Last week we spoke with Alex Lines, the electoral organizer in North Carolina for the Sunrise Movement and one of two Asheville hub coordinators about the movement’s recent efforts as we prepare for the November election.
You can listen to the full interview here:
Maia Ross Trupin, 25, one of two hub coordinators of the Sunrise Movement in Asheville, said Sunrise is a movement for climate justice on a large scale attempting to transform society and combat inequity and injustice on all levels of government.
“Sunrise is not a climate change movement because we want to go hiking and because we want you to recycle your plastic water bottles or whatever,” Ross Trupin said. “We really believe in investing in the systems that heal us and divesting from the systems that harm us.”
Ross Trupin said by implementing a Green New Deal nationally, statewide and with it millions of green jobs our economy will be revived and along with the Earth.
“A national jobs guarantee would put people back to work, guaranteeing if we are to transition away from fossil fuels, people will be put to work restoring our wetlands and building green infrastructure,” Ross Trupin said.
Ross Trupin said that doing this will assist the marginalized communities in our society.
“Black and Brown people, Indigenous communities, immigrants and all of the sorts of people could really benefit from this new sort of way that we’re working towards,” Ross Trupin said.
Victoria Estes, 24, is a full-time activist born in Sylva who has been documenting the Sunrise hub in Asheville’s actions to ensure a robust online presence.
Estes said that a couple of weeks ago she joined Sunrise in the Thom Tillis wake-up call.
“The wake-up calls are great because we are sending a message to our politicians that we’re involved and we’re going to stay involved and if they don’t represent us, we have the youth-power behind us and we can get somebody else into their seat,” Estes said.
Estes said that the wake-up calls’ get people together in a professional and organized manner and get the message across, which focuses on pushing for universal health care, the Green New Deal and putting individuals in office who support those ideals.
“Right now, we’re just trying to get our elected officials to accept that we are in a climate crisis; to admit that we are in a crisis right now, which shouldn’t be that hard to do, but it is,” Estes said.
Alex Lines, 25, is the electoral organizer in North Carolina for the Sunrise Movement. Lines has been a part of Sunrise for a year, starting as a volunteer hub coordinator.
Throughout her roles in the organization, Lines said she has recruited and trained new volunteers and directed the movement’s political strategy within Asheville. But recently, she has been running a relational organizing program in the state.
“It’s pretty unique and different from what campaigns and organizations usually do,” Lines said. “Usually, they try to reach as many voters as possible and ours is a little different. Every week we get our volunteers together for a Zoom party and training and have them download the Empower app, in which they could add all of their contacts and then have discussions with them about the election.”
Lines said the objective is to get as many friends and family members to pledge to vote with Sunrise and take to the streets after the election, regardless of who wins.
“And then our statewide political team has been in the process of endorsing a slate of candidates across the state who are running on a Green New Deal and running for climate justice in North Carolina,” Lines said.
Ross Trupin said Sunrise has a democratic process for endorsing candidates nationally, statewide and locally. Recently the Sunrise hub in Asheville has been supporting and canvassing for Kim Roney, a local City council candidate.
Ross Trupin said Roney is a champion of the Green New Deal and is going to fight for the younger generation.
“That includes defunding the police and immigration justice, justice for indigenous populations, fair housing and affordable transit,” Ross Trupin said. “We need that people power on the ground to show up and strike, organize and turn out in the streets so that we’re really heard.”
As a state electoral organizer, Lines said her role is to support all of the hubs across the entire state and encourage them to show-up, show-out, recruit new people and reach young voters to flip the state and beat Trump.
Before Sunrise succeeded in getting the City Council to pass a Climate Emergency, Lines said the organization did not have a voice in Asheville.
“The City Council was definitely very much ignoring us. They didn’t think they had to deal with us like many politicians treat young people. They told us we were young and naive and didn’t know how the government works and basically told us to go home,” Lines said. “We weren’t having that, so we did a sit-in at the Mayor’s office for six hours. We were really loud. We annoyed them. We sang songs. We showed up and told them we weren’t going home until they passed it and then they did, finally.
Lines said after that, the organization started to receive a lot of local attention and was being taken more seriously by the City Council.
“They started to realize that they had to listen to us and we gained political power through that,” Lines said. “So since then, community members have been more excited and willing to listen to us.”
Estes said Sunrise is a very inclusive organization that has been successful at building a community.
“It does a good job of making it us, not me,” Estes said. “And they definitely have a big political pull and we’re seeing that across the nation. I think we have more power than we’re aware of.”
Lines said if students are interested in joining Sunrise that there is a program called Campus Core they can apply to.
“You can sign up for that and then you’ll basically have a coach to talk to you about how to run a program at your campus,” Lines said. “Other than that, people can just get involved with what we’re already doing,” Lines said. “They can reach out to the Sunrise Asheville Hub, reach out to me personally or just sign up for our local swing state turn-out parties through our website, Facebook or Instagram page.