Confused about climate change? A Seattle-based group has a website where you can check the facts, and the myths, as vetted by a panel of scientific advisers. No, this isn’t some academic group, or someone who’s trying to get you to go wave protest signs downtown. It’s CoolMom.org – a moms’ group founded to support lower-ecological-impact lifestyles — and the real-life CoolMoms, including a Morgan Junction entrepreneur who co-founded the group, are launching a West Seattle chapter with a gathering tomorrow night. Meet them and read what it’s all about:
Meet West Seattle residents Kristy Royce (left) and Abby Suplizio. We sat down to talk about West Seattle CoolMoms at the Morgan Junction office where Royce and husband Ashton Palmer run ExpeditionTrips.com. She and Magnolia resident Kirsten McCaa founded CoolMoms about a year ago; Suplizio is coordinating the new West Seattle chapter, one of three in the city so far (along with Greenwood and Magnolia).
“We had a party and showed (Al Gore‘s climate-change documentary) ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ to friends,” Royce recalls, regarding how it all got started. “Some of them didn’t really know all about climate change till then, and they got up in arms, and wanted to do something.”
Usually the first step is to go out and look for more information online, but, as Royce says, “They find a lot of websites filled with completely bogus information, so we wanted to have scientific advisers to help us with the Frequently Asked Questions and ‘myths’ section of our website.” (You can see that section here; meet the CoolMom.org scientific advisers here.)
The quest for scientific answers was natural to Royce and McCaa, who both have atmospheric physicists in their families — Royce’s stepfather, and McCaa’s husband. Royce’s travel work — running ExpeditionTrips.com to help people explore the nature and culture of areas like Antarctica, the Arctic, and the Amazon while the beauty survives, after she and her husband spent years working on small expedition vessels in such areas — has also added to the urgency, along with the view into the future that becomes more vivid when you become a parent: Royce has a 3-year-old and 18-month-old, Suplizio’s children are 5 and 3.
They both know that moms have the power to change the world. “There are 82 million moms in the U.S.,” Suplizio points out. “They buy 80 percent of the retail. That’s a lot of power. Global warming is going to affect our families, but (things may improve) if we can set a good example — our kids are growing up in this time of environmental awareness and action.”
And nowhere is the “think global, act local” philosophy more open for creative interpretation than in the small family decisions made each day. Suplizio ticks off a list of decisions and plans that can be changed when viewed through an ecologically minded prism — birthday parties (Royce asked guests at her daughter’s 3rd birthday party to either not bring gifts or bring used/consigned items, with what she says were amazing results including a beautiful handmade skirt), toys, even snacks that parents take turns preparing for preschools, sports teams, clubs.
“Once you start doing it,” Royce adds, “you realize there’s so much that can be done. Support your local stores, local activities, don’t get into the car so much — We’re trying to move into something more like the ‘Slow Life Movement‘.”
And give your kids credit for being open to new ideas, especially the youngest ones. Suplizio says hers love bus rides, so she looks for chances to take the bus even on short jaunts to the store or local natural sites like Longfellow Creek. “When we walk out the door now, sometimes they will just start heading toward the bus stop even if I haven’t said we’re taking the bus,” she laughs.
That sparks one of many ideas they have for CoolMoms — bus field trips for families. They say they’re excited to get West Seattle CoolMoms rolling because of all the ideas they expect other moms will bring to the table — and even if you’re not an idea person, maybe you’re good at organizing, or helping. They are certain that West Seattle CoolMoms will do much more than plan monthly meetings. The Magnolia chapter, started by co-founder McCaa, has been around for some months now and has already obtained conditional funding from the city Department of Neighborhoods to get Walking School Bus programs in place at two elementary schools, and hopes it will be up and running daily this fall.
And there will be a citywide event at Olympic Sculpture Park April 19, noon-3 pm, in honor of Earth Day, with family fun including soil-critter-creation for kids and, for the grownups, “strategies for reducing your family’s climate footprint.”
That’s what it’s all about – since ultimately, it does come down to personal action, and decisions that are made by every family, every day (get some ideas here): “As moms, we are responsible for so many of the household purchases and decisions.” (And as businesspeople, Royce and her husband practice what they preach, with offsets for the trips they book.)
Every decision has a consequence – some local, some global, like tossing plastic products (here’s a way to do less of that) without knowing about the plastic pollution marring hundreds of miles of ocean you will probably never see (read about it here and here).
And then there are the simple decisions — like getting involved, and getting organized. These CoolMoms hope their movement will spread beyond Seattle – but, one step at a time.
Join West Seattle CoolMoms at the first meeting, 7 pm tomorrow (Wednesday 4/2) at C and P Coffee, 5612 California SW. If you can’t make the meeting, you can still get involved – join online by going to this webpage, and for West Seattle specifics, e-mail coordinator Abby Suplizio at abigail_k (at) yahoo.com — they’re looking for ideas and promise to welcome yours!