Hello! My name is Natalie, and I am the Executive Director of Care About Climate. I have been working on environmental issues since I was 16 starting with a plastic bag reduction campaign in my hometown of Flagstaff, AZ. I got involved with the climate movement in 2012 when I attend my first United Nations Conference of the Parties in Doha, Qatar. I was intrigued by the complexity of the issue, I was inspired by the people that were dedicating their lives to fight it, and I witnessed the urgency and need to address the issue now, if not yesterday. Since then I have been dedicating my studies and my life to addressing this issue of climate change through education and advocacy as well as on the ground projects.
This is Don. He is Care About Climate’s videographer and photographer. He is also from Flagstaff, AZ and co-owns Ambient Lens LLC. Don has a lot of experience working on telling the story of indigenous and environmental issues through multimedia.
Together, we are traveling around the United States on our Road Trip to Paris to talk to communities about climate change, climate policy, and what we can do about it.
Why a road trip, and why now? Are you driving to France? These are all great questions that we get, and I can answer them. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is meeting this year in Paris, France for their 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21). At this meeting nations will come together to create a new climate agreement that all countries will be signing onto to address this huge problem of climate change. Many people do not know about this historical meeting and they do not know how they can help make a difference in the conversation. So it is our goal to help spread awareness and engage people around the United States around the COP. We think one of the best ways to do that is to visit people in their community to talk about what they can do at home, locally, to have a global impact. Doing a road trip helps us visit dozens of places and connect with people on a personal level. So no, we are not driving to France, but we are road tripping until Paris.
Our first stop on the Road Trip to Paris was Tucson, AZ to visit the University of Arizona. This is my alma mater, and it is the school and community helped foster my passion for climate change, environmental justice, and taking action on the issues that matter most. The UA also has top of the line researchers and programs that are working to learn more about climate change while building resilient communities in the process. In every way this was the perfect place to start.
We drove into Tucson last Thursday and talked with individuals from the Agnese N Haury Foundation, which is a foundation that focuses on climate justice issues. We learned about what groups that they are funding around the community are doing to combat climate change. One of the projects is a thriving compost program that is a partnership between the Tohono O’odham Nation, the City of Tucson, and the University of Arizona called Compost Cats. This was originally a student-run project that has changed the way the community looks at food waste and the connection to climate change, and it is expanding to decrease that food waste overall by taking the food that can still be eaten and redistributing it to the community. The foundation has also have been funding a fabulous school garden program that helps revolutionize underserved schools by providing them with gardens, composting bins, water harvesting systems, and curriculum that can be integrated into the children’s everyday learning experience. Finally, we heard from students at the UA that are thinking about climate issues through literature, and are writing fiction pieces that are inspired by the things that they see are happening all around them as a result of a changing climate.
In addition to meeting with the Haury Foundation, we were able to talk to a variety of community members about their efforts, which includes Power Through Paris workshops to talk about how to build momentum for climate action in Arizona, the city developing a climate resiliency plan, and local groups like Physicians for Social Responsibility working on adaptation toolkits for neighborhoods. After meeting with all these groups and learning about their initiatives it was exciting to see all the momentum that has been building up in a community I grew up in to seriously address the issue of climate change by mitigating it and adapting to it.
We gave our first Road Trip to Presentation on Monday at the UA’s Institute of the Environment. Students, staff, faculty members, and community members all came out to learn about the climate negotiations and how they could help. It was a great group that had a lot of knowledge collectively, which made the presentation very interactive an exciting.
It was great visiting Tucson and seeing it grow in many fun and exciting ways. On to the next adventure! Check us out at Arizona State University on Thursday: https://sustainability.asu.edu/events/.