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Blog / Changemaker Story: How One Custom Ecochallenge Brings People Together in North Central Washington

Changemaker Story: How One Custom Ecochallenge Brings People Together in North Central Washington


While our annual October Ecochallenge has ended, our ongoing customized Ecochallenges continue. In November, University of Richmond and Colliers International are off and running with their own customized Ecochallenge events, and today we’re excited to share the work of Climate Conversations North Central Washington, whose mission is to increase public dialogue and awareness of climate change through education, advocacy and activism at the local, state and federal level.

This past spring Climate Conversations North Central Washington (CCNCW) engaged over 740 people in a customized, regional Ecochallenge focusing on maximizing climate chage impact. We had the chance to connect with Carolyn Griffin-Bugert, who headed up the NCW Ecochallenge efforts, and who took some time to connect with us about her work.

Based in Wenatchee, WA, the group started when 90 concerned community members gathered in order to take action to address climate change. The group was inspired to form three years ago after hearing Bill McKibben speak about the historic climate marches taking place around the world. Before engaging in NWEI’s Ecochallenge, they focused on public education by hosting guest speakers, writing letters to the editor and publishing articles in the local press. They began to research ways to engage their community in taking action, and thus began the partnership with NWEI in bringing a customized Ecochallenge to North Central Washington. Bugert shared that one of the greatest take-aways from the event was realizing how engaged people were in the issues. “We found that people care. We just needed an avenue to talk about climate change,” she shared.

The event was community led and community focused (for local residents of Chelan and Douglas counties), and included community-specific resources. Community sponsors included Link Transit, The Community Foundation and the Public Utility. During the event, 99 teams came together to focus on taking hundreds of actions such as practicing fuel-efficient driving, switching to LED light bulbs, advocating for greener vehicles and replacing manual thermostats. Ecochallengers also had the opportunity to choose an action around contributing to building a vision for the local public transportation future.

Teams represented incuded the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society, Orchard and Pioneer Middle Schools, Columbia Valley Community Health Clinic, faith communities, elementary schools, the local Land Trust, Habitat for Humanity, Link Transit (the local public transit provider), and the Wenatchee Public Library. Over the course of their two-week challenge, they saved over 40,000 gallons of water, travelled over 960 miles by carpool and over 2,000 miles by bus, volunteered over 1,500 hours in their community, and changed nearly 1,000 lightbulbs to be more energy efficient. To check out the full impact, click here.

Post Ecochallenge, CCNCW aims to host a town hall meeting around climate change to continue engaging the community in proactively working towards local solutions and adaptations. Bugert shared that their regional Ecochallenge was a perfect “activity to pull in people who are not yet thinking about climate change or being environmentally responsible.” She appreciated how the event offered prizes and was rooted in the spirit of fun. “It was a great opportunity to examine and be aware of our behaviors,” she shared. “There is definitely power in coming together.”

To learn more about how customized Ecochallenges can work in your community or organization, click here.To learn more about Climate Conversations North Central Washington’s Custom Ecochallenge, click here.

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