Stories of Climate Courage: ‘I have the privilege of using my voice’

Reader-submitted stories of courage in the face of the climate crisis, in no more than 100 words. Read past stories hereSubmit your own here.

Big changes

I am a renewable materials professional. At the end of my studies and especially during the first years of my career, I felt strongly that simply working in that field wasn’t enough. I wanted to do more for our planet. When I got a chance to work 100% for the climate, I didn’t hesitate hopping on a completely different industry, job, and career path. I haven’t regretted a single day.

— Veikko Sajaniemi, Helsinki, Finland

Lemmenjoki, Finland. A victory for conservation over nature exploitation as mechanical gold digging was banned in 2020.

* * *

Bold and Brave

“How dare you?” she repeated again and again. The phrase felt like fireworks – bursting with fire and light and color, her tiny voice resounding with such incredible power. Greta Thunberg was 16 years old when she addressed world leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in September 2019 and demanded in no uncertain terms that they take action. Defying all the labels put on her – woman, child, Asperger, depression – she showed the world how to be bold and brave, and the patriarchy how to suck it up. I will always love her for that.

— Chantal Bilodeau, New York, New York

Greta Thunberg, Swedish climate activist, founder of Fridays for Future.

* * *

Seeding Courage

Fires rage on the west, rainstorms pelt the east, hurricanes land on the Gulf.
Communities and homes at risk, trees and parks destroyed.
Who takes up the frontlines? Whose bodies bare the damage?
Summer in North America.

Simultaneously, the pandemics of Coronavirus and racism wage relentless war on the already most-vulnerable. 
The same systems that got us into this mess.
Those in power look out for their own interests, leaving ordinary people in the dust.

I make calls, sign petitions, post in solidarity.
I tend to my plants, seeding a more just, equitable future.
What we pay attention to, grows.

— Julia Levine, New York, New York

* * *

A Jungle of Life and Death

I set out, down a river, into a jungle of life, and into a world that I didn’t know much about. I worked as the dramaturg on the developing show This is a River, written by James Taylor, a professor at my college, and Isabelle Rogers, a peer of mine. This play tells the story of the Kayan people living on the Baram river in Borneo – a people severely threatened by the environmental crisis. When I returned, I realized that I have the privilege of using my voice so their people, culture, traditions, and land will be here to stay.

— GiGi Buddie, San Francisco, California

Flying over the Borneo rainforest, a view of the muddy Baram below.

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This series is edited by Thomas Peterson. One of the editors of Artists & Climate Change, he is also a theatre director and researcher whose work focuses on the climate crisis.

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