Let’s Talk Winter: Wintermission Initiative Wants Your Input

Lauren Fisher, photos by Allie Emerson

A new initiative to improve the quality of life in Eau Claire during the winter will begin Thursday, March 7 with pop-up engagement sessions at the L.E. Phillips Senior Centre, the Altoona Public Library, and Winter After Hours in Pinehurst Park.  All citizens are welcome to attend the first of several such listening sessions, where they can discuss the things that make winter great – and ways to make it better. In January, 8 80 Cities, a non-profit organization based in Toronto, Canada, announced that Eau Claire would be a vanguard city in the Wintermission initiative, which aims to combat social isolation and increase physical activity in winter for people of all ages and backgrounds.  Along with Buffalo, New York and Leadville, Colorado, Eau Claire will take the lead on addressing barriers to social engagement, mobility, and recreational opportunities over the winter months. The official kick-off event for Wintermission will take place Friday, March 8 from 6-8pm at the Visit Eau Claire Experience Center at the Pablo Center, and engagement sessions will continue the following day at Shift Cyclery and Coffee Bar, La Luna Grocery Store, and the Pablo Center.  These sessions will be used to inform the creation of a series of pilot projects that will improve the livelihoods of Eau Claire residents during the darker months. Locals are also encouraged to fill out a survey about their experience with Wisconsin winters, including their activity and obstacles, online. The survey, and more information about the pop-up engagement sessions and Wintermission, is available here.