Sunday, September 5, 2010

An observant son, a winter biking workshop, and community action with the campaign in the Midway

by Carrie Pomeroy
On Saturday, October 9, 12:30-4 pm, there's going to be a winter biking workshop and community used bike drive at the Hamline Midway Library, co-sponsored by community partners HMEG, the Hamline Midway Library Association, Sibley Bike Depot, and St. Paul Smart Trips. There will be workshops on winter bike commuting and how to fix a flat tire (I'm especially looking forward to that one!), as well as children's activities and a bike drive to collect used bikes for Sibley Bike Depot's many great community programs. This event is one of 1200+ locally organized climate work days in 110+ countries, inspired by the international group, and aimed at lowering carbon emission through local community actions. You can find more information on the event on the website or on Facebook.

I wanted to tell you a little bit about what motivated me to reach out to all these great community partners and basically say, "Hey kids, let's put on a show!" I've long been aware of climate change and the need to live simply and conserve energy, but this summer, the need to make some big changes really hit home for me. The images from the Gulf oil spill profoundly troubled me, as they did so many others. I did some pretty sobering reading, including Thomas J. Friedman's "Hot, Flat, and Crowded" and Sharon Astyk's "Depletion and Abundance" and "A Nation of Farmers." One day, my son and I were talking about how the world would probably look very different when he was my age. He nodded and said, "Things are either going to be a lot better or a lot worse."

I decided I really needed to start living, as Sharon Astyk puts it, as if I actually do love my children--in other words, to take responsibility for how my actions affect the world our children live in and will inherit. One of the baby steps I took this summer was to get involved with, a worldwide movement led by author and activist Bill McKibben. 350 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere is the level many scientists believe is the level we need to be at in order to maintain a livable planet and stave off some of the worst impacts of climate change. We're now at 392 parts per million and rising. This year, 350's theme is "Get to Work," and as part of that theme, they're sponsoring thousands of climate work days all over the world. People are planting trees, installing solar panels, caulking cracks in buildings, picking up trash. One trio I've gotten to know is biking across the country from Portland, OR to Washington, DC, then taking a train and a boat to Mexico for the next big climate change conference in Cancun. All along the way, they'll be filming local climate change solutions around the country. You can find out more about them at

Inspired by the 350 Solutions Revolution cross-country journey, my own love of biking, and the love of biking I see in our neighborhood, I decided a winter biking event would be a fun way to take action here in the Midway. Planning this event, I've gotten to know folks in HMEG and been inspired by all the good, pro-active work they're already doing to lower carbon emissions and point our neighborhood toward a more sustainable future. From the Greenspirit Community Garden to this summer's Tree Team effort to document residential ash trees and offer trees to neighbors in danger of losing trees to emerald ash borers, from the Sunday barter market to the Bikes 'n' Bugs garden tour, they are building community and solutions in exactly the way our world so desperately needs.

As Bill McKibben has put it, cheap energy has given us independence and convenience, but it's also made us less reliant on our neighbors--and there's been a spiritual and emotional price for that, as well as an ecological one. Our future is undoubtedly challenging, but it may also point us back to a happier, more connected way of life.

We could use lots of help with the biking event on October 9, so if you'd like to volunteer, please let me know by emailing carriepomeroy (at) . Or just attend and get inspired to gear up for safe, fun winter biking!

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