Ac­tivists plunge into Po­tomac for the en­vi­ron­ment

‘Keep Win­ter Cold’ event aims to raise funds, aware­ness for cli­mate re­search

Maryland Independent - - News - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

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.”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

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.

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