On October 24th, people in nearly 200 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet's history; the International Day of Climate Action. At over 5,200 events around the world, people gathered to demand strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis.
One such event occurred right here in little ‘ol Buena Vista with the help of Colorado Kayak Supply, its owners, staff and local community members. While every one of the 5,200 events that occurred that day was slightly different, there was one common denominator; the organizers of each event needed to capture a photo of their event highlighting the number 350. The people at 350.org would then collect all the pictures from every rally around the world to create a humongous, visual, global petition to present to world leaders in the hopes that it will urge them to come to agreements on a carbon emissions treaty at the UN climate talks that take place in Copenhagen this December.
To back up a little bit, you might be asking yourself what’s up with all this 350 talk? Well, 350 is the number that scientists believe to be the upper level in parts per million of carbon dioxide that our atmosphere can safely handle; we have already far surpassed this number, currently sitting at approximately 390ppm.
We knew we wanted to highlight a well-known landmark in Buena Vista for our 350 photo; the Barbara Whipple Bridge, which crosses the Arkansas River, connecting the town of Buena Vista to the Midland Trail system, seemed like a natural choice. The question, however, was how to give our photo a little “CKS” personality without being obnoxious and just putting up a CKS banner. We finally decided that hanging several kayaks off the bridge would give our photo the kayaker touch we were looking for.
Buena Vista is a fairly small, sleepy community, so we weren’t sure what kind of attendance to expect for the event. To our surprise between 45 and 50 people from Buena Vista, Salida and Leadville turned out to show their support. The weather was cool, but mild, there was a great vibe among the crowd and smiles all around as we began to prepare for our 350 photo. The CKS staff and other helpful locals hung kayaks from the Barbara Whipple Bridge with long cam straps that allowed them to dangle out into space. As the boats danced below us in the wind, we gathered the crowd and talked about the International Day of Climate Action, the importance of the number 350 and how each of us there could do our part to help slow this global climate crisis.
After our discussion we were ready for the photo shoot. With the winds whipping, as they often do in Chaffee County, it proved a challenge to keep our gigantic cardboard 3, 5, & 0 signs still enough to capture a good shot.
Lucky for us we had a talented, local photographer, Luke Urbine, on hand. He was able to capture one perfect photo with all the numbers visible to the camera!
After the photo shoot, we raffled various items, provide by our generous sponsors, off to the crowd.
Nearly every single person walked away with something. To make things a more interactive, we asked environmentally minded questions and provided prizes to those who answered correctly.
We even involved the kids by asking them to name some things they could do to help the environment. Hands shot up in hopes of winning the highly coveted NRS Aqua Blaster prize. Lots of suggestions were made; use less paper, recycle, turn off the lights when you leave your room, but one little boy, of about age 6, got th entire crowd laughing with his answer, “I think we should all drink soda so there will be more water for the rivers!”. Classic. Not exactly environmentally friendly, but at least he’s thinking of the rivers! All the kids present left with something special, whether it be a cam strap keychain, a T-shirt 4 sizes too big, a kayak poster or a water bottle.
Thanks to all the folks who took time out of their day to participate in the event! To see a slide show of the pictures from other, similar events all around the world or to learn more about 350.org and their mission go to http://www.350.org/.