December 27, 2020

Cool Planet Skiers – Birkie 2021

Paul Thompson's 40th Birkebeiner Ski Marathon

 From his days as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malaysian Borneo (1971-73) teaching biology and health science, to his work with hunger and poverty elimination and climate solutions, being fit and active has been Paul’s passion.  Skiing the Birkie has been a yearly ritual for over 4 decades.  Despite warming winters and two cancellations, this year marks another milestone.

Donate – Take an Action – Spread the Word

To celebrate 40 years of Paul skiing the Birkie, we have lots of fours in the theme.  First. we have a goal to raise $40,000 to be shared among 4 amazing organizations.  Donate now.

  • Start Line – $14
  • Track Setter – $40
  • Trail Groomer – $140
  • Trail Blazer – $440
  • Uber Groomer – $1040
  • Finish Line – $2040

Take an Action

Cool Planet Skiers
  • Watch the documentary Saving Snow – the documentary that includes a segment with Paul Thompson at the Birkie in 2017.   And start with these Simple Steps.

Braver Angels:

  •  Join the movement of depolarizing our political system by taking one or more of the BA workshops listed in the Calendar of Events.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby:

  • Join over 200,000 citizens creating the “political will to solve our climate crisis” and sign up for the monthly calling campaign here.

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers for Environmental Action:

  • Join the group (even if you were never in the Peace Corps!) and invite RPCVs that you know to get involved. Talk to your neighbors and legislators. Take action locally and globally. Share your Climate Story. Together we are stronger…for the planet.

Spread the Word

Tell four friends about the campaign!  Send them to

Paul’s 40 Birkies

Paul at his first Birkie in 1979
Paul in December 2020 training for his 40th Birkie

Cool Planet Co-founder, Paul Thompson is skiing his 40th American Birkebeiner (Birkie) Cross-Country Ski Marathon in February 2021.  Paul has utilized his four decades of skiing the Birkie to raise awareness and funds for numerous non-profits over the years, initially for hunger and poverty solutions and more recently (with the creation of Cool Planet Skiers) toward solving our climate predicament. Read the abridged history here.


To celebrate Paul’s 40th Birkie, Cool Planet Skiers are expanding their collaborations with other organizations.

This year, things will look different for the Birkie – not a surprise.  Birkie 2021 will be spread over 5 days, no in person events inside, even a virtual ski option and many health-related measures.  So the Cool Planet Skier experience will look a little different too, but we still invite you to join in.  And we will be a part of the virtual Expo.

The Four Recipient Organizations

We have two new collaborations this year:

Braver AngelsBraver Angels is a citizens’ organization uniting red and blue Americans in a working alliance to depolarize America.

The RPCV4EA (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers for Environmental Action) are heading up a movement to engage the Peace Corps community of nearly 230,000 former volunteers and staff to address climate solutions.  


We continue these important collaborations from previous years:

Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is hopeful that their bi-partisan legislation (Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act) will finally take center stage in Congress as Republicans and Democrats come to the light that nothing lasts without bi-partisan agreement. CCL is educating and empowering citizens to use democracy as a powerful tool to seek solutions.

Cool Planet Skiers is creating “conversations for climate action” and “saving winter for future generations” while we collaborate with other organizations to move forward together to create an environmentally sustainable world through sound bi-partisan policies, respectful conversations and community actions.

Cool Planet Skiers meets the Green House game

We want to put climate solutions into everyone’s hands. To do that, this year, when you donate at $40 or more, you’ll get your choice of Green House, which puts real climate solutions into your hands.


About Green House

Green House is a cooperative card game for the whole family that can be played in 20-30 minutes. Draw events, play actions, manage your hope and money, and get rid of greenhouse gases together.
Green House is more than just a game. Each action card is a real climate solution with a QR code you can scan to learn more and take action. 

Calendar of Events

EventDate Host
Skills for Bridging the Divide – Burnsville, MNSaturday, January 30Braver Angels
Bridges to Coalition: CCL Regional ConferenceSaturday, January 30 – Sunday, January 31Citizens’ Climate Lobby
Birkie Virtual ExpoThursday, February 4 – Friday, February 5American Birkebeiner
Saving Snow Viewing PartyFriday, February 5, 6-8 PMCool Planet Skiers
Birkie 40 Zoom CelebrationFriday, February 19Birkie 40 Team
Birkie RacesWed, February 24 – Sunday, February 28American Birkebeiner
Depolarizing Within Workshop – Burnsville, MNSaturday, February 27Braver Angels

Thank You to our Donors

Trail Blazers ($440+)

Lane Ayres and Marion McNurlen

Pat Gavan

Steve Gordon

Peter Joseph

Rich and Peg Ugland

Tommy Thompson

Peter Thompson

Uber Groomers ($1040+)

Michelle and Dave Horan

Jim and Susan Lenfestey

Lee and Vicki Morgan

Rossi Family

Finish Line ($2040+)

Jeb Eddy

Linda and Bob Herscher

Melissa Raphan and Tom Rock Charitable Fund

Paul Thompson and Mindy Ahler



Thank you to the Edina Community Foundation, the Birkie 40 Fiscal Agent and Community Partner.

Staff — Edina Community Foundation