By Joshua Blanco
This month, ecoAmerica, in collaboration with Clean Air Carolina, is hosting the North Carolina Path to Positive Ambassadors Program, a statewide training session intended to educate people on climate change and explore possible solutions. The goal is to get participants to spread the word and take action in the fight to save the planet.
The virtual workshop will be held Tuesday, March 16, through Wednesday, March 17, and will include two 90-minute sessions. The training includes both information-sharing and hands-on practice, intended not only to educate but also to help participants speak confidently on matters relating to climate change.
The communication training offered by the program is especially appealing, as individuals who want to learn more about climate change often do so in hopes that they will one day make a difference. But according to June Blotnick, executive director of Clean Air Carolina, the biggest catalyst for change is the connections people make along the way.
“What spurs people to take action when it comes to sustainability is knowing that there are other people out there who are interested,” she says. “If people don’t know that other people are concerned about it, they’re less likely to take action.” Blotnick describes the sensation of suddenly connecting with all kinds of people from across the state, coming together for a common purpose, as “a very powerful experience.”
Previously geared toward individuals in the Charlotte area, the program recently expanded its focus to encompass climate-related issues relevant to the entire state. “There’s such a strong interest here in North Carolina,” Blotnick says. “People care about climate change.”
Despite the fact that there have been only three ambassador training sessions, the program has managed to attract a diverse group of participants, ranging from students and school teachers to business owners and city officials.
When the training is complete, participants are officially designated as climate ambassadors. Each ambassador is then required to report actions they’ve taken at the end of each month. They also attend quarterly meetings with other ambassadors to share steps they’ve taken to combat climate change in their communities.
This time around, Blotnick is hoping to attract more people from the Asheville area in particular. “Asheville is doing so many great things on the sustainability front,” she says. “We’re already using them as an example in the training.”
The hope is that the new Asheville ambassadors will spark major changes in the rest of Western North Carolina, especially at such an unprecedented time in our climate’s history. “Once people realize they can be part of a collaborative group of individuals trying to make a difference, they start to feel empowered,” Blotnick says. “And I think that’s what the training has to offer Western North Carolinians—the tools they need to make a difference.”