Here we are in December, rounding out 2023. Wow. What a year it has been.  As we slow down to reflect and recharge before bounding into next year, we’re so excited to be celebrating our Climate Hero of the Month for December, Ryan DeCrescent!

Ryan’s story of organizing with 350 Colorado started a little over a year ago, and like many activists, his connection to the natural world laid a strong foundation for action.

“I was born and raised in Southern California, just a few miles from the Pacific coast. Curiously, I never took up surfing… but I loved skateboarding, snowboarding and, later, rock climbing,” said Ryan. “My love for rocks and mountains pushed me to seek a life (and career) in Boulder Colorado. I now live here and work as a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.”

And like many people experience, knowing how to channel that care and concern can be challenging. “Although I always “appreciated” Earth, I hadn’t a clue how to begin supporting it,” said Ryan. “In the midst of a mild (but constructive) existential crisis, I emailed 350CO. They supported me tremendously in figuring out how to get involved in climate action.”

It is totally normal when someone starts to organize that they want to know what is it they can do that will have the most impact? What is the most important thing they can assist with?  Sometimes those answers are cut and dry, but most of the time they are not. Everything is a priority in its own way, and organizing inevitably has urgent things that arise that we must respond to. But really it’s most important to just start, try new things, and see what comes out of it. Once Ryan reached out and connections were made to teammates, things were underway!

When the Denver team was looking at putting on a Climate Leadership workshop in February we needed a team of people who were ready to take on a number of roles, and Ryan was one of those awesome activists that stepped up. Not only was he a part of the planning process from the beginning, but he contributed further by developing content for the sections of the workshop he was going to present. He was engaging and effective at getting participants to interact, and when it was all said and done he was there helping breakdown and clean-up.

“Ryan has been a valuable member of the Policy Committee and been really crucial to our efforts on many fronts!” said Heidi Leathwood, 350CO Climate Policy Analyst. “He asks the important questions, and with his scientific mind, is always grounded in evidence.”

Ryan’s appearance at Commission meetings and public comment hearings throughout the year has been so helpful, as he comments as a private citizen who is very knowledgeable and credible. We simply cannot expect our legislators and elected officials to act in the ways we want unless we act and say something. We must use the power of our lived experiences, stories, and data to urge them to make the right choices, and Ryan has been very impactful at doing just that. His work on the policy committee report about the Suncor malfunction last year and subsequent shutdown was pivotal, shedding further light on the many issues and harmful impacts of the plant. 

Ryan also helped make the Colorado Fiscal Institute report ‘Truth About Oil & Gas’ action party in March a huge success! He took video footage throughout the night and converted it to a useful format to further promote the findings of the report and the truth about how little oil & gas benefits us as a state. Anyone who has done videography work before knows just how much work goes into that, and Ryan really gave so much to make it happen.

“My new and current attitude toward activism is to do whatever I can, whenever I can, however I can, and try to not worry about how small it may seem. (It’s better than doing nothing!)” – Ryan

After a busy and pretty demanding legislative season earlier this year, Ryan helped during the ‘Legislative Debrief & Connect’ event in May, bringing activists together to celebrate the wins and reflect on the challenges. Despite the last minute nature of it, Ryan was even able to provide a ride for a fellow organizer who needed it. Small acts like that add up and ultimately reflect the supportive teammate that Ryan is.

“On a personal note, I really appreciate Ryan’s commitment, dedication, kindly and intense energy, and quiet strength of purpose,” said Heidi. “Every instance that I’ve gotten to spend time with Ryan, whether it’s getting coffee or chatting about a project, I’ve been impressed,” said Chelsea Alexander, 350CO Movement Building & Volunteer Director. “Ryan is intentional, curious, and helpful, and surely inspires others with his work.” 

And Ryan has remained diligent in considering the different ways in which he can be impactful in the climate movement. While it’s easy to overlook, making financial contributions and supporting campaign expenses when possible is critical for grassroots movements to win. The fossil fuel industry has deeper pockets and will spare no expense to protect their status quo, so we can’t thank folks like Ryan enough for their on-going generosity! THANK YOU!

Usually we try to incorporate some encouraging advice into these monthly posts, but this time Ryan really hit it on the head with his advice and we can’t say it much better:

“We all have different roles and we experience different conditions (internal and external). Lead by example. Find inspiring friends. Be inspiring. Challenge yourself. Commit to making incremental changes. (They add up over time!) Feel no shame when your peers mock you for cleaning and reusing that ziplock bag or opting to take the bus/bike. Be honest about your feelings and needs and what makes you feel fulfilled. I notice that many people hold the “my vote hardly matters” attitude toward making environmental change. That is, “not much will change until we ALL change.” But that’s precisely why you and I have to do something. I acknowledge my privilege and step up because I have the opportunity to. Ideally, we’d have full-time jobs in the movement, but this may not be our reality (yet). In the meantime, we can volunteer time and money (donate), practice mindful sustainability, learn, speak up, and try to educate others. Support what supports us.”

Thank you so much Ryan from every one of us here for all that you have done to support us, yourself, and the movement! Your passion for helping the planet during this crisis, paired with the experiences and skills you have gained along the way make you a leader in every sense of the word. We celebrate the many ways in which you’ve showed up and remained committed to the cause!


Want to be our next Climate Hero of the month? Join the climate movement and shine with your unique skills! Email