Truth to Power: Three days on the mountaintop with Al Gore and 1,000 other climate activists

ClimateRealityTraining

Last week, I had the pleasure of being personally trained by Al Gore and his dream team of climate renegades on the ins and outs of the climate crisis at Climate Reality Leadership training. Like everyone else there, I had made my own climate reality journey leading up to attending.

The best analogy I can give is this experience was a lot like going to camp. You are led by a veteran team of experts, surrounded by a group of gung-ho likeminded individuals and you have to re-enter the “real world” after the immersive experience.

Day 1 kicked off the event with a bang. It began with meeting our “cli-mates” at our table, which was shrewdly made up of others from our area. Next, we got to meet Ken Berlin, President and CEO of Climate Reality Project, followed by Al Gore, who would become a fixture on stage, both leading workshops and moderating panels. We were introduced to Bill Ritter, former governor of Colorado and a climate titan himself. Ritter fostered in critical change during his time as governor and now leads Center for the New Energy Economy.

Every break and meal was another opportunity to meet more trainees and mentors of whom I was entirely in awe. We were treated to Al Gore’s full two-hour slideshow, a constantly-updated version of An Inconvenient Truth, which kicked off what was originally known as the Climate Project. The group heard powerful stories directly from emergency management officials of the many wildfires Coloradans have battled over recent years and even on one occasion battling both a wildfire and flood simultaneously. Ominous signs indeed.

In one session, we were thrilled with a surprise visit from Leah Goldberg, Co-Author of “The Indivisible Guide.” (A great article on her appearance was published by The Colorado Statesman at https://www.coloradostatesman.com/indivisible-founder-tells-denver-crowd-movement-born-tidal-wave/) After Leah’s talk, the audience was pumped up to say the least. Capping off an amazing first day was a performance by Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and Isa Caress.

The first evening, I had the pleasure of joining a dinner that had been coordinated for kids who were joining the Climate Reality Leadership Corp, which included my daughter. It was great for the kids to compare stories from all parts of the U.S. and even Peru and bond. Among the highlights of the evening was the amazing interaction between my 5th grade daughter and Christian Ready, a former NASA and Hubble Space Telescope scientist. My daughter has been an aspiring leisure astronomer for years and having him “talk shop” with her was truly incredible.

(Photo credit: Al Gore via Twitter at https://twitter.com/algore/status/838197852178432000)

Day 2 continued the momentum of Day 1 with a spectacular two-hour Q&A panel moderated by Al Gore with world-renowned scientists. We were fostered through any threats of an afternoon lull by a very entertaining “Communicating Climate” session.  To close the day, we were mesmerized by personal accounts of the making of the upcoming An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power from Al Gore, Jon Shenk, Filmmaker and Diane Weyerman, Executive Vice President of Documentary Films for Participant Media. From the sneak peek of the movie that we got, I can say that I cannot wait for July 28 for the premiere. We were all thrilled to have the opportunity to see a snippet of what only Sundance Film Festival participants and production crew have seen until now.

The event finished strong with Day 3 when we learned first-hand about the journeys of towns and businesses in making the pledge to transition to 100 percent renewable energy. Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of Rocky Mountain Institute led a spectacular session entitled “The Clean Energy Economy” and entertained us with provocative slides with titles like “PIGS to SEALs.” We learned that SEALs are Shared Electric Autonomous Lightweight vehicles that will help with our clean future. He laid out encouraging details on the optimistic economic impact of clean energy. Al Gore also moderated a particularly inspiring panel in which several Climate Reality Leaders shared their stories as well as words of wisdom for new Climate Reality Leaders.

Over lunch, got to meet our partner, which is Climate Reality Project’s version of a workout buddy — someone to be a second set of eyes and to keep you accountable. My partner — a Sierra Club staffer — like most other trainees left me humbled to have been accepted to lead when over 1,600 more applied than there were spots available. I had the pleasure of joining two more absolutely incredible breakouts — one on the power of organizing and the other on water resource management by Brad Udall, Professor at Colorado State University.

After our “commencement,” I had time to reflect on the last three days on the plane ride home. As Ken Berlin said at the beginning of the training would be the case, I learned SO MUCH from my fellow trainees, who I know will continue to be a source of inspiration and new ideas for me. I learned how much I still have to learn — it is hard to convey the feeling of being humbled by story after story of bravery and perseverance shared by fellow trainees and leaders.

I can say unequivocally that Climate Reality Training was a life-changing experience for my daughter and myself. It was part Woodstock, part rally, part intense science lecture and was utterly uplifting because we have the power to change the world. Now, the onus is on me to get to work. Please share within your network.

There was lots of great coverage about the event including by The Denver Post at http://www.denverpost.com/2017/03/02/al-gore-climate-activis-denver-trump-environment/.

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