Tag Archives: climate champion

A Movement for Our Future

I was born in 1994, making me 25 years old.  

In that short amount of time, humans have pumped more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere than any time before. 

This is the present and future I and so many young people were thrown into. Now, it’s become our responsibility to ensure a habitable and healthy planet for us and our children. I care about climate change because a changing climate is all I know.

Andrew Ahern, Community Engagement Coordinator, Mass Audubon Broad Meadow Brook Conservation and Wildlife Sanctuary.

It’s my generation’s future on the line.

I like to say the 21st century is a century of solving global problems at a local level, so no one can claim boredom: there’s too much to do. Young people have been hearing this call, especially in the last four years with the rise of the youth climate strikes, the Green New Deal, and the Sunrise Movement—all of which I have been a part of and have served as catalysts for educating, activating, and inspiring me.

People are always looking for hope and motivation. Climate action can provide that space for young people who haven’t found it yet.

I stay motivated by the climate movement I am a part of.

It’s being part of the movement, surrounded by so many caring, smart, talented, and passionate young people, that keeps me going, engaged, and ready for action. Being part of a movement gave my life purpose and will do the same for many others.

I find hope in strangers and friends alike who stand next to me in marches; who listen to frontline communities about the disproportionate toll climate change takes on them; and who are actively pursuing a world based on justice, democracy, and ecological well-being. You can and will find hope in a movement based on collective community action.

I’m Andrew Ahern, and I’m a Climate Champion.

Over the past ten months I’ve had the privilege of serving as a Terracorps member with Mass Audubon and the Worcester community organizing, educating, and activating people towards climate action.

During this time, I organized over 40 of Worcester’s youth for Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary’s first Youth Climate Summit. I created community spaces for people to learn and talk about climate change through our Climate Café series. I reached over 1,000 unique viewers during digital Earth Day events I organized with the Worcester chapter of the Sunrise Movement. These are just some of my accomplishments during my service term, and I’m thrilled I get to build and continue this work as I enter into a new position with Mass Audubon.

As my work continues with Mass Audubon, climate action only gains importance with each passing year. The need to get off fossil fuels, change our agricultural systems, reduce our consumption habits, and invest in education, healthcare, and renewable energy (all “green” jobs) are initiatives for the future I direct my time and energy into.

I have two pieces of advice for young people: build a better future and repair a broken past.

Begin imagining what a better world will look like for our generation and the following ones. What we lack is not the technological feasibility or even political power, but a shared vision for a better future. Having a vision turns this project into a mass movement.

Show up and get involved. I don’t mean just attending a climate change program or joining a rally, but also supporting those most affected: from disaster relief, to homelessness, to caring for our elders. Climate change puts our most vulnerable in increased danger. They will need help in a warming and sea-rising future and we need to be able to hear the call.

Here’s to the next and most important 10 years of our collective lives!

– Andrew Ahern, Community Engagement Coordinator, Mass Audubon Broad Meadow Brook Conservation and Wildlife Sanctuary.

Nominate your local climate champion by commenting below or sending us an email at [email protected]. If you’re looking for more ways to engage with Mass Audubon’s climate action work, visit our Instagram Story to ask us all your questions about climate action on Monday, August 3 at 12 pm for our First Friday Climate Action AMA.

The Impact of Storytelling

Our words hold immense power. 

We all learn this pretty early on. Think of your first favorite book or movie that whisked you off into a wonderful, magical world and how that made you feel. Think about the last time you sat down with a loved one to vent your frustrations or rejoice in good news, and how your stories connected the both of you through a sense of trust and understanding.  

Storytelling is part of that critical foundation that forms our social bonds but also our larger culture itself; our stories are tools that allow us to reach a place of empathy in those we care about. 

2019 Arcadia wildlife sanctuary and Hitchcock Center for the Environment Youth Climate Summit. © Phil Doyle

That’s why storytelling is indispensable in our collective climate fight

When dealing with something that can seem as amorphous, but also as frightening, as climate change, our words can bring the phenomenon down to a personal level. Weaving a tale about your first coastal flooding incident or when you noticed your allergies worsening along with rising temperatures imbues climate change with real feeling and real experiences. These stories allow us to visualize climate change in a much more tangible way. This isn’t just happening across the world – but here and now, to people we know and love, and to our neighbors around us. 

Our stories also have the opportunity to give others hope when spirits are low. Through stories, we can connect climate action to successful solutions, community engagement, and innovation. We can demonstrate just how much all of us can do if we work together. Acting alone can be overwhelming and scary, but connecting with a community who understands your story can help you overcome these challenges. 

Anyone can tell their climate story 

If you want to try, just follow these simple steps:  

  1. Start with what you care about 
  1. Share your experience of what’s happening here and now 
  1. Focus on solutions  

You can also follow Mass Audubon’s guide on how to talk about climate change.  

Most important: remember you are not alone 

Rishya Narayanan, Mass Audubon’s Climate Change Communications Manager.

My name is Rishya, Mass Audubon’s Climate Change Communications Manager. I’m a Boston-based bird nerd, an ocean enthusiast, and a climate champion. I use stories to build a bridge between science and the human connection, telling tales of sea turtles and lobsters, but also of people and communities – all with the goal reaching that very same place of empathy. These stories help me connect people feeling lost about the climate crisis to real solutions they can engage in, so that we form a community that supports each other and acts together. 

Our “Meet a Climate Champion” series will feature everyday people, like you and me, invested in solving the climate crisis. Our champions will tell their stories, taking you through their journey of why they care, what they’re doing to act, and what brings them hope. 

Talking about climate change, telling our personal stories, is one of the best ways to reach peoples’ hearts and inspire climate action in our communities.

If you’re looking for ways to stay connected with Mass Audubon’s climate action work in the meantime, sign up for our newsletter, Climate Connection, for climate information, community action, and solutions. You can also nominate your local climate champion by commenting below or sending us an email at [email protected].

— Rishya Narayanan