Activists plunge into Potomac for the environment
‘Keep Winter Cold’ event aims to raise funds, awareness for climate research
More than 200 people braved the chilly air Saturday morning to plunge into the Potomac River in an effort to highlight the importance of climate change research.
The 12th annual “Keep Winter Cold” polar bear plunge at National Harbor was hosted by the Chesa- peake Climate Action Net- work (CCAN), a Takoma Park-based nonprofit dedicated to combating global warming in the greater Washington, D.C., area, according to its website.
The event is the biggest fundraiser CCAN holds, said Mike Tidwell, director of the group.
“We’re gluttons for punishment,” Tidwell said after plunging into the chilly waters. “It’s a great experience, people love it, they’re inspired by it. We raise money, we raise awareness, so we keep doing it.”
By Monday morning, the event had raised $100,018 for the grassroots environmental or- ganization, according to organizers; the goal was to raise at least $85,000.
Tidwell said the vast majority of donations come from small donors, under $1,000. He noted it was even more important this year to highlight the importance of combatting global climate change, given the new presidential administration.
“Now more than ever, we need to raise funds to fight climate change,” Tidwell said. “We have a climate denier as pres- ident, which means we have to do more, we have to go faster, we have to fight climate change and the reality is that we can do it.”
Lori Hill of Takoma Park, co-founder of the en- vironmental lifestyle website Sister Eden Media, said she’s been involved in CCAN since 2006.
“Whether this is your first plunge or your 12th plunge, let me ask you this: What are you going to do after this? Because taking care of the planet is a 365-day a year job,” Hill said. “This is the most important cause of our lifetime. It’s a fact, not an opinion, a guess or something that can be dismissed or ignored or debated. Climate change is not political football.”
The Rev. Lennox Year- wood of Bethesda, pres- ident of the Hip Hop Caucus, a grassroots organization for individuals identifying with hip hop culture who value justice and equality, said the Potomac River has represented many things to many people, from livelihood for American Indians to slavery for Africans.
“Now you stand in this spot, and what does that mean to you?” Yearwood asked the audience. “As you plunge today, know now that you are plunging for the next generation.”
Maggie Iacangelo of Olney was the first to brave the icy water. It was her first time taking part.
“It was cold, very cold, but it felt good,” Iacangelo said.
She said she took part to express her opposition to the natural gas extraction method known as fracking.
“That’s what it’s for; banning fracking, keeping Maryland beautiful. Anything to help the Chesapeake Bay,” Iacangelo said. “The ecosystem is so fragile in the bay. Ronald Reagan said it’s a natural treasure and we just need to keep it as clean and safe and keep the wildlife going strong.”
Mike Tidwell, president of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, spoke to crowds at National Harbor prior to a plunge into the Potomac River Saturday. Above right, activists plunge into the icy waters of the Potomac River Saturday to raise funds and awareness for the nonprofit Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
Lori Hill of Takoma Park, co-founder of Sister Eden Media, speaks to crowds at National Harbor prior to a plunge into the Potomac River Saturday to raise funds and awareness for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.