Climatefest — Here in Bellingham on October 18

by James Wells

It’s easy to think of climate action in only terms of response to threats. Whether we’re focused on the proposed coal export terminal or the various oil-by-rail proposals in our region, there is always a next threat calling for our urgent attention. And when we are constantly in that reactive mode, even the most motivated activists can become discouraged and lose energy. When will the threats stop coming?

There are many advances occurring in areas of climate communication, action and technology. These are reasons for optimism about our ability to transition to a clean energy economy. But in order to be successful at this critical time, we need everyone in our community to be on board, insisting on effective climate action.

That’s why it’s vitally important to take time to celebrate – and you can do so with Bill McKibben and Al Gore (both by special video) on Sunday, Oct. 18, at the Huxley College of Western Washington University. That day, Huxley, together with other local and regional sponsors, will be holding the October Climatefest, at the WWU Performing Arts Center. The event is completely free and open to the public.

Lead organizer of Climatefest is Jill MacIntyre Witt, a WWU Masters Student at Huxley College and mentor for the Climate Reality Project. Jill had the idea for the event this spring during a session of the Whidbey Climate Conference. The question posed to every attendee was “What action will you commit to accomplishing in order to grow the movement?” Climatefest was conceived in three minutes. Jill describes her plan:

“I am excited to grow the climate movement by celebrating local to global climate actions. People are rising up to face the challenges from the climate crisis and it will take all of us to be moved to climate action through the inspiration and action from others. This is my hope for this celebration.”

Bill McKibben, climate writer and founder of, will send a personalized video message to all the attendees. Bill sent along the following statement:

“I’m glad to be joining in this event, by (low-carbon!) electronics. As the world approaches the critical Paris climate conference in December, people from every corner of the planet are coming together to make their voices heard. And Bellingham, with its remarkable fight against coal ports, is a great inspiration in that struggle!”

Former Vice President Al Gore, founder of the Climate Reality Project, will also send a video message that has been recorded specifically for this conference.

Eighteen-year-old Jacob Lebel will talk about the lawsuit he and 20 other young people filed to force the U.S. Federal government to take effective climate action. According to Lebel, “Climate change challenges us as human beings of different cultures, religions, and ages to unite and fight for our survival. Youth and children have just as much power and need to be just as much a part of the solution as adults — whether it is enacting positive change in our communities or challenging our government to stop supporting corporations who make their profit off of destroying our common resources and environment.”

Tamo Campos, grandson of David Suzuki and an accomplished climate activist in his own right, will also be a featured speaker. Says Campos,

“I feel honored to be invited to October Climatefest at Western University. Climate change creates an existential crisis for humanity, but in every crisis lies opportunities and possibilities of a more just world. By bringing together international, regional and indigenous voices, this conference creates opportunity for inspiration, networking and strategies moving this movement forwards”

The event will provide information and inspiration to people who may be new to climate action, or who are deciding whether to become active on climate. Organizers hope that attendees will make a point of inviting friends and neighbors to the event.

A variety of activities, talks, and videos will be featured. Doors will open at 10:30 AM for tabling and informal conversation. The main program will start at 12:00.
At press time the final program details for the event are still being set, see sidebar for current program.

Climatefest will be a great place to recharge your energy and optimism for the climate and our future, as well as connecting with others. Even more importantly, it will help spread the word into our community about positive actions that everyone can take. Bring yourself and your ideas, and please bring a few friends along to the Climatefest on October 18th.

Climatefest Schedule:

10:30 to 12:00 – Tabling, action stations, story booth

Program with Speakers
12:00 to 1:30 – Talks, featured videos, interactive activities
1:30 to 2:00 – Intermission
2:00 to 4:00 – Talks, featured videos, interactive activities
4:00 to 5:00 – Tabling, action stations, story booth

The event is free and open to the public at the WWU Performing Arts Center

For more information about the event, email Jill MacIntyre Witt, or go to the Climatefest Facebook event page ( or search for “October Climatefest” on Facebook).