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Climate Reality Leadership training

Last weekend, I attended the Climate Reality Leadership training in New York City. The Climate Reality Project is an international grassroots organization started by former Vice President Al Gore that strives to spread education on climate change, and empower individuals to fight for the solutions.

The training includes a presentation of Mr. Gore's presentation made famous in the film An Inconvenient Truth, as well as sessions on various topics including climate justice, how to organize a campaign, and opportunities to connect with others in the community.

Two major takeaways I will keep are: climate action is the antidote for climate anxiety; and a working democracy is imperative for climate action.

In addition to Mr. Gore, we heard presentations from scientists, economists, communications experts, student activists, indigenous leaders and more.

The experts each pointed out the challenges and the effects of climate change in relationship to their fields, but they were all effusive about the power of action when individuals come together for a common cause.

The various activists and leaders had similar stories - they were everyday employees, parents or students who did not think they could make a change - until they did. And the result was sustained protests or canceling big fossil fuel burning projects in their communities in favor of clean energy solutions. The climate crisis is here, and it is difficult, so the anxiety is real. But as humans, our actions can both fight against anxiety, and make positive change.

Mr. Gore's presentation showed images and videos of recent climate events that disproportionately impacted those in the Global South, low-income communities, and communities of color and indigenous communities. Climate Justice is one tenet of the Climate Reality Project. They stressed again and again that solutions that do not address the adverse impact of frontline communities is not a just solution. Community action, working together, and political will are the pathways toward effective, equitable and lasting change. A strong democracy is required for all of this to happen.

We were encouraged to engage with our communities and encourage everyone to vote. While we may not hold the same political views, statistically everyone wants clean air, soil, and water, and they want their children to be healthy. Meeting people where they are, and building coalition around our shared values is the way to bridge differences and act collectively.

In keeping with the theme, the event made efforts to mitigate waste. Attendees were encouraged to bring a water bottle, and refilling stations were available with glass cups or mugs for water and coffee.

Compost and recycling collection was available, the food was vegan and was served on reusable plates, coffee service included bowls of sugar, honey, etc instead of packets. They collected our badges for recycling.

In keeping with equity and accessibility, language translation was available via headphones or your own phone. Sign language interpretation was available for all sessions. There was a quiet room for meditation, reflection, prayer, and scholarships were provided for those who could not afford to attend.

I also learned about the Javits Center rooftop habitat at this event. Added in 2020, the roof includes a green roof which is home to many species of birds, bats, and insects. There is a farm operated by Brooklyn Grange, and 5 beehives that supply food and honey to events at the Javits Center. The green roof captures nearly 75% of the stormwater that hits it, diverting runoff from entering the sewers. And the farm has a water collection system to reuse rain water and irrigate the farm, reducing the need for potable water by 50%.

If you are interested in fighting climate change, but are not sure about joining the Climate Reality Project, one quick action you can take is to download the Climate Reality Now app.

It has hundreds of actions you can take from your phone and with each action you earn points toward planting a tree.

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