The Festival for Change


September 8th, 2018

Contact: Rebecca Mark 347-224-1860

National Contact: Jonathan Lipman, Peoples Climate Movement, 777-580-1603,


An intersectional climate justice coalition mobilized in Baltimore to demand climate change action

BALTIMORE, MD – With midterm elections just two months away and leaders from across the globe gathering in California for a major climate summit this coming week, a broad coalition representing environmental and community organizations, advocates, and artists gathered in Baltimore on September 8 for the Festival for Change: Climate, Jobs & Justice to demand bold action on climate change. The event is one of hundreds of Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice events organized on and around September 8th across the world. Despite the rainy conditions, over a hundred from Baltimore and across Maryland from as far away as Ocean City and Washington D.C.

WHAT:     Festival for Change: Climate, Jobs & Justice

WHEN:    September 8, 2018 from 12pm-4pm.

WHERE:  War Memorial Plaza, Baltimore, Maryland

WHO:     The Baltimore Peoples Climate Movement organized this event.

Photos and video from the Festival for Change can be found here:

Speakers included: Dr. Rev. Heber Brown from the Black Church Food Security  Network; Destiny Watford from United Workers; Samuel Jordan from the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition; Nicholas Kophengnavong from Baltimore Beyond Plastic; Ellery Grimm from Zero Hour; and Chef Stew from Transition Kitchen.

Performers included: The Keenan System, DJ Isabelle Genie, DJ Flow, The Baltimore Twilighters, Be Civil Battles, Ronald Rucker, Naomi & Malaika, Joy Postell, Emily Schubert, Dew More Baltimore, President Davo, Paper Michaaye

Demonstrations included: Gardening, composting, and local foods; energy solutions; strong and resilient neighborhoods; people power; and art activities, exhibits, and games.

Heavy rainfall stalled the performances, but many festival participants preferred to stay and take part in activities at the “action village.” “The rain kind of put a damper on things, but I stayed at the festival because the energy felt really strong, with so many different groups across Baltimore tabling, even in the rain” said festival attendee Chrissie Miller. Baltimore has seen an unprecedented amount of rain this year, with the wettest March-through-July period on record. This is a fact that the festival’s organizers know well, noting recent studies that suggest connections between unpredictable extreme weather events and climate change.

Representatives of economic justice, faith, and environmental communities mobilized to demand that local leaders fill the void left by Washington and take real action to solve the crisis in climate, jobs and justice. Over one hundred Baltimore residents attended the free festival with activities, games for kids & adults, live music, and DJs. A unique display of arts and action culminated in the  “action village” , and offered multiple ways for festival participants to join into the movement. The gravity of the issues facing Baltimore was not lost in the celebratory nature of the event, as speakers at the festival connected climate and justice issues to transit equity, public health, and racial justice, while the action village presented opportunities for learning more about climate and environmental issues through artistic expression. The Festival for Change: Climate, Jobs, and Justice aimed to spread awareness to the local community of the connections across issue impacting Baltimore, ultimately relating to climate, jobs, and justice.

This event is one of many other recent events put on by the Baltimore Peoples Climate Movement including a Town Hall on climate, transit, housing, & health and another town hall on clean energy, economic development and sustainable jobs for Baltimoreans, that hopes to draw attention to how climate change impacts Baltimore.

Neville Henry of Navitas Solar described his experience working on this coalition, “Our effectiveness as a group has been incomparable. But more effort is needed from our political officials and community leaders for Baltimore to be a sustainable eco city with all components running off each other at a sustainable rate. This includes clean energy (solar), complete water restoration, clean homes and prime green space for agricultural project.

Keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Heber Brown of the Black Church Food Security Network said, “Seeking food justice and an end to food apartheid is intricately tied to our response to climate change. This holy work, of caring for the health of our neighbors and caring for creation, of connecting climate, jobs, and justice, is why I founded The Black Church Food Security Network, and why we’re gathering at the Festival for Change.”

Nabeehah Azeez of Communities United shared, “Just like in the fight for racial justice that has been thrust into the forefront, until the lives of Black, Brown and Indigenous people matter there cannot and there will not be a Just Transition. There will only be government agencies and superficial policies continuing to maintain the status quo by upholding the systems of white supremacy that plague this county and the world.”

Jennifer Kunze of Clean Water Action commented, “Baltimore City needs to transition away from 19th century fossil fuel infrastructure that harms people and the planet, and invest more in 21st century energy, water, sewer, and transit infrastructure across the city to help us weather the climate changes to come. More extreme heat, cold, and storms caused by climate change will further stress Baltimore’s aging underground infrastructure and exacerbate the sewage spills and overflows, sinkholes, flooding, and other water impacts that are already costing Baltimore residents money, time, and lives.”

Taylor Smith-Hams of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network added, “Instead of continuing to invest in fossil fuel infrastructure that worsens pollution, harms public health, and hastens climate change, Baltimore has an opportunity to lead the way toward a more just and sustainable future. Offshore wind offers one exciting pathway for Baltimore to build a just transition to a clean energy economy by creating thousands of family-sustaining jobs, reducing Maryland’s reliance on fossil fuels, and limiting air pollution.”

Tamara Toles O’Laughlin of the Maryland Environmental Health Network said, “The course of the planet doesn’t just impact health, it creates the conditions for it. We are especially proud to participate in Baltimore’s actions to amplify human health impacts as the road to Washington runs through communities with a lot to say about how local leaders plan for and respond to  our demands for a fossil free economy that works for all of us.”

Valeska Populoh of the Maryland Institute College of Art and Black Cherry Puppet Theater, spoke on the arts component of the Festival for Change, “Arts are a huge part of our coalition’s work. Art Builds, informal workshop spaces where coalition members and community members can drop in, hold space for people to come together, have conversation, connect across issue areas, and learn new art making skills, like banner making and screenprinting. The banners and props we made were designed to support various ongoing campaigns, in addition to the work of the Baltimore Peoples Climate Movement, and will be a kind of lending library for coalition member groups in the future.”

Destiny Watford of United Workers said, “When it comes to communities like mine, decisions about the land beneath our feet are made for us, not by us. We’re changing that. Our fight and victory to stop the plan to build the nation’s largest trash-burning incinerator less than a mile away from my community, Curtis Bay, paved a new path for my neighbors and I. We did more than stop an incinerator, we created a new vision for what development will look like in our city and we’re continuing to change how development is done in Baltimore with our ongoing fight to create community-driven development in our city.”

Samuel Jordan of the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition stated, “By completing the Red Line light rail project and replacing vehicles in the Baltimore Link bus fleet with no harmful emissions buses, public transportation will create jobs, help achieve air quality standards, reduce automobile congestion, shorten commutes, and limit the health risks of bad air in Baltimore,” said Samuel Jordan, president of the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition.

Rianna Eckel of Food & Water Watch said, “More than half of Baltimoreans already cannot afford their water bills,” said Rianna Eckel, Maryland Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “In order to build a strong, resilient city, the city must act to enact a comprehensive and just water affordability program.”

Jay Hutchins of Maryland Working Families commented, “Working Families need, and our planet demands, a clean energy economy. Marginalized communities are disproportionately confronted with air pollution, water contamination and other harmful impacts not by accident but by policy decisions. We are now saying it is time to make better decisions! We are calling on our elected officials to embrace solutions to the climate crisis that address the most impacted and vulnerable of our communities. It is time to protect our planet and all of the people that live on it.”

Cortez Elliott of the Sierra Club Greater Baltimore Group said, “The Sierra Club supports the Baltimore Peoples Climate Movement because climate justice in Baltimore looks like green spaces in our communities and clean, safe and healthy living conditions for all.”

More information on the “Action Village”  and Art Activities at the Festival for Change can be found here.

About the Baltimore Peoples Climate Movement: The Baltimore Peoples Climate Movement is an intersectional, decentralized climate justice coalition based in Baltimore City, founded in 2017 around the mobilization of 600+ Baltimoreans to the National Peoples Climate March in Washington D.C. Baltimore PCM strives to build a New Energy & Economic Future by undoing environmental racism. This coalition of organizations, advocates, and artists seeks to draw connections between seemingly disparate issues in Baltimore and climate justice in the spirit of equity solidarity through joint organizing, advocacy, skills trainings, arts, and outreach.