On June 13, 2016, Rebecca Witherell Lekberg, my mother-in-law, passed from this world after a courageous 20+ year battle with breast cancer. People who knew Becky knew her as a kind and giving soul who was always doing things to help make the world a better place. In addition to being a serious contender for World’s Best Grandma to her three grandkids. After her retirement from a career working as a speech pathologist in elementary schools, she could be found volunteering for a number of organizations.
Now that some time has passed since her death, we wanted to find a way to commemorate her life and extend her example of giving . Therefore, this summer, from the middle of June until about the 4th of July Aaron will be biking approximately 1/2 way across the US (Massachusetts to Minnesota) to fundraise for two causes we know that had been important to her: Battling cancer and climate change. All funds raised will be donated in her memory.
This time around I am focusing the bulk of my fundraising efforts on a different cause, one that I know was also a serious concern for Becky and the future of her grandchildren. Though it is hard to believe, it is something that will radically change the very fabric of our world to an extent much larger than that of the COVID pandemic in the long run: the climate crisis. We are truly at a do or die moment for this monumental challenge for humanity. Thus far we have collectively fallen short. Not taking a bag at the store or paying a little more attention to MPG when we buy our next car, eating less meat etc: these are very important steps but we are going to need to do much more to start putting our money where our mouth is to avoid the worst case scenarios.
My goal is to transform that anxiety that many of us feel into concrete and useful collective action. It is vitally important to not allow the enormity of the challenge to shut us down as is so often the case when a feeling of hopelessness looms.
Greening the stimulus
Most people in this country have recently gotten a large stimulus check from the government. For many who have been severely financially impacted by the pandemic this will be an essential lifeline that will help meet rent, food, or other essentials. For others of us who have fortunately been spared the worst of the economic effects (like my family), it will be a nice cushion or a happy windfall. However, if we all go out and spend that money on doodads and gewgaws, we will actually be accelerating greenhouse gas release. My proposal to you is to join my family in using the first 10% of the stimulus funds to buy high-quality carbon offsets. For a $140 dollar donation you get the carbon offset for one person (about 16+/- tons of carbon per US resident) for a year. The money goes towards and organization that has been around since 1989 promoting agroforestry and regenerative farming practices. They have planted more than 220 million trees and, as importantly, they have provided a huge amount of education to farmers and stakeholders to improve their practice.
A BIG goal
Last time around we started out with a $3,000 goal and raised $8,000 thanks to the generous support of many. This time I am setting the goal at $10,000. I hope that you will join me in making a donation that will benefit everyone on the planet. This is not THE silver bullet solution, but it is one thing that we can do that will be a step in the right direction and have a direct impact. Also, because we will be buying in bulk it means that we can continue to support the Rays of Hope Foundation with 20% of the funds. This is the cancer support group that Becky was involved with which received half of our donations from the last ride. (PDF from an article they published in their newsletter and FB page below)
It’s more than a number
While $140 will purchase carbon credits for one person for a year, I realize that will be a heavy lift for many. Please know that ANY AMOUNT is much appreciated and not just at the monetary level. As I churned into a brisk headwind with temperatures above 90 riding into Flynt, MI, in 2019, I remember counting up the number of people who had supported the project in my head. It literally got me through that difficult day of pedaling and I am sure I will find myself in a similar scenario on the high plains this year again. At the end of the campaign you will get a report that shows exactly how all of the funds were disbursed and receive an accounting of our collective impact.
I offer one more option to extend our impact. Dealing with the climate crisis will entail a series of commitments both small and large that we will have to make collectively. Making a commitment publicly can be a powerful way of keeping us on track and amplifying the effect. For that reason I want to provide a totally optional space where people can give voice to any other commitments they are making in their lives. Just click on the “Climate Commitment” tab at the top of the blog whether you contribute financially or not.
A final way to help
If you would be so kind as to put this information into any networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc) you have that might be receptive. Social media is just not one of the things I do, so any additional exposure will be really helpful to the cause.
If you would be so kind as to put this information into any networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc) you have that might be receptive. Social media is just not one of the things I do, so any additional exposure will be really helpful to thIf you would be so kind as to put this information into any networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc) you have that might be receptive. Social media is just not one of the things I do, so any additional exposure will be really helpful to the cause.e cause.
Stay up to date