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A force to reckon with—Moms for Clean Air

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A force to reckon with—Moms for Clean Air

What’s more universal than a mother fighting fiercely to protect her child? Motherhood transcends barriers—political, economical, social and religious differences. Collectively, moms are a political force to reckon with. The women of Utah Mothers for Clean Air (UMCA) call themselves “grizzly bear mamas.” Like mother grizzlies, they don’t pick fights often, but when they do, they win.
by Adriane Andersen
momscleanair1_0508.jpgWhat’s more universal than a mother fighting fiercely to protect her child? Motherhood transcends barriers—political, economical, social and religious differences. Collectively, moms are a political force to reckon with. The women of Utah Mothers for Clean Air (UMCA) call themselves “grizzly bear mamas.” Like mother grizzlies, they don’t pick fights often, but when they do, they win.

UMCA members pride themselves in their unique approach to engaging in political battle. With a baby on a hip and the occasional baked good in hand, these moms favor an attack strategy that features good manners, sit-down conversations, and actively engaging those they’re trying to win over. This testifies to the powerful—not forceful—nature of these mothers. Talk about a breath of fresh air.

In the winter of 2007, Salt Lake saw 22 consecutive Red Alert days. In response to this “pea soup” air, UMCA founder Cherise Udell acted on a “two-second inspiration,” contacting mothers in her area to organize an effort to clean up Utah’s air. She sent out a simple and sincere email inviting others to join her in this campaign. With the resounding responses Cherise received, it was clear she’d struck a nerve, and UMCA was born. Several of the moms expressed relief that a group like UMCA had been formed, where they could address feelings and con­cerns about their children growing up in such a noxious environment. Out of the miasma came the crystal-clear inspiration to start a non-heirarchical, collaborative group of empowered and motivated women.

momscleanair2_0508.jpgUtah Moms for Clean Air rally under the banner of child and health advocacy, a cause impervious to criticism. Hand in hand, these moms have created the strongest of Red Rover chains, undaunted by the task of challenging big coal and power industries. Pressure from UMCA may have contributed to Rocky Mountain Power announcing this year that they will not build any more coal plants for 10 years, though they had three plants in progress. Additionally, thanks to UMCA, School Bus Amendment H.B. 146 passed, which allots $100,000 to the state of Utah to retrofit school buses with cleaner, less polluting technology. “Mothers are not a demographic that you think of as politically powerful or politically active,” says Udell. “Mothers depoliticize the political process because their agenda is so transparent.” After all, who has a purer motive than a mother looking after her offspring?

UMCA was practically born running. Its first words were “emissions” and “amendment.” Now, at almost a year old, there’s no nap time for this toddler.

To learn how to become a member and recevie email alerts, as well as to access their extensive list of related links and other resources, visit www.utahmomsforcleanair.org.

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