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Exclusive: Meet the ‘Army of Young People’ Building a ‘Green New Deal’

“Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process,” – Sunrise Movement.

Citizen Truth’s Peter Castagno interviewed Sunrise Movement Activist Georgette Sordellini to hear how thousands of youth activists around the country are launching a movement to save the environment. Hear about the “Green New Deal”, “Sunrise Semesters”, and a sit-in at Nancy Pelosi’s office where 51 activists were arrested — an action that attracted national attention.

You can read the transcript below or listen to the interview below or listen to it on our YouTube channel.


Peter: Alright, this is CitizenTruth.com, and today, will we be talking with Georgette Sordellini an activist and organizer with the Sunrise Movement, an environmental group fighting for urgent action on climate change, the Sunrise Movement most recently made headlines when occupying the offices of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi alongside representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez demanding action and climate change. Thanks so much for your joining me.

Georgette: Yeah, thanks so much for having me.

Peter: So can you talk a bit about the central mission of the Sunrise Movement and how you initially got involved and what you can do in it, what you’re a role with the movement consist of?

Georgette: Oh yeah, definitely.

So, Sunrise has been around for about a year and a half now. Our goal is basically to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process because we have a right to a livable future and to clean jobs.

So this movement was founded by young people because we are where the generation where a lot of this is at stake.

And so I initially got involved in Sunrise about 10 months ago, in January-February this year, and so a little bit more about what I’ve been doing with this movement. I’ll tell you a little bit about a program we ran this year called Sunrise semester, where we had 70 about 70 young people go all in, from June through the midterm elections with the goal of engaging young people into the global process and making climate priority, and in pushing candidates to put that in front of other platforms because we know we don’t have… We have 10 years to actually make a change.

So I was a regional lead in Pennsylvania, we were focused in a few states, and so we had movement houses for this program where we had young people ages 18 to 35 lived together, worked together and make this into priority for in the elections. Which I think we accomplished young people had the largest turnout, in over 100 years and we have done with the house.

Sunrise Semester.

Sunrise Semester. (Image via YouTube)

Peter: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Can you talk a bit about your experience sitting in a Nancy police’s office and the aftermath?

Georgette: Yeah, definitely. So we sat in on Nancy Pelosi’s office on, I believe it was November 13th, just a week after the mid-term elections.

So the reason we did that was, as soon as the Democrats took back the House Nancy Pelosi announced basically bringing up this ancient committee on climate change saying that we need to do more research and talk about it, but we know we need to do more than that, especially with the short time that we have to like to make a difference.

So we took 200 young people to sit in her office, of course, we couldn’t all fit in there, so we lined the halls around her office and I was inside the office and we were sharing our stories and there was a lot of energy and it was just really wild to see how many people are terrified for the future and want Democrats to stand up. And just stand up for us, its either stand up or step aside.

So I was there when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes came in and gave a very empowering speech about why we need the movement. We don’t have time to bring up committees, we need a Green New Deal that’s actually gonna transform our society and economy in a way that is in line with what science and justice demands. So it was a really incredible experience to sit in with that many young people concerned about our future.

Peter: So I understand that about 50 Sunrise activists were arrested as well. Can you talk about that?

Georgette: Yeah sure. So we sat in Nancy Pelosi’s office for a couple of hours, maybe less than that, 51 young people were arrested outside of her office. Just stand up saying that we need our leadership politicians to stand up for our health our well-being and our future and that means supporting a Green New Deal. So 51 of us were arrested and put ourselves on the line, put our bodies on the line, because we don’t have time to wait. And so this was the moment where a lot of people decided that this is the time to show up and to do something and take action, and I think that’s what allowed 51 of us to make that decision to put ourselves on the line, because this is worth standing up for, because we don’t have time to wait.

Peter: What are some of the major future objectives for the use for the Sunrise project?

Georgette: So yeah, I guess there’s a couple of things. One of the biggest overlying things that we are pushing for is the Green New Deal and we’re already looking forward to the 2020 presidential election and any presidential-hopeful, any presidential candidate hopeful for the 2020 presidential actions we need them to refuse money from fossil fuel lobbyists and executives. We need anyone who is running on the Democratic platform to take no fossil fuel money from those contributions and also to support the Green New Deal. That is something that we need to happen and so we must for any presidential hopeful do those two things. And in 2020, we will also be launching Sunrise Semester, again, a second time, but bigger and longer, we have more young people going all into elect climate champions because we know that we need a complete transformation of our food, energy and transit systems to actually see the change that we need. We need green jobs.

And so that, that is the main objective going forward is getting people into office who are gonna champion this legislation that we need to see.

Peter: What would you recommend to someone who is interested in getting involved or helping the Sunrise Movement?

Georgette: Yeah, that’s a great question. So there’s a couple of things that people can do. There’s more than a couple of things.

So the first one I will say is on December 10th, 2018, just coming up, we are holding, Sunrise is holding another action in DC to flood the halls of Congress pushing for people to sign on. Because this is right before the session ends for the year, and so this is our chance to have… We have 15 Congresspeople elects and incumbents signed on to the Green New Deal right now, and this is our last chance. So we are having hundreds of people come out to this action. So if people are in or around DC they’re welcome to join us there. I would suggest going to SunriseMovement.org/GND to find out more information about the Green New Deal.

So that’s just one upcoming thing that people can get involved in… Another thing is we are funded a lot through grassroots donations or grassroots organization. So if people aren’t able to donate their time, but are able to donate money that is something that fuels this organization and allows us to keep doing the work that we’re doing. So that is also a way that people can actively contribute to the work that Sunrise Movement is doing. Also if people wanna volunteer and help just go to our website and there are ways that people can get plugged in.

Our movement has grown so much. I think we have 13,000 new young people involved since our November 13th action, and so every day we’re just growing and growing and really excited to see all the people that just wanna jump in and make a difference.

Peter: So thanks so much for coming on to talk to us.

Georgette: Yeah, thanks so much.


Lauren von Bernuth

Lauren is one of the co-founders of Citizen Truth. She graduated with a degree in Political Economy from Tulane University. She spent the following years backpacking around the world and starting a green business in the health and wellness industry. She found her way back to politics and discovered a passion for journalism dedicated to finding the truth.

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