Connecting The Dots
Throughout my adult life, in both my career and volunteering, I’ve been drawn to efforts that work to change social problems by getting at their root causes. From the time of the Vietnam war, when I first dipped my toes into protest, then moved on to promoting human rights, working for racial and economic justice, and changing public policy, I’ve always taken a systemic approach to social change. In my last job before retiring, at a refugee services agency, I had the pleasure of working directly to assist people. I was passionate about each of the previous causes, and I truly enjoyed working for an organization that touches people’s lives and stands with them in times of crisis. Like many others, I’m deeply motivated by hearing people’s stories and struggles. Humanizing the big picture often creates a perspective that results in understanding and action.
When I retired in 2006, a year after moving to the Metro East from St. Louis County, I began looking for something to which I could contribute my time and effort. My networks remained in St. Louis and being somewhat conscious of my ‘carbon footprint,’ I felt the need to find purpose closer to home. The days of long commutes to be ‘productive’ began to seem counterproductive and counter-intuitive to my commitment to living lightly on the Earth. Yet my passion to “change the world,” persisted, and by then it was clear the world quite literally needed to be changed more than ever.
By a stroke of luck, I was introduced to the Center for Spirituality & Sustainability (CSS) and its mission “to promote humanity’s sacred connection to the Earth and each other.” Being a volunteer with the CSS led me to La Vista Ecological Learning Center in Godfrey, where I soon attended their “Earth Literacy” week, an experiential learning program that immersed us in the sacredness of our “rare and beautiful” planet and human-kind’s relationship with Mother Earth and all her living beings.
The week was transformative and led me to a new understanding of living and working in concert with the life of our planet. While I still volunteer with the CSS, La Vista also continues to draw me in with seasonal celebrations and educational opportunities. I was among the group that formed the Confluence Climate Collaborative after going through the discussion course, “A World of Health: Connecting People, Place and Planet” at La Vista.
My purpose in life hasn’t changed; it has simply come full circle. All those issues I worked on in the past are intricately entwined in the roots of climate change. Katherine Hayhoe, a climate scientist and “UN Champion of the Earth” wrote, “This isn’t about saving the planet. The planet itself will survive. The question is what will happen to those of us who live here.” (All We Can Save, p.106)
Those who live in poverty and are powerless in our society and around the world currently suffer more than others from the climate crisis. For example, the most polluting of industries in the US are purposefully sited in communities of color and other low-resourced areas, a truly unjust business model. Indigenous populations the world over are being displaced and their spokespersons killed in the drive by external forces for so-called development.
All of us can educate others about climate change and the urgent need to deal with it by telling these peoples’ stories to anyone who will listen. Let’s connect the dots between climate change and peoples’ lives to help our fellow citizens understand that one day all of us will be similarly impacted if the climate crisis continues un-abated. We really are ‘all in this together,’ and we can make the world better for everyone if we work together to change the course currently being followed.
With my dear colleagues in the Confluence Climate Collaborative, I heartily recommend the book “All We Can Save” as an excellent resource for understanding what’s happening and what we can do to change it. Also, please join us at our Earth Day celebration, “Spring into Healing” on Sunday, April 24th from Noon to 2:00 PM, at the CSS Fuller Dome where we will share our insights from, and excitement about the book.