Children, teens and all their supporters, what do you do after the excitement of the recent climate change marches?
There’s no quick fix.
Tremendous and dangerous changes are already underway. Right now, the most important thing all of you can do is become skilled, caring people, ready to help out in this new world. Here’s what I suggest…
But first, why listen to me? As a marine biologist and science researcher, I am constantly dealing with confronting and distressing knowledge about our world. From dissections to field studies, from histories to sciences, from books to meetings, I see much that is marvellous and terrible. I’m inspired but also deeply shocked and worried. Over the decades, I learned a few things about how to live with such hurtful knowledge and how to still work with love.
One of the harshest lessons for me was realising that people around me were not always interested or concerned. So I also learned how to meet people who were caring about animals, plants and places, but also skilled. Eventually, I even learned how to spark interest in some of those other people preoccupied with other things.
This is my hard-won list. Yes, ever since I was a young girl, I started to do many of these things. They all help, often in unexpected ways. As you apply yourself in any, and all, of these ways, such interests and work will ease your anxiety about an uncertain future. Such accomplishments build practical, useful skills and a vital sense of self confidence for the days to come. Number one is number one. The rest are in no particular order.
1. Become a mindful observer. Check out Planting Seeds by Thich Nhat Hanh
2. Meet and learn with other people who care about animals, plants and places.
3. Exercise and develop your memory craft: Collect poems to recite and memorise information.
4. Figure out how to make things with your hands. Become a creator.
5. Learn to recognise distress and how to respond. Emotional or physical distress which might be your own, or that of other people around you, or of the creatures and plants. The more carefully you can identify distress, the more accurately you can respond. Some distress you can respond to right away: go water the garden plants. But some, like much of climate change, will need of you a response over months and years.
Doing things with the long term in mind – all this is your response. Maybe you finally develop a special variety of beans that grow abundantly with very little water in hot, dry seasons.
6. Also learn how to see beauty. How beauty and distress exist together in the world is a mystery. But beauty there is. Look for it.
7. Know what type of learner you are and expand on that.
8. Know what you are learning. Linear knowledge (steps, chains of events and a lot of technology) looks so practical but so is systems knowledge (networks, webs, patterns and ecology).
9. Learn some mental sports. When you learn basic philosophy, logic and marketing strategies, you can better understand what people say and avoid being duped.
10. Learn another language, or two or three.
11. Know the many parts of a place, material and immaterial.
12. Learn to read land, water, air, weather and stars.
13. Get to know animals, plants and the creatures of the subvisible worlds.
14. Collect stories of places: Indigenous, immigrant, local, global – of every sort!
14. Learn how to be outdoors.
15. Create your own stories of your life, your places and your community.
16. Learn about the human body.
17. Learn first aid.
18. Learn how to fix things.
19. Learn about food: how to grow, produce, store, cook and share.
20. Find out about how government works where you live, and elsewhere.
21. Find out about money, barter, exchange and gift economies
22. Try some art and music.
23. Learn songs and dances you can do together in a group.