Recently, climate organization 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future, better known as 350 Mass, has been holding several standouts across the state using the format of old Burma-Shave advertisements, which consisted of signs along highways that created rhyming statements.
350 Mass is, according to its website, “a powerful statewide social movement to confront the climate crisis, hold our politicians accountable and undermine the destructive influence of the fossil fuel industry.”
The name is derived from 530 parts per million, which is the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that has been determined to be safe, the website states.
The Gazette spoke with Julie Taberman and David Klafter of 350 Mass to learn more about the recent standouts, particularly one on the Jamaicaway that took place on September 25.
“The fact that there’s an emerging crisis around climate change is becoming increasingly clear,” Klafter said. “I think the science is clear—it’s only going to get worse unless we do stuff about it.”
Taberman added that as a grandparent, she has “skin in the game” with her children and grandchildren. She said that she has realized “how small the window is to act on this really quickly.”
These recent standouts are in response to the current Massachusetts legislature’s climate bill.
“This fall is a crunch time,” Taberman said. “We don’t want a watered down bill.”
350 Mass operates as a “series of nodes” across the state, which act as different chapters of the organization and “get legislators to move in the direction of where we want to move in,” she said. “It’s a very public way to put pressure on legislators.”
Klafter said these standouts have been a good way to get people out of the house to advocate for these issues.
“We, like everyone, have been a bit frustrated by being homebound; not getting out as much,” he said. “Normally we would do more actively meeting people, talking, but we can’t do that not in the same way. People can get out and show themselves and be visible.”
Altogether, Taberman said there were eight signs with “little pithy statements on them” that call for the legislature to pass a “strong climate bill.” Klafter added that this includes deeming the proposed Green New Deal “essential as a demand.”
Taberman said that “we wanted something that would get people’s attention as they drove by. Visuals make it more impactful.” She said that at the Jamaicaway standout on the evening of September 25, there was “quite a bit of horn honking, waving, thumbs up. People really resonated with it.”
The eight signs read “Situation Dire, House on Fire, Must Move Faster, Stop the Disaster, Climate Action Now, 350 Mass, Call Your State Rep., and Strong Climate Bill 2020.”
Klafter said that “hopefully it will generate some phone calls to the legislature,” especially with the upcoming election.
“We as a nonprofit are not endorsing people,” he said, but “we do want people to think about climate as they make their decisions.”
Klafter also said that connections between different issues and groups is very important for 350 Mass.
“As an organization, we always want to make connections,” whether it be Black Lives Matter or economic justice for all. “As a group, we do try to work with groups that are concerned about all the issues.”
Aside from the Jamaicaway, 250 Mass has held these standouts on the North Shore, as well as in Franmingham, Lowell, Franklin, Watertown, Cambridge, and others.
“We are going to continue to do them,” Klafter said, suggesting another one along the Jamaicaway or in Allston-Brighton or Brookline.
“Anywhere where we can stand where there’s traffic slowed down enough that people can get a look at the signs” would be a good place, he said.
“We’re eager for them to not back off the environmental justice components of the bill,” he said, referring to the legislators. He said that the group would like to see from the legislature “a strong commitment to pushing forward with renewable energy in various forms,” including offshore wind and solar.
Both Klafter and Taberman agreed that 350 Mass’ approach is that climate issues are a “holistic problem,” as Klafter put it.
For more information about 350 Mass and its work, visit https://350mass.betterfutureproject.org.