It is time to tell the truth. Our world is changing in ways we cannot truly imagine, and what we need right now, is the ability to imagine a changing world.
For 12 years I have worked on communicating the climate emergency through creativity. I have worked in and with communities experiencing changing environments as the impacts of the climate and ecological breakdown increased. I have been doing this work since 2006.
In the fall of 2018, the IPCC released its now infamous 12 years report. Everyday the news coming out was bleaker and more disheartening. In August of 2018, Greta Thunberg started striking outside of the Swedish Parliament in order to force her government to respond to what she saw as the single most important issue of our time. She is not wrong. Shortly thereafter, my own son, then 9 years old asked if he could start his own strike here in New York City. On December 7, 2018 I joined him outside of NYC City Hall. As I continued to work on my own projects I realized a disconnect. My own work took time, time to build community, do research and bring people along a slow and gentle path of knowledge, fear, grieving and action.
I recognized that we no longer had time to take things slowly.
I chose to stand up.
Since January of 2019 I have been organizing with Extinction Rebellion. A non-violent direct action campaign seeking urgent and radical responses to climate change. As part of this work I had to challenge myself to undertake our first demand, Tell the Truth. Government must tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change. Within this I had to learn to tell the truth to myself, that the world I had always expected will not be the reality.
In undertaking this new, urgent work, I have recognized the vital change needed in my own work. I need now to create space for communities with which I work to process (in rapid time) the grief that we all need to process regarding the climate emergency and be able to move to action.
In addition, creativity has an important role to play in all of this, in order to imagine a wholly different world than the one in which we currently exist. As artists we can both create visions of a new world as well as create space to allow others to engage in radical re-imagination of how we live on this planet.
Everyone will find their own path in engaging with the truth that exists for us now - one in which our food systems are under threat, where species are going extinct at an alarming rate and where we are living entirely out of balance with which our planet can sustain life.
I am, an admitted, reluctant activist. Early on in my son’s strike (he continues to strike to this day, every Friday) I would ask him, “do you want to go strike this week?” He would answer, “I don’t want to strike, but I have to strike.”
I will not stand by as our world is decimated, I will stand up.