If you’re searching for ways to motivate yourself to engage in climate action this year, you don’t need to look far. In just the first two weeks of January, Climate Generation staff attended two unique events inspired, organized and hosted by citizens who live and work right here in the the Twin Cities Metro. These events highlight the power of taking action on climate change within the community where you live and work, as well as the broad range of ways you can engage on this all-encompassing issue.
This year, Washington County resident Kelli Lewis made a commitment to celebrate her 23rd birthday in style, with a bash dedicated to educating her family and friends on the issue of climate change. Kelli reached out to local climate champions to help her achieve her birthday wish. When Minnesota State Climatologist Kenny Blumenfeld received a request to attend her party and answer questions on a climate change panel, he noted that, “It was such an unusual and gutsy request – I had to say yes!”
Before the 80 assembled guests and neighbors had a chance to sing “Happy Birthday,” Kelli shared her climate story and her growing understanding and passion for the issue. The party featured a screening of our Twin Cities PBS film, Minnesota Stories in a Changing Climate, along with a discussion facilitated by two members of our staff. The evening provided an opportunity for people to deepen their understanding of climate change, and learn about ways to get involved in local climate solutions. It also served as a fun outlet to shake off 2016 and ramp up for 2017. The night ended with a DJ pumping out beats and lively dancing, led by Kelli herself. Leaving the celebration, we asked ourselves, “what would the world be like if more of us had climate change birthday parties?”
The following week, we participated in a concert convened by local artist Andrew Broder, who has combined his love for music with activism. This month, Andrew is hosting a four-week residency called “Andrew Broder & People: A Residency for Music and Action” at the St. Paul Turf Club. Each week, the show features a new lineup of local musical acts, and proceeds from the door cover benefit a local nonprofit dedicated to social change. The show on January 11 was dedicated to supporting Climate Generation’s work on climate change solutions. Our staff who attended spoke on stage to a full house of concert-goers, sparking awareness of the issue among patrons who have since connected with us to learn more about the critical issue of climate change.
The efforts of Kelli and Andrew are not only commendable; they demonstrate the kind of courage and charisma that we so urgently need right now. In our own lives, it can be difficult to push past what can sometimes feel uncomfortable, to share the urgency of climate change with our social circles or even total strangers. But it is exactly this type of citizen action to address climate change that is critical in this moment – the on-the-ground, person-to-person influence that can create a shift in behaviors, inspire us to join with others in our communities, and make change.