A behind-the-scenes chat between co-hosts Taiji and Michael about effective climate change communication, plus our goals, hopes, dreams, and terrors for this first season.
Episode Credits: Produced by Taiji Nelson. Editing by Michael Pisano. Music by Amos Levy.
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Taiji Nelson (00:00:01):
Yeah, it's the climate change. Do you feel sweaty? I'm sweaty. That's totally overwhelming.
Michael Pisano (00:00:07):
Is the world warming or is that me?
Taiji Nelson (00:00:09):
Oh, my God, yeah. Just me.
Michael Pisano (00:00:13):
Welcome to We Are Nature, a podcast about natural histories and livable futures presented by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. I'm your host, Michael Pisano. And on this very special first bonus episode, we thought we'd offer you a peak behind the curtain into this slightly sloppy process of recording this series.
If you listened to episode one, first off, thank you so much. Thanks for coming back. And second, you've already met Taiji Nelson. We Are Nature's producer extraordinaire. For the next hour and a half, prepare to embark on a meandering audio journey featuring Taiji and I trying to record 10 minutes of content for episode one, but getting too excited to care about trivialities like time constraints. Instead, we talk about America and diversity and exploitation and doom and dreams. It's all here. I've gone through with the lightest editing touch to cut out the parts that made it into the first official episode and to bleep out the single swear word that I uttered. But otherwise, this bonus ep is an uncut peak into our process and hopes for this first season of We Are Nature.
Next week, we'll be back with a fully edited episode featuring special guest, Summer Lee. Summer Lee is a climate justice champion, community organizer, and currently a representative in the Pennsylvania State House. Now, she's also running to represent PA in the US House of Reps. And with election day just a few weeks away, I hope you'll give next episode a listen. It is a really, really good interview with Representative Lee. We also squeeze in about four billion years of the history of steel. So again, I hope you'll join us. All right, Taiji, to wrap up this first episode about talking about talking about climate change, I was hoping that you and I could chat through the main challenges to climate communication that we identified going into making this season.
So I've actually got a couple of key challenges pulled out from our notes, and I'm hoping we can just kind of rapid fire go through them. Sound good?
Taiji Nelson (00:02:23):
Michael Pisano (00:02:23):
All right. The first is that climate change is overwhelming.
Taiji Nelson (00:02:31):
Michael Pisano (00:02:32):
I think what we kind of talked about is how thinking about climate on a global scale, which is a valid way to think about it, because it's a global issue, thinking about it as that big is very challenging. It's uncomfortable. That's where we get into grief, doom, despair. And I think if we're going to be successful in communicating about climate action, we need to break it into digestible bits. So can you talk about how we've done that, how you have done that in your experience in climate communication?
Taiji Nelson (00:03:04):
It's the climate change. Do you feel sweaty? I'm sweaty. That's totally overwhelming.
Michael Pisano (00:03:10):
Is the world warming or is that me?
Taiji Nelson (00:03:11):
Oh, my God, yeah. Just me.
The existential dread bit is real. It's so big. It's big and it's bad. If you picture you're at a table and if climate change was a person at the table, it kills the vibe.
But overwhelm, so it's ways we've addressed overwhelm, is just an acknowledgement of that. This is a huge thing that luckily we do not have to solve alone. We can solve it together. And then, like you said, if we break it up into understandable pieces, that starts to... It can be solved. And so, there are some great organizations, like Project Drawdown specifically, that break climate change into a bunch of different parts. Some will be solved by engineers, some will be solved by community organizers, some will be solved by politicians, some will be solved by construction workers. There's just all these different things, that once you can break it into a bite size piece, you can understand it. It's an understandable piece. It's less overwhelming.
And then, it's also this acknowledgement that one person cannot do it all. It ain't on you. This is why collective action is the thing. You bring a unique, and I'm talking each and every person who's listening to this, you bring a unique perspective, skill set, network of people and friends and family members and colleagues. You have places where you hold influence, whether it's at your school, your church, your job, your house. You have places where you have control and you can affect change, but you don't got to do it all. And you're going to have down days, where you need a break. That's cool. It ain't on one person, it's on all of us. And the responsibility is on all of us, but also, we need each other to succeed.
And so, in many ways, it can feel competitive. When we're talking about the United States, for instance, and China. The relationship between fossil fuels, burning fossil fuels for energy, and who's contributing to the climate crisis more. It's like, "No, we need China to succeed and they need us to succeed." So when we release the shame and the blame and that kind of thing, stop being overwhelmed by how hard it is to think about, to feel, to do anything about, when we're not so overwhelmed by all that, we're like, "Okay." Bite size chunk, it's a lot easier to do something.
Michael Pisano (00:06:04):
And I think one of the ways that we tackled that in this series specifically was by focusing locally. And I would just add to what you said, that if you are one of those people who is struggling to retain hope or find a way to plug in, looking locally at what's already going on around you was the way for me. It was the way that I got both my feelings of doom allayed and found some sort of productive ways to process the righteous despair that I do feel because we're not... We still want to be realistic, hope just fits into that realism.
And that brings me to another challenge with climate change communication, which is disinformation and misinformation. There is so much of it, and I kind of think of it as two big categories. You're welcome to add however many you like, but I want to hear from you about both of these, at least.
One is the type of information that asserts that it's hopeless and that we can see comes from places that either those sources don't have the right information, or they're intentionally downplaying our ability to change the status quo because the authors of that information benefit from the status quo. So there's intentionally wrong information out there. And I would extend that also to claims like how green energy means loss of jobs in places like Pennsylvania. False, we'll get into that later, a million times.
The other type of misinformation is unintentional. And we live in a world where information is so beautifully accessible and shareable. I love the internet. I'm not very online. I'm not on Twitter, which is probably why I can like the internet. But you can learn so much, and then with a few clicks, share it with everybody who you're connected to on the internet. And sometimes, that backfires because it's hard to understand what is credible. We don't necessarily have the tools to keep up with critically thinking about what we read on the internet.
So misinformation, disinformation, Taiji, how do we combat that with a little old podcast, but also in general?
Taiji Nelson (00:08:44):
So when I think about what I've learned over the course of the last three years through working at the museum, meeting farmers working in Mercer County and knowing a person, that for me is the thing. If I know and trust a person and they're telling me that this is what they're experiencing; the rain, or the frost, or the heat, or the drought.
When I hear a person telling me about that and I'm standing in their field with them, and they are a living, breathing person, that to me just grounds everything else I know about climate change, that I've read in a book, that I've went to school for, that I hear from scientists, all that kind of stuff. I'm like, "Does it check out with what I am seeing on the ground?" And that I think is the power of understanding that climate change is here and now in Pittsburgh and in Western Pennsylvania. I think it's like, "I know scientists who study this and I trust them. I know farmers who are seeing it and I trust them. I know community organizers. I know people who kayak or fish and they see it." And so, it affirms and it validates, and it just helps me know, "No, I am not crazy. This is happening. It's real."
You mentioned green jobs. One of the common phrases, that green energy will kill jobs. Only if we would let it. If that is a thing that we would let happen, then it would maybe.
Michael Pisano (00:10:32):
Taiji Nelson (00:10:33):
But I think no, currently, fossil fuels are killing us slowly in the form of climate change and quickly in the form of air quality, water quality. That's a reality. We cannot keep going, so acting like we can is fake. It's denial. It's wishing that the situation we're in wasn't true and thinking that wishing alone is going to fix it.
But there are plenty of reasons to believe that if we just did green jobs the way we did fossil fuel jobs, well, yeah, people would not benefit equitably. And that's an important thing to acknowledge and say, "We will not let you fall through the cracks." It's on all of us, like me, as I don't work in the fossil fuel industry. It could be designed in a way that is not going to actually give people family sustaining wages. But we can't let that happen.
And so, it's this idea of, "It's either jobs or climate change." We don't really have a choice. We have to address climate change and there are a million decisions we'll be making afterwards. It's not just this one fork in the road, where it's, "Jobs or climate?" We can't not address climate. So that is a fake choice and it's going to be tons of decisions and tons of work to make sure that we have it all, or as close to it as we can. This is just a constant trying to do better.
Michael Pisano (00:12:11):
Absolutely. And that doing better includes doing better in being honest with each other. I think that example for me highlights something that really upsets me about disinformation, about manufactured information that's incorrect, like claiming that green energy would kill jobs, because it's so clearly to benefit someone who is exploiting other people, period. Exploiting them as laborers in dangerous conditions. That they're supporting this narrative of, "Fracking's the only job in your community. So what are you not going to put food on your family's table?" I don't think that's true. I think that that's predatory.
Taiji Nelson (00:13:03):
Sounds like an abusive boyfriend.
Michael Pisano (00:13:04):
It does. That's right.
Taiji Nelson (00:13:05):
Like an abusive relationship.
Michael Pisano (00:13:06):
That's 100% right.
Taiji Nelson (00:13:08):
Not to make a joke about abuse, but that is not a loving, respectful relationship.
Michael Pisano (00:13:15):
It's not. And I think the other exploitative part there is saying, "Work here at the expense of your community's health." Saying you can have prosperity here in monetary sense and in your material needs being met by a paycheck. You can have that, but it also has to come at the expense of the stream that you might like to fish in, or the park that you might like to play with your dog in, or the health of the kids in the local elementary school. These are all real issues. That is not a false dichotomy. It is not false to say that if you are going to extract fossil fuels near where people live, or refine steel, or do any number of other climate challenging things, that we really could be phasing out at this point if it weren't for entrenched monetary interests. If we're doing those things, then we are hurting the people who are doing them. The people who are directly working in those places suffer terrible health outcomes. And those places suffer terrible environmental consequences that cause negative health outcomes for everyone else who lives there. What a terrible choice to force someone to make for the profits of fracking in a national forest. What?
Taiji Nelson (00:14:51):
I know, it is mind boggling. I feel in so many ways, we are, in Western Pennsylvania, fearful that if we don't take what we're given, we'll be left with nothing. That's part of our story, is boom and bust, and you got to make ends meet, you got to figure it out. You're willing to put up with a lot because you care, because you're a hard worker, you support your family, you're a good American. There's all this stuff baked into that. But also, we end up fighting with one another and just moving from a place of fear and necessity. It's power. It's about who has power and who doesn't. Billionaires, they have the power. They can choose to take their factory somewhere else. They don't got to worry about working. But everyday people, you're going to take a risk when there are people depending on you and you want a good life.
But I think the power of collective action is showing that, "If that factory closes down, I got your back. I am not going to let you fall through the cracks." And they have to believe that. I have to mean it, and they have to believe it. And so, when we think about the power of something like the Green New Deal, it's like that. It's not just climate. It's climate and jobs and justice for all. And it's a promise. And everybody's got to mean that promise and everyone's got to believe that promise.
Michael Pisano (00:16:46):
Sure. And everybody has to show up to craft what that promise actually is, because it's not unilateral. It's not like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is sitting down at a coffee shop in Brooklyn writing it. The Green New Deal is great to me, because it requires that everyone has a seat at that table and it requires that those jobs are jobs that are paid well, that are union jobs, that are respectable ways to earn a living, that don't destroy your body or your community. That's pretty cool.
Taiji Nelson (00:17:20):
And the scale is local. Where you can have that conversation about what does that look like. It's hard to be, "What does that look like for the U.S.?" Every community is different. They have different needs, different wants, different variables of what would make it fit, but we could figure that out. I think all these stories are stories of what might that look like. What does our thriving collective future look like in Southwestern Pennsylvania. We know there's some complexity and there's some difference between a city like Pittsburgh and the counties surrounding. People's lives look different. Their vision for the future and the way to get there might look a little different, but I think that's a scale that we could think about.
Michael Pisano (00:18:05):
Taiji Nelson (00:18:06):
Like, what's it mean for our region.
Michael Pisano (00:18:07):
Absolutely. And yeah, it doesn't have to look exactly the same everywhere. That sounds terrible. I would also assert that it's no more complex and challenging than not doing that and doing what you're already doing to get by to survive, going to whatever job you already have, risking whatever you're already risking.
And then, you add the changing climate and the finite nature of the jobs that are in fracking or extraction. That's not an infinite resource. These things are going to go away and we will have to do this at some point. Why not now? And why not together? What does natural history have to do with this? There is a whole other story of climate change and of the resources here that we are trying to inject into some of these stories about right now, that look at the natural history.
For example, when we talk about coal, we also look back at the geological record and where coal comes from. How many millions of years ago did this form, what is it.
Why did we bother to do that, Taiji?
Taiji Nelson (00:19:36):
So I think museums as a field are kind of going through this whole identity... Everybody's going through an identity crisis right now in 2022. But I think museums are really thinking about, "What are the best ways to serve our community?" And at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, I think people think of us as, "Oh, that's the place I go to see dinosaur bones," which absolutely is the place to go see dinosaur bones.
Michael Pisano (00:20:02):
Very good bones there.
Taiji Nelson (00:20:03):
Very good. 10 out of...
... absolutely is the place to go see dinosaurs.
Michael Pisano (00:20:03):
Very good bones there.
Taiji Nelson (00:20:03):
10 out of 10. That's the Yelp review. Very good bones. So I think it's like, the mission of the museum is, I think, to use our understanding of nature's past and present in order to inform our thriving collective future. That's not the verbatim, but it's pretty close. But it is just about like natural history is careful observation of kind of like records of the world, and the natural world, over time. So we have our dinosaur bones from millions of years ago, but we also have plant specimens, animal specimens from like a couple hundred years ago, or within the last few decades.
So we have these kind of like snapshots, like tiny, tiny, tiny readings, but within these collections, there's a lot of stories, and you can learn a lot, whether it's just by looking at the size and shape of birds over time, or whether it's by extracting DNA from bird feathers, and understanding how have they genetically changed over time. And so the museum, in addition to kind of being a place where we share our understanding through education programs or exhibits, it's also a place where scientific research is being conducted.
But I think historically, this is kind of where museums are having an identity crisis, kind of in the past, we've stopped at the present. Like, we were good at telling stories about dinosaurs, evolution, ecology, and that's like there are scientists that research these things from millions of years ago and there's scientists at the museum that research plant, animal, ecosystem populations right now, in the present. What's new, I think, for many museums is to use that information to talk about the future, and that's where the section of Anthropocene studies at the museum is like a new experiment. Like, what is our lane when it comes to talking about the future, and how do we learn from other people that that is their kind of bag? Like, community organizers, always talking about the future. Artists, always talking about the future. Policymakers, talking about the future. Natural history, we've kind of been like to the side, and we're often brought in to talk about like, "This is why things are the way they are," and then we get, scientists particularly, get shoved back to their labs, and be like, "Good. You did your job. You gave a great presentation."
But I think we are learning, as museums, how to really kind of step up. And I think some museums have been doing it. If we want our museum to be around, if we want our community to be around, we can't ignore things like climate change, like racial justice, like gender justice, like policy. There's a difference between policy and politics. Like, we don't want to be a political... We are a nonprofit, so we can't be political, but to say we can't talk about policy, well, I don't know. We have a seat at that table. We have a responsibility. So, I think that is my answer.
Michael Pisano (00:23:32):
That's a great answer. Part of what the Museum of Natural History, and all museums, do, they're a part of crafting the narrative about nature, the way that we talk about nature. And we touched on this earlier, the museum uses this "We are nature" phrase, that is also the title of this podcast, pretty often, and I wonder what that "We are nature" phrase means to you, especially in relation to the way that we tell stories about nature as perhaps separate.
Taiji Nelson (00:24:09):
Yeah. I think that the idea of "We are nature" is new for a lot of people. It's like in our society, and in science, like if you think back to your eighth grade biology, or whenever you took biology. It's like, Western science is all about organizing, lumping, and splitting, and it's like, oh, so some ways, we sort ourselves as living and nonliving nature, human and nonhuman, biotic and abiotic, and it's like kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species, all that kind of stuff.
Michael Pisano (00:24:49):
Kings play chess on funny green squares, you mean?
Taiji Nelson (00:24:51):
Michael Pisano (00:24:51):
I remember that.
Taiji Nelson (00:24:54):
So I think it's like we are naturally draw... Humans are their own thing. Again, it's like in many ways, humans are unique within nature and our understanding of nature, but also, we know there are microorganisms living inside of us right now, in our stomachs, and our lives depend on these things. So it's like, well, it doesn't take much scientific exploration to see that the boundaries we put on ourselves are pretty porous. Like, we got living things living inside of us right now. So it's like, well, how do you separate that out, then?
And I'm like, I think there's a... Particularly when it comes to justice, you need to be able to talk about humans as their own thing. Like, we need to talk about what should humans do? But there are also many ways where yeah, humans are a part of nature. Like, well that, I think that just resonates. And we are not the... I think it's new for Western scientists to be like... Maybe it's not new, but it's a harder boundary to kind of break down, or to overcome, or to kind of set aside, versus other cultures, where that is just the normal, right?
Michael Pisano (00:26:08):
Taiji Nelson (00:26:08):
It's like, Native American cultures, that boundary was not there, so a lot of Asian cultures... I was reading this morning, just about Zen Buddhism, and just this idea of like that focus on the individual and me is not... It's not present everywhere. So I think for the museum, it's new and interesting, and a place where we're looking to grow and test ourselves, and understand the limits of our knowing. It's like, okay, well this idea that maybe humans are not apart from nature, maybe it's not... I think religion plays into this, where it's like, "Humans are made in God's image, and everything else is for us to benefit from and enjoy and take care of," but there are many world religions that that is not the case, and so I think it's like we as a institution, we have to know ourselves and be like, "Okay, yeah, we are pretty steeped in Western, white science, so this is a place where we need to challenge ourselves," or we would benefit from challenging ourselves, and if we want to talk to the rest of the world, we should know that we have a way of doing things, and it's not the only or best way.
But I think it's also just, yeah, that openness that other people are doing it differently, or they do have a worldview that conceives of our existence and our planet and... that differently. So I think it's just, yeah, it's not that we are new, it's a new idea, but it is new to us, and it's a place where it's like we're trying it on, trying to figure out how that could shape what we do and how we know what we know.
Michael Pisano (00:27:55):
It's really important. The museum is a credible institution, with reach, and I think it's important for them to be developing the narrative about how people interact with natural history, and how they think about, yeah, their position in natural history, and in the world around them. I wonder if there's any other parts of the mainstream narrative that we, and I'll say Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the kind of Western settler colonialist narrative of this place. What else could we challenge? What else could we change as we move forward towards a hopefully, livable future, and in the context of these stories about climate action, does anything else jump out to you?
Taiji Nelson (00:28:49):
I think I would love to see stronger collaboration between our museum and the community. I think that's something that the museum sees as a way we can contribute, is like we have a collection. We have programming. We have exhibitions. We have research, and researchers. Like, I would love if we could not move beyond what we do for understanding, and have it really be for change. Like, when I look around in Pittsburgh, I see air quality issues, I see water quality issues, I see a deep desire to have thriving, green spaces, and places to recreate, and find joy, and build community, and use awe and wonder of nature to have fulfilling lives, a high quality of life. You know, it's like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is... We want people to be able to live, so they're healthy-
Michael Pisano (00:29:56):
I love living.
Taiji Nelson (00:29:56):
Liberty, like do what they want, like free to be who they are, and then that pursuit of happiness. For me, going outside, that is the place, so I would love if we could be using our scientists not only to understand the natural world, but understand some solutions to problems.
Michael Pisano (00:30:13):
Taiji Nelson (00:30:15):
Michael Pisano (00:30:15):
That's great. We are looking at a diversity of ways to address climate change, and these are not just ways that are addressing the scientific side of the story. They are looking at the ways that climate change intersects with how people live their daily lives, and challenges, like you mentioned, around jobs or the material conditions of their lives. Talk a little bit about how climate action, climate change is not just a story about science.
Taiji Nelson (00:30:54):
Yeah. I mean, I think the tagline you use, "This is an emergency, not an apocalypse." I think that, to me, gets at what you're talking about a little bit. Like, it's not simple. Like, if it was just the apocalypse, I mean, it's a compelling story, I guess, but it's pretty simple, right? You know where it's going.
Michael Pisano (00:31:18):
It's been done, yeah.
Taiji Nelson (00:31:20):
But like the idea that this is an emergency, that leaves some space that you can get out of an emergency.
Michael Pisano (00:31:25):
Taiji Nelson (00:31:27):
You can't get out of an apocalypse. So I think it's just like it's complicated. It's an unknown story, and I think in many ways, framing climate change as just a problem of science, just a problem of understanding, that's too simple. It's like not just if we change the variables, it would solve... That's a part of it. That's like an essential way we understand what actions are meaningful, is like... "You got to start somewhere, but there's a difference between starting somewhere and starting anywhere," and that's where science... And I stole that quote from a waitress that I met at a concert. We were just vibing. She was like this entrepreneur type with For Your Colored Girls Cosmetics. She's just this amazing person. We just got started talking about the ways we want to see difference in the world.
Michael Pisano (00:32:17):
Taiji Nelson (00:32:18):
And so she was saying, yeah, "You've got to start somewhere, but there's a difference between starting somewhere and starting anywhere."
Michael Pisano (00:32:23):
I love that so much.
Taiji Nelson (00:32:24):
And I think just moving it out of this space that it's going to be solved solely by ecologists, or solely by science, into like it's an issue... Climate change impacts our health. First and foremost, if you're not healthy, you got nothing, right? You talk to people as they get older, they say like health is the thing. It's like quality of life. And it's like if people can't get the right food, if they're breathing toxic air, if they don't have access to water, it's a health thing. And solving climate change, also, I should have started with this, solving climate change involves things like closing down, or transitioning workers from industries that are currently negatively impacting our health and giving them good, meaningful jobs that pay the bills, that puts a roof over their head and food on their table. It's like that's what climate action is. It's improving people's lives. So like, climate science is a part of that, right? Like, we need somebody to engineer insulation. We need somebody to design more efficient appliances. It's critical, but if we don't have an understanding of the... It's like an economic issue. It's an ethical issue. It touches on literally every part of our lives.
Michael Pisano (00:33:42):
It's almost like they're all connected, Taiji. Yes, it's all of those things, and I appreciate you laying it out so smoothly. I think you said a couple things there, that I want to touch on, or I would like you to expand on, rather. One is that you mentioned this piece of legislature, so we do talk to a couple of policymakers in the course of this season. Summer Lee is up next episode. If you haven't haven't heard her name, I hope you will soon. She is a rockstar. And then we also talked to people outside of government, who are working in many different lanes. But something that ties them all together, and something that we forget, I think pretty often, about politics, is that it's collective action of a form. My mouth got dry saying that out loud. I don't want anyone to misunderstand what I mean. I just mean that we are looking at solutions that are larger than individual scale, which is not to knock anybody's personal footprint awareness and actions that they take, but what we really wanted to highlight was people working together. Can you talk a little bit about the decision to highlight collective action?
Taiji Nelson (00:35:02):
Yeah, so I think again, it goes back to what stories do we need right now? Like, what do we have and what don't we have? I think we have... When I ask, like my whole job is about going out and starting climate conversations, and I have a ton of really great climate conversations with farmers, with scientists, with educators, with policymakers, and they always lead in a similar direction. Like, as they're wrapping up, a lot of times it will end with, "What gives you hope?" Which I have a ton of takes on what gives me hope, so stay tuned. But I also think it's like, "What do we do?" And I think when it comes to climate change, when you ask people like, "Okay, so what are you doing for climate change?" Or when people ask me what am I doing? A lot of times, we'll say things like, "Well, you know, I'm recycling, or I ride my bike, or if I can afford it, I'll buy an electric car." Some people can afford to put solar panels on their roofs, or buy local, fresh, and organic. These are all really good things, but we don't have a lot of stories of collective action, other than just like "Go vote." And voting, absolutely, voting is essentially, but-
Michael Pisano (00:36:30):
Yeah, do it.
Taiji Nelson (00:36:30):
... I think a lot of people are feeling-
Michael Pisano (00:36:31):
It's not hard.
Taiji Nelson (00:36:32):
... that it's like voting alone is not enough. It's not a once a year, or once every two or four year thing.
Michael Pisano (00:36:38):
Right. Yeah, and there's plenty of work to be done in those interims that engage with politics directly, but also that engage with communities directly, and with people's material needs directly, like all the things that you talked about in housing. It's not that legislation is the only solution. That would be a fantastic step, but we also need people on the street attending to daily needs, and retrofitting parts of homes in the ways that they can without that support is just as legitimate.
Taiji Nelson (00:37:13):
Well, I've been thinking a lot recently, about strong communities and strong individuals, right? Strong communities are made up of strong individuals, so that's a thing, but also, strong communities are like an essential part of producing strong individuals, right? It's like there's a relationship there. Sometimes, we do get to be ourselves. We do get to make our own decisions. We get to figure out what fits for us. But it is also always in this community thing, right? I think there's some people that choose to move out into the woods in the middle of Maine, and do that whole thing. Ain't for me. I get it. You're good. But there's the whole like no person is an island thing, so I think it's like, again, we have a lot of examples and stories about like, "What can I as an individual do?" But we have not yet cracked the case on like "What do we as a community do? And what does it look like when we act or make decisions as a community?"
It's uncomfortable, I think, for us right now, for many reasons, but if it's uncomfortable, maybe we need to explore it a little bit more, find where we are. Like, what are our boundaries? Where are we most or least comfortable? And kind of suss it out. So I'm hoping that by focusing on stories where even when it got hard to collaborate, we didn't dip on it... Like, focusing on those stories, I think is something that we could all use. It could help us understand the current moment better.
Michael Pisano (00:38:45):
Absolutely. What I jump to is interviewing people from the Mountain Watershed Association, who are organizing against coal and fracking in their beautiful community, which no longer is supported, necessarily, by those industries. Those industries have historically been a huge part of developing the Laurel Highlands, which is an hour-and-a-half south of Pittsburgh. But today, it's farming and outdoor recreation that are giving people jobs and putting food on their tables there. And if we continue to extract there, it's going to hurt both of those livelihoods, and those communities might disappear. Climate change is also intersecting where it's going to get wetter there, and they're going to experience harder weather. So I think what sticks out to me is how much listening those activists did. They were so curious about their neighbors, and in those conversations, they were able to be open in a way that invited people who differed from them to contribute to the conversation. I-
... to contribute to the conversation. I mean, to learn from them about what was important in those communities, and the example that came up that really stuck with me was that they found that property rights was something that was very important to people who lived in that area, regardless of their political affiliation or other differences that they had. And so to then have that knowledge going into future conversations, what an incredible tool to say, "Hey, it turns out we do care about some of the same stuff." And maybe that one point of connection is enough for us to speak to each other outside of the framework that maybe media feeds us about my position versus your position because of what news channel you watch, or what politician you trust.
And at the end of the day, it's not like everybody's suddenly magically aligned across the board on every issue, but they did agree that they didn't want a big company owned by someone, who knows where, who isn't paying taxes there, to come in and seize their property based on laws that don't seem very fair to anybody, or to seize their water supply for a new fracking facility, which they're allowed to do. All they had to do is agree on the fact that they wanted the right to live where they lived. So yeah, it just stuck out to me that the collective didn't have to be a hive mind or a unified group across the board, it was just people who respected each other, despite differences, to do something that was in their common interest. That to me suggests when you blow it out to thinking about climate change, we don't have to solve every problem all at the same time. We can tackle these things a little bit at a time, and get to know each other a little bit, and warm up together, and figure out what other things we have in common.
Taiji Nelson (00:42:04):
See our connections and the way we rely on one another. Yeah, because it's that idea of listening with openness, with the possibility of being changed, there's so much trust there, vulnerability, humbleness, there's a lot to that. Yeah, be just open that you might need to change. You may not be right, You may not have the whole story. I think that's an act of bravery and it's an act of respect. It's an act of communion. We are in community with one another. And I think the other thing that I think is related to that is at the same time there are some things that it's like, I know my stance and I will stand there.
Michael Pisano (00:42:54):
Taiji Nelson (00:42:55):
And it's like, "Know where you stand and why you stand there." That's a phrase that I repeat often in climate communication is you kind of have to know where you stand and why you stand there in order to be able to listen and to be like, "Okay, I know me. I've got my stuff under control. I can talk about what I believe and why I want something." And it lets me kind of listen in a different way. And I'm not concrete in where I stand. I'm always going to stand there, but if I have a good sense, I can start seeing connections, I can start seeing relationships, I can have space to have somebody else share their thought, because it doesn't really necessarily, it's not a threat to me.
But I think many people, they get flustered because they think they don't know enough about climate change or they don't have the answer. That's why people are afraid to call their electeds, even though all you need to do is tell them what you care about. You are the expert on what you care about and why you care about it. Call your elected representatives when something happens. Or it's like, "Oh, I'm afraid to have this conversation with my uncle at Thanksgiving." My uncle's awesome, but I think a lot of people talk about afraid to talk to family members, they're afraid they're going to react poorly or something like that. They're afraid they don't know enough. But if you spend some time, know where you stand, why you stand there, then you can go in and talk to your neighbors and figure out, "Okay, where do we align?"
Michael Pisano (00:44:33):
As of recording this conversation, we've recorded pretty much every other interview and edited about a third of this first season. And given what I've heard so far, there are two kind of big takeaways that I have. So I was hoping to toss those at you, hear your thoughts on them, and then anything else that you know are taking away from what we've heard. The first is just that this isn't something that was particularly new to me, but I found some new dimensionality to it because it got mentioned in almost every interview that I personally conducted, was the importance of diversity in climate action.
And there was a really excellent... I think what was new for me was tying threads together of different types of diversity. A diversity of diversities. So there's this diversity of approaches to climate action that we've talked about. There's a diversity of perspectives that we need, which is true of any problem solving. And then there's biodiversity, the diversity of life, which creates all sorts of cool things like resilience to changing climate systems and also touches on that happiness part that you talk about. It's not lost on me that we need a diversity of things around us as part of happiness. So maybe it's kind of obvious just to start you off talking about diversity, but why is it important that many people have a seat at the table where we're making decisions about climate and acting on climate?
Taiji Nelson (00:46:11):
That is the promise that America makes. We tell ourselves and we tell everybody else in the world that if you put in the time and the effort, you can make it here, that you have a fair shot. And that ain't always true. That is rarely true. That is not true, but it could be. And we are an experiment.
Michael Pisano (00:46:41):
Pretty [inaudible 00:46:43] experiment.
Taiji Nelson (00:46:43):
And I think it is always going to be work. And I think that's a big answer. That's a 30,000 foot view is like don't they deserve it? They don't need us to tell them they deserve it to have that right.
Michael Pisano (00:47:03):
Taiji Nelson (00:47:04):
It's diversity, people should be able to be who they are. Who am I to tell someone that? So there's that. I think it's like we do not grant each other rights. We have inherently... You have rights as a living being. And it is not just people. Nature has a right to exist and not be bothered by us. And we are always going to... I have an impact even when I'm trying my best to not contribute to climate change, not hurt anybody or anything else, I always have an impact. But what I do when I learn that and what I do afterwards, what I do during and after, matters.
Michael Pisano (00:47:51):
Taiji Nelson (00:47:52):
And so I think in the big picture, diversity matters because everybody has a right to be themselves and to live.
Michael Pisano (00:48:00):
Yes they do. Sorry to interrupt. I was going to just add that your impact on nature is not sole... It does not solely have to be extractive.
Taiji Nelson (00:48:08):
Michael Pisano (00:48:09):
It can be reciprocal. And the more that we try to see the diversity of life as on equal footing and express solidarity with it, I think the more joy we will find in doing so, and it relates to everything that we do. Eating food is I think a great example, comes up again and again in this series, that the farther you are from your food, the less thought you're putting towards where it comes from and what was... Sacrifice is such a loaded ass word. I don't know if I want to use that one, but what was consumed is the result of not just the chicken itself, what fed the chicken. Where is the whole chain of life that leads to that chicken on your plate? It seems maybe an imposition to think about the diversity of life in such detail, but I find it to be the opposite. I find it to be enriching and I find it to be provocative in a way that I would rather be asking those questions than blankly staring into the void. I think there's a middle ground but-
Taiji Nelson (00:49:27):
It makes me think about the museum, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Oftentimes we'll talk about evolution, ecology, and the Anthropocene. And evolution being the tree of life, ecology being the web of life, and the Anthropocene being the future of life. And so the Tree of life, to me that represents depth. It's telling the deep stories and following the trail back. That is evolution. Ecology is the web of life. It is deep, but it's also breadth. It's the connections, the relationships, the moving pieces of it. And then the future of life is what's new for us. It's at the museum, it's new for us. It's like what-
Michael Pisano (00:50:12):
I worry about the future of life all the time, Taiji.
Taiji Nelson (00:50:18):
So yeah, again, and it's just difference breeds beauty. I believe that. Diversity breeds beauty and strength. It reinforces and it builds strength and it's also a sign of strength. If your system can uphold diversity where these different things need different things, and everybody can get what they need, that's a sign of strength. And I would push us to say it's a sign of weakness if we can't. And I just think for me, the other thing your question made me think about, is solidarity. And what I've learned, I think people, when you hear diversity or conversation about diversity, oftentimes it comes to race. And I'm a mixed race person. My mom is white, my dad is Japanese. And then there's just a lot of different racial representation in my family. My dad was adopted by a Puerto Rican woman. My uncle is black and he is a leader within the Episcopal Church, kind of was a leader during the Civil Rights Movement, was a leader when women were being ordained in the Episcopal Church. He helped to write the liturgy for gay marriage.
And so diversity is my family story, but I think about diversity paired with solidarity, when you can feel true solidarity. And I think what I have learned from other movements that were calling for solidarity, Black Lives Matter specifically, the 2020 protest was the most profound experience of my life. And I am so deeply indebted to the people that put in the time to organize and really teach the world. And just me personally, I am forever changed. And I know that work had been going on for hundreds of years and I was finally ready to listen and really believe it and hear it and understand it and be committed to it. But I just think there were some organizers here in Pittsburgh that I learned so much. I just remember one of the protest leaders just said, "When you say Black Lives matter, you scream it. You do not whisper it. This is not something you should be shy about. If you believe it, scream it."
And I have taken that to so many different aspects of my life, but particularly climate change. I'm like, "What do I have to lose? I know where this train is heading." The way we are right now, if we don't change where our track is leading, that is where we are going. We are going to a place that is going to be harder, more people will suffer. There will just be so much that it'll just be harder to be the person I am and to support the communities I love. And so that is worth being... That is deep within me. And I see the relationships between climate change and race and gender and how much money you have. I think to ignore class and money in this conversation... Climate change is coming for you and if you... It's coming for all of us, but if you don't have money, the likelihood that we'll be able to lead a happy, prosperous life, it's just going to be harder to do that.
And if you're a person of color, if you're a woman, if you are marginalized in other ways, it's just adding onto the burden, but it is our opportunity to get it right. This is the chance to be like, "Yo, we need to transform." And it ain't easy. And it's easy to say, but it's so much harder to do, but I hope the stories in this podcast will show you that the seeds are there. That world we want is here, if we just let it be. If we just let it happen and we looked at the people who are already doing good work, work we care about, work that we are tied to. We got this. I really think so. When I look around and see all the really brilliant, smart, loving people doing things, if I could just make their... If we could just get out the way and let them do their thing and support them and learn from them, that is it. We are there.
Michael Pisano (00:54:48):
I feel that hope too Taiji. I really do, because in our lifetime, I think a lot of people struggle to say, "Well, it's not going to be bad by the time I kick it, so let it ride baby. That's for tomorrow to worry about." You know what we do have to worry about today are terrible feelings of isolation and the schisms that we have between each other that are class based, race based. All the different differences between us that cause tension and cause this feeling of loneliness in this country. And to fix that is to address the divisions between us. To address the divisions between us is to address the injustices that are being made very clear as the climate changes, as conditions for people change, and who gets impacted. If we address one, we address the other. They're connected. And so what is really meaningful to me is to say, "Hey, in my lifetime I might not see some of the things that I wish were different change in the world. They're just longer time scale than one life."
This is multi-generational work. You hear that a lot in climate and in racial equity and all sorts of activism, that you know don't necessarily work for your own benefit. You work for people who come next and you build on the people who came before. That's not to say that I don't hope to see some positive change in my lifetime. There are some things that are urgent and can't wait and that do impact people's daily lives, that we can make a difference with. And I only think it can bring us connection, joy, richer lives all around. No matter what you believe in, we can figure it out if we talk to each other and stop letting these conversations be mediated by people who want something from you, whether it's your vote, your dollar, or for you to just sit down and accept your quiet fate while they prosper and probably die on a spaceship halfway between here and Mars. That's their problem. Maybe that's a dark place to end, but take the other-
Taiji Nelson (00:57:08):
Aint that the truth? And that is a truth. Yeah. I think about that a lot of just, why is it so easy to drive a wedge? I feel like so many parts of things I care about are all wedge issues. And I'm like, "Oh my god, race." That's a wedge issue. Queerness. That's a wedge issue. It's used as that. Climate, it's a wedge issue, and it's a tool to divide us. But where I've been finding the beauty and solidarity is... As much as it's a wedge, it is also a connector.
Michael Pisano (00:57:45):
Taiji Nelson (00:57:46):
And I think what I've learned from the climate and rural systems partnership is the value of creating a place, space and a place to have a conversation. Convening people, just setting some time aside and being like, "This is time dedicated to talking about climate change." That space does not really exist. You might have a passing conversation or you'll be driving down the highway and see some idiotic billboard that says, "Sleep well, climate crisis isn't real." It's like, "Excuse me... Uh, okay." Is that supposed to make me feel good? Because I am not sleeping well. Nobody I know is sleeping well. If you made that billboard and you're sleeping well, I'm happy. I am so lucky. I am fortunate, but I see something wrong. Everybody I know sees there's something wrong.
And just the idea that we need to... When we are presented with something that is a wedge, like climate change, when climate change is being used as a wedge to divide working class people, we need to be strong in reminding one another that, no, that thing that is being used as a wedge is actually our shared destiny. That is the thing that holds us together. And I mean, it's just power and oppression. There's a union saying that, "United we bargain, divided we beg." We cannot let ourselves be divided. It's so hard to stay united because there are differences, but in CRSP, it's like if we can figure out a way to bring a diverse group of people together, set the table so that they can talk, and just have the time to work through, big, meaningful changes can happen.
Michael Pisano (00:59:49):
Michael from the future here with a quick note. CRSP stands for the Climate and Rural Systems Partnership, CRSP. It's a project of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and many community partners who altogether are trying to have meaningful conversations about-
... partners who all together are trying to have meaningful conversations about climate in rural Pennsylvania. To quote their website, "CRSP brings together diverse networks of educators, students, farmers, business leaders, government officials, community groups, scientists, outdoor recreationists and others who want to work together to solve the climate crisis in communities across western Pennsylvania." That's about enough detail for now, but we will get more deeply into CRSP later in the season because we're going to chat with some of those member farmer, scientists, recreationists, et cetera.
Taiji Nelson (01:00:35):
And then when we walk away from that table, I am bringing the voice of a community organizer. I am bringing the voice of a farmer. I am bringing the voice of a scientist because I know them and I care about them and I had that time to act in community with them. And it's like I see their success as my success, and I know I'm not going to get ahead without them. So it's like we are stronger. Again, united, we bargain. Divided, we beg. When we come together as a community, we aren't asking for everything we want, but we are saying we deserve to shape where we're going. We deserve to drive where we're going. We deserve a seat at the decision-making table. So when it comes to climate change, that for me is a... It's like we're just trying to set that table so everybody has a chance to weigh in on what they want, and it isn't just being made by people based on how much money they got, their race, their gender, how much power they have.
Michael Pisano (01:01:33):
Yeah. Something that's really important in there is that you set down face-to-face with people who don't share the same opinions across the board as you. And in every experience I've had like that, even with people who are extraordinarily different in their viewpoints to me, it's never as bad as the demonized versions you see of each other on television or read about in the news. It's really hard to be afraid of someone who you meet face-to-face and who you in good faith open up to and listen to. And at that point, all we have to do is establish just one common thing and build from there and not let our relationships to each other be dictated by anybody else. I don't know. There's so much to gain.
Taiji Nelson (01:02:32):
Yeah. In conversations with folks in the fossil fuel, we had just a focus conversation on fossil fuels and fossil fuel towns, people that have fossil fuel heritage in their family or they are themselves fossil fuel workers. And we were just talking about, what is it like to talk about fossil fuels in these communities? And I think that idea of fear. What am I afraid that the other person is going to say, and how much does that guide when I enter into a conversation or when I'm navigating a conversation? Or when I walk away, what my takeaway was is what I was afraid they were going to say, but also this acknowledgement that, what are they afraid I'm going to say? Or it's like that. It's the two-way street, and I just think that's an important thing and not to turn everything into a two-way street. Well, we are all actually the same in the end. That is not what I am saying when it comes to things because there are other complicating factors. Power and privilege play into these things. But this idea though, that fear... What is the opposite of fear? It's not necessarily comfortable. I think that is one other opposite of fear, but it's curiosity. Is that the opposite of fear? It's openness.
Michael Pisano (01:03:51):
Yeah. I think people would say courage, but I think what is courage in that context? I would agree. It's openness, or it's something along those lines where you are not imagining the scenario and preparing a defense for it in advance but walking in feeling confident that you can tackle whatever that person has to say to you and that you might actually learn something from letting them say it. And yeah, that's so interesting. So wait, I want to hear more about this conversation. What were people afraid that you, dirty lefty over there, would say?
Taiji Nelson (01:04:28):
I think a lot of it comes back to blame. I think people, particularly Americans, are scared of... Again, this is my take, so feel free to disagree, but I'm just like, we are so used to being the main character and the hero. We are bad at not being the main character and not being the hero of the stories we tell, and I think that there's just a deep fear of being blamed and shamed. And this is not just fossil fuel. This is across the board, I think, our response to many of the ways in which we are pushing ourselves to be self-critical or self-reflective. We are uncomfortable not being the main character, and we're not comfortable being anything but the shining knight hero.
Michael Pisano (01:05:25):
That sit well with me. Based on my public school education, which rammed that one right in there and glossed over a lot of evidence to the contrary, let's say, I also think it impacts our ability to learn from other places that are maybe doing things that we could try out. But that's a digression. Please go on.
Taiji Nelson (01:05:49):
Yeah, there's just other places. The way we do it is not the only way it's done, and it's not necessarily the best way. So we can look to other countries as to how do they organize themselves. What are their policies? It's not a dig on us.
Michael Pisano (01:06:04):
Taiji Nelson (01:06:05):
I think that is. People are so afraid that a reflective criticism is a dig or the point, the takeaway is supposed to be, you should feel bad. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad.
Michael Pisano (01:06:17):
No way. Let's all try to grow. That's good.
Taiji Nelson (01:06:18):
I'm just trying to articulate, hey, this ain't working, and I see a different, better way.
Michael Pisano (01:06:23):
There are so many other examples abroad and in the way that this land was managed for thousands of years before white people got here. There's all sorts of people we could learn from who I don't think would be mad about teaching us because then we'd be maybe less of the bratty, (beep) child in the room. I'm going to cut this whole part. Let's wrap that back towards a conclusion. I'm sure it'll be-
Taiji Nelson (01:06:53):
It's going to be cut to five minutes, so bless you for listening to all this again.
Michael Pisano (01:06:58):
No. It all will find a home somewhere.
Taiji Nelson (01:07:01):
Yeah. There's something to that, where it's just like... I don't know. It's like I've been in a relationship where you're trying to tell someone that it's like, hey, you do this thing. Oh, you don't do the dishes, and I've asked you to do the dishes. And I need you to do the dishes. I need you to do your dishes at least. True story if you can't tell.
Michael Pisano (01:07:23):
Right. I can feel it. I can feel it.
Taiji Nelson (01:07:26):
But the difference when you're in a relationship and you need to talk about something that isn't working for you when the other person can't... When they feel like what you are asking for is an attack on them, that is not a good, healthy, functioning relationship. If you don't have a way to address this idea that, hey, something you're doing isn't working for me and, in fact, something you're doing is harming me and you don't have... As a society, we don't have a choice to leave that relationship, but what do we do to be able to pivot from this person who's feeling like, oh, me saying you need to do what you're doing differently, they're taking it as an attack and not as this thing that takes a lot of vulnerability and work and, oh, this isn't working. It is not an attack. It is actually a sign of love. When I still care about this country, despite the many ways in which it was not built for me... And I got it easy compared to a lot of people. If I can still show up and care about it and keep doing my thing and try and engage and ask and keep trying, that is a patriotic act. That is an act of love.
We talk about misinformation or disinformation. A big lie is that we hate America, that asking us to change the way we are and the way we've been doing things is that we hate America. Hell no. There are many places where I'm not mad, I'm disappointed. I'm like, what the... I'm like, are we what we say we are because I don't think we are.
Michael Pisano (01:09:20):
Taiji Nelson (01:09:21):
And it's like if you can't look at that and realize that the way we treat other living things and the place that raised us and will support us into the future... We aren't treating it right, and we aren't treating each other right. If we can't admit that-
Michael Pisano (01:09:38):
We can admit that. I have faith we can admit that. Not every single person has to admit that, just enough of us to push forwards towards the next step in that, which is positive growth, which is an expression of you... Yeah, I think the relationship metaphor is honestly great. When you talk to maybe a couple who's been together for a long time, one of the things they reflect on is usually like, well, there were hard times, and those made the good times better. Or they were just hard times, but we got through them. And we're still here. It's not always going to be easy. It's not always the Home Depot commercial that you see on TV where we're just grilling dogs and mowing the lawn, baby. It's just like we also got to get through the hard times. It's incumbent on us to see the reality that if we don't do that together, we won't do it. If we don't support each other across difference, we'll never get to a place where we can argue about which one of us is right. Let's at least keep each other alive long enough to try to win an argument down the road. Hopefully, we'll all be in a lot of therapy between now and then, and we'll just be friendly later.
Taiji Nelson (01:10:58):
And I think 2022, there are so many people who are ready for that conversation and know that. Yes. Your conversation, does not have to be with the most difficult person for it to be productive.
Michael Pisano (01:11:13):
Taiji Nelson (01:11:14):
Building a movement, building momentum, it's like just finding more people that want to have that conversation and can cast a wider net.
Michael Pisano (01:11:23):
So start with your easy grabs. Yeah. You're right. There's so many people who are ready for some version of this conversation or another who believe that climate change is real, but maybe what they're struggling with is hope that anything can be done about it. And so don't engage in arguments about denial or about whether people are ruining the climate. They are. Sorry. Engage in conversations about how we can fix it, and I think those are more fulfilling conversations that will yield more fruit than you trying to convince someone against indoctrination that it's not their fault. And you shouldn't hate them for it, but geez Louise, don't beat yourself up. Go find someone who is going to help you lift everyone up together.
So we stumbled. I don't know if you remember, there was a question at some point where we were talking about takeaways, and my first takeaway was that diversity is key. And you brought us through into my second takeaway, which was that community building and finding curiosity about each other across differences is a hallmark of all of these climate action stories. Are there any other takeaways, common threads, things that you want to inject here before we get to the podcast? This is the podcast. Before we get to guests. It's a lot of guests on this show. It's not just you and me.
Taiji Nelson (01:12:58):
Yes. Oh my God. Yeah. What is another takeaway? It's community. It's action. It's diversity. There's a quote that I've been noodling on recently where it's like I don't know if what I am doing is going to make a difference, but I do know that when the difference is made, it'll be because someone decided to do something. So it's like for me right now, I'm like, I don't have a choice if climate change is happening. And I can see that as doom, but I can also see that as that's freeing to me. I'm like, oh, well, then literally anything I do is better than doing nothing. And again, it goes back to this we have to start somewhere, but starting somewhere is different than starting anywhere. I don't want to just do anything. I want to do the thing that's meaningful and that I have a reason for doing it and I'm trying to learn how to do it better.
But just I think so many people have this deep desire to understand the whole problem and then we'll be able to act. And I just want to stress that these are stories of people that know a lot, know enough to start taking action, and I think all of us know a lot and know enough. If we wait to understand the whole thing, we'll wait too long, and it'll be too late. So I think we know so much about what we can do. Google it. You can Google actions for climate. Literally, you can Google it. You can Google our starting places. What can't Google is how it fits in your community, what we do next. Our first step is really only to get us started and to show us what our next couple steps are going to be. But to wait to take your first step, again, that's not it.
So try and find some inspiration in these stories about a first step, whether that's like what you do at home, whether it's what you do at school, at work. Do something different. Spend an hour you weren't spending yesterday on climate change today. Do something different. Try something new. Find a group that's already doing great. You don't have to invent it. So many good groups. Find your people. Try something new. Push yourself, and just have faith in yourself. And trust that we don't got an option, and that's what makes this our best opportunity.
Michael Pisano (01:15:39):
Many thanks to Taiji Nelson for this and our many other inspiring conversations. My friend, I hope we keep chatting and cackling and conspiring for many years to come. Thanks also to Nicole Heller and Sloan MacRae at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Quick disclaimer. Mine and Taiji's thoughts and opinions are our own, not the Museum of Natural History's. The music in today's episode was made by one of my most talented friends, Amos Levy, aka DJ Thermos. Mr. Thermos also soundtracked many of the videos in the We Are Nature companion mini-documentary series, which you can find a link to in the show notes.
Until next time, here's some wise words to keep you all brave and standing tall against the face of doom. We don't have to be Pollyanna-ish or fatalistic. We can just be human. We can be messy and perfect, contradictory, broken. We can learn the difference between hopelessness and helplessness because what if we've been doing the equation backward? What if hope isn't? What leads to action? What if courage leads to action and hope is what comes next? "I've never seen a perfect world. I never will, but I know that a world warmed by two degrees Celsius is far preferable to one warmed by three degrees or six and that I'm willing to fight for it with everything I have because it is everything I have. I don't need a guarantee of success before I risk everything to save the things, the people, the places that I love before I try to save myself." That was Mary Annaise Heglar from her essay Home Is Always Worth It in the collection All We Can Save. I've been your host, Michael Pisano. Thanks for listening.