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Together we can, today we start, tomorrow we dance!
Or, there's a step before ya prep.
Watching the water sluice through Montpelier, Vermont last week I was confronted anew with the holy-eff-this-is-happening-so-fastness of the climate crisis. Reports of scientists being confounded by these unexpected events — the water off Florida is five degrees warmer! — only buttressed (funny word to allay the gloom!) my anxiety. The weather is weird, and will be increasingly so in our lifetimes. The pain is real, and the things we’ve long held certain are no longer rocks but rock candy. This is terrible and saddening. And it’s all upon us so quickly that our systems haven’t enough time to absorb and adapt.
We are alive. And this is our fight.
We went for drinks with our friends last week and despite the loveliness of the cocktails and company, I was dismayed. “I want to prepare my son,” said my brilliant, hilarious, artsy friend, who had somehow leapfrogged from mild climate concern straight to preppery and teaching his son to spearfish. I say this not to disparage but to highlight what absolutely cannot happen. If this newsletter does nothing else, it’s meant to serve as an (erratically) biweekly reminder that we can change this. Be a hot stepper before a prepper. Because we have so many beautiful, accessible collective steps to take. Let’s foot it forward together.
I understand the despair as I’ve felt it, but this is the doomist playbook — the one Big Oil has spent $1B since Paris perpetrating, and sown the seeds of with many more dollars in decades previous. Worse than climate chaos not radicalizing people (it won’t) is climate chaos sending people directly to It’s-Too-Late Avenue. It’s not, and it never will be. Because 1.9 degrees will always be better than 2. Because doing something will always be better than nothing. And because we actually can’t prep our way out of this. Nor can you, bunker boys of New Zealand.
But how do we say don’t doom without being naggy, remonstrative, the pain in the ass drinking the bourbon sour and staring at your friend quizzically from across the table, admiring his dad wrinkles and remembering stupid shit you did together twenty years ago? In the moment, I said nothing. Because I was a little dumbfounded. These last few months have been an awakening for so many, and I guess I’d not fully realized that. So I just took it in. Because the grief and the overwhelm are real, and no one needs me to Tracy Flick heat pump pep at them when they’re trying to imagine a safe future for their children.
But after a beat, I will be there with a bullhorn. And a marching band if I can ever find one in this cold marching band-averse country. Because there is still so much we can do. And that stuff is effective, lifegiving, and even fun in parts when you try to make it so (see: top of this paragraph bit about marching bands).
I felt the weight of a long and taxing workday upon me one night last week. And I almost went to bed. But instead I went to my friend’s house. And we all told funny stories. And ate Wheat Thins and realized there really is no better nostalgic cracker (me with my flipping Ritz, what was I thinking?). I went home lighter and energized and ready to conquer another day and eat more Wheat Thins. And I remembered that the only way we will solve anything is together.
Seeing this video of our new Mayor getting people singing and moving in Toronto’s staid clamshell brought tears to my eyes (thanks for posting, Zahra E!). Olivia’s slogan is Together we can, today we start. It’s funny, because every bit of behavioral science tells us you want to make it look like things are already happening, to give people a feeling that there’s movement and momentum and work already being done. And Olivia has done the work, for decades, so it’s doubly counterintuitive. BUT. It’s also fresh starty and inviting: Join now. We’re just getting started. And I like this too. The party is only just kicking off, you haven’t missed anything, and it’s not too late. But, like, let’s go.
Which is the same thing I always say about climate. It’s NEVER too late to start liking the band and getting into the music. We need everyone, and cannot afford to have people bypass fandom and go straight to doomdom. And even though climate work has been going on for decades, we are also, in earnest, just getting started.
Also, good lord can this woman rock a bike and blazer. Let’s blaze new trails and build more bike lanes. Active transportation is the antidote to despair? It’s clunky but it’s true.
Let me know how you’re feeling and what you're doing to leap the chasm of doom and turn angst into action.
Christina Gravert is doing super neat work on behavioral science and sustainability. This podcast is very much worth a listen! No, caring about climate change does not = taking climate action.
New Research Rooted in Behavioral Science Shows How to Dramatically Increase Reach of Low-Income Solar Programs. Inside Climate News. Really cool!
My husband Ben’s company was on the front page of the NYT for their work to divert all the office equipment in the world from landfill. TW: visions of beautiful furniture being crushed to bits.
Framelab on how climate is losing the propaganda war (Thanks, Jen!)
Chris Hatch on prescribing nature. Gosh, I love social prescribing and punny names (PaRX!) Take a hike!
Joy Ride. Did you see this movie? I didn’t expect a hilariously raunchy comedy to turn into one of the most moving movies about identity I’ve seen…ever? Kind of blown away.
Toronto! Toronto Klezmer Society is back at Drom Taberna starting this Wednesday, bring your instrument and join us, alongside some of the city’s most incredible musicians. Best balkan bar, best people, best music.
Mom was a profesh, but dad’s got the moves! Montreal in summer with George Benson, hello.
Thank you, as always, for reading. Always let me know how to make this newsletter better. Hope you are happy and healthy and surrounded with love and by community,