BUCKHANNON – Children are the future and when we think of them, we are often hopeful for a safe future and healthy environment for them.
Now, a national group is working to address that goal and gather others who are concerned about children’s future and the environment.
The Moms Clean Air Force is over 1 million members strong and is comprised of moms and dads — as well as grandparents and other concerned folks – who are united against air pollution and committed to fighting for climate safety to protect children’s health.
In January, the Moms Clean Air Force – West Virginia hired Leah Barbor from Buckhannon as their new field consultant and she hosted a ‘Communing for Climate’ gathering to introduce the public to the group and share information about how to act in ways that support a healthy future for children and the environment. Barbor said the group is united against air pollution, the change in climate and the climate crisis.
“Here in West Virginia, our focus is on climate change,” Barbor said. “The purpose of the group is to begin talking about ways we can act that will offer support for a healthy future for our kids and a healthy environment.”
Barbor said the reason for the Jan. 17 gathering was to talk about relevant issues and bring them home.
“We want to help close the gap for people feeling like the problem is so much bigger than themselves,” Barbor said. “We want to bring it home and talk about things that are relevant in our daily lives and how West Virginia is being affected and how people can take action if they are so inspired.”
In West Virginia, Barbor said ways to help with the environment include things like remembering to bring reusable grocery bags to the grocery store and not add to the amount of plastics. Also, she encourages folks to make a five-minute phone call to elected officials to amplify their voices.
“They want to hear from us,” she said. “I think a lot of times people feel they are disconnected from their state representatives or feel they do not have the time, but I am going to try to streamline that process. If people want to do something, I am putting together a list of five-minute actionable things they can do.”
Barbor said she will be a ‘climate watchdog.’
“When someone like Senator Joe Manchin does something responsible with respect to climate action, we can thank him as a group – put a five-minute call into his office and commend him for that action,” she said. “Also, we need to hold them responsible when decisions are working against our issues.”
Another way Moms Clean Air Force West Virginia group members can help is by writing letters to the editor or Op Eds in online and print publications.
“We are in this to be solution oriented and are looking to raise one another up,” Barbor said. “This is something we can do. The most effective way of amplifying people’s voices is to empower them to use it.”
She said going to work for Moms Clean Air Force was a good fit.
“I was familiar with the group and their mission,” Barbor said. “I am a mom myself and have a degree in environmental science, so it was a beautiful way to merge my two passions together and be in service to my children, other children and a cause that is greater than me.”
Elizabeth Brandt said she joined Moms Clean Air Force seven years ago because climate change affected her child and she could not control that.
“You feed your children, you can control taking them to the doctor, but clean air and healthy climate is not something you can do on your own,” Brandt said. “It made me feel a little bit powerless so I decided to join Moms Clean Air Force so I could be an activist.”
Brandt said she lives in Washington, D.C. and through her work with Moms Clean Air Force, she speaks with the EPA about air quality regulations that are of concern and at the U.S. Capitol.
“It’s empowering to be part of the process,” Brandt said. “I encourage you to join, parents, by taking action online, going to city hall, joining local boards to see what they can do about climate in schools. Moms Clean Air Force is a movement about people doing it their own way – there is no right way to be an advocate for your kids. We are really about putting kids as the top line when it comes to climate change.”
Folks who want to get involved with the Moms Clean Air Force or learn more about the group can find more information online at www.momscleanairforce.org or on Facebook at Moms Clean Air Force –West Virginia, or by contacting Barbor by calling 304-212-8852.