Climate Summer: Local Students Cycle for Change in Rhode Island

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


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Sometimes it's about walking the talk. This summer, for an intrepid group of college students, it's about pedalling it.

Five young cyclists, two of whom are Brown University students, are on a nine-week, 800-mile bike trek through the cities and towns of Rhode Island and Connecticut, as part of New England Climate Summer, an internship program that enlists students to bike across New England and spread the word about the ills of fossil fuels and the challenges of combating climate change.

The young women hail from different parts of the East Coast and make up the Rhode Island/Connecticut team for Climate Summer, a program of the Better Future Project. Their team is one of six touring New England this summer. The team's itinerary began in Wilmot, NH, and passed through Providence last week. Now in Connecticut, the team will return to Rhode Island later in July. They plan to spend a week in the North Kingstown area from July 12-18, and in the Westerly area from July 19-25.

Trying to make the environmental movement more relatable

Aside from building a climate movement by discouraging the use of fossil fuels, Climate Summer also aims to take an inventory of organizations that are working to combat climate change and forge connections between those organizations and the public.

 “We see our being here as an opportunity to bring people together,” said Rhode Island/Connecticut team member Louisa Kellogg, a native of Rhode Island who just completed her freshman year at Boston University and who will be transferring to Brown University next spring. 

Jacqueline Ho, a rising sophomore at Brown, said the group is also trying to make the environmental/climate movement more relatable to people. “We’re trying to reframe the climate conversation as being more than about just the environment," she said. "Climate change affects people directly and plays into national security and public health issues.”

Couch surfing, daily Tweeting

The travel is spartan. The group will sleep on the floors of churches and community centers, and they will take showers when possible. Meanwhile, the team will Tweet and blog frequently, so interested folks can follow their movements. You can follow the Connecticut/Rhode Island team’s journey on Twitter and Facebook. At the end of the summer, they and the other teams participating in Climate Summer will compile a "State of the Movement Report," which will catalogue the efforts of environmental groups in all the communities they visited during their rides.

Joanna Detz is a staff member of ecoRI News, a Providence-based nonprofit journalistic initiative devoted to educating readers about the causes, consequences and solutions to local environmental issues and problems. Read more at


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