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Until this summer, Protect Our Winters, POW, which is based in the United States, has been focusing on educating and giving grants for clean energy to the mountain communities in our own country. This summer—or winter as it may be—they’re headed south.
POW has begun outreach programs in both Australia and Argentina, and Chris Steinkamp, executive director of POW, says he hopes to have programs up and running in Chile and New Zealand within the next month. The organization has a wealth of supporters in each of these countries, as winter sports are an important part of life for people who live in the southern mountainous regions.
The supporters of POW in the Southern Hemisphere are what pushed the organization to set up camp there. “It just didn’t seem right to be taking a lot of money from these countries and not gifting it back,” Steinkamp said. POW is taking a grassroots approach to climate change, and sponsoring community based events, as well as giving out grants to promote environmental education.
Programs are just getting underway in Las Lenas and Bariloche, Argentina, and Melbourne, Australia. In the U.S., POW has partnered with the Sierra Club to fight for legislation, and given out grants to support solar-powered schools and development of renewable energy sources. Steinkamp says POW wants to tackle climate change issues in these southern-hemisphere mountain communities the same way they have been throughout the U.S.
Climate change is a global issue, and POW recognizes that the winter sports community is at the heart of addressing it. In 2007 pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones founded the organization because of the first hand experiences he had traveling to the same places each year, and seeing how climate change had affected winter sports in those areas.
Other skiers and snowboarders, especially from the younger set, have jumped on the bandwagon as well. “We’ve got a huge social network on Facebook,” Steinkamp said. POW is very excited to see how many people are engaged by the topic, and hope to see an increased interest in activism as they move forward—and south—with the organization.