Despite popular belief, the city of Buffalo is not always encased in a thick blanket of ice and snow. While winter weather certainly takes an unfortunate liking to the western New York city, its residents are often rewarded with a handful of glorious summer weeks. Having grown up on a farm outside of Buffalo, I am all too familiar with the sweltering heat of a Buffalo summer. I recall waking up early for summer camp, when the grass in the yard would be damp with dew. The cicadas would still be sleeping and the sun would just barely coat the farmland with rays of honey. Summer mornings on my childhood farm felt nearly religious. When asked where my passion for environmentalism came from, I point to that place in all its nurturing glory.
When I wasn’t filling the days of my youth with adventures in The Great Outdoors (the cornfields of the backyard), I was likely writing short stories at the kitchen table. I have always loved writing nearly as much as I have loved nature. Thus, when I discovered Climate Stories Project it felt serendipitous. It was an opportunity for me to combine two of the greatest joys in my life- storytelling and environmentalism.
Climate Stories Project has revealed to me how powerful storytelling can be as a tool to combat the climate crisis. Throughout history, oral storytelling has been the primary medium by which lessons from our natural world have been shared. From Native American legends to African folktales to Celtic myths, oral storytelling about the environment has been passed down through generations across the globe. If storytelling can be used to preserve and share the wisdom of our earth, why not use storytelling to also protect and defend it?
Initially, I embarked on my environmental storytelling journey with the goal of connecting more with our earth. Yet along the way I realized that it has also connected me more with humanity. Whether I was listening to the stories of other Climate Stories Ambassadors or speaking with people in my own community about climate change, I have felt threads of interconnectedness weave themselves between me and those I interact with. In reflecting upon this, I find that connecting with humankind is a part of connecting with our greater earth. For humans are just as much a part of nature as the trees and flowers and animals. We are all the same in that we are sustained by the planet we find ourselves on. There is something beautifully comforting about that.
While I still have much to learn about environmental storytelling, I am grateful for all that Climate Stories Project has already taught me. It has given me a place to learn, reflect, and grow in climate advocacy. Above all else though, it has instilled in me the power of listening. For true change cannot take place until we understand what we are up against, which can only be done by listening to the stories of those we share this earth with.