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'Just showing up and saying I care'

Kenai to Soldotna hike planned for Saturday to support movement toward clean energy

Posted: September 23, 2011 - 8:00am  |  Updated: September 23, 2011 - 8:33am

A walk scheduled for Saturday is organized to help Alaska move toward a clean energy future.

Kenai Resilience is organizing a trek from Kenai to Soldotna along the Unity Trail to bring attention to Alaska’s energy sources. The event is focused on clean energy and the need for Alaska to continue working toward its goal of 50 percent renewable electricity by 2025, and 15 percent electricity reduction per capita by 2020. Those targets were set by House Bill 306, which was signed into law in June 2010.

“This is one of the most assertive pieces of legislation out there,” said organizer Kate Veh.

Veh said another piece of legislation, Senate Bill 220, could also make a difference. That bill was signed into law at the same time as HB306 and mandates that 25 percent of the state’s public buildings are retrofitted by 2020.

She said Saturday's event will help leaders know that Alaskans support the effort to find and use ethical, clean and safe forms of renewable energy.

“The legislation was passed, we want them to know we support it,” she said.

The group will meet in front of the Kenai All-America City sign on the Kenai Spur Highway at 3 p.m. Saturday. From there, participants can walk, bike, roller-ski, or roller-blade to River City Books in Soldotna.

“You could dance down the road, whatever you want to do,” Veh said.

The trek is not a race, and there is no cost to participate.

“You’re just showing up and saying ‘I care’,” Veh said.

Veh said that anyone is welcome to join. And participants can come just for the picture and the first few blocks if they don’t feel they can make the full trek, she said. The picture is what will send the global message.
“We’ll send that in to the international organization,” she said.

Saturday’s walk is being organized in conjunction with movement around the world.

A website called 350.org made a call to action for communities to show leaders that they care about climate change with movement as a theme.

The website was started by a group of recent college graduates who were concerned but felt helpless as to how to create change. Each of the last several years, they’ve asked people from around the world to participate in a day of action. Past themes have been a work party, to show that people are working on climate change, and art-based. Kenai Resilience organized a work party for last year’s theme, and had about 25 people attend.

“This year it’s a hike or a bike ride, so we’re getting moving on a climate change solution,” Veh said. “... It’s really just a method of communicating that we care.”

Groups from every country but North Korea have committed to hosting an event Saturday. The hope is that leaders will look at the spectrum of pictures of those involved, and want to start making changes. In Alaska, Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna borough area are also holding events.

The number 350 is representative of two main goals for the website, Veh said. It is a number because digits are more global than a word in just one language. And 350 parts per million is the safe level of carbon in the atmosphere, Veh said.

When Veh last checked, in July, the world was at 392.

“We gotta try to get that number down somehow,” Veh said.

Veh said the data on climate change worries her.

“I have kids, and I’m really concerned.”

Veh said that silence on the issue is also worrisome. She recognized that its a sensitive issue, and said the walk is meant to be a fun way to start the discussion and show that people are interested.

“We have to start talking about it,” Veh said.

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@peninsulaclarion.com.

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