We all owe a big thank you to the Susty Office hours and the baked goods that are always provided. Without them, we might not know Abby Bresler. During her Dimensions visit she stumbled into office hours, had an amazing cookie, and found the community that is the Dartmouth Sustainability Office. Thankfully she did, because she has brought so much to our community.
Abby has been involved in climate activism since around 8th grade when a science teacher inspired her to learn more about our changing planet. She never looked back, joining her high school’s student council as the environmental representative, and rallying for change in Boston. Abby says that these opportunities helped her to realize that this was bigger than a few people caring about the climate, and that maybe everyone really could come together and make things happen.
Coming to Dartmouth her freshman fall Abby already knew she wanted to study climate but did not quite yet know where she fit in the sustainability landscape of campus. Enter EcoReps, Abby describes it as “one of the best things that has happened to me” She not only found a great community and support system, but also began learning crucial design thinking and campus organizing skills. This period of growth led Abby to help improve and expand the Green2Go system at FoCo, the first system of its kind at Dartmouth. Abby says she “would have felt lost at Dartmouth” without EcoReps and that it really helped her to become the advocate that she is today.
Meeting Abby you immediately notice that she is a strong and articulate leader, but what you do not notice is that she has an invisible disability. This disability became particularly difficult to manage as the heat wave of 19X made it almost impossible for her to breathe. That was when she began to realize that if climate change continues to increase the likelihoods of intense heat waves, she and many others with disabilities and access challenges will not be able to survive and live the same lives as their peers. While scrolling through Facebook that summer she stumbled upon a video posted by the Sunrise Movement, advocating for a Green New Deal. Abby says that she felt really inspired by the video and by Sunrise’s efforts to build a multiracial, cross-class movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. She decided to work for them during her off term during 19F and was pleased to find that the space really valued community, and while Sunrise and the Dartmouth Sustainability Office are very different, the strong sense of community prevailed in both spaces..” After orientation training Abby become very hands on in the movement, becoming a point liason for the December 6th, 2019 climate strike in Boston and even cofounding the accessibility team for Sunrise. She says this came about as she realized that Sunrise was missing accessible infrastructure at their events and wanted to make sure that the movement was for everyone, not just those that are able bodied.
After coming back to campus in the winter Abby realized that “Sunrise needed Dartmouth and Dartmouth needed Sunrise.” This thought led her to start the Sunrise hub at Dartmouth. That winter was a busy one with the group organizing a climate strike and other events, hoping to create action based, intersectional climate justice on campus and beyond. Pivoting to online organizing has been tough but interesting for the group. Right now, they are focusing on building stronger partnerships on campus and throughout the Upper Valley, promoting the People’s Bailout, supporting frontline activists against the Weymouth Compressor Station, and simply preparing to hit the ground running as soon as campus reopens.
“There is so much Dartmouth students are capable of. In my time here, there has been a shift--more students are aware and are making more sustainable decisions every day. My hope for Dartmouth in the near future is collective action and bigger changes.”
This time away is not a pause in student activism. Dartmouth is ready for something big, and the students in Sunrise and from all corners of campus are at home learning, organizing, and preparing.
If you would like to learn more about the People’s Bailout, the Sunrise Movement, or become involved in Sunrise on campus, follow the links below or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!
Sunrise School (run by Sunrise national): https://www.sunrisemovement.org/sunrise-school
The People’s Bailout: http://thepeoplesbailout.org