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Bringing People Together – Jane Kleeb Gets $3 Million to Promote Rural Energy Justice

Bringing People Together: “If we can go into a community and work all together at the same table and make those projects work for the community while helping America find energy freedom … There’s a strong sense of freedom there.” – Jane Kleeb

Bringing People Together
Bringing people together is foundational to working for clean energy and to manage climate change. Jane Kleeb excells at it.  (This article was precipitated by Shay Burk’s article about Jane Kleeb, “People Power,”  in the Hastings, NE, Tribune, Jan 5, 2024.  Unless otherwise linked, quotations are from that article.  Emphases added.)

Jane Kleeb – Bringing People Together

  • Jane Fleming Kleeb grew up and had some experience in activism in Florida
  • Led Young Democrats of America from D.C.
  • Moved to Hastings, NE, in 2007, supported husband Scott Kleeb’s run for the US Senate, raised three daughters, served on Hastings Public Schools board one term.
  • Was a crucial rural organizer in the impossible-but-successful effort to stop the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.
  • Founded Bold Nebraska for organizing among rural Nebraskans for various concerns.
  • Is head of Nebraska Democratic Party
  • Recently won a $3 million grant from “Climate Breakthrough” to use on clean energy development.

What Happened to Keystone XL Pipeline?  Jane was a key player in resistance to KXL.

Here’s a whole page of article links (Googled) about the Keystone pipeline project’s fate.   (For example:  Wikipedia; NPRNYT; CNBC; Reuters.)

Here’s from one of the articles, June 10, 2021, CNN:
The developer of the Keystone XL pipeline announced Wednesday it is pulling the plug on the controversial project after the Biden administration revoked its permit in January…
⇒ “The cancellation of Keystone XL is a reminder that this project was never needed and never in the public interest, and that it is time for the fossil fuel era to rapidly come to a close,” David Turnbull, strategic communications director with Oil Change International, said in a statement.

She Founded Bold Nebraska:

Bold Nebraska was begun in order to support and promote organization among rural Nebraskans, and is now working against carbon pipelines. What is the carbon pipeline? “Bold” has a valuable guide online for landowners and county leaders (and all others concerned about carbon pipelines) – a climate action toolkit for a specific problem.
There are also lots of Bold Nebraska Youtube videos available.

Jane Kleeb’s Award:  The Climate Breakthrough Grant is a Big Deal

This grant encapsulates what Kleeb is about. As the article states:
“Congratulations, Jane. Thank you for bringing the same spirit that you brought to the pipeline fights to the movement to make sure that rural communities are given access to the wealth that is created by clean energy.” – Justin Pearson, Tenn State Representative
⇒ [Unlike the NoKXL struggle] In this new challenge, Kleeb isn’t organizing landowners to fight against a system, but rather helping landowners and communities to see that they, too, can benefit from the installation of solar and wind generation systems.

That is, working with the “real people” “on the ground” to help them fulfill their own felt interests.  This is a “very big deal” for 2 sets of reasons:

  1. The quality and vision of the granting organization

    1. The Climate Breakthrough organization is dedicated to mobilizing “robust philanthropic resources to support visionary leaders around the world in pursuing endeavors that swiftly and justly close the gap between the world today and a sustainable future.” They bring together “robust” funds from climate-concerned foundations, and find creative individuals with vision and track record. Two awards were given this year, one to Jane, one to Gita Syahrani in Indonesia.
    2. Please spend 10 or 15 minutes browsing their website. This is a very impressive project and
      organization:  https://www.climatebreakthrough.org/  
  2. What IS People Power? What she will be Working On:

    Activities

    1. Bringing People Together, enabling real cooperation that is really impactful – organize people in rural areas around their own concerns in the nexus of land-ownership, freedom in relation to energy companies (traditional and clean), clean energy development,
    2. Promoting clean energy,
    3. American Energy Dividend – financial returns to rural communities from installations of clean energy facilities.

    Impacts

    1. Giving rural communities a voice and felt ownership
    2. Strong support of clean energy options
    3. Financial benefits to rural communities / areas
    4. Reduce partisan divides
    5. “I’m doing this so rural communities can say we’re on the front lines of America’s energy freedom.”

    Effects on her personally

    “I’ve never wanted to be in the U.S. Senate or Congress,” she said recently. “I know a lot of good can happen, and I know creating laws changes lives, no question about it. But I am absolutely, 100% an organizer. I get energy and happiness from being with people solving community issues at the local level, and that’s where I’m happiest.”
    ⇒ “My cup gets filled with that work,” she said.
    ⇒ “I could never be a politician like that. It’s just not what I want to do. I wouldn’t have the filling up that I need, which is what I get when I’m organizing.”

    My summary of how I understand her value to us.

      • Jane Kleeb believes in, knows how, and truly enjoys organizing with ordinary people.

      • She believes in ordinary people working together to accomplish extraordinary things.

      • Jane believes in the great value of rural Nebraska people and rural America in general.

      • She emphasizes not letting contention about other very important issues destroy the power that comes from working together on specific focussed sets of issues.

    ⇒ “There were plenty of times when that coalition could have fallen apart because of abortion, guns, LGBT issues. We don’t organize in a bubble,” she said. “You’re organizing in a community where other issues are coming up, and so all of these things would come up in our community landowner meetings.”
    ⇒ “I tell organizers all the time – if you cannot go into a community and know that people who are probably going to be your best allies on stopping the pipeline are also going to be on totally opposite sides on immigration and other issues you may care about, then you should probably not organize in rural communities.”
    ⇒ “You just shouldn’t. You have to have respect for people where they are at on issues that are important to them.”
      • Jane Kleeb believes in listening:

    ⇒ “‘There needs to be a group that is doing organizing in rural Nebraska on these issues whether it’s health care or whatever it is going to be.’”
    ⇒ “I knew nothing. But I started listening.”
    ⇒ “One time I went to a meeting of landowners, I was going to listen to them and when I met them they were like, ‘So you’re Jane Kleeb. We thought you’d have horns and a tail,’ ” she said. “Again, you can be offended or you can laugh.”

    Renewable Energy Sources in Rural Areas  – “My Vision Is”:

    ⇒ My vision is that in rural communities that we’re building clean energy in a just and equitable way, in a way that builds power in communities — not just electric power, but political power where communities look at wind and solar with a sense of pride rather than disdain.
    ⇒ And this may sound very lofty, but I also see this long-term helping to heal some of our democracy because clean energy is such a clear Democratic/Republican issue right now,
    ⇒ but if we can go into a community and work all together at the same table and make those projects work for the community while helping America find energy freedom — from my perspective, not just energy independence but energy freedom — we don’t have to be locked into one source of energy, (and) that’s better than independence. We can choose this and then we don’t have to be told by oil and coal that we have to use them. There’s a strong sense of freedom there.”

    Testimonials (source)

    Bill McKibben — Author, Educator, Environmentalist, Founder of 350.org and ThirdAct.org
    ⇒ “If anyone ever deserved a Climate Breakthrough Award, it is Jane. I have never worked with anybody who’s worked harder, smarter, or in a better spirit.”
    Justin Pearson — Tennessee State Representative, US
    ⇒ “Congratulations, Jane. Thank you for bringing the same spirit that you brought to the pipeline fights to the movement to make sure that rural communities are given access to the wealth that is created by clean energy.”
    Walt Reid — Founding board chair of Climate Breakthrough. Vice President of Environment & Science at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation
    ⇒ “The strategies and solutions the world is pursuing today are not sufficient to achieve a safe climate future. We need bold new ideas and approaches. By identifying outstanding individuals with different backgrounds from different countries and giving them the resources to think big and launch novel, high-impact initiatives, Climate Breakthrough is generating the new solutions that the world needs.”

    _____
    There is additional valuable information in the Hastings Tribune article, “People Power,” of Jan 5, 2024, by Shay Burk.

    Writers / activists on Resistance  (more articles here)
    “Choose people” says Shane Claiborne. “We are a gentle, angry people … and we are fighting for our lives”
    Chris Moore-Backman Understands Having Hope
    “I have to cast my lot with those who … reconstitute the world” (Adrienne Rich)
    “Jesus Rejected Hatred” for Good Reason – Howard Thurman
    The Trump Problem: Naomi Klein Finds Hope – In “Killing the Trump Within”
    Real Evil Is Very Stubborn – M L King Jr
    6 Truths for Trump Years – Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

    See Also at PublicChristian:
    Be Joyful Though You Have Considered All the Facts.
    Teens on Resisting the Temptation to Fight
    The ‘Sermon on the Mount’ – Righteousness without Rage, Goodness without Arrogance

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