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Climate Reality Leadership Training: Our biggest takeaways


Thanks to a Melton Opportunities grant, fellows Paula Herrera Barrientos, Esteban Torres Baier, and I were able to attend the Climate Reality Leadership Training in Cedar Rapids, Iowa earlier this month, where we had the chance to spend three days together with over 300 other individuals interested in and passionate about climate change, environmentalism, and sustainability. Throughout the training, we made some great connections with folks who will assist with and amplify our efforts.

The first day was spent with regional leaders in issues of interest to those in the middle of the United States, i.e. agriculture, water quality, land use, grass/prairie issues, solar energy, and wind energy. We learned some interesting facts about our host state: Iowa currently obtains 28% of its energy from wind, the highest percentage of any state in the nation. Former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore, founder and chairman of Climate Reality, then took the stage to inform and motivate the attendees with ways to act against climate change today.

On day two, we were given an in-depth review of Gore’s presentation, and discussed ways in which we can adapt and use the information in our own work.

On the last day of the training, we saw more of the effects of climate change on wildlife, and how leaders in the last century have acted on the realization of what industrialization was doing to our environment. We also learned how to present ourselves and our messages in order to be heard, and how to organize around an issue in order to effect change from leadership. The event was concluded with an introduction of the tools and individuals available to us in our work moving forward, as well another inspiring address from Gore.

After all was said and done, Paula, Estaban and I reviewed our biggest takeaways from the training. For Paula, there is a clear need to combine and exchange resources among the various climate actors; Esteban vowed to continue with storytelling and engaging in climate change awareness education; and I concluded that even simple actions on a local scale – along the lines of the Melton Foundation’s ClimatePUSH project – can be very useful when taken together.

Climate change affects us all, so we all have a duty to ensure our leaders make responsible policy regarding our future. I encourage you to consult those who have attended the trainings in South Africa, Brazil, India, or my homestate of Iowa, USA, for the information and tools to communicate the urgency to your friends, colleagues and leadership, and consider attending a future training — you will not regret it.