Photo credit: H.Shugarman 2021

On July 8th parts of the upper westside of Manhattan were inundated with torrential rains; subways and roadways flooded, as did my ground floor walkup apartment. The week prior, in Alberta, Canada, my mother lived with a week-long heat wave, daytime temperatures reached the high 90’s multiple days in a row. Dead fish ominously washed up on the beaches of our Alberta family lake house, as the oxygen levels in the lake plunged as high temperatures heated up the lake’s shallow waters.  At the same time, my son in Seattle, WA, was googling homemade air conditioners as that city experienced a “heat dome,” bringing temperatures of more than 100 degrees.  My brother in neighboring British Columbia, is seeing, smelling, and breathing smoke, as many in his province are under mandatory evacuation with 100s of forest fires burning.  One family’s lived experience in two short weeks.

In mid July, headlines around the world shared tragic stories and photos of Germans and Belgians impacted by flash floods; hundreds of people lost their homes and hundreds more lost their lives. Around the world –  daily – extreme weather events stocked by the climate crisis, leave people homeless, with food and water insecurities, sickened, injured, hurt and dead. Yet, too often these events are not reported on outside of the region where they occur. The climate emergency is upon us all – wherever we live. Those of us fortunate enough to be born in the global north or in communities and zip codes where we have been able to hide and ignore the impacts of the growing global climate emergency, must use our voices and our power. The deafening calls to action from Mother Nature demand that we open our eyes and that everyone see and hear her. It’s past time to talk about how we should act and lead, we simply must do so, one step or one giant leap at a time; our children’s future and now truly is in our hands.

As the developed world is confronted head on with the realities of the climate emergency  in a visible and direct way, the developing world and low income areas in the global north  have been living with the crisis for decades.  With the United Nations Climate Conference, COP26 on the horizon in November 2021, will those elected to lead us put in place climate action plans that have near term time tables, not plans that sets far off goals for 2050, too many years away?  Will those in corporations with the power to change the way our natural resources are used and abused, finally wake up to the realities humanity has put in place as the products they mass produce accelerate the climate emergency? As parents, we are awake, we are aware, we are terrified and we are angry. We all must demand that those in powerful positions go big – now; the rest of us must keep the drum beat pounding, the demands for actions clear, and faces of our children in our minds eye at all times as we join mother nature’s calls for action.

Photo credit: H.Shugarman 2o21

 

The climate crisis is a crisis of our own making. Science has shown us this. Science also tells us it is still in our power to slow things down. But, science also tells us we must act now.

Are we listening?

Share your story. We must remind everyone, everywhere,  that the climate emergency is personal to each of us. It’s no longer happening “over there” – wherever that is. As it turns out and as many of us have known for many years, “over there” is in our own backyards, across our street, on the  other side of our town, in the front yards of our mother, our brother, our aunt, our uncle and our dearest friend. We can no longer hide nor pretend the climate emergency  isn’t happening now.

Your Climate Mama,

 

Harriet

Postscript: Upon returning July 20th to NYC from a visit with my family on the West coast, we were greeted with hazy skies and the faint smell of smoke. The smoke was sent by Mother Nature from over 2500 miles away where it originated from forest fires in the American west. She is reminding us in New York City not to close our eyes nor get complacent…We are ALL living the reality of our climate crisis. What happens next is up to us.

Posted in Climate Mama News, Disasters, In The News, Nature, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

As Climate Mamas and Papas, we know we are living a climate emergency. For those living in the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest – or really  pretty much anywhere in the USA at the end of June 2021 – even our youngest children are seeing and feeling extreme weather events. If not directly impacted themselves, our children likely know someone who has been effected by extreme heat, floods or forest fires. Our children hear about our climate emergency on the news, via social media, in school or even as you discuss it at home and with friends and family. When our children come to us with questions, we need to be prepared with answers.

Being able to discuss the climate crisis also requires that we understand it. We must educate ourselves and be prepared for questions and know how to find answers. In a nutshell, we all must get comfortable with the uncomfortable fact that we will be living with the climate emergency for the rest of our lives. This means, I believe, adding climate truth teller to the long list of parental responsibilities we already have.

My book How to Talk to Your Children About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action, which has now won two national book awards -The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award and the Nautilus Book of the Year Award, and is a finalist in the Forword Indie Book of the Year – has many of the answers you will need, and references or lists resources to find others.

How can you help your children understand that this climate phenomenon,

  • isn’t going away;
  • isn’t the norm, but that it is now the new norm;
  • that it’s caused by us;
  • and most importantly that we can do something about it.

Regardless of their age, remind them that many caring parents and caregivers the world over are wide awake to the fact of our climate emergency.  That all these people are working hard not only to address the crisis at hand, but to help children – at every age – understand what’s going on and be empowered to take action. These folks include scientists, engineers, teachers, elected officials, and people from all walks of life and political persuasions. Being honest and realistic with our children we can also share with them the incredible opportunities that the unfolding climate crisis presents to all of us. Being alive at this very moment of climate chaos brings with it a role and a responsibility for each of us. Whatever our passion, if we view it through the lens of the climate crisis, we can help build solutions and slow down the runaway train we are on. We need artists, musicians, teachers accountants, biologists, carpenters, engineers – we need everyone and anyone.

Here’s 4 questions and answers that can start the conversation as you talk to your kids about what’s going on.

  1. What is climate change and why is it important?

Climate change is a broad term that refers to long term changes in climate, including average temperature and precipitation.

Global Warming is the increase of the Earth’s average surface temperature, due to a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

  1. What are the effects of climate change and is this extreme heat part of climate change?

The effects of our climate emergency include extreme weather events (stronger and more powerful storms) sea level rise, rising temperatures, more wildfires, ocean acidification and warming, the wider spread of vector born disease, health impacts like increased asthma and breathing related problems, more powerful  forms of poison Ivy and the spread of Lyme disease. Climate scientists tell us that our extreme heat – breaking day time temperatures with regularity –  and in particular the evening heat records – and the fact that temperatures don’t cool down at night like they use to, are all signs of human created climate change in action. Our planet is overheating and trying to tell us she is out of balance; we need to listen and hear what she has to say. 

  1. Why does an increase of only one or two degrees make a big difference?

To paraphrase climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe, the planets temperature is as stable as that of the human body, and has been stable for thousands of years, since the last ice age; that’s how our human community has been able to develop, evolve and prosper. But we know that if our body’s temperature goes up 1.5-2 degrees, we go to the doctor. If our temperature goes up 3 or 4 degrees we go to the hospital. This is what’ happening to our planet. It is running a fever. That fever is affecting us. It is creating huge changes to our planet, on a planetary scale, and that hasn’t happened before in such a short time period.

  1. Do we have time to fix this?

Scientists, who study climate breakdown tell us we still have time, but that we don’t have a lot of time. The door is closing, it’s spring loaded, so we need to move quickly.

For more detailed answers and options for talking to your kids, order How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action, today! Find it wherever books are sold, including:

Yours,

 

Climate Mama

For a good explanation of the current heatwave in the Pacific North West, take a look at the June 30th Guardian article by Eric Holthaus, How Did a Small Town in Canada become one of the Hottest Places on Earth which provides some useful background.

Drought Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash

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On Sunday, June 20th  – Father’s Day in the USA –  an intergenerational gathering of folks from across the country will set off for an 8 day walk  from President Biden’s birthplace of Scranton, PA, culminating on June 28th in his hometown of Wilmington, DE; quite the Father’s Day present for a very powerful father!

The website for the 2021 Walk tells us that:  “In 2013, a multi-generational group of climate activists walked from Camp David, Maryland to Washington, DC – their goal – to tell then President Obama and other policy makers that we must keep the majority of fossil fuels in the ground.

Now, in 2021, many of the same elders are being  joined by young people concerned about the urgency of our climate crisis and are walking again to demand climate action from President Biden.  While recognizing that President Biden has promised bold actions to address the climate crisis, his current proposals, while important, are inadequate to address the scope of our climate emergency.

By walking in the summer of 2021, the participants want to remind the Biden Administration and others that their love for their families and their futures requires a rapid, uncompromising transition away from the unhealthy, unsafe extraction and burning of fossil fuels while embracing renewable energy, especially solar and wind power. A $2-trillion Biden Administration infrastructure and climate action proposal is moving toward a vote in Congress, this summer. Those walking support a much stronger, more realistic approach in the Green New Deal/Thrive Agenda and the developing Red, Black, and Green New Deal promoted by the Movement for Black Lives.”

Below is a story by one of the walkers, Ted Glick –  a good friend of ClimateMama and one of the Walk organizers. Ted wrote this post on May 28th:

Walking For Our Grandchild

By Ted Glick

A little more than three weeks from now, my wife Jane Califf and I will head west to Scranton, Pa. to join with others in the eight-day, 2021 Walk For Our Grandchildren and Mother Earth: Elders and Youth on the Road to Climate Justice. The Walk begins in Scranton on June 20, Father’s Day, and will end in Wilmington, De. on June 28. On that day we will take nonviolent direct action at a major corporate headquarters of Chase Bank, the world’s leading financial supporter of the fossil fuel industry.

Eight years ago I helped to organize the 2013 Walk For Our Grandchildren, from Camp David in Maryland to the White House via Harpers Ferry. That one ended with about 60 people being arrested at the offices of Energy Resources Management, the greenwashing company that did the KXL oil pipeline’s official environmental impact statement.

Many of the people who I met and walked with in 2013 ended up joining together the next year to take nonviolent direct action at the headquarters of FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, out of which emerged the organization Beyond Extreme Energy. BXE is still going strong, supporting frontline groups fighting new fracked gas infrastructure and advocating with increasing effectiveness for FERC to be replaced by FREC, a Federal Renewable Energy Commission.

For Jane and me this year’s Walk will have one very big difference: as distinct from back then, today we are actual grandparents. Earlier this month, with the pandemic thankfully receding, we spent time in Montana with four month old grandson Rio and our son and daughter-in-law, and unsurprisingly, we fell deeply in love with him.

It helps to personalize why we are working and struggling and fighting, day after day, for a very different future than the one we are facing absent very big societal changes.

Please Visit Ted’s website to read his post in its entirety.

All are welcome to join for a day, an hour or the entire Walk. More information on the schedule and how to join can be found on the Walk website.

Check back with us and follow along on social media, as we and others report on the walkers events and updates under the hashtag #2021walkforourgrandchildren.  If you are on Facebook, you can also keep up with the walkers on the Walk Facebook page  here. 

As Climate Mamas and Papas, we all find our own, unique and powerful ways to bring attention to the climate emergency and the urgency required to address it. Coming together with others who feel the same way as we do is something we have been missing greatly this past year as the global pandemic took hold. As we in the USA are coming out of the COVID 19 crisis, coming together, in person, to raise attention to the ongoing pandemic of the climate crisis feels right and powerful. We know many other parents and grandparents around the world would love to be joining us but are still in the midst and darkness of the Covid pandemic; we do this walk for them and because of them, their children, their grandchildren and of course, our Mother Earth. We at ClimateMama are honored to be supporters of the 2021 Walk for Our Grandchildren and Mother Earth. Please follow along, join in if you can, and also, if you are able to, please support the walkers along the way by donating here.

Yours,

 

Climate Mama

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Photo Credit: H. Shugarman, 7/2011

My first of more than a dozen blog posts on the Alberta oil sands and the Keystone XL pipeline was written in July of 2011. Since then, close to half a dozen of our posts have begun with:  “Keystone XL is dead.” I’ve heard of cats with nine lives, but pipelines? I do believe however, that the public announcement on June 9th, 2021, by the pipeline company and the Alberta government (which by the way had recently invested over $1 billion dollars in the pipeline) that states that they are formally pulling the plug on the pipeline –  is the final nail in its coffin.  A wide and varied group of activists, environmentalists, indigenous leaders, ranchers, parents, grandparents, scientists and more, have spent over 10 years of concerted efforts to block and stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline – never give up has new meaning!!

Here is a quick historical refresher – from my perspective –  about why THIS particular pipeline galvanized the small but growing US Climate Movement in the mid 2000’s and really launched the more than a decade long coordinated anti fossil fuel infrastructure battles that continue actively across multiple states and in communities across the country. This particular  pipeline has served as a “hot political potato” across many presidential campaigns and terms – there by bringing attention to fossil fuel infrastructure that previously had gone under the radar.  President Obama first allowed this particular pipeline to move forward then he “cancelled it” at the end of his second term because of public pressure.  President Trump green lighted this particular pipeline in his first days in office and President Biden cancelled the permit that would have allowed it to be built on his first day in office.

Credit: Creative Commons/Flickr Tar Sands Action

Why did this become such a significant symbol and also a partisan fight over the climate crisis? The Keystone XL pipeline which was to traverse the US – beginning in northern Canada at the Canadian Oil Sands and ending in the Gulf of Mexico at oil refineries in Texas and Louisiana, was the first  nationally coordinated effort by the US climate movement to stop a major fossil fuel infrastructure project. Its success in bringing people together from all walks and corners of life,  served as a launching pad for local actions against fossil fuel infrastructure that continue to this day. Since then, ongoing oil pipeline fights like the current Line 3 fight in Minnesota, the Standing Rock Dakota Access pipeline fight, and the ongoing fight against the Byhalia pipeline have focused a national lens on local actions to fight oil and it’s infrastructure – and often and always the climate justice issues that are glaring and damaging parts of these proposed projects. While some of the oil from these pipelines is to be refined in the US, it is all traded as an international commodity and as such, may or may not even but used as energy within our country – ie the intended export focus of the oil that was to travel through the Keystone XL.

“Serendipity: the phenomenon of finding valuable things not sought for.”

There are many personal stories around the Keystone XL.  Mine began in the summer of 2011, in Fort McMurray, Alberta – the northern Alberta city that is the “gateway” to the Canadian oil sands. Visiting the Canadian oil sands was a birthday gift from my brother and his husband; an opportunity to see for myself the beating heart and the major source of Canadian oil.  I had grown up in Alberta, and everyone I knew growing up had some connection – even tangentially – to the oil industry. The oil industry provided a solid livelihood to many families and energy for millions the world over. Growing up, the connection between Alberta oil and the climate crisis was not discussed, nor its full extent, even realized; even to this day, the connections are muddied, and the reality of the damage being done by the oil mined and shipped from Alberta is underplayed ore in many circle, outright denied.  Back to my story. When I was in Fort McMurray, I received an email from some folks with 350.org, encouraging concerned people across the US to join them in Washington, DC for a “peaceful protest” , and for those who were willing, to take part in a non-violent direct action that could risk arrest. The pipeline was being called the fuse to the biggest carbon BOMB in the world, and there was, at the source. Serendipitous? You tell me?

I decided then and there that I would answer the call and show up in late August in Washington DC to take part in protests that would result in over 1250 arrests over the course of 2 weeks. While I might have thought it possible, I didn’t realize then I would be one of the 60 or so people arrested the third day of the protest actions. At the time, I wondered what I would tell my children, who were then 12 and 13. Did I want my kids to know that I felt so strongly about their future that I was willing to get arrested to protect it? There was only one answer, and that was definitely, YES!

My extended family thinks of me as the “unlikely environmentalist.” I grew up appreciating the outdoors, yet not particularly conscious of my carbon footprint. In fact until a few years ago I have to say I wasn’t really aware of the size of this, let alone what went into calculating it.  While my family and I  work on treading as lightly as we can on our planet, I know that I could spend all my time on this and not change the systemic systems in place that keep us addicted to fossil fuels. I feel my time is best spent doing what I can to elevate the discussion, understanding and demands from those that can go big to do so!  At the time, I hoped that my kids would be proud of me, and that this action would build on my legacy of actions to try to raise awareness to the growing reality of our climate emergency, threatening my children’s future and mine. My hope was to wake up my neighbors, friends, colleagues and total strangers by showing them that a mom of two ‘tweens thinks that these risks are worth whatever it takes. After visiting the oil sands, myself, I realized that stopping production from that end is highly unlikely unless the price of oil plummets or public pressure grows so much that if forces the hands of government to intervene. While it only took 10 years, it seems perseverance pays off!

Here are a few links to posts I wrote at the time of our early protests, both during the two weeks of arrest (including how one prepares for getting arrested) as well as from later that fall, when we returned to DC as a family to join thousands of others and “circle the White House” giving then President Obama a big “hug” and reminding him, parent to parent, how important it was he said no to Keystone. He did do so shortly thereafter; but rather than permanently rejecting it, he effectively “kicked the can down the road.” We continued, and my story with Keystone XL continued over the ensuing years – protests in NYC, in DC, in NJ and in-between.  Clearly “it’s complicated” but we need to make it less so. Science tells us and Mother Nature is showing us we must stop burning and mining all fossil fuels now. We can do this, the transition has begun. We must do this. Our children’s future and now depends on saying no to all new pipelines and fossil fuel infrastructure and managing our transitions to renewables. We must call for a halt to all new fossil fuel infrastructure –  no if’s ands or buts…

Yours in protest and solidarity,

 

Harriet

Posted in Climate Mama News, fracking and pipelines, In The News, Renewable Energy, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The opportunity to meet and interact with Climate Mamas and Papas the world over is one of the special gifts that ClimateMama has given to me, personally. Recently I have had the opportunity to meet one of these special people, Pendar Vatanian, a Climate Papa who lives in the United Kingdom. Over the years, Pendar has worked on climate education and advocacy with a focus on empowering and inspiring young children. Together with his wife Assal they created and now manage MindYourFootprint, a non-profit organization that helps parents, teachers and youth expand their knowledge about some of the most important environmental and social issues facing the world and also, providing concrete examples of how to become engaged.

Pendar’s latest project is called #ClimateDice, a collaboration with MindYourFootprint. The project is:  “A powerful tool to educate children about climate change and environmental issues and to empower them to (RE)imagine an alternative better future where they can transform the climate crisis threats into new possibilities and opportunities for change. It’s a great tool to talk to children about climate change and let them discuss their fears and hopes for a better world.”

This past mother’s day, Pendar shared a deeply personal story with me of how he lost his mother to cancer when he was only 6 years old. Sadly, for many years he felt responsible for not being able to save her, clearly somethings far beyond a child’s capacity. In part because of his personal experience, Pendar has worked hard to  create  opportunities whereby children can develop and enhancing their own self efficacy and their abilities to be part of solutions that work to create a more positive future.  Pendar now has a 6 year old of his own. “When my wife and I had our daughter, the year before the Paris Agreement – I promised myself that I will take care of her. I cannot nor will not let my daughter down. We cannot let our children down. We must find ways to dream and re-imagine a better future. A future full of colours. A future where all children can live in peace and harmony with everyone on this planet. A future for all.”

Please join me in cheering on ClimateDice and recognizing amazing Climate Papas like Pendar! The early Climate Dice kickstarter  is now fully funded but an INDIEGOGO InDemand is just launching. You can pre-order your own set of Climate Dice and be among the first people to receive them in early August. For every set of dice sold, one set will be donated to schools in various remote areas around the world. Everyone, everywhere can be empowered to dream and reimagine a better future!

Warmly,

 

Your Climate Mama

Harriet

 

 

Posted in Climate Mamas & Papas, Lifestyle & Fun, Nature, Schools and Colleges, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Leave a comment

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of tears!… We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.” ~Julia Ward Howe, 1870
From her Mother’s Day Proclamation for Peace

 I wasn’t actually aware of the origins of our Mothers Day celebration, until I was  preparing for a Mother’s Day Rally that I was invited to speak at, hosted by Nova Climate. What became clear to me, is the many synergies and connections between the origins of mother’s day and the growing parent climate movement of today.

Here’s a bit of what I learned.  Following the mother day 1870 proclamation by Julia Ward and her call to action, it would be more than 40 years until Mother’s day became an official national day of recognition in the US.  The holiday was established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, at the urging of Anna Jarvis  the daughter of  Ann Reeves Jarvis. Both Julia Ward Howe  and Anne Reeves Jarvis, are credited with being the inspirations for this national day of recognition for Mothers. These two women –  mothers and activists –  through the clarity of motherhood and their unwavering love for their children, created a strong and powerful vision of a safe, healthy and secure future for their children – born out of chaos around them. They acted with an urgency of NOW because of the immediate and upcoming dangers facing their children – at that time this was the double threats of the civil war and the revolutionary war. They recognized the importance of peace as necessary to ensure a safe and secure future for their children and for the children of mothers with different beliefs, on the other side of the conflicts at hand.

Fast forward to now,  2021.  I see many similar sentiments as it relates to our climate crisis, expressed by mothers across our country in both Blue and Red states, and around the world in the global south and the global north. Mothers and fathers are calling for climate reality, climate clarity and climate action that will bring about peace and the chance for a livable future for all our children. As parents, with our eyes wide open to the realities of the climate crisis, while we see and feel the impacts of the damages we also see and feel the tangible opportunities that active hope through climate action can bring for our children and for us.

This is intergenerational in scope, it isn’t something we can, nor should try to do alone, nor is it something we can thrust on the shoulders of our children. To paraphrase Julie Ward Howe and her mother’s day proclamation: We mothers – in one country, in one region, in one state –  must join with mothers across the aisle and across the ocean to protect our children and to secure a safe and hopeful future and now for them. We cannot have true and lasting world peace at the same time as living a climate emergency. As mothers we know that around our own country and around the world, many mothers don’t’ feel safe or secure right now. They and their families live on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction, in the shadow of power plants and in the harsh path of climate impacts. We are seeing this play out not only from our climate emergency but with the COVID global pandemic.  As we tentatively come out of lockdown in the US,  we know mothers across the world are worried and reeling as they and their children still face the hardships and sickness that COVID brings. So, I ask you to give thought to this, and discuss these inequities with your children today on Mothers Day and also to find time regularly to do this as well. We must call for justice for all and remind our children to do so too. Environmental racism, vaccine inequity, climate injustice, these all go hand in hand. And  for many of us, it is our children who keep reminding us of the intersectionality of it all.

Used with Permission: Artist Anita Bagdi

On a final note, we want to bring attention to NOVA Climate’s call for a redefinition of Mothers Day that becomes, in this year and all future years, a day that honors not only our loving, dedicated, and ever-resourceful mamas but also our bountiful Mother Earth.  In support and along side of this call to action, I want to share a wonderful global Mother’s Day action I am proud to be a part of. This is something you and your families can easily join in on too.  In my work with ClimateMama I have the pleasure of being an advisor to the global climate parent coalition, Our Kids Climate. Over the past few months, leading into Mother’s Day, we have come together globally through art activism and a campaign called #ourothermother. Illustrators, children, poets, eco-preneurs, mamas and papas are creating art and sharing their heart visions using the hastag #Ourothermother. This global action is to remind our leaders and ourselves  that Our Other Mother provides for all of us brilliantly, but like many other mamas, she’s seriously exhausted. With Global climate talks,  COP26, scheduled for this November, we want to show our leaders how much we love and care for our planet. So, with the children in your life, I invite you to join this global campaign, this  mothers day and share your #ourothermother far and wide; share it with us so we too can share it – share it with your family, your neighbors, your friends.

With Love,

 

Your Climate Mama, Harriet

 

Heart Mom Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Bouquet illustration by Anita Bagdi 

Posted in Climate Mama News, Earth Day is Every Day, Holidays, In The News, Lifestyle & Fun, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Used with Permission: Artist Anita Bagdi

To all our Climate Mamas and Papas, Happy Earth Day! We know that each of you celebrate, protect and hold dear, #ourothermother, planet Earth, each and every day. Today we are thrilled to share with you a special video collage, put together by our friends at Our Kids Climate  The photos in the video (including the one to the left by the amazing Climate Mama, illustrator extraordinaire, Anita Bagdi, are all part of a special campaign linked together by the hashtag #ourothermother.

Many countries celebrate Mother’s Day in May.  Climate Mamas and Papas across the world are joining in to create a truly international moment as we continue to build a movement.

The #ourothermother campaign and the wonderful illustrations in this video were part of an early launch in the United Kingdom, for Mother’s Day which was celebrated on March 14th in the UK. Stay tuned for more information about the campaign but in its very simplest form, we will be sharing illustrations, photos, poems and stories about our OTHER mother, mother earth with the hashtag #ourothermother. Together we will help the campaign go viral and it will serve as one more reminder to all (especially  to our elected and corporate leaders, who can go BIG on climate) that we are watching what they do while we do all we can to protect our other mother as she works overtime to protect us. There is so much at stake. Begin today by having the children in your life create their own #ourothermother masterpiece. 

Thank you for being our support community and for building our active hope that together we can slow down our climate crisis and create a livable future and now for all our children.

With love,

 

Your Climate Mama

Posted in Art, Fashion, Entertainment, Climate Mama News, Earth Day is Every Day, In The News, Lifestyle & Fun, Nature, Take a Stand: Action & Advocacy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Used with Permission: Big Dreams Little Footprints

One of the most wonderful things that ClimateMama has brought to me, is the connections, new and old, that I have made across the country and around the world. Meeting Climate Mamas and Papas who understand the climate emergency – and in spite of this have chosen creative and innovative ways to tackle the crisis head on, for their children and all of ours –  gives me hope, strength, courage and keep me going. I am thrilled to introduce you to one of these wonderful people,  a new friend from Scotland, Anya – founder of Big Dreams Little Footprints. Anya has created a simple and fun fashion waste (less) campaign, with a powerful message that is now active, #pollutionispants. Read on, as Anya  explains how the campaign works and how you can join in!

Pollution is Pants:

Hi. My name is Anya and I live in Eastern Scotland with my young family. I’m co-organizing a fashion waste campaign called #pollutionispants between 8th and 25th April in the lead up to Fashion Revolution Week. The campaign focuses on celebrating our collective efforts to keep clothes out of the bin when we buy second-hand, wear our family’s clothes, swap items with friends or get creative and upcycle what we already own. It invites you to tells us the stories behind the clothes you wear.

The campaign is an upbeat, positive one. It celebrates our efforts to reduce our fashion footprint by wearing pre-worn clothes, but crucially, aims to encourage us to do more by politicizing what we wear. Reducing your environmental impact may not be your primary motivation for wearing second-hand clothes but knowing that you, along with thousands of others, are having a modest but important impact when you keep clothes in play, is important to spell out. It will hopefully encourage people to take extra special care of what they own – to be guardians rather than owners of their clothes – and to explore the rapidly expanding online second-hand market before they buy brand new.

I’m guessing that most of us have only been wearing about 1% of our wardrobes over the past year and have long forgotten what we actually own! So you might enjoy, as I have, digging out some old favourites for a bit of a dress-up. The only catch – the challenge! – is that the clothes have to have been worn by someone else before you came to own them. I, along with a bunch of friends, family and perfect strangers have been posting selfies of our favourite preloved clothes since last Thursday and it’s opened up wonderful conversations, across the world, about attitudes towards second-hand clothes.

My line of work is how to raise children to consume wisely; to tackle ‘shifting baseline syndrome’ head on. To get kids on board the ‘lesson’ has to be fun else it won’t be effective. This campaign has proven an effective tool in starting conversations with children about keeping clothes out of the bin because you’re talking about putting underpants on your head! I knew I was onto a winner because it was my 6-year-old who came up with the idea in the first place. She did an entire ‘fashion show’ wearing only my underpants – on her head, around her neck, as backless ‘tops’ and makeshift skirts. I thought – why do kids get to have all the fun?

And of course if you spend less when you wear second-hand, you have more money in your pocket to buy better when you do buy brand new. It’s so important that we raise the next generation to be informed consumers, where wearing second-hand and buying better is the default.

Please join the campaign between now and 25th April. We’d love to see you there – Pollution is Pants — Big dreams, little footprints

Anya Hart Dyke is author of ‘Our throwaway society – raising children to consume wisely’ (2020).

PS: Your favorite ClimateMama has joined the craz…#pollutionispants…wearing fun dress that belonged to my daugHter. xoxo

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March 8th is International Women’s Day and is observed as a national holiday in many countries. I want to take a few minutes now to share with you some of the reasons why this DAY of observance means a lot to me – personally and in particular this year. I want to share some of my thoughts on why I feel that women and girls – through intergenerational collaboration and cooperation – are central to creating a culture that will make, create and facilitate policies and action to successfully slow down our climate emergency and build a livable future, where we and our families will not only survive but thrive.

First though, a little background that you can share with the kids in your life on International Women’s Day. The day was first “established” in the early 1900’s as an opportunity to unite women in the campaign for women’s rights to work, vote, and be trained, to hold public office and to end discrimination. For so many reasons, I feel that we must continue to mark this important day  and to acknowledge and celebrate women. Each year, there is a different theme chosen and this year the campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose To Challenge. “A challenged world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change. So let’s all #ChooseToChallenge.”  If you are able to and interested in joining along on this hashtag, consider taking a picture of yourself or you and your children; raise your hand high to show you’re in. Share on social media using #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021.

In my own, adopted country of the United States of America, we have broken through a seemingly, impenetrable glass ceiling. This year, we celebrate having a woman Vice President, Kamala Harris, “one beat” away from the oval office. VP Harris, as a woman of color,  carries on her shoulders and through her life experiences – many, many firsts. Her long and storied career, which now places her in the White House, will help  young girls and boys around the country (and the world) be able to see endless possibilities for themselves and for others.  What a difference a year makes! Up until now, we have never had a woman Vice President, and we have  only once had a woman from one of  the two national parties, on the national ballot for President of the USA. It seems pretty clear that this woman – Hillary Rodham Clinton – although highly qualified, was never given a fair chance. Maybe now – moving forward – seeing a woman on the ballot for President and sooner than later successfully filling that office, will no longer be an anomaly but an expected and anticipated reality.

Unfortunately, in too many countries, including the United States,  women  continue not to be paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and in the US and around the world, women’s access to education and health care are not guaranteed nor equal.

This past year, 2020, as we all lived and we continue to live the COVID 19 crisis, women, quietly as well as forcefully have taken center stage. Our underpinning role as frontline health care workers, nurses, store clerks, mothers, caregivers, doctors and first responders is clear and visible to all. What may not be as visible or as talked about is the mental health impacts, the increase in gender violence and the broad stresses, economic inequities and added burdens that COVID 19 crisis has placed, disproportionately, on women in the roles listed above as well as in every role women occupy in society.

Today, I see and feel a light being shown more directly on women, and a real and growing women’s movement demanding change. A movement built on the difficult and mounting challenges that climate change, corporate power, ineffective government and greed are placing on us and our planet is growing and being driven in large part by young women. While this movement is not yet clearly or singularly defined, it is taking shape in many informal and formal places. The movement is and must be, by its nature, intergenerational. The foundations for this movement go back decades but it seems that currently, it is  one that is being powered forcefully by youth leaders, demanding that intersectionality be central to the discussion around and about broad solutions.

In 2020 the COVID pandemic brought into the harsh light of reality the collision and intersection of racism, poverty and inequity.  Moving forward, as we pull out from under the weight of our COVID crisis, we can and we must connect all of these dots to the ongoing threat multiplier of our climate crisis.

This growing women’s movement  is built upon the belief in a bright future for ALL our children.  With the Sustainable Development Goals to guide us, a future and now based on energy justice, access to abundant healthy food, clean air, potable water and social justice for ourselves, our families and for the world community is a reality we all can envision and strive for. Every day I feel excited, exhilarated, passionate and scared. I am part of this movement and I strongly believe that women will be the change agents we need to move us forward successfully.

As we all struggle with the weight that the COVID 19 crisis still holds over us, I feel hopeful that we are finding ways to tame it.  I remind myself, and suggest to you to take time for YOU this week. When you do, also take time to think about and celebrate (loudly or quietly) the women who are important in your life; women who are related, living, friends and even women who you may admire from afar. Remind the youth in your life and explain to them that women’s rights, equity  and equality are not a given in many, many countries, and in many communities and families, even ones that may be just “down the street.”

There are so many women who I could list here, who have inspired me, held me when I was sad, and encouraged me when I felt like giving up. I am celebrating them deeply and feel them in my heart and my soul. I feel so very fortunate to have amazing women who build up my active hope every day and who constantly demonstrate to me that women are making a real and positive difference – leading in the struggles – quietly and loudly – against our climate emergency at the same time as they build positive energy and solutions as they showcase opportunities for us all.

As I shared in my recent book,  “How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change, Turning Angst into Action” we can and must show our children – girls and boys – that leading with their passions will lead to climate solutions.  Our complicated world has put a myriad of opportunities in front of us all and once our eyes are opened, we can’t close them to the realities we face. We can choose to hide our heads in the sand, but that gets none of us, anywhere. Or we can use our passions to create the change we envision and we want. We and our children, are the change we are have been waiting for – so wait no longer!

Yours,

Climate Mama

A similar version of this note was written in 2020, and 2013, more than 8 years ago – things change and yet so much stays the same. I hope that  8 years from now, through the rise and power of so many amazing women, we will have become a true unstoppable force, one that moves us farther and faster; as fast as our mother earth is demanding we move.

Future leader photo: Kiana Bosman, Unsplash

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In our journey to help parents, caregivers and teachers listen and speak with children about the climate crisis, we have been thrilled to learn about some new and wonderful children’s books that help us do so. In a recent post, we share some of our new favorites from 2020 and we will be doing another update soon,  in the lead up to Earth Day. In the meantime, we are thrilled to share this new book and it’s accompanying coloring & activity book, Si’ahl and the Council of Animals co authored by Climate Mama extraordinary, Margie Muenzer and Margie’s sister Jane Reis. Margie is a Climate Reality leader, educator and author and in the post below, she shares with us her story about how the book came to be. We are pleased to share Margie’s story with you!

 

 

The Story that Wanted to be Told

by Margie Muenzer

My twin sister Jane and I co-wrote the children’s book Si’ahl and the Council of Animals to start conversations in families about our changing climate.  It all started in early January 2020, when I was visiting Jane in her home in Seattle, WA, having traveled there from my home in Chapel Hill, NC.  We both had been active in climate work, Jane in transitioning to regenerative farming principles at her farm, First Light Farm, and me as an avid outdoors enthusiast and trained Climate Reality Project leader.

Towards the end of my visit, Jane shared with me a remarkable event.  She had been meditating, a daily practice for her.  As she explained it to me, she clearly saw, from start to finish, a children’s story told in animal voices, how climate change was making their (the animals) lives harder, how they reached out to humans who live nearby for help, and how they observed these humans begin to change their actions in response.  This children’s story, she said, would be a way that we could help families face climate change in a positive way, by working together towards improving conditions for all living things.

After telling me all of this, she then said, “and you are going to write it”.  I didn’t take this very seriously, but later, on the five hour plane ride back to North Carolina, I thought I might just make some notes.  To my surprise, the story easily flowed onto the pages of my notebook and I had a rough draft of the first five chapters crafted before the plane touched down in Raleigh. Though I was the main writer, Jane and I collaborated closely about the storyline and its message in the months that followed.

Jane was very clear that it was important to make the animals the storytellers.  This, she said, was the way to speak directly to children’s hearts.  We both have wonderful memories of our mother reading us many of Thornton Burgess’ books, written in the early 1900s, with delightful animal characters who engage in all sorts of adventures, including a good deal of mischief.  That the animals were the storytellers made a lasting impression and is carried into our book.  Jane and I felt that having parents and children talk together about our animal story would be a compelling way to introduce the effects of climate change without provoking anxiety.  The collaboration of the humans and animals in the story would model effective changes for families, motivated by the children’s rightful concern for their friends, the animals.

We set our story somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and, for our main character, chose the name Si’ahl, to honor the wisdom and teachings of Chief Si’ahl (better known to many as Chief Seattle), who led the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes in the early days of colonization of the northwest. Si’ahl & Friends Coloring and Activity Book was created as a companion to our original story, inspired by the intricate drawings of our illustrator, Andrea Hiotis. This second book provides children an opportunity to enjoy coloring the different illustrations, but also to explore with their friends or families learning activities about animal habitats and behaviors, the importance of trees, energy usage and more.

To further engage families, we have a website blog, Climate Busters’ Corner, challenging our young readers to participate in a variety of different activities in their homes and communities.  On our social media sites, we highlight other Climate Busters–people working to make our planet healthy again.  By showing children different ways of doing things, things that can be interesting and fun like learning about the plants and animals in their communities or making an adventure of avoiding plastic at the grocery store, authors, parents and teachers alike are helping them develop good eco-habits for a lifetime.

Margie Muenzer is a retired pediatric physical therapist, wife, mother and grandmother who is keeping busy in retirement learning more about the indigenous value of reciprocity with nature and the possibility of an ecocentric rather than egocentric view of the world.

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