Did you miss me? Apologies if you missed my column last week (and thank you for noticing my absence), but the virus that has been going around caught me, and I was down for the count for the full week! Word of warning, if you start to get an unusually “productive” cough, clear your calendar for the week and get ready for lots of medicine and sleep time! Given that Saturday was Earth Day (I know I am not the first to mention this), I had planned on featuring the Thurston Climate Action Team in my column, and fortunately for me, as our Thurston County Commissioners have proclaimed April Earth Month, I can still follow through with this.
One of the things that has taken me a while to get used to is how many environmentally focused nonprofit organizations reside in our county. Texans are always bragging about their love for the land, but honestly, they do not do a very good job preserving it. So, when I first met Melinda Hughes, the Executive Director of the Thurston Climate Action Team, better known as TCAT, I had to politely ask what sets them apart from other similar organizations. Hughes explained that TCAT is the leading grassroots nonprofit organization focused on climate action in Thurston County. Founded in 2009, TCAT works with local jurisdictional leaders, staff, like-minded organizations, and community members to take climate action for a healthier Thurston County. According to Hughes, “TCAT was the driving force behind getting our four principal jurisdictions (the County and cities of Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater) to adopt and now implement the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan (TCMP), a plan to slow greenhouse gas emissions while also considering equity.”
TCAT coordinates 8 Action groups on the following: advocacy, trees, equity, buildings, transportation, youth, art, and food and agriculture, as well as heads the Thurston Thrives Climate and Clean Energy Committee. According to Hughes, these Climate Action Groups give an opportunity for community members to volunteer with TCAT in different areas of interest. For instance, the TCAT Transportation Group volunteers to educate the public on the benefits of driving electric vehicles. TCAT recently enlisted another volunteer group to collaborate on the design and paint a Climate Justice Mural located at the 4th Avenue roundabout in Olympia. “By acting locally and thinking globally we are making climate action history!” says Hughes. If you want more information on volunteering for one of these teams (and thus being a superhero as well), click here.
Currently, TCAT is wrapping up a Climate Justice grant from the US EPA to help BIPOC communities weatherize their homes as well as planning for a fall 2023 South Sound Climate Conference. TCAT, along with other groups, is asking our leaders at the state and local level to protect our older, mature forests, also known as Legacy Forests, as well as pushing for more urban tree canopy and for smart development preserving agricultural land along with prairies, forests, and shorelines. “We are asking our elected leaders to prioritize climate action in their budgets and work plans as well as 10-year comprehensive plans,” says Hughes.
Given that it is still Earth Month, I asked Hughes to give me her State of the Climate address with three things that we should be excited about and three things that still need work. Here is what she suggested.
We may be coming to the end of another Global Volunteer Month, but that does not mean opportunities to volunteer will not continue to exist. Global Volunteer Month is a time to recognize volunteers and people who actively support their communities, whether through volunteerism or other elements around the Points of Light Civic Circle®. The Civic Circle® helps individuals connect to opportunities and understand that doing good comes in many forms. It is a framework that represents your power to lead, lend support and act for causes you care about and to lead a civic life. According to Points of Light, there are many paths to living a full civic life, and now is the perfect time to plan to join the celebration, today and every day. At the Points of Light website, you can download toolkits and access resources to encourage volunteerism and civic action, recognize volunteers, and raise awareness for your organization’s needs and funding opportunities.
Soliciting your ideas
If you know of a nonprofit that is doing something great, celebrating a success, needs some outstanding volunteers, or hosting an event, let me know! This column (aside from a little education) celebrates nonprofits
Mary Beth Harrington, CVA (Certified Volunteer Administrator) lives in Tumwater. She travels the country speaking at conferences and to individual organizations articulating issues facing nonprofits. Send your ideas to her at MaryBeth@theJOLTnews.com
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