Year End Giving Time! Donate to your local Sierra Club…

Give To the Sierra Club

donateThe Four Lakes Group is always in need of funds to support our local activities.  We do get some money from membership dues, but its is usually not enough to cover all our expenses.  We lead outings, offer educational programs, have an active conservation agenda, publish newsletters, support our Madison Inner City Outings outreach program, send volunteers to training, and work on local  legislation & campaigns.   Because we do electioneering and lobbying, donations directly to the Four Lakes Group are not tax-deductible, but rest assured that they are put to excellent use.

Please make all checks out to the “Four Lakes Sierra Club”, and please remember to include your name and address so we can send you a thank you and let you know your donation was received!

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Checks can be mailed to:

Sierra Club
C/O Lacinda Athen
4909 Sherwood Road
Madison, WI 53711

Posted in Activism, Volunteering | Leave a comment

Photos from our Frac Sand Mining Program

We had over 100 people attend our Frac Sand Mining program at the new downtown Madison Public Library.

frac sand mining wisconsin To see the public photo album, visit our Facebook page This album is open to the public, but we encourage anyone interested in the Sierra Club to “Like” our page for updates!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Frac Sand Mining in Wisconsin Talk on October 29 in Madison

frac sand mineThe Four Lakes Group of the Sierra Club is sponsoring a presentation about frac sand mining by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (WCIJ) on October 29, at 7 p.m. in the Madison Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin Street.

WCIJ reporters Kate Golden, Ron Seeley and Alison Dirr, and Dave Blouin, Mining Committee chair for the John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club, will discuss and take audience questions about frac sand mining, as well as Gogebic Taconite’s proposed mine in the Penokee Hills in Northern Wisconsin.

The booming frac sands mining industry, which supports hydraulic fracture extraction (“fracking”) of natural gas, is loosely regulated in Wisconsin and can produce harmful environmental consequences.  Regulation of these proposals resides primarily with local governments which lack resources and expertise to deal with them.

“Extractive industries such as frac sand and iron mining represent the most destructive and intense land uses in Wisconsin,” said Dave Blouin, John Muir Chapter Mining Committee chair.  “The rush to permit more of these damaging proposals is producing enormous stress on our lands, water and air and local governments and landowners are struggling to protect their resources.”

The October 29 presentation will be held at the newly-renovated Madison Public Library, 201W. Mifflin. This presentation will be a great chance to see the renovations at the library while learning about this important environmental issue. Refreshments will be provided.

 

Posted in Events | Comments Off

Fall Kick Off Wrapup, Photos and Volunteer Opportunity list….

Thank You to everyone who attended our Fall Kick off last week with Joe Parisi!

It was a great time.  Here are some of our board members with Joe and his staffer Melissa, L-R is Beverly, Lacinda, Joe, Melissa and Don.  More photos are on our Facebook wall, so head over there to check those out.  As a wrap up to those who couldn’t attend, and in response to a few who did that wanted a written overview of their options, we compiled a short list of our volunteer opportunities.   Please contact the person listed for more details, or feel free to reach out to Lacinda with any questions.

Four Lakes Volunteer Opportunities

  • Outings Leaders to hike, bike, camp, ski and more.  We’re always looking for folks to help get members outdoors.  Contact Kathy to learn more.
  • Paddling Outings leaders.  The statewide River Touring Section connects those that are into water sports like canoeing and kayaking.  Visit the RTS website to learn more.
  • Communications, Newsletter & Social Media team.  This committee helps spread our message to members and beyond and is open to anyone, though we’re especially seeking those with writing, graphic design, social media and web development skills.  Contact Lacinda to learn more.
  • Inner City Outings is our youth outreach program that connects nature deprived kids with the outdoors.  Leaders plan trips, work with our partner groups, and have a great time. Visit the ICO website to learn more.
  • Recycling Away from Home is our zero waste festival recycling and composting program.  We work with neighborhood festivals in and around Madison to reduce and divert waste that would otherwise end up in our landfill.  Contact Don to learn more.
  • Water Sentinels is a new initiative launched in partnership with the Madison Unitarian Society to monitor, learn about, and protect our area waters.  Contact Liz for more details.
  • Clean Energy and Clean Transportation.  The Beyond Coal and Beyond Oil programs to encourage a clean, green future are run from our statewide Sierra Club office.  Contact Elizabeth for details.
  • Political Committee.  Identifying and supporting environmentally friendly political representation, and educating the voters about their choices, is one of our most effective weapons.  If you want to help out, contact Dave to learn more.
Posted in Activism, Events, Volunteering | Comments Off

Get Connected With the Sierra Club at the Fall Kickoff

Joe Parisi

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi to speak at the Sierra Club Fall Kickoff

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi will be the keynote speaker at the Sierra Club’s Fall Kickoff, Wednesday, September 25, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Wil-Mar Center, 953 Jenifer Street.

Parisi will talk about county initiatives to help clean up our lakes, address the impact of climate change on Dane County, and increase sustainability and the use of renewable energy throughout county government. The Kickoff, which is open to the public, is sponsored by the Four Lakes Group of the John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The Fall Kickoff is also the chance to learn about the local group’s programs. Attendees can learn about local outings and events the group sponsors, as well as conservation, youth programs, recycling, and water projects the group is working on.

“Please join us at the annual Fall Kickoff to learn more about what the Sierra Club is doing to protect our natural resources in Dane County and beyond,” said Dave Blouin, chair of the Four Lakes Group. “We’re very pleased to have Dane County Executive Joe Parisi join us to speak about the innovations and efforts underway by Dane County.”

There will also be food, fun, and live music. Come hear what’s happening, and how you can join in and help make the difference you want to see! RSVP today or if you have questions, contact 608-274-7870.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Sustainable Eating – Grow Local!

By Four Lakes Group Member Megan Arzbaecher
Originally published in Sustainable Times Magazine

To really discuss sustainable food systems means also talking about local agriculture, and the choices we make. Southern Wisconsin has a myriad of sustainable food options, giving everyone a chance to participate. While sustainable agriculture is important when talking about the planet and human health at the global scale, it’s also important at the local, community-based economy level. Wisconsin’s strong agricultural heritage and rich soils provides a strong base that continues to increase the presence of farmers’ markets and other local produce options.

Farmers marketMadison is a key local agriculture hub in Wisconsin and offers a plethora of food options throughout the year. This is perhaps most typified by the outstanding Dane County Farmer’s Market that provides a great venue to connect local farmers and food producers to consumers. On a normal Saturday it attracts around 20,000 people. From bread to strawberries to corn to baked goods, meat and cheese, you can find a near endless variety of foods. And if you can’t get to downtown Madison for the Saturday market, there are many other options on weekends and during the week. The Saturday Hilldale Market draws many people who want to avoid the downtown throngs. The Wednesday market on Martin Luther King Blvd is also much less crowded, but still offers a great variety of produce. The east side Madison market is another example of a local market that provides convenient access for local residents, as well as an outlet for other farmers or food producers.

With its great agricultural productivity, many other communities in Wisconsin have local markets highlighting farms and farmers in their area. It’s not uncommon when driving around southern Wisconsin to spot cheese factories, local meat stores, and farm stands selling produce and other items. In fact, many festivals such as the Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival are scheduled around times of abundance to celebrate locally grown offerings. Farm dairy breakfasts are also common in many areas and help connect people to their farmers.

Winter doesn’t halt the sales of fresh local foods. Many farmers and distributors store produce for months so we can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables despite the snow on the ground. Much of this can be found at local grocers such as Willy St Coop or the Viroqua Coop. Or you can shop the indoor winter farmers’ market located at The Monona Terrace or Madison Senior Center.

Shopping at local farmers’ market not only provides some of the best tasting and highest quality produce, as well as great variety, but can also be an economical option. Buying directly from the farmers or producers cuts out the middleman and store markup, often saving money. The Dane County Farmers’ Market also offers a Foodshare program, which allows any family or individual on Quest or Foodstamps to exchange their credit for market dollars and have access to healthy and affordable food options. Many vendors also contribute to the Second Harvest Food program that collects surplus or unsold produce to help sustain people in need.

Another popular option is community sponsored agriculture, or CSAs. CSAs link farmers directly with consumers in a mutually beneficial arrangement where farmers have guaranteed customers by selling ‘shares’ before the growing season, and customers have a guaranteed source of healthy and reasonably priced produce. As a share can be fairly large, this is often a popular option for families or groups who receive generally a weekly selection of seasonal produce. Much of what will be received is agreed upon ahead of time, but vagaries of weather and crops may alter the weekly allotment, both in variety and quantity. This also encourages experimentation with recipes and preserving foods!

community gardenAn even more economical and sustainable local option is growing your own food. Home and community gardens are sprouting up all over Madison, such as in Eagle Heights, along the east side bike path near the Goodman Center, or at Troy Community Gardens. Community plots come in a variety of sizes, and may also offer access to tools, water and other necessities. Even if you’re not convinced you have a green thumb, you can always start small with herbs and potted plants on a porch or patio. Before you know it, you might turn into a real gardener. And community gardening not only grows produce, it grows community.

Eating locally not only supports sustainable agriculture, but also the local economy. To help raise awareness about the benefits of local food systems, the Willy Street Coop sponsors an Eat Local Challenge to encourage support for local food production. Participants determine what proportion of their food they want to acquire from local sources, and the Coop provides information about their food sources. However, by buying local, more of the money spent also provides support for our local economy. Of course, buying primarily local products is easier in the summer and fall when Wisconsin offers a much greater quantity and variety of local seasonal produce.

Many restaurants also feature locally harvested produce or locally grown meat options, and even list the farms the various items come from. By choosing to eat at these restaurants, you contribute not only to more sustainable food systems, but sustainable local economies. It’s a win-win!

With the growing season in full swing, not to mention the loads of great festivals happening throughout the area, opportunities to eat local abound. And the nice part is that you can know where every mouthful comes from – and where your green is going to. You can boost your health, support your local economy and shell out less of your own green – all while being green.

Posted in Green Living | Comments Off

Sierra Club and Friends of Monona Bay Tackle Trash at Brittingham Beach

The lakes in and around Madison are one of our city’s indisputable jewels.  Unfortunately, these same lakes are seen by some citizens as a dumpster.  Diapers, plastic bags, cigarette butts, and beer cans litter the shorelines detracting from their beauty and creating safety hazards.  Fish, turtles and water fowl can become entangled in discarded fishing line or the plastic rings from six-packs.  Paper, Styrofoam and plastic bottles can clog drainage areas and create floating waste islands, marring the landscape for paddlers.

Luckily, there is something being done to address this issue. Two local groups will be tackling trash at one of the city’s most popular areas, Brittingham Beach on Monona Bay, by hosting a shoreline cleanup.   The Four Lakes Sierra Club and Friends of Monona Bay are sponsoring a work party as part of the county-wide Take a Stake in the Lakes program on Saturday, June 29 from 10 a.m. to Noon.  The cleanup will be followed by a social lunch.

brittingham park signVolunteers can RSVP at VolunteerSpot, then meet at the Brittingham Beach House, 701 W. Brittingham Place, now home to Brittingham Boat Rental and Cafe at 10 a.m.. Useful items to bring include rakes, canoes and kayaks as they can be used to collect trash and weeds from the water.  After the work party, volunteers can stay for a social lunch.  Brittingham Boats offers Babcock Hall Ice Cream, coffee drinks and “make your own” grilled cheese for purchase.  Volunteers are also encouraged to bring a dish to share.  Free “Take a Stake in our Waters” t-shirts provided to volunteers.  For questions, call 608-274-7870.

Posted in Activism, Events, Outings, Volunteering | Comments Off

Compost, Recycle, Reuse – Oh My! Waste Reduction in Madison

By Four Lakes Group Member Megan Arzbaecher
Originally published in Sustainable Times Magazine

recycling binsRecycling has been commonplace in Madison for many years as a means to reduce waste. The Madison Streets & Recycling division employs a single stream recycling system which is easy and simple to use. Residents combine their recycling materials in one collection bin, rather than having to sort items individually based on categories. The city does curbside recycling biweekly, and there is no additional work of taking recycling to an offsite facility or sorting into individual bins.

In 2010, the cost per household for waste management services was $226.87 or $18.89 per month. Because of its simplicity and low cost, the city boasts a 66% participation rate, and results in a significant amount of waste being diverted from the landfill. Streets & Recycling recently modified its rules to include additional items. In 2012, they started accepting pots & pans, small metal appliances, and plastic bags as part of the curbside recycling program. However, there are certain materials that the city can’t take such as light weight plastics since the recycling company cannot deal with these materials. For up to date information, check out the Recylopedia available at http://www.cityofmadison.com/streets.

For items the city is unable to collect at the curbside, there are offsite collection centers. Electronics can be recycled for a $10 fee at one of two facilities. This not only keeps toxic materials out of the landfills, but also allows some of the items to be repurposed or broken down into useful components. Madison also has the Stuff Exchange (http://www.madisonstuffexchange.com/), a city sponsored website for reuse of unwanted items. Items may be given away or offered for sale and participants can create a “wanted” list for items they are looking for.

But even the extensive recycling still leaves a tremendous amount of waste that ends up in the landfill. And landfills are neither popular to construct or cheap to operate. Recently, the City of Madison rolled out the innovative Organics Collection Pilot Program. This 2-year pilot program is focused on testing the viability of citywide organic waste collection. The costs and benefits of the program will be analyzed to determine whether it is cost-effective enough to implement citywide.

compostingIt began in June 2011 with a small number of volunteer households in two neighborhoods and businesses, and grew again this year to include the Madison Children’s Museum and Fair Oaks Diner. The city’s Streets division collects organic material, which includes anything that used to be alive such as plant matter and food waste, but also cardboard, pet waste, and paper. They come and pick up the waste weekly and deliver it to the Columbia County Compost facility. As the organic matter decays, the city utilizes an anaerobic digestion system to create two beneficial outcomes from the waste.

According to the pilot program’s website, “An AD system will produce lots of valuable compost, but it is also designed to capture all of the methane (biogas) that is generated during the digestion process. The biogas can then be used to power a generator or fuel cell to produce electricity or used as fuel for collection vehicles”. This pilot program is a huge opportunity for Madison. If the program proves cost-effective, Madison can break ground on a completely sustainable system for organic waste. The rich composted soil could be utilized throughout the city’s gardens, while the renewable energy has endless opportunities for transportation, electricity or heating.

Of course, personal composting is a great way to reduce your ecological footprint. Starting your own compost shouldn’t be intimidating; it’s easier than you think! Get a covered bin for a self-contained system, or attend the City of Madison’s compost sale for a ready-to-go bin. Then follow the 50-50 rule- use 50% brown waste, such as leaves, and 50% green waste, aka food scraps and grass clippings. This will give you a good carbon and nitrogen balance. After the first week, your pile should reach a temperature of 140 degrees, and you will need to turn it every few weeks. This aerates the soil while also mixing up the compost. Then after 4 months, your compost should be ready to go!

Another new program begun fall of 2012 was Leave the Leaf. The City of Madison will kick off this program in the hopes of reducing the problematic disposal of leaves every fall. People view leaves as a waste product and nuisance to yard maintenance. However, there are lots of potential benefits of leaves including mulch, natural fertilizer and garden cover.

The goals of Leave the Leaf include reducing “phosphorus runoff from leaves, improve the quality of area soil and lawns, and reduce the need for more leaf collection trucks and staff”. The program will over education seminars for dealing with your leaves such as mulching and composting them.

The final program to highlight is RAH, or Recycling Away from Home. Sponsored by Sierra Club and Marquette Neighborhood, this joint program aims to offer recycling and waste reduction efforts at festivals and events throughout Madison. With so many summer activities around the city, there is a huge potential for waste, since many festivals have no recycling programs. RAH uses a network of volunteers to set-up and takedown waste bins as well as advocate for more sustainable systems of event planning. RAH educates food and drink vendors on purchasing recyclable or biodegradable materials and reducing the waste they generate at the events.

While waste generation represents a huge problem for the future of the planet, cities like Madison are creating innovative, new programs to encourage people to take control of their refuse and recycle. Single-sort recycling, RAH, Leave the Leaf and composting are just a few of the opportunities for you to get involved in greening our city!

 

 

Posted in Green Living, Recycling | Comments Off

Healthy Food for a Healthy Planet

By Four Lakes Group Member Megan Arzbaecher
Originally published in Sustainable Times Magazine

With the start of the Dane County Farmers’ Market 2013 season, it’s a great time to talk about sustainable agriculture. Organically grown products, and buying local and seasonal produce are all aspects of sustainable agriculture and environmental preservation.

CAFOOur conventional food cultivation is rife with problems. Agriculture is one of the largest sources of CO2 and methane emissions in the world, utilizes huge amounts of water and land, and results in extensive runoff and water pollution problems. Estimates on global emissions of CO2 for agriculture range from 12%-20% of the global total. Resulting soil degradation and deforestation due to increased food production release even more CO2. Synthetic pesticides and animal waste are known to pollute the water and soil. Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in particular create large amounts of pollution and sludge, and often are harmful to the animals. Conventional farming and crop harvesting with large agricultural equipment is highly dependent on fossil fuels. Additionally, many pesticides are derived from fossil fuels. To reduce climate change impacts, significant changes in food production are needed.

Choosing organic produce and meat is one way to reduce emissions and environmental damage. Organic farming reduces pesticide and fertilizer use by adopting natural methods of pest reduction and soil enhancement. This in turn reduces the dependence on fossil fuels. Organic processes also enhance soil quality and increase carbon sequestration. The Rodale Institute estimates that if “10,000 medium sized farms in the U.S. converted to organic production, they would store so much carbon in the soil that it would be equivalent to taking 1,174,400 cars off the road”. Huge opportunities exist to reduce water use and improve the quality of our environment through organic farming.

According to the Organic Trade Association, “U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010, accounting for about 4% of all food sales. Sales in 2010 represented 7.7 percent growth over 2009 sales” and will only increase over the next decade. Organic food acreage increases every year as its popularity grows, and is helping reduce environmental impacts of our food system.

plant in handHowever, the term ‘organic’ has been tainted as it has grown in popularity. USDA organic labeling rules are convoluted and have lost touch with the ecology and roots of the organic movement. The USDA mandates organic produce must be grown without synthetic fertilizers or bioengineering, and animals raised without antibiotics or growth hormones. However, ‘Big Organic’ companies such as Earthbound Farm and Cal Organic utilize many of the same processes as conventional farms. The image of bucolic family farms and happy animals isn’t always a reality in the Big Organic industry, and some are huge farms with highly industrialized processes that may exploit cheap labor and keep animals in crowded confines As the organic industry continues to grows, its reliability is put at risk. Further, other countries may not use the same definition of organic or monitor production as closely to assure compliance with regulations.

Another popular option for sustainable food sourcing is to buy local. Transporting food is a fuel intensive process and the Council on the Environment of New York City estimates that “it takes 435 fossil-fuel calories to fly a 5 calorie strawberry from California to New York”. The average grocery store product has traveled over 2,000 miles, and approximately 40% of fruits and vegetables in the US are imported. By reducing food miles traveled, generally less fossil fuel is burned and CO2 released, lowering its carbon footprint. However, shipping methods matter as much as distances traveled. Ships and trains are much more fuel efficient than trucks and can carry food longer distances on lesser amounts of fuel. For processed foods, the energy used in processing may also vary by source.

eat localWhile there is no strict definition for ‘local’, many people consider 300 miles or under ‘local’. Local food is often fresher and decreases the links in the food chain. Even if farms aren’t certified organic, consumers can talk to the farmer about what types of fertilizers or pest reduction methods they use. Consumers talk directly with the farmers and learn about how they grow their food at Madison’s Dane County Farmers’ Market or at many smaller farmers’ markets in other communities. Or some people buy CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares for food from a local farm. Buying local also helps keeps money in your community and stimulate the local economy.

While supermarkets carry an abundant variety of produce year round, buying local produce in season is part of eating sustainably. Eating tomatoes in winter or squash in spring requires importing it long distances which tends to be fuel intensive. Eating local food in season helps maintain health, and the flavor is often much better and has high nutrient quality. With a vibrant and strong agricultural community and better storage, it’s become easier to have a variety of produce year round in Madison.

With people’s preferences on food access and variety, relying solely on local or organic agriculture is probably not feasible currently. Feeding over 7 billion people requires large-scale conventional farming as well as locally grown and organic food. Living in an agricultural region with good consciousness about food production and how it affects our planet allows us to have a strong supply of healthy, locally grown food options much of the time. We ask you to join the Sierra Club in paying attention to your food habits and how they affect the environment, your body and your community. If you see our table at the Dane County Farmers’ Market, stop by and talk to us about your relationship to food.

Posted in Green Living | Comments Off

Teens, Parents Move “Forward On Climate” Together

by Kermit M. Hovey, Jr.

XL RallyThousands, including 160 Wisconsinites, 100 alone from greater Madison, traveled across the country to the Forward on Climate rally in Washington, DC. Each had a story. Intriguing among them were those of three high school age teens and their parents from the Madison-area who bussed, marched and protested together on that bright, partly-cloudy, freezing Sunday, February 17, 2013.

They gathered with crowds to rally in the shadow of the Washington Monument to call on the country and the government to take urgent action against climate change. Bill McKibben, 350.org founder and event co-organizer, and Michael Brune, Executive Director The Sierra Club, another event co-organizer, shared the event stage with politicians, celebrities, activists and Canadian first-nation representatives.

Each speaker reminded them that business as usual can not continue in the face of growing climate change threats and environmental degradation. With speakers and other ralliers, they urged that Obama block Transcanada Corporation’s Keystone XL pipeline and thereby keep extremely polluting toxic Canadian tar sand oil from pouring into the market to further damage the climate, economy, and public health.

They and others swarmed into the streets with their signs, chants, and in some cases costumes, to visibly and vocally demonstrate their concern. Grim reapers, statues of liberty, astronauts, and just chilly bundled-up citizens of all ages streamed from the staging area down the streets to the White House – and then back again. As they and fellow protesters strode to the event stage at the end of the march, McKibben declared over the sound system they had made history with 50,000 attending the largest climate focused rally in U.S. history.

The three parents and teens took time to share stories of how they had helped make and influence history as their bus rolled from Washington, DC back to Wisconsin on that cold, dark Sunday evening.

XL Rally astronautTerry Ross notes how she encouraged her daughter, Madison East High School senior Scout Slava-Ross, to come in part to carry on a generational tradition of advocating social justice. “There were a lot of us here today, and that was important, but personally I thought it was important for my daughter to have the experience of being in Washington, DC with thousands of people trying to make their voices heard about a cause that is really important. In my experience, I came to Washington with my mother back in the 70′s for an important rally for the equal rights amendment, and it was the first of many. And it was really fun to bring my daughter and do this together for the first time.”

Scout recalls her positive response came in the context of an active and activist relationship, “My mom was the first one who mentioned the Forward On Climate Rally to me, and that is how I first knew it was happening. I’ve always done a lot of stuff with my mom, especially in regards to the environment and things like this march. We used to be in a street theater group together, so I trusted her when she said it was going to be a big deal, and I think that she was right!”

Scout saw her contribution as one piece of a greater whole. “I accomplished something that everyone accomplished, just one more person at the rally where each one of us adds. Just another person makes it another person bigger. A lot of individual efforts together is why something like this can really happen. I also accomplished just being able to come to a rally in DC.”

In a slightly different way Susan Kiernan’s plan to attend the Forward On Climate Rally inspired her daughter, Madison West High School Freshman Laura Kienan to come.

“I was originally coming alone,” Susan said, “When I told Laura that I was getting on the bus she said ‘Can I come?’ She said that this issue of climate change is important to me too.”

Laura elaborates, “I feel that climate change is an important issue for me and my generation. I really like the environment and I want to ski and play in the snow 30 years from now and that’s important. I just wanted to be part of a big movement, and I think we sent a strong message to President Obama and I hope he responds.”

Susan describes their shared desire for climate change action, “I hope we sent a very strong message to President Obama in this show of force that we had here today. This is I think the defining issue of our time, and the time for action is now. This is urgent and I hope that he sees that we are in this together and that we want to support him in making the best possible decisions to heal our planet.”

XL Rally 3In something of a role reversal, Monona Grove High School senior Ellen Albright inspired her father Bill Albright to protest. “Over the summer I joined 350Madison to get more involved with climate activism, and when I heard about the climate rally in DC, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to practice this activism. My parents weren’t too keen on the idea of me going to DC by myself, so I decided to take my dad along with me. Also, over the summer I introduced him to some of Bill Mckibben’s writing and really got him interested about this idea as well. So, It was a very cool experience to bond with my dad over this issue and see our generations working together on climate change, ” Ellen explained.

Bill’s involvement in science education may have something to do with Ellen’s awareness, but he agrees she nudged him from passive science to political action. “For the last 15 to 18 years I have been aware of climate change. I taught it in high school, in earth science… So while I had that interest from a science standpoint and being a scientist, it was really my daughter Ellen that sparked my interest in becoming active politically and socially.”

Ellen enthuses, “I think I had a personal achievement today of re-inspiring myself to continue fighting against the climate crisis and participating in environmental activism. I also think that I was part of a very important movement to pressure President Obama to not approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Before I left for Washington, one of my teachers shared an interesting piece of rhetoric with me that in the 1960′s civil rights leaders met with President Kennedy and asked him to give them political support for their civil rights agenda. He told them that he did support them but that they would need to get out and make him propose comprehensive civil rights legislation. So, I went to Washington knowing that President Obama wants to act on climate change and that he means to act on climate change, but I went to make him act on climate change.”

The climate crisis struggle, hope and opportunity doesn’t end with parents such as Bill, Susan and Terry or their generation. It continues with the younger generations represented by their children, Scout, Laura and Ellen along with other students and young adults at the Forward on Climate Rally. This new generation not only takes inspiration from its elders to act, but inspires their elders to act against climate change, “the defining issue of our time”.

Posted in Activism, Events, Green Living | Comments Off