Environmental Justice Organization Seeks Immediate Solutions

By Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter

Climate Reality Project organized a call to action that included a panel discussion, information fair and documentary. On Thursday, November 2, 2023, 141 individuals filled the Imagination Station in downtown Toledo to watch a documentary, “How to Power a City,” about how grassroot local activities lead the way towards sustainable renewable energy.

Melanie La Rosa, the film’s director and producer, opened the viewing with words of gratitude, “Thank you for coming to this screening tonight, huge thank you to Julie Shapiro and Greg Breier of the Northwest Ohio Climate Reality Project for putting this event together, they approached me a few months ago with this idea to screen this in Toledo at the Imagination Station. I wish that I could have been there in person to watch the film.”

The film focuses on how six communities have succeeded in implementing renewable energy solutions. Highland Park, Michigan was one of the cities mentioned which replaced streetlights with solar powered lights with the support from DTE. “People in the Midwest don’t really feel the effects of climate change, like fires or floods like the coast does. We know that it does affect us, it affects us greatly. For example, remember the Smoke that began in Canada and blanked parts of the United States? Climate change is here, it’s not in the future, but happening now,” shared Climate Reality Toledo co-founder Julie Shapiro.

The discussion centered around the root causes and solutions to move society towards renewable energy, especially in northwest Ohio. “We have to target state level policies. Gerrymandering of Ohio maps is the problem because oil and fuel special interest gather support and get their politicians elected or re-elected. The don’t have to worry about what the public wants,” said event organizer and Climate Reality Project member, Dennis Slotnick.

Immediately following the documentary presentation, Alicia Smith of the Junction Coalition served as moderator of a panel discussion. The panel included Julie Roth a manager of Energy Team, Bob McCollister, PhD a trained climate reality presenter who represents Green Energy Ohio, State Representative Michele Grim of Ohio House District 43, and Rachel Neri the Director of Community Outreach at NeighborWorks Toledo Region.

Climate Reality and 19 organizations gathered to share information and solutions: A27ero/solarize Ann Arbor, Clevelandowns, Citizens Climate Lobby, Environmental Services, First Unitarian Church, Green Energy Ohio, Homeland Solar, Junction Coalition, Lake Erie Advocates, Lucas County Soil & Water, NeighborWorks, Raingarden Initiative, Rebates and Tax Credits, TARTA, Toledo MetroParks, Toledo Port Authority, University of Toledo Solar, Water Keepers and Secular Humanists.

Climate Reality Project is chapter of an international organization founded by former Vice President Al Gore. The Toledo chapter has 40 members and was chartered three to four years ago by co-founders Greg Breier and Julie Shapiro.

“Climate Reality Project is a worldwide movement that moves people from the bottom up and top down, charging people to vote to make change,” said Slotnick.

“This was our first chapter event. We have worked in advocacy and want Toledo to move feaster to craft a climate action plan. Toledo City Council earmarked one percent to support sustainability. However, year to date, a director has not been hired, there’s no plan and we’re anxious to see the results,” said Shapiro.