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Monthlong library presentation looks at climate change effects on northwoods ecology

River Falls Public Library volunteer Amy Glaser begins to unpack boxes that hold parts for the library's upcoming exhibit, "Paradise Lost? Climate Change in the Northwoods." The show was created by the UW-Madison Center for Biology Education and delivered last week. To see what's in all the boxes, take in the gallery exhibit which starts Saturday, March 21. Submitted photo

Starting Saturday and continuing through Thursday, April 26, the River Falls Public Library will host a number of events centered around the topic: "Paradise Lost? Climate Change in the North Woods."

According to Library Event Coordinator Katie Chaffee, "The exhibit includes paintings, drawings, quilting, sculptures, weaving, batik, mixed media, poetry, essays and music," along with scientific information offered during lectures by guest speakers and a live animal presentation. All events are free and open to the public. See additional information on dates and times in this issue.

Chaffee explained why and how the month-long environmental project was selected and funded.

"Climate change, while being a vitally important topic to us all, is just not something many people are comfortable thinking about, with its complex science and competing claims," began Chaffee. "Designed by the University of Wisconsin Center for Biology, education to help nonscientific audiences reflect on climate change, the exhibit's three themes (-- 1. Consider climate change; 2. Celebrate the cold; and 3. Alter the course --) blend art and science to explore the roots of climate change, the distinct beauty and functionality of northern climates, and what actions we can take, both individually and collectively, to preserve the environment we call home."

With the assistance of grant money and financial backing, Chaffee was able to secure the rented exhibit and incorporate complementary events around the climate change topic.

Chaffee said: "The library is always looking for completed exhibits that can be rented. When I read about the 'Paradise Lost' exhibit and its unique combination of art and science, I wrote a grant proposal to the Hudson-based group, "What We Need Is Here" -- whose purpose is to help St. Croix River Valley organizations build strong communities through the arts -- asking for partial funding of the $3,000 cost.

"We received $1,500 from the St. Croix Valley Community Foundation. Contributions from our own library foundation, River Falls and Hudson Daybreak Rotary Clubs, River Falls Community Arts Base, Energy Concepts...(and) a grant from River Falls Municipal Utilities' POWERful Choices project made up the difference and also funded many of the associated programs.

"The project has also received support from the St. Croix Valley Interstate Sierra Club and the UW-River Falls Institute for Sustainable Community Development."

Together the presentations will create "...a stimulating, thought-provoking exhibit that encourage everyone to take action to help minimize global warming," said Chaffee. "Artwork and poetry on the climate change theme by local writers, artists and student from a New Richmond elementary school will augment the UW-Madison exhibit."