Words by Tess Becker
Climate action is vital for the survival of life. We’re already experiencing the impacts of climate change such as worsening storms and wildfires. But the people who will feel the impacts the most are the youngest generations.
So how should they engage?
Joyce Freeling attempts to answer that in her climate work.
Joyce is on a mission to engage younger generations in the cultural paradigm shift needed to mitigate climate change. To do this, she educates young people about the importance of climate action, raising their awareness and passion for action.
For Joyce, much of this work work starts with community organizing.
“It seemed to me not only the challenge of climate change but also a responsibility in society when you're faced with a significant challenge, like climate change, the issue ends up being for the common good,” she tells Smiley News. “To a great degree, we've sort of lost some of that in these current times.”
Community is absolutely essential for what Joyce is trying to do.
“The common thread here is community. There's a need to rebuild and strengthen community. The times are a little fractured and for young people to be at that forefront is really important because there's a symbolic and compelling metaphor of young people in the future.”
This approach manifests in the Civic Imagination Challenge, a free virtual conference series designed to equip Millennials and Gen Z with the tools they need to take action.
“The program includes companion skills workshops where these ideas are aligned with new practices that can help heal the planet, strengthen community, and increase equity,” a press release about the challenge says. “Focusing on nine key areas impacting climate, the conference series pushes beyond mainstream activities of the day to actions and solutions that can accelerate the transition to a sustainable future AND inspire a more responsible society.”
Joyce wants to give young people a voice in a fight they are often underrepresented in, and projects such as the Civic Imagination Challenge teach them how to find that voice.
“It gives them an added tool, but it also is their young voice to a public that says join us. This is our future together,” Joyce says.
She feels that we have to significantly reassess our behaviour if we want to make a difference and through her work she’s helping promote that change.
“We have to shift to new patterns of practice,” she says. “We have to curb how we use resources, and there are new directions like the circular economy which really focuses on resource reuse, which is part of the practice going forward.”
“What I saw in climate education was also the opportunity to help that shift go forward, moving more towards the kinds of practices that are healthier for the future.”
At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.
Climate Group. An international organization aimed at driving climate action as quickly as possible. Find out more and support them here.
Climate Action Network. Climate Action Network brings together nearly 2,000 civic organizations to tackle the climate crisis around the world. Find out more.
Climate Alliance. Thousands of organizations make up this European, urban climate action network. Support them here.