We did it, y'all. We launched a brand new reader-directed weekly discussion series about the climate emergency, focused on systemic solutions(!!) and at least for now, it looks like y'all are really into it. Yay!
Our week 1 discussion was about EVs, and our chat with Doug Gordon (@BrooklynSpoke) last Tuesday was fascinating, especially since it took a totally different direction than what I was expecting.
More than 80 of you filled out our survey about future discussion topics (which is still open, btw), and here's what the results look like:
The main areas of interest (degrowth, storytelling, imagination, doom vs. hope, and revolution) center on a clear theme: systemic change. I'm going to do my best to make sure that central theme runs throughout all of our discussions, and it's so inspiring to know that we're creating a community of people ready to take their climate activism to the next level — and to learn from each other and be in conversation with each other about all the different ways we can do that.
If you've been following me for awhile, you know that I struggle with climate anxiety — and anxiety in general. When things get bad, I shut down, stop checking email, and basically huddle in a ball in my bed for days. Not exaggerating.
Therapy and medication have helped, but what has helped the most is seeing the evidence of real people in the real world working together for climate justice — and actively building a better world.
These past few months have been especially rough for me personally from a "climate hope" perspective, not gonna lie: The mixed results of the COP in Glasgow, delay after delay of President Biden's signature climate legislation in the Build Back Better bill, another year of record-setting emissions in 2021, disaster after disaster already in 2022.
I fall into this trap fairly often, which is why I sometimes disappear for weeks or months on end (and why The Phoenix sometimes goes on unplanned breaks). My journey with climate anxiety is often black-and-white — I either attack it full-force with op-eds, tweets, and community organizing, or I avoid it and hope it goes away.
All this is from the person (me) who started this community specifically to counter the apocalyptic narratives in the climate space and try to build up visions of a better future. Here's how a member of The Phoenix's community put it in a message on our members-Discord:
I think a lot of us are having a hard time wrapping our heads around the longevity and scope of what's coming. History has some indications of what's coming--mass migrations, etc. But for the most part, you have to wonder--is this where we just start building an ark and be seen as a crazy person, or ...is it really that bad?
From what I've read in the IPCC climate report, things are "going to get bad" but haven't reached those levels yet. But also, we see the massive flooding, wildfires, and other disasters--and I'm left wondering: Is this normal or way out of the normal scope of things? My idea of "normal" is just so distorted at this point.
And the news media, and mass media, just seem to be treating this stuff like its "all okay. Everything's fine here. It's just climate change which no one seems to be worried about; so, don't worry. We're not on a doomed sinking ship yet. There's still time to change."
...but honestly, that's just not how I feel. Watching the Island President last year, all I could think was, "They're going to become the 'boat people'--wandering from place to place, and that's going to become their new culture."
...and it was heartbreaking. Moreso to see how little anyone with actual money and power to do things cared.
tbh, I think what we often call 'climate anxiety' is the reckoning of our entire generation (people age 15-50 or so), understanding that massive change is now inevitable, either good or bad, and realizing that that's been true for marginalized people for a long long time.
I'm also aware, especially after reading this exceedingly worthwhile essay by Sarah Jaquette Ray, that this experience of climate anxiety is inextricably tied to whiteness. People of color have been dealing with environmental trauma for centuries, tied to the excesses of colonialism and extractive capitalism that have destroyed essential ecologies around the world.
No matter who you are, simply living in this world is hard enough. Climate change makes existence systematically harder. For folks who already "feel too much", it's sometimes more than we can bear alone.
The good news is, none of us have to bear all of this alone. We can form communities to help us through these revolutionary times. Which is exactly why The Phoenix exists.
We'll chat about all this and more this Tuesday, along with a special guest. Please join us. ❤️