Volunteer Spotlight: Alan Anderson

minnesota climate

Alan canoeing near the US/Canadian border at Curtain Falls in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) in 2017.

Volunteer Spotlight: Alan Anderson

By Gwyneth Lonergan

Alan Anderson is no stranger to climate advocacy or the world of nonprofit work, making him a pro when it comes to his work with CCL. Care for the natural world was instilled in Alan at a young age and, at 16 years old, his Boy Scouts troop leader gifted him a membership to the Sierra Club of which he has been a member ever since. He continued to pursue his love for the environment in college and beyond. Alan graduated from Oregon State with a B.S. in Wildlife Science and Management and went on to have a long career with various nonprofit organizations. 

After his retirement in 2012, Alan and his wife of 47 years were introduced to CCL and in 2014, he helped found the Northfield, Minnesota chapter, of which they are both members. We caught up with Alan to learn more about his journey with CCL. Here’s our conversation:

How did you first get involved with CCL?

After retirement, my wife and I attended a Nobel Conference at Gustavus on the World’s Oceans. One speaker talked about the impact of climate change on the oceans, and challenged the audience to “go home and do something!”  I figured he was talking to me, so I got that NOAA scientist’s calling card, went home, developed a PPT presentation on Ocean Acidification and Climate Change, had him review it, and began giving talks to church groups and service clubs. With the help of many good people in Northfield, I chaired the planning of a Northfield Area Climate Summit, which was held at St. Olaf College in January of 2014.  We were hoping for 200 people, but 650 attended the all-day conference. 

One team that had a table in our “Action Fair” was Paul Thompson and Mindy Ahlers from CCL.  They planned an introductory CCL gathering for the next morning, which I and others attended.  The Northfield chapter was born that day! Janet Petri and Howard White, our current Northfield, Minnesota chapter co-chairs, are the dedicated leaders that keep us moving forward!

What did you like about CCL?

​​I immediately saw that a national carbon fee and dividend was the kind of big, all-inclusive solution we needed, and that CCL was leading the way toward it. I love that CCL works hard to be non-partisan and I love the “CCL Way”. I am still a member of several other environmental organizations, but CCL gets the majority of my time and treasure.

Tell me about your main efforts or projects within CCL.

​​I am a co-creator and coordinator of our chapter’s Project Grand Canyon (PGC) calling campaign, which we started in 2017, and which eventually became CCL’s Monthly Calling Campaign. Bruce Morlan and Bob & Suzannah Ciernia were the other creators of PGC. In the past, I taught classes on the PGC calling campaign at state and national CCL conferences, and classes on how to present to groups at our state conference. 

I am a public speaker, discussing climate science/impacts/solutions, featuring CCL and our solution. I have given 145 talks to date over six years with more scheduled! I am a co-host of a monthly, local radio show – The KYMN Climate Show – with fellow CCLer, Bruce Morlan. Bruce is the former national chair for the CCL Conservative Caucus. We’ve done this for almost four years and will end after doing 48 episodes this October.

A Rotarian and I — along with Bruce —  started a Rotary Climate Action Team (RCAT) in our club in Fall 2017. We now have 18 club members on the team! We have educated our own club, presented to other clubs, and started a Rotary Climate Action Team Network, with about 120 clubs across the country in the network. CCLer John Mathers of the San Francisco Rotary Club has built an RCAT Network website and is the catalyst for the Network’s growth. In our talks to clubs, we feature a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend as a key solution, and encourage people to join CCL.

Lastly, I am a sustaining donor to both CCL and CCE. I see these as two of the best uses of my charitable giving.

What keeps you motivated to do this work?

My motivation to keep working on climate issues, is driven by my five little grandchildren, and  everyone’s grandchildren.  We know what we are doing to the planet and it is not good. We must not look away from climate change.  We must change course and be role models of  responsible action.

I also believe the synergy of working with like-minded people is the strength of our CCL efforts.  The task is large, daunting and sometimes overwhelming.  My CCL friends also keep me going! The CCLers I’ve mentioned are all climate “heroes”!

Got a suggestion for our Volunteer Spotlight series? Send the name, chapter, and some brief info about the volunteer to Flannery Winchester at flannery @ citizensclimatelobby.org.

Gwyneth Lonergan is a communications intern for CCL and a recent graduate of Wake Forest University with a BA in Politics & International Affairs and Theatre.