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Coast to coast for climate change

Mindy Ahlers poses Sept. 12, 2016, at the top of Rogers Pass between Missoula and Great Falls, Mont. (photo by Ryan Hall)1 / 2
Mindy Ahler and Ryan Hall stop for a photo Sept. 5, 2016, at Riverfront Park in Kamiah, Idaho, on a 4,000-mile bike ride to promote awareness and inspire action to address climate change. (photo courtesy Mindy Ahler)2 / 2

Mindy Ahler and Ryan Hall took off on their bicycles Aug. 27, 2016, from Seaside, Ore., a coastal city abbuting the Pacific Ocean. Ahead of them was an 11-week, 4,000-plus mile ride across the country to spark a conversation about climate change.

Ahler and her partner, Paul Thompson, who joined her for 850 miles of the trek, will share their experiences 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 11, at First Lutheran Church, 615 W. Fifth St.

"Our goal was to motivate people to action on climate change and spread more awareness of climate change," Ahler said about the ride, called "LowCarbon Crossings."

She said a common theme the riders discovered on their way to Washington, D.C. was people were interested in climate change but felt no one else in the community shared their concern.

"Then we'd meet someone five minutes later who'd say the same thing," Ahler said. "The conversation just hadn't been opened enough up to that point — they didn't even realize that their neighbors are just as concerned as they are."

There also were those who said they are not concerned about climate change, Ahler added, though they agreed about the importance of taking care of the environment and leaving a better world for future generations.

"It's like, OK, if the words 'climate change' don't resonate for you, let's look at common values, and we would find them," she said.

Ahler is the co-director of Cool Planet, a climate change outreach organization in her hometown of Edina, Minn., and a regional coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby, a nonprofit advocating for policy to address climate change. LowCarbon Crossings raised funds for both groups.

Anne Wildenborg with the Red Wing chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby drove a support vehicle for the ride across rural Iowa. She noted how locals would welcome the riders with food and a place to stay, as well as gather to listen to their message.

"Their presentation opened a space for people to voice their concerns and listen to others share possible solutions," Wildenborg said, adding the hope for the Feb. 11 presentation is to likewise "open doors to more of these conversations in our Red Wing area."

The event will include a discussion of actions that can be taken to address climate change. Attendees also are invited to stay for a noon international conference call of Citizens' Climate Lobby.

For more information on LowCarbon Crossings including a ride blog, visit lowcarboncrossings.wordpress.com.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

(651) 301-7875
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