Why I Do This Work: A Monthly Feature
Our series called “Why I do this Work” which features a new Clean Energy Jobs campaign activist each month. We want to hear personal stories to gain a clear perspective of why we are all working together to accomplish this goal.
This Month’s Clean Activist: Kristen Harbeson
I’m sort of a politics junkie. And being a politics junkie goes hand and hand with being a news junkie. Every morning for as long as I can remember, my alarm clock has been set to a local news station and I’ve woken to the dulcet tones of NPR reporters giving me the information I need to know to start my day. Economic inequities. National and international political instability. Environmental disasters. And underneath all of those stories were stories of people working to solve those challenges. These were my heroes. The men and women who dedicated their lives to fixing the problems of the world. It helped that some of these heroes, for me, were close to home. My parents raised my brother and me with the unshakable belief that politics is an active verb, and that government is something that you participate in – not something that happens to you. When I landed as Political Director and lobbyist for Maryland League of Conservation Voters two years ago, it was a surprise to absolutely no one.
For all that, my resume is a little bit of a mess: a master’s degree in history, several jobs in museum education, and then seven years working for statewide and national historic preservation organizations before going to work in the General Assembly. It’s a mess, but when I tell people the story of my career so far, I explain it as an increased refinement in what was important to me: becoming one of those people I heard about on the radio, in the background of the problems of the world, working hard to find solutions and make the places we live – on a local and global scale – better.
And that is why I do this work. I take inspiration from the extraordinary people at Maryland LCV and all the partners working to expand renewable energy. If the stories I wake up to on my local NPR station sometimes make me feel like hiding under my covers, what gets me out of bed is the knowledge that we are doing something extraordinary together. And that knowledge not only gets me out of bed, it drives me. Renewable energy expansion is one of those remarkable opportunities to solve many of the most foundational problems that we face in Maryland. There is nothing more exciting than the knowledge that we are able to work together to clean our air and improve the economic outlook of many of our most vulnerable communities.
The best part about this work is that we are doing it together. We can make this happen. We can put Maryland on the leading edge of the clean energy economy, pushing the rest of the nation to catch our air and come along. We’ve done it before, with the ban on fracking, and the pesticide bans. We’ve had extraordinary victories over the last several years, and none of them – not one – could happen without every single one of us. We need the legislators, we need the lobbyists, we need the grassroots organizers – and we need the people of Maryland who believe. We need you. We need to believe in and act upon the interdependence that Joelle talked about a couple of months ago. And working together, we can be one of the stories that everyone wakes up to one morning next Spring. I know we can do it. And I can’t wait.
Thanks for all your hard work Kristen! We loved hearing your perspective.