Mid Atlantic Regional Conference a bonding experience for CCL chapters
By Jon Clark
Has anyone seen Mark Reynolds’ socks? Because according to Mark, they were “knocked off” after experiencing the Mid Atlantic Regional Conference, held at Arcadia University near Philadelphia, PA on March 4th-6th. Three CCL chapters, Philadelphia, Bucks-Montgomery and Chester County, joined forces to put on a spectacular conference which was held at historic Grey Towers Castle on campus.
Attendees heard keynote addresses from climate scientists Dr. James Hansen, NOAA’s Dr. Kristen Findell, and U.S. Congressman and Gibson Resolution co-sponsor Rep. Patrick Meehan. Rep. Meehan’s speech was a high point for many in the packed room with standing room only. CCL volunteer Jay Butera gave the congressman an introduction normally reserved for rock stars, and in true CCL fashion that’s how he was treated by the audience, who welcomed him with a long and loud standing ovation.
On Saturday morning, about 45 volunteers new to CCL received the Climate Advocate Training from CCL Executive Director Mark Reynolds. Later in the day, Mark gave an Advanced Communications Training called “Move Over Mis-conception,” which encouraged listeners to resist the urge to respond to others using only our laser talks, but rather to dig deeper, asking questions to find common ground with others.
Breakout sessions on Saturday included seminars on pricing carbon, meeting with editorial boards, engaging young people, building an inclusive climate movement, getting endorsements, and health impacts of carbon pollution. Saturday evening was reserved for volunteers to socialize and have fun. Susquehanna Valley group leader Peterson Toscano gave a hilarious performance of “Confessions of a Climate Change Action Figure,” and afterwards attendees danced to the Ken Ulansey Ensemble.
Sunday morning, Dr. Findell showed how climate models work, and Sheila Peltz Weinberg led a powerful exercise entitled “The Seventh Generation – Time Travel,” where participants paired off and spoke to their partners as if they were our descendants, seven generations in the future. That particular session moved many in the room, allowing us to have empathy not only for future generations, but for ourselves as well.
Attending a regional conference is a great way for volunteers, who can’t make the annual pilgrimage to Washington, DC, to have an energizing and uplifting CCL experience.
“It’s important for us to all get together and get good information and stimulation to go home and do big things,” said Harrisburg volunteer Michael Mark. He said he gained value from hearing Jay Butera recount the trials and tribulations he and other volunteers endured to get Florida Republican Rep. David Jolly to sign onto the Gibson Resolution. He also noted he had a lot of fun watching storytellers Bill (a group leader) and Dave Mettler demonstrate climate change and Carbon Fee and Dividend using comedy, props, and sound effects.
Attending a CCL conference is very much a relationship-building event among volunteers, but the organizers also showed the process of planning a conference is just as much a team-building exercise.
“We had just a couple of months to organize this event and the three chapters really pulled together to make it happen,” said Philadelphia group leader Peter Handler. “We had many long hours of meetings and a short time to put it together and it really made our chapters a lot closer to each other.” It was a team effort, from the volunteers who donated their time and talent onstage, collecting registrations, preparing meals, and making sure visitors knew where to go next. “It was really a bonding that made CCL stronger in our region.”
Jon Clark is the co-regional coordinator for CCL’s Mid Atlantic region.