Sometimes it feels like it’s just all bad news when it comes to our environment. Climate change seems to be upon us – with daily reports of glaciers melting, ice sheets breaking off, oceans warming, and ecological systems breaking down – and it’s promised to only get worse from here. That’s why finding stories of inspiration is particularly important right now. While it’s true that we’ve already surpassed certain key metrics pertaining to greenhouse gas and other pollution levels from which there’s no turning back, hope is the key element to preserving what can still be a bright future. It’s what will motivate us to make the often-difficult changes necessary to minimize the severity of our environmental fate. And there’s nothing that fills us with hope quite like tangible examples of individuals that have committed to making a difference, their way.

That’s why I was so pleased when the Wellspring Program at The Osborn — a program designed to inspire the members of The Osborn community to enjoy life to the fullest by embracing the seven dimensions of wellness that enrich life at every stage — partnered with Friends of Rye Nature Center to bring just such an example to our community. They invited Top to Top to speak about their global climate expedition, because connecting with nature and working to conserve it satisfies some of the goals of both of these organizations. As a happy byproduct, Rye residents got an up-close and personal look at one family’s approach to making the world a better place.

Top to Top is a Swiss nonprofit volunteer organization that aspires to sail around the world and climb the highest peak on each continent (hence “Top to Top”). It promotes outdoor sports as a key element to getting children and older people alike interested and invested in the fate of environment, which makes a lot of sense. Surfers, after all, usually care deeply about the health of our oceans; skiers about mitigating global warming, which is making mountainous regions more temperate; and hikers about the protecting our forests. The expedition is led by Dario Schworer and his family. Throughout their travels, they also visit with the communities most affected by climate change, work with schoolchildren on developing ideas for an environmentally sound future, and undertake efforts to clean up natural settings around the world. They rely on wind, solar, and human energy to propel all of their travels and initiatives.

Each person in attendance surely found his or her own source of inspiration from the presentation. For me, the most encouraging thing was to see an intergenerational gathering of people eager to hear someone talk about his personal efforts to address our climate crisis. Not even a torrential rainstorm was able to stop them from coming.

It wasn’t your usual Q&A session — questions were fielded from elementary school children and octogenarians in turn — and it filled me with hope that many people of all ages in our community care deeply about conservation. While education efforts often focus on children, who we think of as the inherent nature-lovers and conservationists, why not include everyone in the conversation? We all have a stake in the future of our planet. Everyone, from young children to the eldest among us. And the latter act as an important bridge from the what was and what is to what will be when it comes to the health of our planet and the viability of the human race on it. By linking everyone into the conversation, we can come up with better habits and maybe even better solutions.

— The Rye Garden Club Conservation Committee