By Hailey Jorgensen/Energy Corps

At Climate Smart Missoula, Earth Week represents a unique opportunity to celebrate our natural world through fun, creative outdoor activities that bring our community together. From parades, runs and block parties to tree planting days, Earth Week gets people of all ages outside and connected to each other and to efforts to protect this planet. Few other movements provide such engaging opportunities for collaborative work, education and healthy community building.

These traits also make up the overall mission of Climate Smart Missoula. Our initiative is a truly collaborative, community effort to ensure Missoula is planning for and acting on climate change. Several members of the Energy Corps program have been part of these efforts from the very beginning.

Our current Energy Corps member, Hailey Jorgensen, is serving with Climate Smart Missoula as the energy and climate coordinator. Hailey’s efforts with Climate Smart have focused on advancing the goals of the Community Climate Smart Action Plan and developing educational materials and programs through creative messaging and storytelling.

For the past six months, Hailey has been working with her colleagues to build two new programs, Solar Smart and Energy Smart. The goal of each initiative is to provide community members with the information they need to make smart energy choices. Our Solar Smart web page and interactive Solar Flowchart is the perfect first stop for anyone interested in solar panels or learning more about solar options in Missoula.

Our Energy Smart initiative was inspired by the clear need to reduce residential energy use in order to reach our Climate Action Plan goals. Our Energy Smart web page is an ever-expanding compendium of tips, tricks and long-term strategies to improve home energy efficiency and conservation.

Next, we plan to develop a community-wide Energy Challenge to encourage residents to reduce their use, enjoy a little friendly competition, and be part of a collective effort.

Now, with Earth Week upon us, we’re shifting our efforts from planning to action. All Climate Smart’s activities and events are listed on our calendar page, along with partner events. We especially hope you’ll come find us at MUD’s Earth Day Celebration on April 22nd at Free Cycles from 3-7 p.m. we’ll have fun activities and demos of smart energy use, maybe even a DIY solar oven!

Climate Smart, with the help of many partners, is also organizing the Missoula People’s Climate Movement March and Rally on Saturday April 29. Building on Earth Week momentum, this event will maintain the same fun, active and family-friendly theme and will  highlight the voices of the next generation of Missoulians. We’re excited to provide a platform for students and young people to engage with climate change issues and speak to the importance of action.

Climate action is so much more than a scientific or political issue. It helps us build a healthier, more vibrant and resilient community, not only for ourselves, but for generations to come. What better time than Earth Week to come together and start building a better tomorrow.

Hailey Jorgensen serves as Climate Smart Missoula’s energy and climate coordinator. She provides program support to promote the goals set forth in the Community Climate Action Plan, as well as energy and climate specific initiatives such as the Solar Smart and Energy Smart programs.