April 16, 2021
The People’s Review: LIVE! audience heard some real talk last night about the recent legislative session, and ESPC coalition members reminded us not only how much work we still have to do to make Wyoming a better, more equitable place for everyone—but how much more powerful our voices are when we work together toward a shared goal.
Steff Kessler, past ESPC chair and senior conservation advocate with the Wyoming Outdoor Council, facilitated a lively discussion with fellow coalition advocates Antonio Serrano of ACLU of Wyoming, former Representative Stan Blake of the SMART transportation union, Tara Muir of the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and Jan Cartwright of the Wyoming Primary Care Association and the Healthy Wyoming coalition.
“We’re all fighting for a better Wyoming,” said Serrano, ESPC’s social justice pillar representative. “There are people in Wyoming who are oppressed, who are being ignored, who are being overlooked. And we’re the spearheads for those people and these movements.”Antonio Serrano, ACLU of Wyoming, ESPC social justice pillar representative
As panelists discussed legislation that each of their organizations worked on this session—bills addressing everything from public lands management, to two-person train crews, to wage transparency, to expanding Medicaid, to residential solar power, to voyeurism, to repealing the death penalty—some surprising points of intersection and overlap emerged.
But as panelists thoughtfully pointed out, those intersections are actually the point.
“We’re all fighting for a better Wyoming,” said Serrano, ESPC’s social justice pillar representative. “In Wyoming it’s not an uphill battle, we’re climbing cliffs. And they’re icy. There are people in Wyoming who are oppressed, who are being ignored, who are being overlooked. And we’re the spearheads for those people and these movements.”
Comprising thirty different groups from three different pillars—social justice, conservation, and labor—ESPC exists to build diverse coalitions around common goals.
“The Equality State Policy Center gets really interesting groups in the state that could potentially be quite siloed from each other together,” said Kessler. “We talk with each other, learn about each other’s issues. That has really broadened my perspective about the kinds of things we [in conservation] need to think about. If you care about the environment, you also have to look at the other side: the impact to communities and workers. This organization helps all the member groups not only be more effective but really approach their work in a much more holistic way that represents Wyoming.”
Representative Blake also pointed to ESPC’s work to equip everyday Wyomingites to participate in government. Panelists agreed that despite witnessing a troubling lack of decorum and a new mean-spiritedness among legislators this year, they were heartened by the breadth and diversity of grassroots movements behind issues like Medicaid expansion and repealing the death penalty—movements that made it further than ever before this year.
Also powerful? The compelling testimony from so many ordinary citizens—not paid lobbyists—about the issues that mattered to them.
That’s what really moves the needle for lawmakers, panelists agreed. And it’s what we need more of. “There’s a lot of work to be done,” said Serrano. “We need backup. We need more people to be involved.”
We couldn’t agree more. Want to know how to be involved? Assuming you’re already signed up for ESPC updates, learn more about the other groups—and sign up for their updates—at the links below!
The People’s Review: LIVE! is made possible through the generous support of our People’s Review Leadership Circle members: Marcia Kunstel and Joe Albright, Mike Shonsey and Kathy Jenkins, JoAnn Skeim-True and Shane True, and an anonymous donor. If you’d like to become a Leadership Circle member, please visit our donation page .