And so I began…Part 2

November 7, 2016

And so I began…Part 2

As I step back from my self in writing on this blog post, I am aware that I am in a sense an interesting specimen. As someone who is starting quite late in life to get involved with a certain kind of activism, I find myself, on one hand, jumping into actions on the local and national level and at the same time I find, even after a year, that there is so much to absorb, understand, question and reflect upon. There are varying points of views, ways of understanding what the problem is and the solutions. So much has been also written why this crisis is so complex and huge and that there is no easy fix. In addition, it is not easy for many reasons (which I will go into at a later post) for us humans to really feel and act upon the urgency, as one would during war time, when everything is dropped and no sacrifice is too great.

It’s been an on-going journey for me…and will continue…as more and more I am struck by how many people, organizations, blog posts, books and films have been responding to this crisis for many years. I am continually being impressed with so many individuals who have been studying, writing about, speaking out and protesting for a long time. For example, scientists, such as James Hansen, Michael Mann and James Lovelock, to name just a few, have been studying climate and its changes for years and although there are definitely no exact measurements, we can assume from everything I’ve read that at least a good part of what the predictions say are not far from the truth at this point.

Just to add: I am also an interesting specimen partly because it is all very new for me and so I want to get as much understanding as I can… as well as jumping into action.

Coming back to my story: It’s been about a year now, as I mentioned in my first post, since I got involved in this complex arena of climate change after seeing the film “Planetary.” For some reason, this film – I’m sure it could have been another film as well – smacked me up against the enormity of its reality. It’s as though there had previously been some film over my eyes that obscured my vision. Something landed hard…”Yes, this is for real. This is really happening. Our whole way of life, culture, planet, peoples are in dire trouble. This is the most important crisis we have ever faced.” It was like “OMG, I have to do something and I have no idea what that looks like.”

And like a new convert, inside anyway, I felt like shouting to the world; and to people I know and love, about how urgent this situation is. It seemed like many were not on exactly the same page as me. How could we all just go on as usual while this is hanging over us?

I did not shout, but that is what I felt like doing.

And with at least some humility, I did also realize that I had just recently gotten involved myself and at least from my own experience, knew how overwhelming a topic climate change was and not one that can easily be faced or even when faced, to have a sense of empowerment in relationship to changing the situation. And I also knew that many people; my friends and family, were very concerned, but also they had their own concerns, their own work to pursue, their own unique life’s circumstances, in addition to often not knowing what to do. And quite honestly, I also continued with my “own” life as well. It wasn’t as if I dropped everything and only focused on climate change.

So coming back to my story – as you can see, there is so much to write about –  my friend Uli and I sent out emails to people who had come to our mini-film fest before the Paris Climate talks and invited anyone to meet with us to see what else could happen. Both Uli and I were jumping into new territory.

From that initial outreach, about 8 of us met (men and women from all different backgrounds, experiences of activism and abilities) and what emerged quite organically was an all day and night Climate Action Sustainability Fair in May 2016. It was a celebration to all those in the Berkshires and nearby who were working tirelessly with the legislature, with pipeline protests, with alternative energies –  a celebration of their hard work and successes. Just briefly, the Fair included about 7 speakers, discussion groups, about 20 tables representing various local organizations, a whole children’s section with storytelling, art and puppets, a showing of the movie, “This Changes Everything” and a dance at night.

It was a wonderful event and although it did not get as many people as we would have liked, it still was a success. Those who came really appreciated it. And so the group “Living the Change Berkshires” was born and from that, we have continued to meet, talk together, inform ourselves of different events happening and so far have initiated small action/events in the Berkshires.

The question still arose for me after this event: how effective is a Fair like this? Does it make a big difference in the long run? Are we just bringing in people who are already involved and if not, does it affect people who are not? What actions will make a difference and on a personal level, what actions make sense for me to do?

I am also realizing that we can’t always see the fruits of our actions and we don’t always see how one action effects more actions and at some point, those accumulative actions do make a difference. It may take awhile, but eventually change can happen.