Reflections: 2021 Talk Climate Institute

“Expertise is already inherent within all of us.” — every person and their climate story is part of the climate justice ecosystem.

As mothers, brothers, students, animal-lovers, teachers, listeners, we can all show up exactly as we are and play a part in climate change education and activism.

This year’s Talk Climate Institute held space to listen, to take a breath, to notice, and to heal with the community it created and convened throughout the two-day event. Every one of us showed up with our own web of people and experiences that have shaped our own realities and whose experiences we can influence as well. This simple reminder to merely tune into the community and stories that already exist within us was the root of Talk Climate.

We can look to the relationships in the natural world to learn about the unique and different ways each individual can contribute to the climate movement. As fungi decompose, pollinators transport, roots absorb, and squirrels plant, all of us will look different in our climate activist roles. Some of us will use microscopes and test tubes to measure ancient soils; some of us might weave blankets—each row representing a year’s average temperature to visualize the rising pattern; some of us might take a long walk with a loved one on the opposite side of the political spectrum and begin the hard, real work of talking climate.

All of us were reminded that there is no right way to be involved in the climate movement and, as one participant said, we need to “shrug off perfection and trust our own expertise when communicating” because “wisdom is embedded in the environment, ourselves, and community.”

Your climate story is the walk you take every day to the train to commute to work, noticing the tiny tulip buds emerge.

Your climate story is the long battle with asthma, the diagnoses and misdiagnoses, the familiarity of the exhaust fumes seeping into your apartment window from the highway next door.

Your climate story is the slow shift of your annual family ski trip from February to January because the snow is now too sleety, less frozen by the middle of the month.

Your climate story is your daughter asking you what a firefly is—she has yet to see one in the backyard where you used to catch them in mason jars by the dozen.

There is no right way to Talk Climate so long as we keep the conversation going.

Lisa Troutman of Drawnwell poignantly visualized the presentations and stories shared throughout the Talk Climate Institute––thank you, Lisa, for helping render these moments accessible and engaging while providing a tool for continued reflection.

Graphic recording of Dr. Heidi Roop’s presentation: From Data to Dialogue: Confronting the Challenges of Climate Change
Graphic recording of Heather McTeer Toney’s presentation: The Climate Revolution: Climate Justice as the Social Justice Movement of Our Time

If you missed this year’s Talk Climate Institute, you can see the full program schedule here. We hope you are able to join us next year and, in the meantime, keep writing and sharing your climate story!

Explore Climate Generation’s Storytelling Collection

Arleigh Truesdale has been supporting community engagement and programming with Climate Generation since January 2021. Sprouting and propagating plants are her way of tracking time, staying grounded, and tapping into the root energy behind her climate justice work.


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