I’m biking up the East Coast to combat climate change

As with any great idea, Climate Tours started as a tiny seed and with time and a little bit of moral support from loved ones, that crazy idea took on a life of its own and became a viable project.

My family’s adventure started eight years ago when we moved to Northern France. Who would have known back then that it would lead me to go home (back to the United States) to cycle more than 3,000 miles up the East Coast to raise awareness about the climate crisis?

It all started when we sold our second car. We started to walk and bike more often, buy local produce and reduce our waste. Then one summer two years later, we biked to Amsterdam for a family vacation.

That feeling of freedom we got from this bike trip was invigorating. We traveled with just a small bike pack for two weeks, had little to no phone access and stayed in people’s homes overnight through a nonprofit organization called Friends after Biking.

This was an absolutely transformative experience for all of us. It really made us think about what was important. I knew from that moment on that I had to change jobs. I wanted to do something that had meaning. I resigned a year later in 2020.

When COVID hit I had just participated in a workshop with Climate Fresk, a French nonprofit aiming to raise public awareness about climate change. I became a trainer for Climate Fresk, and after three years of facilitating workshops in companies, for cities, for nonprofits, in universities and in schools, I was hooked.

As a facilitator I saw that every workshop was unique. Every participant left the room motivated to contribute in some different and exciting way. I noticed that everyone left the workshop with three things in common:

  • They understood the root causes and consequences of climate change.
  • They understood that the work they need to do is for current and future generations.
  • They understood that we all need to act together, or it won’t work.

Change is hard. There is no doubt about it. Humans are creatures of habit. When we feel comfortable in our day-to-day lives, it seems hard or undesirable to change. Yet change is often an opportunity and only those that take that road (voluntarily or obliged) truly get to realize it.

At the end of the COVID lockdown, I co-founded a pilot school and the nonprofit OuiChange was launched. It continues to grow with a solid team and just recently received a prestigious award from the National Sustainable Food Program.

OuiChange was so much fun that I found another group of co-founders and did the same for companies and their staff. OuiChange Corp was born two years later and that’s the moment I started facilitating other climate-related workshops in companies and for cities.

During that time, the Climate Fresk initiative grew and grew, reaching its goal of 1 million participants in April 2023. That’s when I knew it was time to do something bold. We had to spread the Climate Fresk word and the other educational workshops, too. The seed of an idea for a tour took hold and quickly grew.

It had to be something any workshop facilitator could do and include low-carbon travel like biking, hiking, sailing or catching a train. The mission would be to facilitate workshops and stay with local people to create meaningful encounters.

We started in South Florida on March 1 with the plan of travelling through 58 cities up the East Coast through June 5. One of my sons is documenting the route with beautiful photos and videos while I facilitate workshops. The goal is to help as many people as possible to understand the climate crisis.

I invite you to join in the rising tide of Climate Fresk. No one wants to do it alone, so bring others with you! A strong social dynamic is key to a positive change in society. I’ve never felt so fulfilled in my life. The unthinkable isn’t impossible.

Heather Noreen is the founder of Climate Tours, a nonprofit NGO that empowers experienced facilitators to offer free public workshops and educational games for all ages about climate change. This opinion piece was distributed by The Invading Sea website (, which posts news and commentary on climate change and other environmental issues affecting Florida.

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