Envision staff and board members take the Polar Bear Plunge to fight climate change

Well…we did it! Three Envision Frederick County board members and I joined about 160 other folks for the 12th Annual “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge…into the Potomac River…to support the efforts of Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Envision to fight climate change.

Mark, Ann, Patrice and Kai took the Polar Bear Plunge into the Potomac River on January 28th

Mark, Ann, Patrice and Kai took the Polar Bear Plunge into the Potomac River on January 28th
(photo by Anne Meador)

Before anything else, THANK YOU very much to those of you who have made contributions to this effort!

As board member Patrice Gallagher (and Polar Bear Plunge participant!) wrote in a recent blog entry:

Those who attended Envision Frederick County’s dinner at ThorpeWood in early December will recall that our fabulous speakers — Congressman Jamie Raskin and CCAN Director Mike Tidwell — called upon all of us to stay active and engaged on the issues we care about, especially as we enter a new and uncertain political environment.

event_photo-582499be06fe4_280wAs part of that, Mike Tidwell encouraged everyone in the room to consider joining him as part of Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s 12th Annual Polar Bear Plunge, in which hardy participants jump into the icy Potomac River, at National Harbor, to raise awareness about climate change and raise critical funds for the work of the organization.

Three crazy but dedicated Envision Frederick County board members and our executive director are responding to Mike’s challenge, and will be jumping in the icy Potomac River at National Harbor, at the coldest time of year!

event_photo-500w

miketidwellspeaking280wThe entire event was a great success, with more than 200 people joining the rally at National Harbor, and more than 160 taking the “plunge” into the cold Potomac River.

With some additional contributions still coming in, this year’s Polar Bear Plunge has raised a record $100,503.00, or 118% of $85,000.00 goal that was established for this event.

The three Envision Frederick County board members — Patrice Gallagher, Ann Nau and Mark Long — and I raised a total of $3,370.00 (so far!) toward that record-setting total.

PLEASE NOTE that it is not too late to make a contribution to this year’s Polar Bear Plunge! All funds raised this way (through Envision Frederick County) will be split between the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Envision Frederick County. For Envision, the funds will be applied to help us expand efforts to work locally on climate change solutions. Just click here!

It was a cloudy day, the temperature was slightly above freezing, and the water temperature was around 40 degrees. That’s cold! But, on the other hand, unlike last year, people didn’t have to get there early in the day to break up the ice for polar bear plungers!

Mark, Patrice, Ann and Kai, warmly dressed, before the plunge.

Mark, Patrice, Ann and Kai, warmly dressed, before the plunge.

When CCAN Director Mike Tidwell spoke at Envision Frederick County’s dinner at ThorpeWood (in early December) he made the point that it would be hard for one person, standing on the edge of a frigid river, to make the decision to run — or wade — into the river. But, when we are part of a larger group, committed to something important, it’s much easier to do.

He went on to make the point that that is no less true of all the work we have to do, and actions we have to take, together, to fight climate change.

He is right. That does make a big difference! So, there is no doubt that Envision Frederick County will participate again next year, to help make a difference. If you would like…ahem, I mean, if you would be willing…to be part of this event next year, please let me know, any time!.

As I was quoted in the CCAN press release (found in its entirely below):

Envision Frederick County board members and staff really don’t want to plunge into the icy Potomac,” said Executive Director Kai Hagen. “But we’re doing it anyway, to support the most effective organization in our region fighting the most serious threat there is to our planet, including our community and everyone we know.”

You can see a few dozen photos from the rally and the plunge here, taken by Anne Meador.

(photo by Anne Meador)

(photo by Anne Meador)


Below is the press release sent out by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network after the Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday.

Polar bear plunge: Activists protest Trump/McAuliffe in Potomac swim

Published Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, 4:01 pm

earth-newOne week after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, 160 DC-area residents took an ice-cold plunge into the Potomac River on Saturday to take a stand against Virginia’s proposed fracked-gas pipelines and Trump’s anti-climate agenda.

The annual “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge, now in its 12th year, raises awareness about the climate crisis while raising funds to support the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s work for clean energy solutions across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. This year’s plunge builds upon the momentum seen at the historic Women’s March, where millions gathered across the country to oppose Trump’s anti-democratic agenda, including his environmental policies.

Saturday’s plunge drew local leaders, including Council member Mary Cheh of D.C.’s Ward 3, Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, along with committed plungers of all ages—[from local high school students to Franciscan priests.

“We’re here today to show our leaders we will get up and FIGHT for climate action, even if it means freezing our toes off,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “With a climate denier taking office as president just weeks after the third-straight hottest year on record, we need bold, aggressive global warming policies on the state and local level now more than ever.”

The year 2016 was the third-straight hottest year ever recorded on Earth, according to NASA scientists, and the DC region experienced devastating weather events hitting home. Meanwhile, President Trump has promised to rescind current climate policies, and has already taken extreme measures to silence and de-fund the Environmental Protection Agency and greenlight dangerous fossil fuel projects.

“With an election that’s left us reeling, and the natural world roaring its testimony about the urgency of repairing our climate, we’re taking a plunge of courage today with our friends and allies,” said Karen Leu of Interfaith Power & Light.

CCAN is committed to resisting the anti-climate policies from Donald Trump and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. In 2017, the group’s priorities include passing legislation to ban fracking in Maryland, stopping the dangerous fracked-gas pipelines in Virginia, and generating the first-ever state funds to fight flooding in coastal Virginia communities, and launching a groundbreaking carbon tax and rebate in D.C.

Each year, non-profit and community organizations across the region partner with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network on the plunge, joining the icy dip and also raising money to support their shared missions.

“As the Potomac Riverkeeper, I felt it was important to take part in the Polar Bear Plunge to support climate change and clean water,” said Dean Noujaks, the Potomac Riverkeeper.

“We at Climate First! appreciate the opportunity to freeze our ??? off as we raise money for the climate at the Polar Bear Plunge,” said Ted Conwell, Founder and Lead Organizer of Climate First! “In view of the pressing science and the new US. administration’s proposed terrible policies regarding climate protection, it seems that we all should become ‘polar bears’ for the Plunge every year.”

“Envision Frederick County board members and staff really don’t want to plunge into the icy Potomac,” said Executive Director Kai Hagen. “But we’re doing it anyway, to support the most effective organization in our region fighting the most serious threat there is to our planet, including our community and everyone we know.”

SPONSORS: The annual plunge is hosted by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. The event is co-sponsored by 350 Loudoun, All Souls Church Unitarian, Audubon Naturalist Society, Blue Water Baltimore, Climate First!, Community Forklift, Envision Frederick County, Franciscan Action Network, Green Neighbors, Interfaith Power & Light, Montgomery County Conservation Corps, and Potomac Riverkeeper Network.

BUSINESS PARTNERS: Clyde’s Restaurant Group, Howard County Citizens’ Climate Lobby, McLoone’s Pier House, Orvis Sporting Traditions, Patagonia, REI Co-op, Perfect Settings, Save vs. Poison Productions, Takoma Bicycle, Waste Neutral, Zeke’s Coffee.

Find more information on the 2017 Polar Bear Plunge at www.keepwintercold.org.