By Elly Ren
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Climate Reality’s Leadership Training in Atlanta and hear from many leaders in the environmental movement including the founder Al Gore, Robert Bullard who’s considered the father of environmental justice, Levi Draheim the 11 year old who’s suing the government in Juliana v. United States, and William Barber II who’s calling for a moral crusade to combat climate injustice.
Although Al Gore says “It’s great to change our light bulbs, but it’s better to change our laws,” this leadership conference also emphasized the need for bottom-up initiatives involving local communities.
It’s so important to start local. Although it doesn’t seem like the Blue Jay’s Perch, a community garden, is part of the fight against climate change, green spaces in urban areas play a huge role in engaging people with environmental issues. We also host educational seminars in the summer, are having “A Mindful Moment in the Wake of Climate Catastrophe” this Friday (edit: this event is being rescheduled!), and partner with the Baltimore’s People Climate Movement as Naadiya is a leader in both organizations. Volunteering at the Blue Jay’s Perch has not only allowed me to get away from the Hopkins bubble and the draining studious culture, but it has also encouraged me to appreciate the few green spaces and fight for more of them at Hopkins, particularly in the new student center that will be built by 2024.
In the end, it is education that will spur the action we need to prevent total climate catastrophe. Not necessarily just the fact that we must limit warming to 1.5 degrees but also realizing that we have many reasons to stay optimistic. We as individuals are never to small to make a difference and even with grandiose proposals like the Green New Deal, we must never lose sight of how fighting environmental issues involves the local community.
“Fight like your world depends on it, but start like your neighborhood depends on it.”