The other green circle

Climate Reality Leader PinToday, a new class of climate leaders will complete their training in Denver, Colo., and earn their green circle pins from The Climate Reality Leadership Corps. While I’m not there, I have been feeling the spirit of that training, reading all the posts on social media, and reflecting on the training I attended in Chicago in August of 2013. It’s always heartening to hear so many people so excited to learn more about climate change and how they have the power, the network and the resources to make a difference on our planet.

The truly, personally amazing thing is the impact Climate Reality training had on my own week, as it seems to just about every week these days. I participated in a meeting with a group of local climate activists and planned a social media training geared toward environmental communication, laid the groundwork for a celebration of the one-year anniversary of our defeat of plans to build the world’s largest methanol refinery in our city, and went over strategies to stop the latest massive fossil fuel project in our port. Later I called up a webinar recording on the Climate Reality hub, revised a four-page handout for our local sustainability expo, got tickets to a Naomi Klein lecture, and created a social media graphic to urge citizens to attend a legislative town hall and get answers to the environmental issues plaguing our community. Friday I connected with a fellow Climate Reality leader via Skype to talk about how to bring more attention to that latest massive fossil fuel project.

This was not the week I would have had without that Climate Reality training. That experience is more than just three days spent in a hotel ballroom. While you’re there there’s a lot to learn about climate change, communication, legislation, and amazing projects happening all over the world. And that momentum doesn’t stop when you head home armed with a slide deck, a certificate, and a green circle pin.

Today I am especially thankful for the network that is The Climate Reality Leadership Corps. Remember Friday’s Skype call? That climate leader is someone I’ve never met. She lives in Australia. She responded instantly and enthusiastically to a Facebook message I sent her the day before. Fast forward a little over 24 hours, and she’s calling me from the future because it’s tomorrow where she is. She shared nearly an hour of her time with me, listening to what we’re working to accomplish in my city of Tacoma, Wash., and sharing her thoughts and expertise. She even connected me with someone from her network who is only about 30 miles from me.

And that’s not the first time fellow climate leaders have been so helpful and generous with their time. There’s the leader from Wisconsin who joined me in our first slide show practices after our training in 2013. (We even shared a projector when I lived there.) There’s the leader from Massachusetts who let me know that Kathy Mattea was giving her climate talk in New England when I lived there. Now, there’s the leader a few cities away who got me connected with the Washington state climate leaders when I moved to Tacoma. There’s the leader five minutes away who supports our community environmental group in spirit, actions and donations. There’s the leader on the East Coast who plans to collaborate on this blog. There’s the leader in Canada who offered to feature our community’s fossil fuel battle on his blog and radio show. And there’s the fabulous group of Washington state climate leaders who take part in monthly conference calls and an annual retreat at Mount Rainier.

This network is like no other. Each time I’ve sent a message to a fellow leader they’ve spent time understanding my question and either addressed it personally or connected me with someone in the know. Early this year, for example, I messaged our state mentor simply to ask what to see and do while in her town for a few days. I’d never met her in person. A few messages later we were scheduling lunch. And lunch couldn’t have been better, sharing details about our projects and actions. She took me on a tour and we spent some time looking up information on the Climate Reality hub. The most amazing and helpful part of the visit was that she connected me on the spot with someone who could answer legal questions about the fossil fuel battle going on in my city. Thanks to her, the next morning I was giving a detailed run-down on the project and learning about possible strategies and next steps.

This is not the life I would be living had I not taken the leap and attended that training in Chicago. In many ways I am not the same person I was before that training. In July of 2013 I cared about climate change. I was alarmed by the science and worried about the future of our planet. In August of 2013 I had the tools and a network to do something about climate change. And since then I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone more than I ever thought possible.

So, congratulations to the new class of climate leaders. You have all received a tremendous gift. I’ll see you on the hub, on social media, and on the ground. I’ll be wearing my green circle pin. Stop and say hello.