We Wisconsinites love our winters. Oh, we may joke about it (“Wisconsin. Come for the cheese. Stay because your boots are frozen to the ground.”), but the truth is we relish its quiet beauty and the outdoor activities ushered in by the season. Unfortunately, winters in Door County and across the country are changing, and not for the better. Warmer, wetter winters and a disappearing snow season are frustrating for winter sports enthusiasts and also mean lost income for the many towns and small businesses that depend on winter tourism and recreation.
As a member of the steering committee of the Climate Change Coalition of Door County, I have access to a lot of information on climate change – the good, the bad, and the ugly. When the coalition and the League of Women Voters cosponsored a screening of Saving Snow in early January, I was familiar with the story and thought I knew what to expect. Let’s just say, I was a little bit right and a lot wrong.
In 2017, a Brooklyn filmmaker headed to Hayward, Wis., to film the Birkebeiner, the largest cross-country skiing marathon in North America, for his upcoming documentary about the effect of climate change on American communities. He intended to capture the dramatic scope and excitement of the event. Instead it was canceled due to unseasonably warm temperatures and rain, and the Birkie became the first of many such stories chronicled in the hour-long film. Through a series of in-depth interviews with people in Wisconsin, Vermont, New Hampshire, Colorado, California and Utah, Saving Snow recounts the challenges and hardships brought about by global warming. Professional athletes, scientists, policy experts, community leaders, business leaders, and residents who derive their income from winter share experiences that illustrate climate change is real – and it’s here now.
But the story doesn’t end there. The truly powerful and stirring message of the film – and the one I underestimated – is that from these struggles, real heroes emerge. Saving Snow documents unexpected and inspiring successes in the fight against climate change. We see towns and cities setting goals for renewable energy that are equivalent to, and sometimes more aggressive, than those set by countries. We witness the emergence of passionate and creative advocates and the power of community engagement. We hear businesses describe new standards for corporate sustainability.
If you have a chance to see this film, I promise you will leave uplifted. The problem of climate change feels massive at times, but we are not in this alone. There are many people working on solutions. And any one of us can join them. Anyone. At any time. For me, the lesson of Saving Snow is a hopeful one. People want and need to feel empowered. And when they do, truly amazing things can happen.
Saving Snow is available to rent or buy for download at adaptationnow.com/films.
Sturgeon Bay, Wis.