HIgh school sustainability group plans train trip to D.C.
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Port Townsend High School seniors Eamonn Clarke, Lily Murock, Rilke Ruttenbeck and Ewan Shortess, from left, plan for an April train trip to Washington, D.C., where they will lobby for sustainability. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — A group of high school seniors is planning to travel across the United States to Washington, D.C., in the spring to raise awareness about environmental sustainability and climate change.

“This can make a difference,” said Eamonn Clarke, 18, one of 15 students who hope to make the trip.

“We can make a change in our generation,” he said.

“We can influence the people we meet to involve themselves in more sustainable activities.”

The Students for Sustainability began gathering last year but chose not to become an official school club “because they didn’t want to be told what to do and how to do it,” according to adviser Laura Tucker.

This year, the group has become official, seeking to use the school’s fundraising infrastructure to make contributions tax-deductible, support the upcoming trip and perhaps make the student lobbying trip to D.C. an annual event, Tucker said.

Tucker said the cost of the entire trip will be about $26,000, breaking down to about $1,400 per person.

The guiding principle for the club, which now has 40 members, is to take action to mitigate climate changes at school, in the community, in the state and on a national level.

The club has encouraged recycling and efficiency.

Club President Ewan Shortess said people approach climate change in one of three ways: those who do everything they can to live sustainably, those who have heard about the problem but don’t know what they can do and those who deny the problem exists.

“We are going after people in the middle,” Shortess said.

“We don’t expect that we will change the minds of the deniers but would like to meet with some of them to see if they say anything different if they are not trying to get elected or gain a position of power.

“Maybe we can get them to tell us their concerns.”

The students are scheduled to leave the Port Townsend Park-n-Ride on March 28 and catch the 4:30 p.m. train in Seattle to make the 2,800-mile trip using only public transportation.

On the way, the train makes 55 stops. At many junctures, the students will hold quick meetings with residents.

The group would like to meet with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Bothell; Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace; and Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, of the 6th Congressional District, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula.

And they have the hope that President Barack Obama will take notice and invite them to the White House.

Tucker said the cost of the entire trip will be about $26,000, breaking down to about $1,400 per person.

“This is our time to make a difference,” said Daniel Charlton, 17.

“We will be inheriting this world and will provide leadership in the future, and we need to make our generation aware of this.

“It’s almost too late for the deniers who don’t admit this is one of the major issues of our time.”

Funds will be solicited directly, but a good percentage will come through a program in which students will collect pledges for each tree planted.

The fundraising mechanism has not been fully set up but will occur in the next few weeks, Tucker said.

For information or to make a contribution, email science teacher Lois Sherwood at lsherwood@ptschools.org.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 14. 2013 6:52PM
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