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First Climatefest hits home

An emotional call to action at the first-ever October Climatefest was given by senior Julianna Fisher on Sunday, Oct. 18 in Western’s Performing Arts Center. She apologized to the future generation for what the current generation has done to the environment in recent years, but she said that there is still time help fix the current problems. Climatefest aimed to highlight local to global climate action and to inspire students, staff and community members to action against climate change.

The Lummi Blackhawk singers perform at Climatefest on Sunday, Oct. 18 at the Performing Arts Center. // Photo by Christina Becker
Jill MacIntyre Witt is a master’s student at Huxley College of the Environment and also spoke at the event. “We’re celebrating what we’ve done so people can see that climate action is already happening, which helps people to be engaged,” MacIntyre Witt said. The goal of the event was to generate ideas that will be turned into actions, MacIntyre Witt said. Throughout the event, audience members were given multiple opportunities to participate through interactive audience activities and conversations. Beginning with the question “Why are you here,” the conversations built on the one before it. By the end, audience members were able to fill out a Pledge Card and indicate what actions they would take to help with the climate movement. The daylong event shared music, videos and emotional stories from local and international activists. The chosen speakers were based on climate actions that have already been taken, MacIntyre Witt said. Speakers included ambassadors from Plant for the Planet, a tree-planting organization, student activists, Western staff, community members and video messages from Al Gore and Bill McKibben.
Aji and Adonis Piper sing about climate issues at Climatefest on Sunday, Oct. 18 at the Performing Arts Center. // Photo by Christina Becker
The chosen speakers discussed the science behind climate change as well as the actions that they have taken to help reduce their footprint, spread awareness and create change. Local speakers, such as Western student Chiara D’Angelo, discussed their passion for the environment around them and the actions they have taken to protect it. In May, D’Angelo spent three days chained to Shell’s Arctic Challenger in protest of Arctic drilling. Jacob Lebel, a student at Umpqua Community College, spoke about his experience as one of of 21 students who sued the Obama Administration for lack for action on climate change, claiming it prevented children from achieving life, liberty and property. “I was really thrilled and happy to see all the young people participating,” Lebel said. “The future is our world.” MacIntyre Witt agrees and said that the goal behind Climatefest is to inspire students to get involved. “I would hope that every Western student realizes that there is a climate crisis and that everybody has gifts, strengths, talents and skills to get involved in helping to solve the climate crisis,” MacIntyre Witt said.
Barbara Sumerwell signs a pledge in defense of the Treaty of Point Elliot at Climatefest on Sunday, Oct. 18 at the Performing Arts Center. // Photo by Christina Becker

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