In Search of Al Gore; In Search of Inspiration

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You don`t always find Olympic medalists wandering around in search of inspiration. But Sara Renner is not just any Olympic medalist.

Renner is the cross-country skier whose Olympic dream brushed the rocks in Turino in 2006 when her pole snapped halfway through a sprint event she was skiing with teammate Beckie Scott. She was rescued, just as suddenly, when Norwegian ski coach Bjoernar Haakensmoen ran over and handed Renner a new poll – and she raced off to capture a Silver Medal (displacing the Norwegian team to fourth spot).

In a sporting world where drugged-up cheaters and poor losers seem to get all the headlines, that was the most inspiring story in decades.

But lately, Renner says climate change has been clouding her usually optimistic view. In her 20-year ski racing career (she started at age 12), Renner has watched the snowline climb mountains all over the world.

It`s come to be such a common occurrence to have races cancelled or pulled off in unusual circumstances,“ she says. In fact, it`s completely common these days to race through green fields, skiing down a white stripe of snow that organizers have carted down from the mountains.

Given “an underlying concern for the environment and an underlying concern for the future of my sport,“ Renner said she was already an environmental activist. But then she discovered an even larger concern: “I became a new mother one year and two months ago.“ (Grab a box of Kleenex and run over to Renner`s website for her `new mom` journal entry; it`s fabulous.)

With baby Aria (inset) to look out for, Renner now says she feels an even greater responsibility to `share this beautiful world.“

That`s how she wound up in Montreal this weekend, `looking for inspiration` from Al Gore. She got the call when The Climate Project-Canada contacted the Clean Air Champions looking for prospective trainees, and “It was an invitation I couldn`t refuse.“

There are 250 more stories – not all quite so famous as Renner`s, but all revealing a mix of hope and concern. That`s how many people participated in the weekend training process, learning to present the slideshow that won Al Gore an Academy Award. And no small number of them reported fighting off moments of despair over the quickening changes in our environment, and over our failure to respond.

But hope certainly won out on the weekend. Hope and determination. You can expect to hear more from the group in the months to come – and if you want to hear from any single member, click on this link, and one will surely be coming your way. Not withstanding the bumps and broken poles along the way, you can bet it will end on an inspiring note.

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