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Taking the Plunge into Climate Advocacy: My Journey with CCAN

Taking the Plunge into Climate Advocacy: My Journey with CCAN

by Lori Hill, CCAN Volunteer and Donor

This blog is based on comments Lori Hill offered to a Climate Protectors Spring Open House, at the home of Mike Tidwell, founder and executive director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN).

Do you want to help fight climate change? If the answer is yes, you may be where I was one fine day 18 years ago when I decided to join CCAN. I had just seen the movie An Inconvenient Truth, and as the credits rolled, I thought “I want to do something!” In a moment of divine alignment, I walked out of the theater and was approached by a CCAN volunteer with a clipboard and a clear question: “Do you want to make a difference and help save our planet?“

About a month later, I received a CCAN email about a clean energy open house held RIGHT HERE at Mike’s house. I made the journey from my home in Burtonsville and I learned about “vampire” energy and appliances, like my clothes dryer, that consume lots of energy and lend to the problem of overworked grids. I got lots of great tips AND left with my very first compact fluorescent light bulbs!

See, LEDs weren’t a big thing then, but I went home and started unplugging all my appliances (vampire energy!) and started looking at everything I did in my personal and work life. I asked myself, “How can I do better?” I wanted to be a big-time greenie! A little more than a year later, in the winter of 2007, to show my appreciation for putting me on the road towards being a climate warrior, I participated in my first CCAN Polar Bear Plunge — even though I HATE the cold! 

It was CCAN’s third-ever Plunge, and at the time, I had my own event planning business and noticed that for an environmental group, this polar bear plunge could have been a little bit more sustainable. You see, green events had become my expertise in the previous year thanks to CCAN starting me on that path in the first place! So I volunteered my services for the plunge the following year to ensure the event was mean and green and continued to for several years after that. Plus, I still kept plunging year after year even though I still HATED the cold. Then came the costumes.

The plunge that was held after the movie Avatar came out featured CCAN Board Member Charlie Garlow on stilts dressed as the lead in Avatar. Everybody was posing for pictures with him and it got us all really pumped up!  In future years, I decided to dress up, too — to raise awareness about climate issues and the different options we have to address it. Since then, I’ve taken the plunge dressed up as solar and wind power equipment; a melting iceberg, and even a salad advocating for a plant-based diet! 

All-in-all, I have plunged a total of 17 times. Together, my generous donors and I have helped raise over $58,000 for CCAN. As a result, more and more people know about CCAN and they want to support its great work, too – including my cousin in California and my friend in New York state, both of whom donate generously to my plunge.

On June 8, I am celebrating my 11th wedding anniversary with my husband John. I met him on It’s a place you can go to meet a fellow greenie! John’s profile said he lived in Takoma Park – the land of CCAN and Mike Tidwell! It was meant to be! When John and I got married, I was 47 and he was 46; so we didn’t need any more stuff. We asked our guests, in lieu of gifts, to please make a donation to CCAN in our honor. And they did! 

Now, 18 years later, I’m an even bigger greenie AND I still hate the cold. CCAN has grown and grown and grown thanks to supporters like us. They’ve moved from Mike’s house to a house on Eastern Avenue, and then to their current high-rise office. They advocate not just in our state houses, but also on Capitol Hill. They make a difference not just locally, but nationally and internationally.


I would not be who I am had I not gotten involved with CCAN. That’s why I support CCAN by: volunteering my time, donating my dollars, and by getting married! So I urge you to ask yourself today, “What can I do to help CCAN?” What special talents can I offer?”

Could you participate in the CCAN Polar Bear Plunge if you haven’t before? And if you do plunge every year, could you raise your goal or recruit others to join you? Reach out to everyone you know because you never know if your cousin in California or your friend in New York might want to help out, too. OR you could get married! And maybe one day, like that volunteer with the clipboard at the AFI Silver, you’ll inspire someone to get involved, too!

Lori Hill is the President and Co-Founder of Lake Effect Experiences. She is the former president of Sister Eden Media where she inspired followers to live more gently on Earth through her 160+ YouTube videos (@SisterEden). She also spearheaded the effort to ban plastic straws in Takoma Park and she regularly picks up trash on Carroll Avenue, a street she adopted through the City’s Adopt a Spot anti-litter initiative.