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Groups hope stories lead to climate action

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Climate change is often framed in the context of oblique policies, such as the different regulatory approaches to cutting climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions. Missing from that public discourse is the human element.

But activists across the country have realized that personal stories may be the key to speeding up action on climate change, and they're trying to draw attention to those narratives. The Rochester People's Climate Coalition and the Rochester Sierra Club have organized a September 8 event, Rise for a Resilient Rochester, to help bring those personal stories to local elected officials, public decision-makers, community leaders, and organizations.

"We wanted to be really deliberate about kind of starting the conversation with a lot of people," says Sue Hughes-Smith, a member of RPCC's leadership team.

The public event – 10 a.m. to noon at Asbury First United Methodist Church on East Avenue – occurs four days ahead of a global climate summit in California, and will be part of a national day of action. The hope is that the stories move decision-makers to act on climate, says Hughes-Smith.

The Climate Coalition and Sierra Club chapter sent invites to 52 organizations, elected officials, community leaders, and public decision-makers. Of those, 18 have confirmed that either they'll attend or will send a representative.

The speaker roster runs the gamut. Hridesh Singh, a Brighton High junior and co-founder of his school's climate club, will talk about climate change from a youth perspective, for example. Nannett Cepero, who has spent more than 25 years researching and growing exotic and rare fruits and vegetables, will discuss the food supply. And Ericka Jones, a systems advocate at Center for Disability Rights, will talk about emergency management – an area that covers natural disasters – and the disability community.

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