On April 22, Earth Day turns 50. It’s disturbing that when it comes to our environment, we are in worse shape than we were in 1970. Instead of taking decisive action to reduce our carbon emissions, we ramped up, and now are facing unprecedented situations that affect our everyday lives. Floods, fires and now pandemics are no longer the stuff of movies. They are realities that are shaking us awake, and calling on us to respond. Earth Day’s theme this year is Climate Action. Predictions are that 50 per cent of climate action must happen from the top down – that’s government, legislators and corporations. But, the other 50 per cent can happen from the bottom up – grassroots movements, and people working together. That’s where we all come in. “52 Weeks” is an initiative my friend Laurel Hood and I conceived one afternoon. Laurel is a retired teacher from CCI, a climate activist and transportation lead for the Collingwood Climate Action Team (CCAT). We came up with an idea to inspire people into taking action, and to grow a movement that gets people feeling hopeful, empowered and positive about how they can be the change. We’ve all had an overwhelming amount of bad news lately. And that leaves many of us anxious, confused and pessimistic about the future. We wanted to turn that around. To give people practical ideas to reduce their own carbon footprints, in a positive and supportive way, and hopefully have fun doing it. Carbon is tricky to imagine, because it’s invisible. You can’t see your progress in the mirror, or in your recycling box. But, there are ways to calculate your own footprint. We’ll help you do that, so you know where you’re starting from. And we’ll give you tools to track it as the weeks go on, so you can see the impact your actions are having. It’s pretty simple. We came up with 52 concrete ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Once you subscribe, you’ll be emailed a tip that gives you a challenge, activity, or something to think about for that week, starting the week of April 19. We’ll also post a blog that goes into more detail on how that week’s challenge helps reduce carbon. A monthly article will appear here in The Echo, with a summary of the upcoming month’s challenges. Many of the challenges are rated good, better, best, so you can choose the option that fits your lifestyle. We’re hoping to build awareness and give people viable options for changing habits and behaviours, but we don’t want it to be intimidating or complicated. This is supposed to be inspiring, not daunting. Many people want to do something, but they just don’t know where to start. We’re providing tools and a process to get you in motion, and hopefully momentum will build from there. So, sign up today at firstname.lastname@example.org. Better yet, sign up as a family, or get a group together at work. We’d love to see groups challenging each other to become the ultimate climate champion in our region. And, send us your progress. We’d love to hear how the challenge is working for you. There are things we can all do that have little impact on our quality of life, but big impact on emissions. Starting right now, we can all take steps toward reducing our own carbon footprints, and set ourselves on a path toward healing our planet. Sherri Jackson is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the communications lead and editor for the Collingwood Climate Action Team, and has hosted two Green New Deals locally. Stay in touch by through social media @52weeksofclimateaction.