It might sound strange to think of storytelling as a climate solution, but after spending five years documenting 1,001 voices on climate change in 20 countries, I believe one of the most powerful forms of climate action is to listen deeply to people already affected by the crisis. To ensure that solutions actually help communities most at risk, we must first hear their stories. 

Climate change is an environmental justice issue. The people most harmed by the problem are often those least at fault. Solutions that ignore people already living with the impacts of climate change—most of whom live in the Global South—risk perpetuating the same systemic inequality that delivered this mess to their doorsteps in the first place. 

There is a lot of shouting about climate change, especially in North America and Europe. This makes it easy for the rest of the world to fall into a kind of silence—for Westerners to assume that they have nothing to add and should let the so-called “experts” speak. But we allneed to be talking about climate change and amplifying the voices of those suffering the most. 

Climate science is crucial, but by contextualizing that science with the stories of people actively experiencing climate change, we can begin to think more creatively about technological solutions.

This needs to happen not only at major international gatherings like COP26, but also in an everyday way. In any powerful rooms where decisions are made, there should be people who can speak firsthand about the climate crisis. Storytelling is an intervention into climate silence, an invitation to use the ancient human technology of connecting through language and narrative to counteract inaction. It is a way to get often powerless voices into powerful rooms. 

That’s what I attempted to do by documenting stories of people already experiencing the effects of a climate in crisis. 

In 2013, I was living in Boston during the marathon bombing. The city was put on lockdown, and when it lifted, all I wanted was to go outside: to walk and breathe and hear the sounds of other people. I needed to connect, to remind myself that not everyone is murderous. In a fit of inspiration, I cut open a broccoli box and wrote “Open call for stories” in Sharpie. 

I wore the cardboard sign around my neck. People mostly stared. But some approached me. Once I started listening to strangers, I didn’t want to stop. 

That summer, I rode my bicycle down the Mississippi River on a mission to listen to any stories that people had to share. I brought the sign with me. One story was so sticky that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for months, and it ultimately set me off on a trip around the world.

“We fight for the protection of our levees. We fight for our marsh every time we have a hurricane. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.” 

I met 57-year-old Franny Connetti 80 miles south of New Orleans, when I stopped in front of her office to check the air in my tires; she invited me in to get out of the afternoon sun. Franny shared her lunch of fried shrimp with me. Between bites she told me how Hurricane Isaac had washed away her home and her neighborhood in 2012. 

Despite that tragedy, she and her husband moved back to their plot of land, in a mobile home, just a few months after the storm.

“We fight for the protection of our levees. We fight for our marsh every time we have a hurricane,” she told me. “I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.” 

Twenty miles ahead, I could see where the ocean lapped over the road at high tide. “Water on Road,” an orange sign read. Locals jokingly refer to the endpoint of Louisiana State Highway 23 as “The End of the World.” Imagining the road I had been biking underwater was chilling.

The author at Monasavu Dam in Fiji in 2014.DEVI LOCKWOOD

Here was one front line of climate change, one story. What would it mean, I wondered, to put this in dialogue with stories from other parts of the world—from other front lines with localized impacts that were experienced through water? My goal became to listen to and amplify those stories

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By: Devi Lockwood
Title: Another tool in the fight against climate change: storytelling
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2021/12/23/1041331/climate-change-storytelling/
Published Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2021 12:00:00 +0000

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