There is an imminent threat known to all of mankind: climate change. Climate change is a global problem and each state, city and province has its own climate problems. The North Carolina Climate Justice Summit is a gathering of adults and youth who all have similar concerns about climate change relating to North Carolina specifically. These adults and youth are of all different races and religions and come from all different backgrounds and places. The Summit is a place where people can share, learn and, most importantly, unite for a common cause despite their differences.
The amazing Ms. Jodi Lasseter founded the Summit and Ms. Connie Leeper played an important organizing role. The Summit is supported by a coalition of different environmental organizations and individuals. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend this amazing event because of my participation in the Alliance For Climate Education’s Action Fellowship program in North Carolina. ACE Fellowship attended the summit. My interest in being at the event relates back to my own concern about the effects of climate change. During the Summit, I hoped to gain some new skills, knowledge and connections, and I did just that!
The Summit was all I had expected and more. Initially, I was excited but nervous because I thought that I would be afraid to speak up and share with new people. To my surprise, the loving and open-minded atmosphere at the Summit allowed me to not only share, but to learn as well. Before the event, I worked with a group of Fellows to plan out which games to play at the Summit, and made a playlist that we hoped everyone would enjoy for a dance party. At the summit I worked with some of my other Fellows to facilitate games and the dance party.
Another group of Fellows prepared an “Energy Efficiency and Empowerment” workshop. As a team, all of the Fellows helped facilitate a practice round of games, in which we created different situations and gave suggestions that helped us improve our games! While at the Summit we were able to interact with different organizations and individuals such as Power Up NC, Growing Change, Debbie Cyr of the Elsipogtog first nation, and many more. We engaged in a number of workshops, resilience hubs, fire circles, art sessions, nature walks and many more fun-filled events. During these different events, I was able to connect with so many amazing people who have powerful stories that will live on with me forever.
Although the Summit was filled with many powerful moments, the most powerful moment for me was when Reverend Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus spoke to the people of the Summit. He spoke with a presence and confidence that left me feeling greatly empowered. His passion could be felt from the very words he spoke. He spoke about the climate movement and about how we were going to make it a successful movement. One thing that has been replaying in my head since the Summit was when he told us how to win the movement. In the words of Reverend Yearwood, “ build a diverse coalition, put your body on the line, be creative, take it to the streets, and never give up!” His words have made an impression on my ideas and my position in this ever-evolving movement.
Before the Summit, I often felt as though winning the climate battle would be impossible because not enough people cared. But the Summit showed me I was wrong. There are people out there, just like me, who care and are doing everything in their power to fight this climate fight. I now know that I am not alone in this. I have begun to see the human in humanity again.