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Sustainable Missoula: The Big Climate Change event that could change minds

Rob Davies

You may have heard: This coming Wednesday the community is invited to a free evening event featuring a unique presentation by Dr. Rob Davies, who will be joined on stage by local leaders sharing climate solutions and commitments.

And you may ask yourself: Why the heck would I spend an evening listening to a depressing presentation about the planetary mess we are in? Or perhaps: I know all this already, I’ve heard a zillion climate talks. And who is this Davies guy anyway?

We asked ourselves those very questions last fall when we, together with Missoula City Council President Bryan von Lossberg and County Commissioner Juanita Vero, attended the Mountain Towns 2030 Net Zero Summit.

Davies was on the agenda to talk about climate science, and given our familiarity with the subject, we weren’t expecting to get much from his talk. How wrong we were.

Hours after returning from the conference, with Davies’ talk fresh in her mind, Amy penned a hurried “Sustainable Missoula” column that captured the reaction we all had to his presentation:

Somehow, Rob Davies was able to bring an audience of committed climate solutions professionals to tears, helping us to more fully understand the scale of the risk and urgency to respond. Davies motivated us to aspire to do what is necessary, not what is merely viable. Because viable is not what our children deserve.

And then we got to work bringing him here. Davies, who is a physicist and associate professor of professional practice at Utah State, has spent over a decade developing science communication skills and crafting a narrative and visuals that a public audience, like the one he’ll find here in Missoula, can grasp and be inspired by.

According to Davies, “The world now faces a bona fide crisis. A great deal is beginning to shift in our response to climate change; however, it does not yet come close to rising to the response that is required. We often speak in terms of hope vs. despair. But this is the wrong framing. The mindset now required is one of resolve and action. Hope comes from action, action comes from resolve.” 

The Big Climate Change Event is free and open to all. It begins at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30, first come, first seated) and will be followed at about 9 p.m. by a reception in the Wilma foyer where we can all visit with Dr Davies, the event hosts, and climate and sustainability leaders from various local and statewide organizations. Sweets and snacks provided with no-host bar open!

Whether you’ve long been involved in climate solutions or have never attended a climate change event before, we welcome you.

The evening is sponsored by Climate Smart Missoula, the City of Missoula, Missoula County, Clearwater Credit Union, Providence St Patrick Hospital and UM’s Office of Sustainability & Climate Change Studies Program, with support from Logjam Presents.

All these partners have come together to create a not-to-be-missed Missoula experience. We hope the presentation by Professor Davies, together with inspiration from community leaders, will transform how we view the challenge before us, and what we do next.

And here’s the event tagline: Where you will learn that it is an emergency. And that it is not impossible and there are things we can do and we will feel good and motivated and fired up and ready to make a difference and do what is necessary.

Join us.  

Amy Cilimburg is the Executive Director at Climate Smart Missoula. Chase Jones is Energy Conservation and Climate Action Coordinator for the City of Missoula. Diana Maneta is the Energy Conservation and Sustainability Coordinator for Missoula County. This Sustainable Missoula column is brought to you – via the Missoula Current – every Friday by Climate Smart Missoula and Home ReSource.

Upcoming Sustainability Events

Every Friday. Missoula Friday Climate Strike. Noon – 1pm. February strikes are at NorthWestern Energy’s Headquarters. Stand in solidarity with climate strikers around the world. Coordinated by Families for a Livable Climate and Sunrise Missoula. More here.

Now through mid-March. Dear Tomorrow Missoula letter writing project, sponsored by Climate Smart Missoula and Families for a Livable Climate. Dear Tomorrow is a global storytelling project focused on sharing personal messages about climate change to inspire action. Details here.

Feb 20. UM’s Seeking Sustainability Lecture Series continues. Meets Thursdays 7 – 8:30 pm through April 16 in Gallagher Business Building room 122. Free and open to all. Learn how UM, local government, nonprofits and businesses are working together to create a sustainable community and how you can help. The weekly schedule is here. This Thursday: Sustaining Water and Air.

Feb 14-23 –– Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Many films address environmental, conservation, peace & justice themes.  Opening Night Film is  Story of Plastic — Free admission Feb 15 at 6pm at Wilma Theater. The film festival is moving Towards Zero Waste and seeks volunteers to help with this effort. To help, contact volunteer@bigskyfilmfest.org.

February 19. The Big Climate Change Event. Join us at the Wilma. 7pm. Presentation you won’t want to miss + climate commitments and what we can do. Learn more here. FREE and open to all.

February 22Running Up for Air endurance event sponsored by the Runner’s Edge and in support of Climate Smart Missoula. 3, 6, or 12 hour up and down event on Mt Sentinel. Join us by signing up to participate or pledging to support runners!

Feb 22-23 — Sunrise Missoula Training. Join the fight for a just and sustainable future. Register by Feb 8. TIMES: Saturday 9am-8pm; Sunday 9am-6pm. 

February 25. Climate Conversations: Deep Time: the journey of the universe and human response, presented by Dan Spencer. 6-8pm, dinner provided. St Paul Lutheran Church (202 Brooks St). All are welcome – part of spring Faith and Climate Action series