Fighting climate change is hard. It’s consistently two steps forward and one step back. It necessitates compartmentalization and separation of work and home life. Most days you can’t think too hard about how simultaneously existentially important and minuscule your efforts are. It’s a job with infinite contradictions and doubts. And at the end of the day, if we succeed in transforming our society into a just, healthy and decarbonized one, then I've just worked myself out of employment and will need to develop some other skills!
Some days, however, make all the stress and consternation feel worth it. On Thursday, July 22nd, Climate Smart had the privilege of hosting a fan and filter giveaway with the Missoula Food Bank and EmPower Place. These air-filtering systems are critical to creating clean indoor air and keeping folks healthy during the smoky summer months. As the climate crisis escalates and fire season grows, this #WildfireSmokeReady work to help our community prepare for months of a smoke-filled Montana becomes an ever larger share of our time and energy.
Our main tool in building a resilient and Climate-Ready Missoula against a warming world will be our relationships and willingness to look out for one another. Our partnership with the Missoula Food Bank to give out these filters perfectly exemplified this truth. The event succeeded in distributing over eighty air filters, half of which went to seniors through the Fresh Food delivery program, and the other half to families visiting EmPower place--a hands on learning center for kids. Missoula Food Bank staff and volunteers and the Climate Smart team (including our interns-extraordinaire Sydney and Isa) rallied together to assemble and give out these fans and filters to food bank users who are at heightened risk to the health detriments of prolonged wildfire smoke.
The true expressions of gratitude from folks who received these filters filled my heart and left me feeling energized and determined. I felt appreciated and impactful. I was surrounded by a team of people who were willing to work hard alongside me to help and protect our community; the staff who enthusiastically agreed to help us realize the project, our interns for joining to assemble fans with us, and the volunteers who donated their time and worked with food bank customers to get these air filters into their hands, as well as our dedicated Climate Smart team. I had worked at the Missoula Food Bank during the summer of 2020, and was so grateful that the connections I made with the team there were able to produce such an important effort such as this.
The success of the event showed us that we needed to replicate it as soon as possible. Every air filter in EmPower Place was all claimed within the first 30 minutes of a planned 3-hour event. We immediately began planning for another event, submitting a call for donations to buy more fans and filters. Our supply is refilling and another event date is set: Thursday, August 5th, 1-3pm in EmPower Place. The work continues!