Crowdsourcing Sustainability

Understanding and Navigating Eco-Anxiety with Rachel Malena-Chan

October 01, 2020 Ryan Hagen, Mikayla White, Rachel Malena-Chan Season 1 Episode 4
Crowdsourcing Sustainability
Understanding and Navigating Eco-Anxiety with Rachel Malena-Chan
Chapters
0:00
Rachel's introduction and background
Crowdsourcing Sustainability
Understanding and Navigating Eco-Anxiety with Rachel Malena-Chan
Oct 01, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
Ryan Hagen, Mikayla White, Rachel Malena-Chan

In this episode, we discuss eco-anxiety, how to transform it into meaningful climate action, and much more with Rachel Malena-Chan, Co-founder of Eco-Anxious Stories! (To see Rachel's slides, watch here)

Timeline:
0 - 7:00: Rachel's introduction and background.
7:00 - 8:30: What is eco-anxiety?
8:30 - 11:50: How common is eco-anxiety?
11:50 - 15:50: How to shift eco-anxiety to meaningful action.
15:50 - 18:20: Climate anxiety is normal/rational. We get it because climate change threatens things we love.
18:20 - 24:45: The disconnect between knowledge and action (narrative dissonance).
24:45 - 28:30: Overcoming powerlessness and finding your role.
28:30 - 32:15: The impact of Eco-Anxious Stories.
32:15 - 36:10: Tips for dealing with eco-anxiety.
36:10 - 39:25: Intersectionality of climate with other systemic oppressions & living in this moment in time.
39:25 - 41:45: Rachel's recommended resources.
42:05 - 43:20: Rachel's key takeaway for listeners - "Know that you're not alone."
43:20 - 50:15 Q&A: How to talk about climate with non-supporters or older generations.


Useful links Rachel mentioned:
Eco Anxious Stories
Twitter: @rachelmelena @EcoAnxiousCA @MaryHeglar
Instagram
Patreon
Good Grief Network
Gen Dread
Climate Psychology Alliance
Climate and Mind


Useful links from Crowdsourcing Sustainability:
Crowdsourcing Sustainability newsletter
Website: https://crowdsourcingsustainability.org

Support the show (https://crowdsourcingsustainability.org/donate/)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, we discuss eco-anxiety, how to transform it into meaningful climate action, and much more with Rachel Malena-Chan, Co-founder of Eco-Anxious Stories! (To see Rachel's slides, watch here)

Timeline:
0 - 7:00: Rachel's introduction and background.
7:00 - 8:30: What is eco-anxiety?
8:30 - 11:50: How common is eco-anxiety?
11:50 - 15:50: How to shift eco-anxiety to meaningful action.
15:50 - 18:20: Climate anxiety is normal/rational. We get it because climate change threatens things we love.
18:20 - 24:45: The disconnect between knowledge and action (narrative dissonance).
24:45 - 28:30: Overcoming powerlessness and finding your role.
28:30 - 32:15: The impact of Eco-Anxious Stories.
32:15 - 36:10: Tips for dealing with eco-anxiety.
36:10 - 39:25: Intersectionality of climate with other systemic oppressions & living in this moment in time.
39:25 - 41:45: Rachel's recommended resources.
42:05 - 43:20: Rachel's key takeaway for listeners - "Know that you're not alone."
43:20 - 50:15 Q&A: How to talk about climate with non-supporters or older generations.


Useful links Rachel mentioned:
Eco Anxious Stories
Twitter: @rachelmelena @EcoAnxiousCA @MaryHeglar
Instagram
Patreon
Good Grief Network
Gen Dread
Climate Psychology Alliance
Climate and Mind


Useful links from Crowdsourcing Sustainability:
Crowdsourcing Sustainability newsletter
Website: https://crowdsourcingsustainability.org

Support the show (https://crowdsourcingsustainability.org/donate/)

so just want to begin by welcoming everyone and thanking you for taking the time to be here with us today uh we're super excited to have rachel molina chan um we'll get into some introductions in a bit but just want to go over some logistics and the agenda housekeeping stuff first with y'all uh so we're thinking of doing about 40 45 minutes of a discussion with rachel and really pulling on her expertise on this topic to share with everyone and then we'll dive into a q a at the end so if you do have questions along the way please throw them in the chat and we will get to them at the end so we can have that discussion um and for the agenda we are basically in broad strokes we're gonna be going over rachel's story and hearing why she decided to start eco anxious stories uh learning about what eco anxiety actually is why it matters and tips for handling it so like what do you do with with this um as well as diving into our research on what it is exactly that stops people who know and care about the climate crisis from actually taking action because there's this gap between information and action and rachel has done a dissertation that touches upon this so super excited to uh to pick your brain on that rachel um so yeah we'll we'll dive into some quick introductions here and then we'll be on our way uh so i'll kick it off my name's ryan hagan i started an org called crowdsourcing sustainability the biggest thing you need to know about me really is that i'm a huge sustainability nerd and just care deeply about this climate emergency i started crowdsourcing sustainability to help reverse global warming as quickly as possible with the idea being that this is such a big issue that we need as many other people we need as many people as possible working on these solutions together to actually tackle a problem that is this big um and i think a super important part of that is dealing with the emotions of the climate crisis and facing them and figuring out what to do with them how do we work with them or through them and how can we turn them into something useful because without dealing with the emotions it's clear we're really struggling to uh to tackle this massive issue so that's why i'm super excited to have rachel here today to bring on the experts and gain insights to actually empower people to you know take care of yourself and take action and spread this information awareness to others so that we can start uh accelerating our climate action um so that is a little about me more about crowdsourcing sustainability but i'll turn it over to mikayla now and then rachel sounds good um hi everyone my name is michaela i am going to be a junior at uc san diego studying environmental policy with a climate change studies minor so lots of environmental stuff i grew up in mill valley california which is where near woods national park is so i spent every weekend with my family out hiking going to the beach enjoying nature so i've really had a love for the environment and nature since i was a child and i've definitely experienced ego anxiety before this feeling of you know that i can't do anything about the climate crisis so i'm i'm really excited to talk with rachel and get to know the tips and how to change that eco anxiety into useful action um so i'm gonna hand it over to rachel uh why don't you introduce yourself thanks so much for having me ryan and michaela and thanks for everyone who's joining us it's really humbling that this many folks want to hear us chat so thank you um my name is rachel molina chan i live in victoria british columbia in canada on the traditional territories of the luangan speaking peoples uh now known today as the song houston spymalt uh my my family is from european ancestry and i'm a settler on these lands so i like to start out my talks just acknowledging that that's a perspective that i'm bringing and it's limited one but it also holds a lot of privilege in this day and age so i'm trying to use it uh today to shed some light on those power dynamics um i'm originally from the prairies of canada in saskatchewan and that's where i did two degrees at the university of saskatchewan first in political studies and then in community health and epidemiology and so my lens on the climate crisis and on ecoanxiety is really about health and how health sort of actually trickles down from all of these broader determinants including the environment to our individual life and how that web can be really complicated and kind of overwhelming to know sort of how how do we make ourselves well how do we make our communities and our families well how do we make our planet well um if we're that interdependent and not small at the end of the day and so my work um as a storyteller and as a communication strategist um is really about helping people find their power in their story and that's what we're going to get into today i think awesome um so just to to kind of build off that and dive in a bit further rachel i'd love i'd love for you to start just by talking about how you got into climate in the first place what the like key moments were in your journey to getting to where you are now and just why this matters to you i think i think it's always super useful and interesting to hear how people got to where they are totally yeah thanks for inviting my story to start this out um i would say my story on about climate change um really only starts about six years ago for me in terms of when i started to articulate and talk about my story in terms of the climate crisis and how i was feeling about it that was when i was just about to start my master's program and i was already pretty active in my community working on issues of social and environmental justice i was part of a leadership program called next up saskatchewan and it was all about bringing young people kind of in their late teens early 20s early 30s together to talk about how we build skills and support each other to to make the world tangibly better for people um especially for those who face oppression and uh and systemic um racism sexism ableism and stuff like that and so um i was in those spaces and learning about all these ways i could make change and learning more about storytelling as a tool for change-making and yet i wasn't really hearing much about climate change and so i was trying to figure this out why you know i was around i was living in a province um where the politicians and a lot of the big industry were very much not talking about climate change it's a oil and gas and resource extraction heavy industry and economy in saskatchewan um and so i kind of knew why maybe we weren't hearing about it a lot in the media or from for politicians but my own friends and the people that i knew in the health sector i was like these are really good people who care a lot about this stuff and they're even thinking about it in terms of systems and yet i'm not really seeing climate change as like a major component of that and i wanted to know why because i wasn't convinced that it was that they didn't know enough or didn't care enough and i wanted to explore what i was perceiving to be a gap between sufficient knowledge not a lack of understanding or a lack of knowledge but sufficient knowledge and meaningful mobilization the kind of action that wasn't just kind of token or tacit but really changed things it's awesome and super super important research um yeah that's actually how we got connected in the first place i saw you posted your your dissertation i was like this is information that just seems so crucial for this moment in time like what is that gap um but before we dive into that i'd love to to hear how that like i'm sure this is part of the reason but how did you decide to start eco-anxious stories and what what is that exactly yeah so i am the co-founder of eco-anxious stories it's a it's a website and kind of online project um that i started with my brother-in-law kevin gatley about a year ago and and that project really came out of my own uh experience with writing my thesis and exploring the stories of people who do know enough but are struggling to find a meaningful way to plug into climate action um that was my lens and then kevin's was that he uh had made it till you know his his uh midlife not really knowing a lot about climate change and not really knowing a lot about what he could be doing about it especially as a person of privilege and to to be frank when i would bring him to climate events in town here he often felt like he was sticking out a little bit and that he didn't know the lingo and didn't feel super comfortable in the space and that's just you know the nature of kind of joining a new culture and subculture and stepping out of your comfort zone but he and i started chatting about how it would be nice to have a place where people didn't already have to identify as part of the solution but that they were welcomed in on the basis of their fears and their concerns and that we would help move them and create a safe space to to still talk about like in a critical way what it means to to use our our stories and ourselves and our power to uh to make the world a better place and to care for each other better but that the starting point to that often doesn't feel like standing up as a leader often it feels like crawling on your knees to support and so we wanted to frame a project that it wasn't meant to be everything to everyone but for those people who maybe come from a place of privilege and maybe are trying to sort out how they feel about this distance between what they know and what they're doing um that we would try to create a safe place for that to happen while also pushing for that analysis of um that we're all interconnected that we all have different levels of power and influence and that it's really important to tap into that to have a meaningful and sustained response that's awesome um so could you speak a little bit about what is eco anxiety and why do people get it um um i i think i stepped through this to you guys both on the prep call but really equal anxiety means different things to different people at this stage and i want to be clear that um i'm i'm not a social scientist that does a big massive questionnaires and polls and surveys to get lots of um you know data that we can draw uh conclusions from my thesis was a qualitative project that looked more at theories and frameworks of people's stories so my information about what eco anxiety is at that more uh research level um is based on my conversations with people in that field and based on conversations with uh people in the clinical space as well psychotherapists psychologists and psychiatrists and folks in that sector who are trying to sort out this very emerging feeling so my short answer is that eco anxiety is a feeling of worry or dread or fear um about the climate crisis or other ecological degradation because climate crisis is really one symptom of um a much broader uh combination of impacts that we're seeing play out and of course then there's social and political underpinnings to all of that as well so it's really we're talking about the uncomfortable feelings uh that relate to our relationship to the ecological crises we're facing do you have any idea how prevalent it is or how that's changed over time anything yeah because i feel like it's been so just like it wasn't talked about at all and now it's starting to be talked about a bit but it still feels like and with climate change in general there is this climate silence a lot of the time still for how big of an issue and story it is so i'm just curious if you have any clue like how many people have this is it common or yeah i think one thing we can safely say is that the numbers are increasing and that the attention on the numbers are increasing i did a quick search last night just to get caught up on the studies that have been done um and a lot of them i will say are happening in uh english speaking and sort of western countries so that's one thing to be clear on is that this isn't necessarily a term climate anxiety or equal anxiety it's not necessarily being used in every place on earth and so that clues us into that there's something kind of cultural cultural happening here and while this might be a sort of universal experience there might be different words or different ways of expressing this um depending on who you are and where you live and what language you speak um so the studies that have been done uh there's one recently by harris poll um in the u.s that showed that three out of four millennials um experienced some type of eco anxiety um in canada there was a study last or a poll out last summer by abacus that saw that half of all people they i told were increasingly concerned about the climate crisis one really um striking one recently from a postdoc in canada there's a person i just became aware of named ellen field and she did a national survey of students in canada and found that almost half of them believe that climate change is happening and that it's going to impact them negatively but that there's nothing we can do to change it and so there's i think the general trend that we're seeing um i i often say that equal anxiety is it's really it's not about molecules and and what's happening in in sort of the atmosphere it's about our relationships and our power dynamics between um different communities and and i think what we're seeing is people who younger people might feel like they have less power to actually change what they know to to not be able to bridge that space between uh their knowledge and what they would see as a meaningful uh response at large to the climate crisis and so often we do hear about young people's anxieties around this um we know for a fact that if climate change impacts people of color black and indigenous bodies um and and people in the global south uh first and worst and so while those communities um might be feeling these impacts and might be feeling the emotional and mental impacts of those crises as well i do want to be clear that they may not be using these terms to describe their experience so often i'm seeing people who look like me people who have privilege people who have white skin people who might have a bit of an attachment to the status quo expressing themselves in terms of anxieties right now and that's usually where we focus because that's who we are and that's where our community is and that's where we think we can help along uh the conversation that if your primary feeling about what's happening right now is anxiety let's use that to tap into thinking about what you love and what you care about and what you might need to grieve or process in order to move towards a more fulsome story about your equal anxiety towards towards a meaningful response could you go over some of those steps that people take to change their anxiety into meaningful action and how to go from this feeling of hopelessness and that you can't do anything about it to actually using that feeling to you know make a difference and overcoming that that fear sure i think it might be a good time to throw up the screen of my um three the three-part model that we use for echoing stories and maybe if you give me the permissions thank you so much um i'll just pop this up on the screen for folks to see um so as you as we were talking about before um in terms of those blue boxes you're seeing this this framework sort of assumes that we're not here to educate people about climate change um we're we're characterizing the gap between what we know and the change that we're aiming for not as a gap and this comes from renee lertzman's work that i learned from and when i was studying this isn't a gap this is a really complex psychosocial landscape this is a jungle this is a mountain this is something that we're really trying to um to navigate and understand and work through constantly uh and so we like to think of this this mountain and this uh this not a gap as a story and a story with three acts because as a person from my background that's sort of a nice way for me to think about stories this is a universal framework with lots of different structures and this is a useful one as we're talking about climate change so again we start with this idea that our anxieties are real and they're coming from a place of sanity not not mental illness or or not seeing things correctly as they are but truly understanding things as they are is causing our anxieties and and this is complicated as ryan was saying there's a lot of things going on here and we all need to find our place in it and i was saying about this the uh our health and the social determinants of our health this is bigger than us as individuals so first act is this is a complicated story if you're feeling overwhelmed you are sane you are included you belong and here's some tips for getting back in your body and feeling like this is a story you're actually in and not just watching unfold so getting in your body getting um getting into uh getting a hold of your thought pattern uh getting uh into tune with what you're actually telling yourself is a good way to just get into act one and not get overwhelmed so for me when i'm feeling those act one feelings of anxiety i try to do yoga i try to do breathing exercises i try to reach out to a friend i try to eat something delicious or see something that makes me smile because these are ways that we can remember that we are in this story we are characters in this story and we are human beings with agency uh and it's okay that it's complicated we are complicated beings with complicated stories so to hold space for those feelings and to not let them overwhelm us is step one but the key is to not just cope with your feelings and we try to really emphasize this that this isn't about getting over your ego anxiety we're here to help you create a lifelong relationship with your ego anxiety and to hold it in place with all the hope and motivation and capacity that you need to make a difference here and so um this is from dan rubin another psychologist psychotherapist that we work with he says anxiety is about love you don't feel anxious about anything if you don't love anything and so if you love your health then your body and yourself that's something if you love your family and those who might be at risk from the future or present impacts of climate change that's that's that's your source of courage and compassion and solidarity in this movement so lean into that surround yourself with those things and those people that you love and get really in tune with them let your ego anxiety move you towards them because that's where we're going to start to find that that meaningful response and if you move through complexity to love and then to meaning that's where hopefully folks are being able to find and tap into action that actually looks like something they can do that actually feels like something that's good for them and that reflects the creative expressive human being that they are and so that's where we try to get people to through eco-anxious stories in a small way is to give them a chance to do something creative or something honest or something human about what it is they love in the complex story that they're telling

that's awesome there's so much to dive into here um i just want to reiterate something you said near the beginning of that which i think is just so important is to let people know who are feeling this that it's completely a natural rational response like what's happening is terrifying and just being able to acknowledge that and know that like yes what you're thinking like you're not alone in thinking that and it's it makes sense for you to feel that way as a person who cares about you know society earth life it's just like a natural human response um and i think it's so powerful to like like you said when you look kind of behind the scenes at like why you feeling this way is it's happening because of that love and i think that is like if you can harness that somehow like that can be a very powerful motivator to to get over any stagnation or hopelessness or um just it's just like the most powerful human emotion i think so i just appreciate you uh making those points thank you i think it also relates back to reminding people that um this is more about when they are than who they are because we can assume that everyone loves something or someone that is going to be negatively impacted by the climate crisis or is being negatively impacted by the climate crisis and so this isn't about becoming an expert that's one thing i found in my study is none of my participants felt like experts and so they didn't know what their role was this again was about five years ago so that discourse was a little different but i think nowadays we really want to emphasize that if you if you want to be a part of making the world not go to [ __ ] then you are on side like you're with us and we want you to find your role and we're going to help you in that endeavor um but this isn't about being an expert or taking on a whole bunch of new educational information this is really what's happening into what you already know and you already love and you already want to change

that's awesome you're gonna say something michaela yeah could you build on to that with some of the research you've done on um the disproving that people don't it's not that people don't care about climate it's that they they don't know how to act or how to deal with these feelings right yeah absolutely so i'll just put this slide here to show you a bit where i started in terms of my um my thesis and i was i was really trying to again understand what this gap represented and how we might be able to use the structure and the framework of a story to help navigate what feels like distance between knowledge and action uh and again renee larsman would encourage us to think of all of this stuff as being really just tangled and wrapped up in itself even as you see this nice clean slide with this arrows pointing from one to the other please know this is a 2d snapshot of the 3d life you're living it's it's all happening all together all at once and this is just sort of spreading it out for a moment in time like a picture of real life where we're just taking a snapshot and seeing how the dots connect but essentially i started with this idea that if we just look at people who have sufficient knowledge what is what does the challenge of their story look like i drew on marshall ganz's work around public narrative to think of challenge choice moral a challenge choice outcome and moral these are the sort of pillars of a story from at least a western western tradition that we're thinking of characters who are facing some type of thing they have to overcome who make meaningful choices that indicate to us what the end of the story results in and then we draw value conclusions from that morals based on the meaning of the story and there's things like genre and all kinds of things that are used to do that but if we just look at a basic story what is the challenge is climate change on the radar or are these folks looking at other types of problems it turned out in my study most of my participants weren't actually actively like identifying their work as climate oriented but most of them were working on issues like poverty or um or building up power among women or queer people or people of color like that they were really working on things that are at the heart of the movement that i'm a part of when it comes to climate justice but they didn't necessarily see themselves that way so instead of act one being about ignorance and them not knowing enough to care about the climate crisis it was more about trying to connect the dots between what they already did know and care about and the climate crisis so just more about framing and being able to um instead of thinking of this as a lack of understanding a lack of an ability to sort of hold these stories uh simultaneously or make them make sense and it wasn't that they didn't care but that the heart of the story was broken this this part in the middle where what we choose and what happens because of our choices didn't feel like it was going to add up and so instead of apathy which is what maybe we assume would be at the heart of this story um it was more about trying to sort through their relationship um to to what was happening and sometimes that had more to do with them sorting out feelings of guilt or feeling like maybe i'm part of the problem not part of the solution or maybe i'm part of these systems that are so rigid i can't even imagine making any change in them and so it was more about trying to sort out how they could actually reconcile their values and and what they thought they could do with their power i had one participant who said you know should i go into politics and in 20 years become prime minister with the hopes of setting better climate targets like is that what i'm supposed to do to have some kind of systemic change and maybe maybe she should but i think i understood that her question there of like that's going to take a lot of time is that really my theory of change like is that where my power lies and so it's hard it's hard to see yourself as being powerful in this context and so again act three isn't about giving up but it does feel more like not being able to access that kind of meaningful uh action rather than being about uh not not wanting to do something it's more like not being able to do something or having what you do be totally unsupported and condemned by your culture that you feel like an outsider and i can't sustain it so this is really the story i was disrupting and i think that all of these ingredients were part of my participant story part of my own personal story but i really wanted to explore this concept of narrative dissonance this is a term i i came up with in uh to be able to use in my thesis and talk about a contrast between something like cognitive dissonance which mainly focuses on cognition what we know with what's in our hearts and what's going on with our hands and feet our behaviors and our affect are part of this equation as well and so by talking about stories rather than just what we know or understand we can see you could have act one all figured out and actually have a really strong understanding of climate change and still not know how to move to act two or ac3 you could have act two figured out you could be like i really care about what i care about and i'm i'm totally in solidarity with folks who are working on this but i don't know my role and that's a broken-hearted story or you could even have a heart of the story be strong and beating and and i think a lot of that sort of in this boat too where you actually don't you're not apathetic at all it hurts so much it's hard to get through the day and trying to figure out how to get to act three where you're actually having this like meaningful response i think that's where we're really trying to build capacity and so that's where my thesis really focused was how can we think of this in terms of narrative dissonance instead of cognitive dissonance or apathy or even behavioral you know problems or lack of ability to to change behaviors and more think of it in terms of this story and so this is my last slide but i just have this this sort of four part breakdown this is what came out of my thesis was the act one has to be about a sense of agency you have to identify as a character in this story not just a bystander you have to be in this story and you have to have a job like you have to have a role to play as this character and i don't mean a profession i mean like a purpose uh and when you reconcile that purpose with like the what with what's at stake uh and actually connect the dots to what you want and have that sense of capacity uh that's when the heart of the story gets repaired and i see that as only happening through collaboration and connection and solidarity and that's what gets us to action so what will it take but that's really different than committing yourself to this story that's a different kind of action than you know recycling or or getting out there and voting or organizing your community so i think all of this this full story needs to be at hand as we're exploring uh narrative dissonance and how we create narrative fidelity out of these uh these apparent gaps in the story

that is awesome and super useful uh a super useful model to be thinking about this this topic um two of the things i heard there which i'm i want to dive into a bit are the apathy or powerlessness uh and and like the people who are struggling to find their role in this story so what how do you help like what tips do you have for people who are either at that powerless powerlessness stage or this like i don't feel powerless but i don't know where to plug in like how do i figure out my role do you have any advice for each one of those yeah that's a great question what came to mind as you were asking it was honestly like if you feel like the story about the climate crisis is sort of playing out for you ex like indirectly like if you feel like you're watching it on a screen right now what i would encourage you to do is picture the camera pivoting to you and pivoting to like all of a sudden you as sort of like the character in the story and really for a moment i don't we don't want to center ourselves all the time but a really key part of i think uh being reflective about our purpose in this story is to think of ourselves for a moment as as one of the main characters if this was about your story and how you sort of are making your choices and what you're hoping to achieve or what you want your life to mean um if you haven't done that already just take some time to journal or talk to a friend or just think about that um because i think that that's step one is really confronting the fact that your emotions aren't about what's gonna happen in the future what's gonna happen out there to other people for a second make it about what's what is going to happen to you or what you feel because i think that that gets us to a more authentic expression of this story um and to confront what you feel ignorant about like do some research if you don't know exactly what you're worried about but importantly use eco anxiety as a turning point in your story and that's we're used to seeing stories like this like the turning point happens in act one and it sets off what's going to happen in act two and i think eco anxiety is such a good turning point and it's a great way to again clue you into what you love and what you care about so as the camera is focused on you who else is in the screen who else is in your sphere of influence already maybe it's people you work with maybe it's people in your family maybe it's your local leaders maybe you're a local leader and it's your local constituents um figuring out your role is all about repairing the heart of the story and figuring out what you already care about what you already love and where you can already make a difference because i think that's how we start to feel like our choices aren't meaningful it's not when we close off our story to make it so small that all that matters if i you know use a plastic bag today or not that's not going to change the end of the story that's that's narrative dissonance that's me thinking that i'm way too big of a character than i actually am but starting to understand what character you represent and who else is in your scene who else you might need to actually look to at for leadership who might uh which voices are are not in your in your sphere of influence that you need to be listening to i think thinking of this in those kinds of terms is a is a good way to just start reflecting on the role and the meaning that you might be able to to discover and it's it's not something that has to happen overnight you starting to back up and actually think about your purpose that's an incredible first step uh and i hope that to be able to support people in that one to one because it very much does have a different flavor no matter who you are um but definitely go looking go looking for people that you already feel comfortable with uh that you might be able to have a conversation with us about because it's hard to redefine your identity and then start doing really hard things it's easier to start to look to people in your life that can guide you and that you can guide and then take on work together

that makes a lot of sense could you uh tell us a little bit about the impact of your work and of this you know understanding um maybe some success stories you've experienced sure um so yeah i'll just pop this last slide up um this is a screenshot of our of our website at ecoanxious stories and some captures of some of the content we've created over the last year um to be clear we are completely unfunded and everything that you see is out of our own bank accounts and efforts and desires we have a modest patreon uh following that we really appreciate that helps keep the you know domain paid for and the and the stuff working but no one gets paid to do this work and all of our contributions are volunteer as well so far we'd really like to change that um but the point of this was to really just start to create a space where really like my friends and i could start to like put some of the creative work that we've been thinking about and doing and to give me an excuse to interview super interesting people about their stories um and so i'm really proud of the stuff we have up there but it's it's really just sort of proof of concept where we're seeking um core funding and we're seeking to expand our community of people that are contributing and editing and and all of that so that this can be more representative but i would say the success story is how people have responded to this framework i'll tell you like i've been doing climate justice work for a number of years now and um no one's ever really like gotten in touch with me they talk about the end of the world before and and i don't believe it's the underworld of the world and but it can often feel that way and it can feel like the stuff is dark and heavy and challenging and for some reason framing this around that that's okay and that it's safe it's a safe place to talk about that stuff people actually ask me to work on this stuff with them and and that's what's really blown me away is just how um people seem to very ready for this type of a project um and the desire to not just frame it around like solutions and and change making in the more literal sense but to frame it around those steps that lead up to that and to frame it around the courage and the compassion that you need to develop in order for that to feel meaningful and sustainable for you as a person so we talk about self-care we talk about community care and how capitalism makes it very hard to take care of ourselves and each other and that we need to actually focus on you know at a really basic material level like lifting people up so that we can we can share these kinds of stories but i think the yeah for me the success has been how people have been drawn into this on the basis of the framework alone uh and i hope there's many more successes in future years in uh in terms of like projects that we've actually undertaken with this as a framework um with whether that's governments or businesses or just individuals or grassroots folks and to be able to frame it around that is really meaningful uh to us and uh and i yeah i call that a success for me definitely a success um i think something you said in there about self-care especially uh resonates because

where we need so many people working on this issue from so many different angles and i think a lot of us you know a lot of folks are getting caught up like you said they're getting paralysis or don't know how to plug in or they are plugged in but you know they're burnt out like this is a constant thing that's really not going to go away and it feels like the weight of your world the weight of the world's on your shoulders sometimes um so i think that's a really key point is taking care of yourself in this because you can't you're not going to be very effective you can't really take care of other people until you yourself have your like basic needs met you know like physically emotionally you're in a good place to be able to to give yourself back to others so i think that is definitely a critical piece of all that um and you did mention a couple things earlier but do you have any like what is your list of specific tips for folks on that aspect of this if you have if you have one um if i'm understanding your question right i think like i think like centering yourself and trying to at least like get start building a list of what you do need in those moments when you recognize your own eco anxiety like have a little tool kit of your own on hand and we've got a few resources on the website that we're building in terms of like a few fill in the blanks of like that you of things that actually do help center you and ground you and we're always taking recommendations for tools that would be useful um but i think figuring out that way to sort of calm yourself down calm your thoughts down calm your breathing down calm the physical reaction of eco anxiety um in order to care for yourself i think is really key like knowing noting when it becomes acute and if you're having acute anxiety all the time like again i'm not a mental health um professional so please seek out help as you're experiencing these in in that form but for those of us who sort of are kind of going through our everyday life with a little bit of this under underlying our actions and then it bubbling up when we you know start to doom scroll on twitter or we you know see that headline or whatever um taking a second like stopping your work asking for the day off like these are things that need to become more normal i think that we actually recognize that this is heavy work and that we will burn out if we don't at least normalize the fact that this is something we're all dealing with i don't know about you but i feel like with kovid there's been this like new permission to be like whoa i'm struggling right now and i think that universal experience of this pandemic i think that's what a lot of us want in terms of um being able to talk about our eco anxieties that it's reasonable that this would be affecting us even if it's happening you know even if it's fires in california or floods in bangladesh that as we as we not as we stop just centering ourselves in our climate stories as we start to move to act two and actually see how interconnected we are with other communities um that we actually like build that solidarity piece into our story that we actually uh change how we work and how we consume media so that we're hearing different voices and seeing different people for me at least it humbles me it helps me feel like the weight isn't on my shoulders and please check out the micro podcast from bethsaiwin on our website for more on this like she speaks so eloquently to the idea that we need to find our small piece of the puzzle and that as you feel smaller it's not about thinking of your power diminishing but it's thinking about how interconnected and how well you fit with all of the other people and and initiatives around you um and how you can find like peace in that actually like i think we're offering actual peace in the idea that as we get closer together um yes the world may fall apart more and more but we have this ability to actually come together and support each other it's why i really love your platform ryan and how you're actually helping people connect with each other and not feel so alone in that translation of our feelings into actions because i think that that is where a lot of people get hung up they know what this is about they know why they feel anxious but it's that question of who can actually help me connect into something that's bigger than just me yeah i think that is so key um you know i i still try to remind myself of of that constantly whenever i feel too too overwhelmed is that like i'm just one person i can only do so much but that there is some peace in that it's like as long as i'm doing what i can whatever that means to me or anyone watching this uh but you can have peace in knowing that you're doing your best and you're you just have one like one piece of this puzzle we need a lot of people contributing whatever it is they bring to the table whatever their you know superpowers are or their spheres of influence whatever they may be um but we're all like working on this together and by no like no one person or even a hundred or a thousand people can do it on their own so there is definitely some kind of serenity in that idea yeah i will say though as people of privilege especially for white people when you start to think of it in these terms you start to realize why like things like racism and and inequality are so problematic because it makes it impossible for us to meet in act two around the heart of the story and actually connect with each other so sometimes i think for a lot of us who are in that um demographic a big part of the meaningful work we can do is to actually start to like undo those those systems of oppression because it makes it easier for like other groups and other work to flood in and and take up space and help reorient us so for me another piece of that peace and knowing i'm just something small is recognizing that climate change is a symptom of like colonization and capitalism and all of these other things that have started way before i was born and i didn't ask to blend in the story when i did but now that i'm oriented to that and just how old this story is and where it's headed like this is an exciting moment to be alive and this is a really crucial crucial decade for the species of like for everything so like you couldn't ask in a way for a better chapter to open up to in terms of a really exciting story so as much as i feel that weight i try to interpret it as like oh we're at this this turning point in a much broader story and we can kind of embrace and get to get excited about that as much as it feels the heaviness and the anxiety as well so yeah sorry i just want to give a heads up we have about 15 minutes left so we're going to be wrapping up the last few questions or the last few interview questions and then we'll open it up to the audience to ask any questions you guys have so ryan do you have any last questions to ask rachel i do but just to comment on that that last thought real quick because i think it's super important is understanding how interconnected all these systemic issues are and how there's another thing that uh that's bethsalem says a lot and works on a lot is multi-solving so like a lot of the climate solutions don't just make the climate better but you know they're improving the quality of life and addressing some of these systemic oppressions that we've kind of been handed by the past um and i do think there's at my best i i am aware of that framing or idea that like this is like there's so much meaningful work to do and compared to being alive in different times like you said this is about when we are as not as much who we are like it is kind of uh i don't know if i want to say a privilege but like there's so much meaningful work to be done and to be a part of that can bring a lot more meaning um to life i guess i don't know i i kind of like when i'm aware of that i'm like yes that makes sense but then you know day to day it's like oh my gosh this is this is a lot um but i appreciate you raising that point yeah the key is to not let it become part of that overwhelming piece it's just part of the complexity and to embrace that complexity i think is uh is certainly a tall order but it's a really important first step i think yeah yeah all right so last couple questions before we move to q a and folks please do uh type in any questions you have for rachel um do you have any well first off i just want to say that eco-anxious stories the website is fantastic uh and we'll link to that and in the follow-up email as well so definitely check that out they have some great resources podcasts articles infographics a lot of stuff um but do you have any other recommended resources for people or any specific ones on your site uh that is was really useful to your understanding of this topic or can be helpful for folks working their way through this right now could be books podcasts videos whatever whatever it may be yeah i mean there's so many it's such a great community of people working on this topic for sure if you're on twitter and you know looking for people to connect within around this um we're very nice and generous and we'll connect you into different folks but i i would i want to plug like good grief network as a group that's doing great work in more of a um like a 10-step program like they're not just doing podcasts they're actually leading people through um training so that's a really awesome one to check out a new newsletter that's being drafted by uh created by brit ray uh dr ray is jen dredd g-e-n-d-r-e-a-d um great newsletter that's really like much more timely than our content has been getting out lately she's really good at sort of um regularly updating us on what's going on in this conversation mary anais higlar uh and her work is uh really has been formative for me in understanding how existential crises um look and feel to people of color and people black people especially in her context who have you know have histories of of genocide of degradation in this way have a different relationship to this uh this crisis and super important to be learning from them um the climate psychology alliance is a good one if you're interested in kind of being connected into this work as is climate and mind dot com um i believe that's the right one for andrew bryant's great work on this there's a time but we're we're going to be listing more and that kind of stuff on our website as we develop it and we really encourage you to get in touch with us if you want to sort of be a part of that list

on our website i love everything i'm spoiled by the folks who contributed this video at the bottom here let me out with one of our videos that i actually turn to all the time when i'm feeling eco-anxious um it's just a short video with a bit of a poem read over it and it really chills me out and helps me refocus um so i'll pick i'll pull that one out today it's a special one amazing we will definitely link to those for folks to follow up on um

do you have any like call to action for listeners or any like final key takeaway message for folks

i would say for your own eco anxiety just know that you're not alone this is the key message i would say is just if you're feeling these feelings i'm i'm glad you are and i don't want them to be debilitating and i don't want you to struggle alone um but these are are we should anticipate lots more of this and i think it's a turning point for us in realizing that we need to create supports for people so thank you for being a part of that if you're feeling like you don't know how to talk about this stuff with other people um i would just encourage folks to think of this three-part model and think of what matters to them what's at stake in their community what they want and what they think it'll take and in terms of just trying to find some meaning you can start small but think about who might share some of that story with you who else is a character in your story and maybe framing it for them in those terms is a new approach than just you know assuming that they don't care or that they don't know enough

awesome thanks for all your questions though they've been great

you have been fantastic i think michaela we have a question from kyra if you want to give her uh the ability to hop on here yeah so kyra if you are still here um could you try turning on your video and you can ask the question in front of everyone

hi can you all hear me i'm my name is kira it's okay the y trips everybody sorry about that oh it's all good um but my question for you rachel is like how do you inspire others around you like beyond your circle that might be like more environmentally conscientious and whatnot because like what i've encountered are lots of people who are older than me i'm 23 so i think inspiring like older generations and what not to like get involved that it's not too late because when i bring it up they don't like to go there because it makes them anxious and you know i don't want it to just be like oh the young people are going to solve and save the day like stuff like what do you recommend oh that's a good question yeah i mean whenever i'm doing communications work i'm i'm always trying to think of my audience and really trying to think in terms of these stories like i've got a story and i know what i sort of like think about what they should maybe be doing in my story but to try to suspend that a little bit and and go in more asking about their story uh and again we're trying to figure out that connection between the com the complexity of life and the climate crisis so maybe for them it's like thinking back to what life was like when they were growing up and what kind of like were they worried about the cold war about nuclear you know are they worried about famine or or economic decline is there anything about those experiences that they can kind of relate to what we're experiencing now um trying to figure out a language or a framework that is familiar and useful to the person you're really talking to and if you don't know what that is asking um it could be a great way to start a conversation that's about climate change that's not actually about climate change like today i've told you all a lot about racial injustice without actually framing this is a talk about racial injustice i tricked you so i mean it's kind of it's not about tricking it's about engaging it's about actually authentically trying to find common ground um and so that's a good way to start is just to figure out a common thing that you could relate to climate change but maybe less directly than diving in with that education or that info and then moving to the second part of the story what maybe are they feeling about that are they feeling like they are you know washing their hands of the situation are they feeling um unsure of what they could do since they're from the generation that keeps getting condemned as being the cause of all this um trying to figure out how they feel and trying to understand that might be a way to again help them realize that maybe they do love people who care about this stuff or they do love the cause already and then in terms of an action that's where it really depends on why you're engaging them but i think helping them see other people that look like them in action is a really useful way again that you're not hitting them over the head with this is what you should be doing but this is what it looks like when someone does this and this is what the impact is so that could be finding an older person that's encouraged you or helped you materially maybe you know helped you out as you were struggling with burnout or something and showing how meaningful that was to have solidarity between generations um yeah i mean there's lots of ideas but i think starting with that story framework can help you kind of think about um a more useful way to approach people if you've been struggling in the past yeah

i think also kira i don't know enough about or as much of the about this as i'd like but rachel you might know more about motivational interviewing is a tool that i have heard about a few times now and it is very similar to what rachel was just saying it's about like connecting on those common values like finding that common ground between you and them because you all have common ground and once you figure out what that is you know you don't guilt or shame anyone in these conversations but you discover what it is that matters to them and then you can try to connect that dot to climate and why it matters to you um i think that's a useful way to think about it

this is all really helpful information yeah i think yeah finding that commonality yeah you don't want to attack people for you know they're not the only ones responsible so yeah again going back to that idea of when we all are rather than who we are and who's to blame um you don't have to be to blame to be at hand and so if you're at hand now that's that's really where we need folks and older folks have a lot of influence especially with politicians so that can be another angle

thanks for your question thank you

does anybody else have any more questions for rachel or ryan or myself

i don't see any more in the chat so i think that might have been it

yeah it looks like we are about ready to wrap up it looks like doug shared a link to catherine hey ho's ted talk which is on talking about climate is one of the most important things you can do i think that ties in really well actually with this conversation so thank you doug because i mean it not only starts to normalize these feelings of eco anxiety and like but it's all about that connection with other people and i think like you said rachel we we really need to start collaborating and working together to be able to to make the scale the changes that we need to see so talking just talking is like a great first step to take um and whether that be like you know with other people is what this is referring to but also if you haven't done the work of reflecting on it yourself and working through these feelings and emotions uh it's those are definitely two very powerful actions to take to start yeah and i think in terms of talking about climate change again it doesn't have to be that you're coming in with these like five facts or something like that you're an expert in your story and your perspective and and you get power actually from framing things that way so you don't have to speak on behalf of all the science or or on what we should do but even just talking about how you feel about what's wrong and what you would want to happen if you had all the power in the world that can be great for sparking imagination and getting people out of sort of the tunnel vision that they might be applying that's an awesome point thank you so much again for coming on today it's been such a pleasure getting to hear your story and getting to you know understand this topic on a deeper level thank you thank you so much you're welcome absolutely amazing and we will uh we will send a follow-up email to folks with this recording and a lot of those links that rachel mentioned uh last thing rachel for for folks who want to stay in touch with you or keep up with your work what do you recommend they do or where should they follow you i just took the screen down but please do find us on ecoanxious on twitter and on facebook and then ecoanxious on instagram i would say instagram and twitter kind of where we are mostly um and then the website itself hasn't been updated in a while a little while but we will be popping some new content on there pretty soon here and there is a fair amount on there to navigate already if you'd like to check out what we're doing and get inspired to maybe submit your own story my personal twitter is also available to you at rachel molina if you'd like to connect with me directly i'd love to chat with you so please do reach out and be part of the conversation awesome amazing and then if you want to know more about crowdsourcing sustainability we do have a website and an instagram at crowdsourcing sustainability um and we will be linking that in the follow-up email

thank you rachel thank you everyone take care of yourselves and uh we will be in touch thank you have a great day everybody thanks everybody bye y'all

Rachel's introduction and background