Emily Gluckin is a young women preparing for her first event with Climate Ride. She’ll be participating in Climate Hike this August, traversing through Glacier National Park with 20 like-minded hikers led by a team of knowledgeable Glacier Guides.

Emily is currently serving a term with Montana Energy Corp, which is a project of Americorp aimed to address unmet community energy needs. Energy Corp promotes sustainable energy consumption and education, fosters community sustainability and helps to mitigate the effects of global climate change.

Based in Helena, Montana, Emily is serving with Bike Walk Montana, the statewide active transportation advocacy organization. I caught up with Emily to learn more about her motivation to hike and her experience so far, before we’ve even left for Glacier National Park.

Here’s what she had to say:

I am participating in Climate Hike as part of my service term with the Montana Energy Corps, and I feel so lucky that I get to go on this adventure as part of my job!  Personally, I am motivated to participate in Climate Hike because sustainability and alternative transportation are my passions. I can’t wait to be part of an effort to raise awareness and learn from fellow hikers and guest speakers on the trip. 

When I was 10, my family moved [from Connecticut] to Zurich, Switzerland. It was there that I first experienced the power of alternative transportation. I could walk, bike, take the train, bus, ferry, or even cable car anywhere I wanted to go. It was so different from the strictly car-oriented town in Connecticut that I grew up in. I felt independent and I felt free. The towns and cities were ruled by people, not by cars. It’s been almost a decade since I moved back to the US, and with Switzerland always in the back of my mind, I am participating in Climate Hike to raise awareness about how empowering alternative transportation can be. 

Specifically, I am hiking to raise funds for Bike Walk Montana, the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization where I have been serving as a Montana Energy Corps member since September 2015.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

 

I am really interested in how design can influence our lifestyles, and how good design can act as a solution for many issues. Telling people to change their behavior is hard and most of the time, it’s ineffective. Alternatively, if something is designed with a positive impact in mind, the behavior change will be inherent. For that reason, I am a big fan of complete streets, passive houses, and similar designs that encourage more sustainable choices, without people feeling forced. They create the opportunity for active transportation and less energy consumption and interaction with the environment, and they make it beautiful and fun and exciting. It’s almost like tricking people into doing the right thing (but in a nice way!) I firmly believe that sustainable design is going to save the planet!

A couple of years ago I read The Upcycle by William McDonough, in which he presents an idea that has stuck with me ever since: doing less bad is not the same thing as doing good.  For example: when you take a car and increase it’s fuel efficiency, you are making it less bad, but not fixing the issue of the pollution and consumption it is still creating. “Don’t think about minimizing the footprint of a person or society. Think about a beneficial footprint.” There’s a way to live in harmony with our environment, it’s just a matter of being brave and open to change. I’d like everyone to think about that idea, and feel the same optimism from it that I do.

Fundraising a large amount of money, as well as preparing for a multiple day hike are very new to me and it’s been, and will continue to be, a learning process. I’ve enjoyed sharing my story with people in my life. It has also served as a way for me to reconnect with people that I haven’t talked to in a while and let them know what I’m up to. I’ve gotten great responses from those that I’ve reached out to, but it’s sometimes hard to get them to follow through with donating. I’ve had to learn what techniques are working, and how to convey the message so that people will feel motivated to support me. I am so close to the goal right now but am in a crunch to get the last few hundred dollars! [You can make a contribution in support of Emily’s Climate Hike here!]

I have also never hiked as much as I will be with Climate Hike. I am active and am outside a lot, so I feel mildly prepared for this journey, but I am still nervous for how my body will handle it. I’ve been trying to get some hikes in before the trip to get my legs and feet ready for what I’m about to do to them, but it will definitely be a new experience for me.

Along with physically preparing, I need to make sure I have the gear I need, which is not an easy task on an AmeriCorps budget. Luckily, I have nice friends who are graciously letting me borrow some things for the trip, but there will be some purchases that I have to make soon. 

We’re so excited to meet you in Glacier, Emily! Thank you for your commitment to active transportation and sustainability.

 

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