Inspiring community engagement on climate change

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Glacier Climate Action is planning its first annual fundraiser, Save our Glaciers Gala, on Friday, Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish. The all-ages family dance party will focus on raising awareness about what citizens can do every day to reduce climate impacts and raising money for important local initiatives that address climate change, as well as encouraging everyone to ask our government representatives to prioritize climate change solutions in their legislative agendas.

Glacier Climate Action is a group of activist volunteers dedicated to engaging and educating the community around climate and sustainability issues, as well as encouraging political action. It is sometimes confused with Climate Smart Glacier Country, which is a non-advocacy group that is building community partnerships to develop local solutions to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate while also educating the public. To avoid future confusion and to highlight its association with the international group 350.Org, GCA will soon be changing its name to 350 Glacier.

The Save our Glaciers Gala began as an idea about inspiring, engaging and rallying the community around an issue that is vital to our way of life. Our recreation, agriculture, forests and wildlife are all dependent upon a stable climate.

We recognize that the issue often feels so big and that there is so much denial and resistance to the idea of climate change that it often brings up feelings of hopelessness and despair. We therefore wanted this gala to be a celebration of hope and of what we can accomplish if we put our voices together and take action to reduce the polluting emissions that are warming the planet.

This year, proceeds from the “Save our Glaciers Gala” will benefit Whitefish Schools Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship. CSE is the perfect beneficiary due to the impactful role it will have in educating our K-12 students through its innovative educational center.

The center will offer applied learning experiences in energy, agriculture, forestry, natural resources and entrepreneurship. Working directly with community partners, students will gain real life experience with energy consumption, energy modeling and technologies, green building practices, and strategies for reducing the community’s carbon footprint. Additionally, CSE will offer workshops open to all members of our community.

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, Glacier National Park may soon be without glaciers. However, there are glaciers all over the globe that need saving to protect vital water supplies, to protect our coastlines from rising sea levels and to protect our climate. We hope that this will be the first of many galas to celebrate the local initiatives that are moving us toward a sustainable future and hope you will join us!

For more information about Glacier Climate Action visit the website at www.glacierclimateaction.org.

Melissa Hartman is the chairman of Glacier Climate Action.

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