How this year’s Climate Action Week plans to inspire community action through connection
From April 17 to 26, Eagle County municipalities, organizations and businesses are hosting 24 climate action events
After its inaugural success in 2022, Eagle County community municipalities and organizations are coming together for the second annual Climate Action Week, which is organized by Walking Mountains Science Center and the Eagle County Climate Action Collaborative.
From April 17 to 26, community members will be invited to participate in a variety of events all with the goal of “encouraging awareness and action steps for community-based solutions” around climate action, said Elizabeth Baer, a sustainability fellow at Walking Mountains and the 2023 Climate Action Week coordinator.
Community and climate action
The first Eagle County Climate Action Week in 2022 was comprised of 15 events, created in partnership with many community partners, and had just under 300 participants. Its broader success, however, was that it enabled community members to come together and forge relationships around a critical topic.
“A lot of research shows that community-based solutions come out to be the most equitable and successfully sustainable long-term solutions,” Baer said. “What we want to do here is have all different types of community members find where their place is in the climate movement and build connections that create lasting, sustainable change. We at Walking Mountains can come up with some solutions and try to impose them on people, but that’s not going to work and that’s not going to be an equitable and good long-term solution.”
Building upon last year’s success, this year’s Climate Action Week will be “bigger than ever” with 24 community events over 10 days, Baer said.
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These events range from the annual ECO Transit fare-free day (April 21) and reoccurring events such as a Drinking and Tinkering workshop (April 20) and a Community Recycling Tour (April 26) to a green building tour at the ONE Riverfront Property in Avon (April 25), an open house gardening event at Colorado Mountain College (April 23), an Earth Day Celebration and more.
For Baer, she’s most excited about the Yoga for climate resilience event on April 22.
“We’re going to be doing that, having a good conversation about how to cope with those climate anxieties because I think that’s really a big barrier for a lot of people because it is really stressful to think about,” Baer said. “I know I experience that every day and I think that’ll be a good time to come together and start those conversations and learn some really good tools to ground yourself and come back to purpose and know that you don’t have to do everything.”
As part of its mission to build collaboration around climate change, the 2023 Climate Action Week is also focusing on equity and inclusion. This year, over half of the events will provide a Spanish translator — including the inaugural Spanish-first sustainable Film Series sponsored by Holy Cross Energy on April 26 — and it is engaging directly with the local high schools to engage community members of all ages.
“For community solutions to work they have to include everyone and the environmental movement has not been super inclusive and that’s something that we’re really working on as an organization and within the Climate Action Collaborative,” Baer said.
“Our best option for actual climate change is to improve social equity and have as many people at the table as possible. If the goal is to represent what we want the climate movement to be and get as many people involved as possible, we need to change our structures so that it fits for more people.”
“We are really hoping to have not just the educational component but have very clear action steps with every event of what people can do to take that knowledge out into the community,” Baer said.
One example, she added, is the week’s first event: a climate coaching workshop hosted by Avon’s sustainability coordinator, Charlotte Lin, on April 17.
“Most people feel very disempowered when it comes to climate action; they assume they are not experts or do not have the resources and therefore do not have the answers or can’t do something,” Lin said, adding that this can lead to a lack of implementation and therefore, results, and also a negative feedback loop around that disempowerment.
“This Changemaker Coaching workshop flips this script around, where instead of telling you what to do, you’re being encouraged to explore fearlessly, boldly, and creatively the solutions to the problems you have,” she added.
During the workshop, participants will go through seven coaching tools Lin has developed to not only set climate goals and build leadership capacity but empower action.
“The coaching is rooted in a growth mindset that assumes people are already resourceful and brilliant within themselves, that they have the capacity to find the answers and do the actions that they want to do to achieve their goals, in a way that works for them,” Lin said. “The actions that come out of these coaching conversations are so authentic, motivated, and personally relevant.”
With all the events during this year’s Climate Action Week, the goal is to incite action throughout the rest of the year. Not only are many of the events part of an ongoing series, but also they are meant to give locals an entry point to looking at ways to pursue climate action in their own lives.
This includes, Baer said, student-run events at some of the high schools to get more involvement in the schools’ Green Teams and empower students to know they can make a strong difference. It also includes the ECO Transit fare-free day, which has the goal of introducing bus transit to new audiences in the hopes that they incorporate it into their general routine.
“Everything we’re doing has a strong follow-up and some calls to action of how people can take that back into their lives, which is obviously important because awareness doesn’t do a lot without the action component,” Baer said.
To learn more about Climate Action Week or register for some of the events, visit WalkingMountains.org/ClimateAction.