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Concerned, Committed and Connected

 

Last updated 8/17/2017 at Noon



When you think of excitement a two-hour PowerPoint presentation, sitting through a three-hour Washington Utilities and Transportation hearing, or cleaning up fireworks debris from a kayak excitement may not be what comes to mind.

For over 800 people these were just a few examples that made their summer exciting, eventful, and meaningful. They came concerned and committed.

They left connected.

The three-day Climate Reality Project Leadership Training was held in June. While some came from around the world, almost half came from the Pacific Northwest. They came out of concern for the news they have been hearing about the climate crisis. They demonstrated their commitment to participating in at least 10 "acts of climate leadership" and have been connected to one another in the hopes of making a difference.

Training included many pieces of evidence of the climate crisis. Catastrophic storms, increased fires, droughts, the spread of disease were the topics a two-hour PowerPoint presentation by Climate Reality Project leader Al Gore. Hour two brought relief as lower costs for wind and solar power were identified as solutions that are happening in the U.S. and around the world with great momentum. Participants learned how make their own presentations and how to effectively meet with local elected leaders to influence change.

Over a month has passed. Did the training make a difference?

Tim Sumabat appeared on KING-5 news story that featured volunteers on kayaks collecting garbage on Lake Union after the 4th of July fireworks show. The film clips captured images of him while he collected items with his fishing net.

Sumabat has also started organizing underwater cleanup events to tackle "ghost fishing" in Puget Sound. His events will collect abandoned underwater fishing lines, fishing nets, and traps that catch and kill sea life.

Nancy Shimeall and Rachel Molloy spent one hour waiting and three hours sitting through a Washington Utilities and Transportation hearing on a rate hike proposed by Puget Sound Energy at the end of July. Both presented testimony opposing the rate hike on grounds that the proposal would allow PSE to continue using coal fired plants in Colstrip, Montana beyound 2025. The Colstrip plant has been identified as the third worst emitter of greenhouse gases in the United States. Shimeall handed the commission 71 written letters from participants at the Bellevue training opposing the project.

"Prior to the training many of us were working in parallel but not necessarily aware of what other groups and individuals were on board," said Shimeall.

The environmental activist also served as a mentor for the training in Bellevue.

“Now we have increased our communications and support for each other, working in tandem. Everything is connected, and now we are better together."

Shimeall said her number one goal was to pursue the closure of Puget Sound Energy's coal fired plants in Colstrip, Montana and to stop the construction of a liquified natural gas plant in Tacoma. She helped to organize a letter writing campaign to local newspapers and the CEO of PSE, Kimberly Harris. She has met with elected leaders on the issue. Shimeall has also teamed with other volunteers for the Wednesday afternoon commute in Bellevue on I-405 in July and August holding a large banner encouraging commuters crawling through rush hour traffic to oppose the PSE projects.

Maris Abelson, Mimi Bertram, and Dana Campbell organized presentations at a local bookstore chain where they will be offering signed copies of Al Gore's companion book to the movie An Inconvenient Sequel. Their presentation at 3rd Place Books in Lake Forest Park will be at 7 PM on September 7.

Abelson's set her goal to help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide back to 350 parts per million in the Earth's atmosphere. Currently the amount has recently exceeded 400 ppm which scientists believe to be a dangerous level. Many members trained in Bellevue are connected to 350.org, an international organization with chapters throughout the Puget Sound region. To meet her goal, Abelson' has planned to, "encourage children to become active in climate justice issues."

Her plans also included speaking out with other climate reality leaders and voting for elected officials who make cutting emissions a priority.

Earl Gray created an event in Snohomish for an evening PowerPoint presentation that started with a live music performance. Gray also recorded his Yes We Can Cool it on the Climate presentation and made it available on Youtube.

"I think the greatest impact I am having though is actually online” said Grey. “I now have 5000 ‘friends’ that hear about climate change from me daily. They tell friends, and they tell friends. Together we are massive and our output is high."

Bob Hallahan organized a conference call connecting training participants from the north Puget Sound area. Hallahan was a mentor and leader at the Bellevue training event. He has made plans to present to the Everett Rotary in September and has also finished his chapter in a collaborative effort with other authors tackling issues related to climate change.

In the book, Climate Abandoned, he explained how residents of island nations like the Maldives and the Marshall Islands have been forced to look for new homes as seawaters rise.

"My hobby area in climate change is national security," said Hallahan, a retired Navy airman of 23 years. His chapter explains how governments face instability when faced with loss of land, loss of water, and loss of food as the result of changes to climate.

Jill McIntyre completed her masters in Environmental Studies and wrote a field manual on climate activism right after the Climate Reality Project Training event in Bellevue. Trained in San Franciso in 2012 and has been a mentor at several other conferences including Denver in 2017. Working with 350.org in Bellingham, her team was responsible for convincing the Bellingham City Council to pledge to be free of fossil fuels.

Earlier this month, An Inconvenient Sequel was released in movie theatres in Redmond and Northgate. It featured dramatic footage of climate disasters as well as showing where people around the world are making the changes needed to solve the crisis with existing technology.

It's all about time. We make choices on how to fill our time based on our values and our outlook. If you are concerned about the climate crisis and are committed to fighting it, you too can get connected.

 

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