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October 31st, 2021
By Piper Molins
Graphic by Ava Horton
The Daniel Boone Regional Library hosted the first of four free Climate Education and Advocacy workshops, all of which are held over Zoom at 7 p.m. every Wednesday in October and is accessible by going on the Daniel Boone Regional Library’s website. The seminars are sponsored by Mid-Missouri Peaceworks. Mark Haim, who advertised the event, is the director of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks and owns the local store The Peace Nook.
“Peaceworks is a grassroots, membership-based non-profit organization,” Haim said, “We work on a constellation of issues that include sustainability, climate, peace and justice concerns.”
The Peace Nook is a well-loved community co-op and bookstore located between Central Bank and Rally House clothing store in downtown Columbia. The door to the shop is small and innocuous — so much that you’d easily miss it walking too quickly down Broadway. It is here the climate advocacy class was advertised with fliers throughout September.
The library offers courses on topics ranging from mental health and the power of positive parenting to sustainability and climate change. The class advertised by The Peace Nook is titled “Climate Education and Advocacy.”
Lauren Williams, the community services and outreach manager of the library, spoke at the event. Williams opened the seminar by introducing herself and the mission of the library.
“Here at the library, we care about literacy,” Williams said. “Not just reading literacy but health and civic literacy as well.”
Williams then introduced the main speaker, Erica Ascani, community engagement coordinator and sustainability educator for Mid-Missouri Peaceworks. Ascani said the first two classes of the month would be a general overview of the science behind global warming, which she said might be a lot of “doom and gloom.”
“In the later classes, though, we’ll get more into solutions and sustainability and what we can do about it,” Ascani said.
Ascani then began her scientific overview of climate change. She used a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate some of the science behind global warming. The presentation included several examples of extreme weather caused by climate change and figures about emissions.
“The energy trapped by man-made global warming is now equivalent to exploding 400,000 atomic bombs every day, 365 days a year, every year,” said Ascani. “When I heard this fact I was shocked.”
One of the seminar’s participants, Lacey Peterson, a mother of two boys, cited them as her main reason for wanting to be educated on climate advocacy.
“I want them to grow up happy and healthy and have a future to look forward to.”
Another attendee, Rachel Heatwole, said her reason for coming to the seminar was different. As a college student, Heatwole studied the environment and was interested in science. In college she found there were many resources to get free education on climate change, her role in it and what she could personally do to reduce its effects. As a graduate, however, opportunities like those offered to her in college have been harder to find. Attending the seminar was one way to reclaim that now-lost education.
“I’m also a teacher, and I teach little kids about science and nature,” said Heatwole, “It’s hard to talk to kids about nature without mentioning sustainability. This class can help me with that.”
According to Haim it’s important to be involved in classes like this one, especially as a student. As the younger generation and stewards of our own future, it is now our time to reverse the damage caused by his own generation.
“My generation has failed yours,” Haim said. “The reality is that we have failed to take the steps necessary to create a safe and secure future for our progeny, for our kids and our grandkids. Knowledge is power. The more you know, the more capable you are of communicating about what’s going on.”
Haim said he remained hopeful, however, as he ended his statements and expressed what he would like students to gain from the classes and events offered by the Peace Nook and organizations like Mid-Missouri Peaceworks.
“The most important takeaway is an old saying: ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’” Haim said. “We can all make individual choices that make a difference. And then in addition to that, become an advocate. Make your voice heard. Communicate with your friends and family, your co-workers, your fellow students, your co-parishioners at your house of worship … to bring climate concerns to the fore.”
The Peace Nook, Mid-Missouri Peaceworks and Daniel Boone Regional Library host events like these throughout the year, and many of them are free and accessible through their websites or Facebook pages.
Edited by Namratha Prasad | [email protected]
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