Port Townsend’s Students for Sustainability to talk climate on D.C. train trip; fundraiser set tonight at high school
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Students for Sustainability, from left, Eamonn Clarke, Harry Doyle and Micah Evalt talk about their train trip to Washington, D.C., in KPTZ’s studio in Port Townsend. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — With 10 days to go, the Students for Sustainability are getting ready to hop on a cross-country train to travel to Washington, D.C., and work to raise consciousness about global warming along the way.

“This is a huge issue,” said Harry Doyle, 17, one of the 14 Port Townsend High School seniors making the trip. Students plan to leave on March 27 and return on April 7.

“The idea that we will be responsible for change is a little unrealistic, but it’s all about the small voices coming together making a large push.

“So if we see a change in the future, we can say that we were a part of it.”

The trip is projected to cost about $25,000. Students have raised $19,000.

Their last fundraiser is set at 7 p.m. today.

A benefit showing of “A Place at the Table,” a movie about food insecurity, will be in the Port Townsend High School auditorium, 1500 Van Ness St.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

They also are raising money on Indiegogo at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-sustainabilitytrain in a campaign that started Jan. 31 and ends Thursday.

As the train travels through 12 states, one student will be in charge of each state, contacting schools, newspapers and legislators and gathering signatures for petitions expressing concern about sustainability and
global warming.

The train will make 55 stops, where the students will step off the train to make their case with the locals.

Some of these stops will be in the wee hours.

Students hope to generate interest in midnight environmental rendezvous.

Once they reach D.C., students plan to present petitions signed by their own constituents, said Laura Tucker, one of three chaperones.

A meeting has been scheduled with Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Robert Casey, as well as with some of the Washington state delegation: Sen. Patty Murray, D-Whidbey Island; Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Mountake Terrace, and Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, whose 6th Congressional District includes the North Olympic Peninsula.

The students hope to talk with President Barack Obama. That isn’t out of the question, but is pretty unlikely, Tucker said.

The students will go to the White House, she said. They have a meeting set with the Presidential Council on Environmental Quality.

The students want to schedule meetings with some of those who have voted against their concerns.

Doyle said the students have studied the positions of everyone they will meet and will bring up their positive votes cast even if their voting record is not
environmentally favorable.

He added that he sees a correlation between conservative Christian groups and global warming deniers.

“But Christians are morally strong so we can appeal to that,” the student said.

“We’ll ask them how they feel about the future and whether they want their descendants to experience drought and severe weather disasters.

“I can’t believe that some people don’t see this as an issue because it’s all about our future, quite literally.”

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,” Tucker said.

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 Washington, D.C., an annual event, she added.

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 also encourages recycling and efficiency.

“The response from the community has been overwhelming, both financially and personally,” Tucker said.

“This support has really inspired us.”

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

Last modified: March 16. 2014 7:52PM
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