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Driving change: Bill Barron’s journey to spark climate conversations across the Mountain West

Driving change: Bill Barron’s journey to spark climate conversations across the Mountain West

By Nabila Wilson

Picture this: 16 days, 3800 miles, and three states ablaze with the colors of Colorado, New Mexico, and Montana. Bill Barron, the Mountain West Regional Director for CCL, embarked on a road trip through some of America’s most scenic landscapes. But this wasn’t just a leisurely drive; it was a mission to spark conversations about climate solutions. 

Colorado: Grand Junction, Montrose and Durango. 

In Grand Junction, Barron sat down with the editorial board of the Grand Junction Sentinel. With previous endorsements of carbon pricing under their belt, the board eagerly embraced CCL’s suggestions, demonstrating the power of dialogue in driving advocacy.

But Bill didn’t stop there. He ignited the Grand Junction chapter, breathing new life into their efforts. Susan Hess, a chapter member, described it as “a great shot in the arm,” fostering community bonding and enthusiasm for the cause.

Aaron Hoffman said, “Bill’s visit helped activate our chapter. We planned, organized, dined, attended Bill’s presentations, and socialized more together as a result of his coming to town. It was a good bit of work to organize, but it was definitely worth it for the extra community and chapter engagement.” 

In addition, he also “made such an impression on our local library staff that he was immediately asked to come back soon for another presentation,” said Susan. 

In Durango, Bill met with the president of the local chapter League of Women Voters (League of Women Voters of La Plata) and with the executive director of Great Old Broads for Wilderness. 

“We were able to find common ground with both organizations and hopefully move the needle for support of carbon fee and dividend,” said Durango chapter leader Gail Harris. “As a result, we had several new attendees at our local CCL chapter meeting and a couple of new members!”

After the talk, they had a potluck in honor of Bill. 

“It was inspiring and energizing,” said Gail. “It reminded us that we are all working together on a common goal and putting one foot in front of the other is the way to achieve meaningful results.” 

After a busy day, Bill visited Susan Atkinson and John Purser, longtime CCL volunteers who hosted him for the night.

New Mexico: ABQ, Santa Fe, and Los Alamos

As Barron drive into New Mexico, the landscape changed, but the mission remained steadfast. In Albuquerque, he met Martha Martinez del Rio, a dedicated volunteer who drove four hours from Silver City to lend a hand, host a CCL social, and table with Bill at the University of New Mexico for an entire day.

Later, he spoke to a UNM classroom, discussing strategies for connecting with conservative voters and advocating for durable solutions. The day concluded with meaningful conversations and connections with Reggie and Claire, longtime CCL members, who hosted Bill.

Leaving Albuquerque, Bill made his way to Santa Fe, reflecting on Reggie’s poignant words about our responsibility to protect and care for the earth. Despite battling food poisoning and technical glitches, he pressed on, meeting with individuals in Santa Fe and Los Alamos, including the Los Alamos High School Eco Club. 

“It was really inspiring to see so many young people listening and engaging,” said Bill. 

Montana: Bozeman, Billings, Missoula, Kalispell, Whitefish

In Montana, Bill’s tour continued with Laurel Eastman joining him for the six-day Montana “Make It FUN” tour. From lobby meetings to social gatherings and even skiing with Olympian Hillary Lindh, the tour showcased the importance of combining advocacy with enjoyment. 

“Accepting that we will need to advocate for climate solutions over the long haul,” said Bill, “personally I try to look at advocacy as a life practice and try to stress the importance of having fun along the way. Laurel took this idea coupled with her enthusiasm, strength in connecting with people, and relationship-building skills, and enhanced the ability to connect with people along the way and have fun doing it.” 

Bill’s outreach efforts and every conversation he had along the way, are making a difference. As April dawns, CCL echoes Bill’s call to action by aiming to hold 25,000 conversations about climate change around the country. Let’s continue the conversation, spark connections, and head toward a greener future.