Op-Ed: What Al Gore Taught Me About Climate Change

More than 1,000 activists convened in San Francisco to learn how to communicate the climate threat to their friends and family.

Sandrine Cassidy Schmitt and Andrea Nylund at last month's Climate Reality Leadership Corps training conference in San Francisco. (Photo: Courtesy of Sandrine Cassidy Schmitt)

Sometimes life hands you cards that help shape your life. A few weeks ago, I signed up for a sweepstakes with TakePart to attend Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project Training Leadership Corps.

Luck of the draw: I won a trip for two to San Francisco for a four-night stay! My eco-buddy Andrea (ecohatchery.com) and I returned to Los Angeles inspired. The stars were aligned: I was at a crossroads in my professional life. Now the direction is clear again. I will continue helping the environment, gratefully.

At this conference, we met more than 1,000 advocates of change, planet supporters, movers and shakers concerned by the threats and impact of human-induced alterations on the natural world.

MORE: Al Gore on Summer 2012's Extreme Weather: 'It's Like a Nature Hike Through the Book of Revelation'

Over three days, key players of Climate Reality Project spoke, and Maggie Fox (President and CEO) was my favorite. Her calm, grace and sense of engagement inspired me.

All the speakers were stellar. Al Gore vigorously showed us the facts and the reality of our current climate situation, with recent images and data. The truth is startling and our commitment is revived. We now have concrete tools to reach our communities to spread the word.

Other speakers shared their recommendations to communicate this information more efficiently. Grammy-award winner Kathy Mattea was a musical treat and her story on why she got involved with the environment still resonates today.

We all have compelling stories for supporting the environment.

My eco-story in short: I live in Los Angeles, California, across from Ballona Creek, a channel built for urban runoff. When it rains, I am devastated by all the trash that dumps directly into the ocean. I decided to get involved with Ballona Creek Renaissance (ballonacreek.org) and I am now a board member. Still inspired to further help the environment, I started a business, called June 15, in 2007 to replace plastic and paper disposable bags with a stylish reusable bag collection.

I’m also involved in my son's school (lyceela.org) to support their green efforts through ecoschools.us. Everything I do in my daily life has the environment at heart, even to some people’s dismay, and despite the plane ride to get there! And if you're reading this, Mr. Gore, I commit to tending to this Earth in every way I can. I am strengthened by your message and strive to share the mission. 

What are you doing on a daily basis to combat climate change? Tell us in the comments.

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