Climate Reality Leadership Corps comes to Minnesota

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By Sara Wolff (@True2OurFuture) and Matt Doll (@mattjdoll), Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Last weekend, more than a thousand climate activists, scholars, and leaders gathered in Minneapolis for a gathering of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training. Chaired by former Vice President Al Gore, this is the latest in the series of 40 trainings.

It’s fitting that the Twin Cities hosted the latest training in the series: Minnesota has a critical role to play in facing the climate crisis. We’ve seen some of the heaviest climate change impacts in our state, as our winters grow harsher and our summers get hotter and rainier. Our agricultural economy – the nation’s fifth-largest – presents an opportunity to lead the way on the cutting edge of new farming techniques that replenish the soil and draw carbon out of the atmosphere. And grassroots groups in every corner of the state are building the energy we need to ensure Minnesota does our part for climate action.

MEP’s Advocacy Director, Sara Wolff, participated in the training summit. These are her reflections:

I didn’t think I could become more committed to fighting the climate crisis. I was wrong.

For three days, with 1200 others at the Minneapolis Convention Center, I joined people from 50 countries, spanning  ages 13 to 84, to become trained Climate Reality Leaders.  Al Gore founded the Climate Reality Project in 2006 and it has, as of this past Sunday, trained 20,000 people around the world – equipping them  with the latest information and slides in order to deliver presentations everywhere on the urgency of our climate crisis.

Need a speaker? Let me know and I can put you in touch with someone in your area. 

When you start to list folks you are bound to get into trouble, but it was a joy to see friends from MN350, Freshwater, Climate Generation and Sierra Club, and hear terrific people including

  • Jothsna Harris (Climate Generation) presenting “Owning Your Climate Story” and leading participants through the process of identifying and weaving together the stories we each have.
  • Lia Harrel (Minnesota Can’t Wait) highlighting the amazing youth leadership movement in Minnesota.
  • Sam Grant (Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs) moderating “Toward an Inclusive and Just Transition” including Robert Blake (Solar Bear and MN-Interfaith Power & Light), Bree Halverson (Blue Green Alliance), Lu Nelson (Center for Rural Affairs) and Jamez Staples (Renewable Energy Partners)
  • Chris Conry (100% Campaign) moderating “From Policy Potential to Political Reality” with J.Drake Hamilton (Fresh Energy and a Climate Reality Leader trained in Nashville in 2006), Finn McGarrity (MoveMn) and Jamie Fitzke (Center for Energy and Environment)
  • Timothy Den-Herder Thomas (Community Power and Cooperative Energy Futures) on Community-Based Energy Solutions
  • Dawn Goodwin (RISE – Resilient, Indigenous Sisters Engaging) sharing the ways fighting a pipeline has impacted her life
  • Charissa Verdoorn, (Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light), presenting Be The Spark, a powerful model for building action through community
  • Dr. Tracy Twine from the Department of Soil, Water and Climate at the University of Minnesota
  • Julie Ristau, (Main Street Project) and Lauren Mehler Pradhan (Grow North, Carlson School at the University of Minnesota) on the intersections between soil health and healthy local economies
  • Dr. Rose Brewer, from the Department of African American and African Studies at the University of Minnesota
  • Governor Walz! “The time for incremental change has passed us by!”
  • Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter
  • Eric Dayton, Askov Finlayson, whose son took off the exhaust pipe from his Lego car to make it “electric”

All of them building the connections between the climate crisis and our lives. But also building hope.

Here’s one tidbit from my notes, from Rudiger Dornbusch:

“In economics, things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.”

And here’s one other thing we need to reflect on:

Each month fewer than 1 in 5 Americans hear someone they know talk about our climate crisis.

Our collective society has been saying no to change for decades now. But as Al Gore said this past weekend, we are on a tidal wave that is gaining momentum, is just about to crest and crash over.

Our yes is coming. And it is our job – you, and me, and your neighbor and mother-in-law, church committee and school board, grocer and farmer  – who need to make it come louder, stronger, faster, further, in everything we do.

We must, we can, and WE WILL solve the climate crisis.

It is on this “yes” that the future of our world depends.

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