with Matt Yglesias's take on climate, a reflection on flooding and drought, and yes an exploration of community as the ultimate climate solution. Speaking of which, we're so happy to have this community.

Thanks for being part of it,

Amy + Mary

The Best Solution to the Climate Crisis Is Community Building

By Amy Westervelt

As someone who writes about shitty rich dudes a lot, I often get asked “what can I do?” or “what keeps you going?” And this is my answer: community. Community building, community organizing, community resilience, all of it. Lately, these three stories of community groups fighting back and winning are keeping me at it:

  • Diane Wilson and Sharon Lavigne v. Formosa Plastics - When Taiwan stopped permitting Formosa projects because it had been a bad environmental actor for so long, the company went looking for other places to expand its petrochemical empire...and found just the right combo of weak regulations and corrupt politicians on the Gulf Coast. But they didn’t bargain for the fierce community activism. In Texas, fourth-generation shrimp boat captain organized locals and talked to Formosa whistleblowers for years, and then finally won a civil suit against the company, scoring $50 million for environmental projects in her community. Down the coast in Louisiana, Sharon Lavigne organized the group RISE St. James to try to stop Formosa from building a petrochemical complex larger than many Louisiana towns right down the street from her. And so far… she’s winning. They’ve had to stop construction thanks to various legal complaints filed by RISE and other community groups like the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.
  • Grant Township, PA v. Fracking - In 2014, Grant Township in Pennsylvania made a big move to protect its waterways from fracking waste. It passed a “Community Bill of Rights Ordinance” that declared “the rights of human and natural communities to water and a healthy environment.” Two months later, Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE), an oil and gas company based in Warren, Pa. filed a federal lawsuit against the town, claiming it didn’t have the power to exercise those rights. Despite the town’s bill of rights, the EPA issued a permit to PGE to inject fracking waste in Grant Township. The town’s 200 residents fought back, and in 2020 they won.
  • Line 3 Protestors v. Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office In the past few months, the Hubbard County Sheriff's office has been blockading the road into Namewag Camp, an Indigenous woman- and two-spirit-led camp opposing Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline. They’ve also been regularly issuing citations to Indigenous water protectors and their allies for using the driveway. Last week, Winona LaDuke, Tara Houska, and two additional plaintiffs filed a lawsuit alleging that the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office had illegally conducted a 2-day  blockade of the camp driveway and was illegally issuing citations. They asked the local judge for a temporary restraining order against the County Sheriff… and they won. It’s a small victory in a long fight, but there’s something really delicious about the fact that a community of activists have won a restraining order against the Sheriff.

Moving Into the Eye of the Storm

By Mary Annaïse Heglar

Two months ago, after 15 years in New York City, I booked movers and bought a one-way ticket to New Orleans. I’d been falling out of love with New York for years and there’s nothing like a pandemic to really kick your homesickness into high gear. But when I teased the idea on social media back in February, I distinctly remember a Twitter Random asking, in that oh-so-snide Twitter cadence, “have you ever heard of climate change?”


The truth is, I’d always wanted to live in New Orleans. As a child of the South, and especially of the Mississippi River region, I grew up with a crush on this city. As a Scorpio with a serious water lust, it’s always had an almost magnetic pull on my heart. But when it was time for me to start my adult life, New Orleans was still deep in the throes of Hurricane Katrina, so off to New York I went. But that crush never went away.

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