Walking into Climate Generation on the first day of my internship, I felt uncertain.
I had never done an internship before, and I wasn’t fully aware of how I would contribute to the organization. However, even on the first day I quickly became comfortable in the welcoming atmosphere of the office and the teams’ willingness to include me in their day to day work.
I assisted with the development of a future storytelling and climate action program in collaboration with local communities. The project changed form several times, beginning as a formalized certification program called Climate Stewards and ending as a community-based storytelling pilot called Climate Stories for Justice.
My research helped me realize how environmental degradation, health disparities, racism, poverty, and more are all connected and reinforce each other through the invisible structures present in society.
This was disturbing and overwhelming, and these inequalities helped form the foundation of what this pilot will seek to address through the lens of climate change.
The development process was open and collaborative, along with uncertainties regarding funding, logistics, and the central question of how to elevate the voices of people historically excluded in the environmental movement. Once I realized that this uncertainty was inherent to the project, I was able to expand my thinking to brainstorm what could eventually be possible rather than just what could be accomplished with the resources available at this current moment.
I think the uncertainty that we encountered in this project is representative of the future of climate change in general, questioning how to best use the resources we have available and determining what will have the biggest impact in reducing the devastation that humans have created around the planet. Through this internship I have realized that trying to create 100% certainty about the final outcome isn’t realistic and can even prevent growth.
A key lesson I have learned is the need for balance.
Balancing urgency with patience, balancing practicalities with new ideas, and balancing the fear of climate change with hope about the earth’s resiliency and the wide diversity of skills and experiences of people around the world.
The storytelling that forms a core feature of Climate Generation’s work gave me hope for the future because I saw how it can be a spark for discussion and connection. I have seen how the highly individual ways that people connect to their natural environments are guided by universal values.
I feel inspired to hear how people are seeing the impacts of climate change in their lives and are becoming mobilized to work for change within their own communities. I am grateful that Climate Generation provided me the opportunity to help develop a program that will bring even more diverse voices to this movement and build support for solutions outside of “traditional” environmentalism.
Through my experiences this semester, I have gained the realization that uncertainty can actually be necessary as a key to seeing new perspectives and finding new opportunities.