Crowdsourcing Sustainability

Climate change communication with Jill Kubit, co-founder of Dear Tomorrow

October 22, 2020 Ryan Hagen, Mikayla White, Jill Kubit Season 1 Episode 6
Crowdsourcing Sustainability
Climate change communication with Jill Kubit, co-founder of Dear Tomorrow
Chapters
0:00
Jill's introduction and background
4:20
Jill's thoughts on the climate labor movement
7:30
Why and how Dear Tomorrow was created
12:10
What is Dear Tomorrow? What makes it so powerful?
17:35
The real-world ripple effects of Dear Tomorrow
Crowdsourcing Sustainability
Climate change communication with Jill Kubit, co-founder of Dear Tomorrow
Oct 22, 2020 Season 1 Episode 6
Ryan Hagen, Mikayla White, Jill Kubit

Join us and our fantastic guest Jill Kubit as we cover climate communication, cultural work, climate legacy, talking to kids about climate, and much much more.

Timeline:
0 - 4:20: Jill's introduction and background
4:20 - 7:30: Jill's thoughts on the climate labor movement
7:30 - 12:10: Why and how Dear Tomorrow was created
12:10 - 17:35: What is Dear Tomorrow? What makes it so powerful?
17:35 - 28:07: The real-world ripple effects of Dear Tomorrow
28:07 - 33:30: Cultural Work in the climate space
33:30 - 37:18: The events and art exhibits that have featured Dear Tomorrow
37:18 - 41:50: How COVID-19 has impacted Dear Tomorrow
41:50 - 55:10: Jill's work with Our Kid's Climate and how to talk to kids about climate
55:10 - 58:50: Advice for those who feel like they won't make a difference in the climate fight
58:50 - 1:00:20: Jill's call to action for listeners
1:00:20 - 1:03:00: Tips on talking to people about climate

Resources:
- https://www.deartomorrow.org
- https://ourkidsclimate.org
- Letter writing project and toolkit
- Dear Tomorrow's audio-visual installation
- Instagram: @deartomorrow
- Facebook: DearTomorrow

- Recommended book: "How to talk to your kids about climate change"
- Climate Outreach
- Katharine Hayhoe Ted Talk

- Sign Up for the Crowdsourcing Sustainability Newsletter
- Crowdsourcing Sustainability Website
- Our Instagram: @crowdsourcingsustainability

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

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join us and our fantastic guest Jill Kubit as we cover climate communication, cultural work, climate legacy, talking to kids about climate, and much much more.

Timeline:
0 - 4:20: Jill's introduction and background
4:20 - 7:30: Jill's thoughts on the climate labor movement
7:30 - 12:10: Why and how Dear Tomorrow was created
12:10 - 17:35: What is Dear Tomorrow? What makes it so powerful?
17:35 - 28:07: The real-world ripple effects of Dear Tomorrow
28:07 - 33:30: Cultural Work in the climate space
33:30 - 37:18: The events and art exhibits that have featured Dear Tomorrow
37:18 - 41:50: How COVID-19 has impacted Dear Tomorrow
41:50 - 55:10: Jill's work with Our Kid's Climate and how to talk to kids about climate
55:10 - 58:50: Advice for those who feel like they won't make a difference in the climate fight
58:50 - 1:00:20: Jill's call to action for listeners
1:00:20 - 1:03:00: Tips on talking to people about climate

Resources:
- https://www.deartomorrow.org
- https://ourkidsclimate.org
- Letter writing project and toolkit
- Dear Tomorrow's audio-visual installation
- Instagram: @deartomorrow
- Facebook: DearTomorrow

- Recommended book: "How to talk to your kids about climate change"
- Climate Outreach
- Katharine Hayhoe Ted Talk

- Sign Up for the Crowdsourcing Sustainability Newsletter
- Crowdsourcing Sustainability Website
- Our Instagram: @crowdsourcingsustainability

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

hi and welcome to the crowdsourcing sustainability podcast my name is michaela and i'm ryan and we're your co-hosts this podcast exists to help inform inspire and empower people to take action on climate we'll do this by bringing on wonderful sustainability leaders listening to their stories and exploring meaningful actions we can all take today we are lucky enough to be with jill qubit the co-founder of deer tomorrow which is a climate legacy storytelling project that i think is very powerful and i'm super excited to dive into jill also co-leads the our kids's climate global parents network and has spent 10 years building the labor climate movement she gives talks on climate and deer tomorrow constantly including some for the un and a ted talk which you should definitely check out and much much more so jill welcome to the show well thank you so much brian and michaela for having me this is this should be fun i hope of course thanks for coming on absolutely so we'd like to start by hearing more about your climate journey especially this how it started um we're always fascinated to hear people's why on why they're on this journey so could you speak a little bit about that yeah actually when when people ask me about my climate journey um i usually start um like more recently with deer tomorrow but i can go back dig a little deeper um if that's useful um yeah yeah so i started working on climate in i don't know remember exactly the year but like around 2005 or 2006 and climate change was like starting to become a discussion in the in the public discourse um and it was like a little bit people were talking about a little bit and i learned about it um through some of the work that i was doing at cornell university i was working um with labor unions around um like i was doing much more not outside of the climate movement i was doing like more education and some organizing work and um and there were some trade unionists coming from other countries to the unit to the u.n um to talk about the sustainable development goals um and they were looking for people in the u.s who were in the trade union movement who were who are also thinking about like sustainable development water issues and climate change and so i just started my boss and i at the time started dabbling with this idea of should we work on climate change and the more that i learned about it the more i just kind of became obsessed with the issue um i think if i go back even further in my my like life's journey or my career journey um when i was growing up i like never knew what i wanted to do and i when when i was in high school i didn't know like where i wanted to go to college or if i wanted to go to college when i was in college i didn't know what my major was going to be and i had a couple of different careers i was a teacher at one point i did teach for america and then i was doing work or educating and organizing in in the labor movement but when i really learned about the severity of climate change and the urgency and this is 15 years ago i was like this is the issue that i want to work on and so i just moved my work that was i still continue to work at cornell university actually here in new york city but i started doing all of the organizing work around engaging trade union leaders around the transition to a low carbon or zero carbon economy and i'm curious before we before we get into deer tomorrow which i think will be a lot of our conversation here but how do you see this climate labor movement today like how has it progressed how important do you think it is in getting the action that we need i'd love to hear a bit more uh of your thoughts on this because i think it's something we don't hear about enough well if you if you interviewed me on this topic like seven years ago i would be one of the like the there's like a dozen people in the united states that were like following this issue and i was one of them um and but to that now i feel a little bit like oh so far outside of that conversation i don't know exactly where it is but i think some of the early work that we we did um uh that at the time this time the seemed so much on the fringe actually is very central to the work that's a lot of the work that's going on in the environmental justice movement so i worked on back in like 2008 i believe i worked on a green jobs report for the un environment program and it was the first report of its kind where we were like what sectors are going to be affected by transitioning to a low-carbon economy what does that mean for jobs what does it mean for communities how do you even define what a job in um in a zero carbon economy looks like um and like what is the work gonna be for people like moving forward in terms of like decades and centuries so i i think that that really looking at um the like that early work was really looking at like what is the impact that the transition that we have to make what is that what is that impact that's going to affect workers in um in extractive industries and in like high carbon intensive industries and how do we like protect workers to make the transition so that we're not putting like people and their livelihoods up against the uh the necessity that we have in the society to to totally transform like our energy and our transportation and our manufacturing systems um and so i think those are that kind of core work around what does a transition look like what does a just transition look like what kind of jobs are gonna that like are important for building back better um where to invest in the economy um you know those are questions i think are at the heart of some of the organizations like sunrise movement and um and others but um but when we were working on it like nobody was paying attention to that work um so anyway it's really interesting to see how that's evolved yeah you were way ahead of the game because when i when i think of that now all i can think about is the green new deal and how central it is to combine uh putting people to work giving people jobs with climate action like the two just go hand in hand so well but clearly that hasn't been uh that's not how most people see it so it's it's really awesome that you were one of one of the pioneers in the us at least to get that conversation going so very appreciative of that um i i'd love to uh to dive in deeper now on what you've transitioned to since then so can you connect the dots for us from that time period to uh you starting dear tomorrow and kind of what led you to start that in the first place like what was your thought process what was the self-talk that got you to that point yeah so i mean i loved that work around um like working with labor unions and leaders and working with community organizers and environmental justice groups around like what kind of jobs are needed and what is a just transition but i also felt a frustration with the fact that when i was doing that work that work was between like i said like around 2005 2006 i did that until around 2013. i felt like the conversation um in the u.s and also in many other countries really didn't move very much um during that that time frame and so i became pretty frustrated with the lack of progress and i started thinking about um how we were engaging people and how we were communicating um and i it wasn't just like in my own work but i was like looking around to like well how are other organizations communicating how are like the big ngos and how are business leaders communicating and health advocates and and i found that most of the conversations around climate when you would like it when i would like organize a panel or we would have like a roundtable discussion people would talk about climate change in a very kind of data-driven fact-based way and so in the moment people are like whoa this is like this is terrible that it's happening but then people would walk out of the door and they would kind of like continue on with their own lives and their like policies weren't changing and opinions really weren't changing and so i started looking into this question of like how do people make decisions um and how do you actually make like social and cultural transformative change and i came across i you know i've read a ton of social science papers on this um and climate communications papers and i i came across i just felt like we were doing it in the wrong way instead of like talking about it and by bringing in like scientists and like policymakers we needed other creative ways of engaging people and we needed to like start to like tell stories about people who care about climate change and what people were doing and and we also needed to we like we all everybody needed to kind of go through some kind of process of thinking about how climate change or the climate crisis like impacts ourselves and impacts like the people that we love um and so i took a break from that work and i went to graduate school and when i was at graduate school i met an amazing woman named trisha schrum and i had just become a parent so i had this like little child in my life and i was like looking at him and thinking like what is this world that we're creating for him um and i met trisha and she had a daughter who was eight months old and i think when i met her gabriel was about a year like a little over a year maybe a year and a half and she had had this um epiphany where she had written a letter to her daughter eleanor to open if in a 50 years time and in that letter she wrote about climate change and and how she felt about it and um and what she was doing and and she she told me the story about the power of writing this letter and when i heard this story and i was like in this deep exploration myself i i like it all came together and i basically decided i decided like when i graduated i decided to like just do this project full time which was pretty crazy because at the time we had all we had was an idea a website that we had built and i could only raise a thousand dollars and i was like this is my new job i gave it to myself and i um i i started working on it and so she and i worked for about a year and a half together on developing the project developing the concept and kind of getting it off the ground and then um she trish was in in academia so she ended up going the academic route and i took over the project completely i'd say in like 2016 and have been have been building it ever since could you explain a little bit about the specifics of what dear tomorrow is and how it works yeah so i would love to so um so dear tomorrow is a collection of letters about the climate crisis where written to people we love living in the future and so what we do is we ask people to think about a person that they love this could be their child or their grandchild it could be a niece or nephew it could be um another family member it could even be like if you're young it could be yourself in the future and we ask you to think about that person standing in the year 2050 and and having a conversation about what you did today in the year 2020 um about the about the climate crisis and we asked people to write that letter now um and so people you know they share these stories about like what they want the future to look like what actions they're taking what what what like scares them like what contradictions they feel but they they basically sit down and they write this letter to someone that they love for them to open up in the future and we find from talking to letter writers that it's a that if you take the project seriously and you you actually sit down to do it it's a very like deep profound experience to think about climate change in this very personal way

yeah i when i first saw or heard about dear tomorrow i was actually immediately hooked by the idea for a lot of the reasons you just said it might have been after i read a letter or two but i was like this has been missing in the conversation it really personalizes it and people can think about it and talk about it in a way that you otherwise wouldn't because we don't really think about that far into the future or write letters for someone 30 years from now um but i'd love to hear more about what you found exactly and like what makes this so powerful and moving for people just like dive a little deeper on the mechanics of it and any any other themes you've seen or even i don't know sharing a part of what it was in that first letter that you read with your co-founder what it wasn't that that really spoke to you just i'd love to hear more about this in detail yeah yeah so i think one of the things that makes it really powerful um is that it's um it's a slow deep process that i think many other climate organizing like programs don't have so like when we were just like anecdotally or when we were like starting to organize at this project everyone was like nobody is going to write a letter they're like you should develop a twitter campaign like you should get people to write one sentence you know nobody is going to like take the time to like sit down and write a letter to someone they love like this is this goes against like everything that was like existing in the world which was like big numbers of people and fast and quick and short and easy and so i think one thing that makes your tomorrow like stand out or different and it's also why it's a challenging project i would say to be the co-founder of is because it actually is hard to do it is hard as a parent myself it is hard to sit down and basically tell the person that you love so much you love them so much you want their life to be so good and if you know about the climate crisis like you are you know that the world that we live in now is not the world we're giving to them so it's really hard to like articulate that and to like write it down and to share that and i think that that is both a challenge but that is a beauty because then when people do take the time to like to work on this project they spend weeks like reflecting and thinking about it like what would they say what do they want to say what what do they want their legacy to be what do they want that like to be remembered about and to have that person say that they did everything in their power to make sure that they had like a safe and secure future so it's just then the content that has been developed that we actually get is really different than most work that's out there i would say um we have stuff that's like very emotional um very beautiful poetic very deep and i just i would i mean i would love to see so much more work like this but the work is slow and the work is hard um but i think it is but but i also think it's profound

it's definitely a very powerful topic really it makes people become vulnerable and actually have to think about these issues which i a lot of people aren't doing in their day-to-day lives especially if you're not in the climate realm and you're not doing this as your job so i i'm really impressed with the project and i think this is an amazing way for people to really work through their thoughts and feelings and emotions about the climate crisis jill do you have any specific stories that come to mind of people who have gone through this whether they wrote or they made a video uh or just like what happened when they shared it i'd love to hear some some real world ripple effects that are happening some anecdotes yeah yeah um i mean let me start by talking about like my own when i wrote my own letter because i it had like a it had like a very important like it was very important for me and then i can talk about like some of the things like people have have told us like anecdotally and then maybe i can get into like a little bit around what we're actually able to measure because that's what a lot of a lot of the way that like things are are are they successful is it like can you tell us like what it changed and i can get a little bit into like what we what we're able to do and what we're not able to do that sounds perfect because i've struggled with that aspect myself kind of quantifying the impact of cultural change which is just so tricky but i would love to hear all that all groups i would say that do cultural shift work struggle with us that's the same problems and so actually for me the challenge is getting the field to redefine how they think about and measure cultural work as opposed to making us like fit what what we're doing into a box that doesn't work for us right but that's a whole nother struggle that could be like a one-hour thing conversation on its own so for me it's like i worked in climate for 15 years and like the first half of it i did that's like it was very important i think political work but in this like very kind of fact based like communications way and then i like met trisha and and um and even myself i was like i'm gonna ask all these people to write letters but like will i actually sit down and write a letter to my own son who's like who's a baby um and well what it did for me is it like for the first time it took and i talk about this in some of my talks so you might have heard this but i it took like these years that are very abstract for me that i've always been like by the year 2030 these things x y and z has to happen and by the year 2050 we have to be like zero neutral carbon or whatever people are language people are using now um but it made those those years feel relevant to me so like in at the time when i was like okay in 2030 he was basically going to be getting ready to graduate from high school like that is a real date i can imagine this person at a certain age like in his life and we have to make all of these changes in the way society is structured when he's in high school that was like a crazy transition in my own like mind and then in the year 2050 was basically the year that i was when i was founding deer tomorrow so i was like we have to completely shift our entire economy and how it is how it is organized how it is structured how people live work eat everything has to be different and he's going to be my age and so that to me like for the first time is like i care tremendously about climate change i was like obsessed with it but i didn't actually feel it until i like sat down and i and i read my letter i wrote my letter um and so that was that was like a very important experience for me um in terms of like changing my own thinking in terms of like then when i had my letter and then i like i found this was like this is within my own my friends and family network is that i had worked on climate for the all these years before and my parents couldn't describe what i did um and like most of my friends weren't that interested when i shifted to do this storytelling work was when it opened up my own personal conversations that i was able to have with other people in my life and like and my mom is now like a major climate organizer like in a small town in new hampshire it's bizarre but i think it's like she for the first time was then able to say like i'm thinking about my grandchildren and i'm thinking about putting solar panels on on my rooftop and i'm thinking about it doing an energy audit and i'm i'm bringing people to my house to have to get more people to do these things and i'm starting an organization in my small town um because she also then have like through like um through the lens of dear tomorrow she wrote her own letter and she became activated and so i saw it like even in my own relationships with with people um and so you know we've had we've had we've done some surveys and said ask people like what they've done and and what they've done with it and you know i've had people tell me they like they wrote a speech for a contest that they never would have done before and that in their high school and they like won the contest and then i've had people quit their jobs and decide to like move into the climate change sector and decide that this is like what they wanted to do um and these are all kind of extreme of like really really activating people to be advocates and to be like lifelong advocates on climate and then i think there's just like a lesser version of that which is like now i have my story i can talk to peop to my friends and family more easily or if i'm like you know if i am writing like a speech on this topic i'm like i feel comfortable because i know what my story is and i can share that story and that story is more powerful now that i've personalized it um and so we've had like so we've had those are a couple of of experiences i would i would say you know we've also had like groups of people do the project so i've had i've had like community organizers or church leaders or you know ngo leaders who have said that like they did this project within 10 with 10 of their top staff and organizers and it and it like shifted like the mood in the room when everyone read their letter and like it made people it gave people like more voice and more power to like continue the work they were already doing um and i yeah i just think that it's like it's for me it's all about empowering people to tell the story of the climate crisis in a meaningful way that that then connects to other people that other people are more open to listen to because it is a personal story that is amazing i think uh i think you're spot on it makes it real in a way that most other things haven't because climate's still thought of as distant in most people's minds i believe i totally agree it's still it's still like one of the most challenging things and this is like why dear tomorrow exists is that we have this distance bro this psychological distance or this time lag problem whereas like the psychological distance is that like it feels like it's happening some to somebody else or it's happening somewhere else or somebody in far off in the future that like i'm not going to be around to see this so it's fine i'll carry on my life and we'll carry on the way things are because it doesn't impact me um and then you know with the similarly the time lag problem is like there's this huge delay between like our actions and the effects and we this is like a natural part of the of the climate crisis so even though communities are being impacted now it's still much worse in the future if we do not transform our economies um so it just it's just we're we're dealing with the this like this distance that people feel in this problem of time and this is like inherently part of the climate crisis and that's i think why it makes it such a difficult problem to crack it's also what makes it so interesting to me because it is such a challenge yeah and i feel like it's also a challenge for a lot of people to see because climate isn't always a tangible physical thing that you can see right in front of you climate's often something that you can't just point to and you can't feel and you can't see it's often something that is going on constantly and constantly changing and i feel like you're let the letters really help put a tangible thing and a physical thing that people can look at and point to and actually think like oh this is climate change this is what it is it's not just the physical stuff it's also the emotions behind it i think it's also very powerful because maybe this is all just intertwined with what you just said michaela and jill what you've been saying but it makes starting the conversation on climate which is typically uncomfortable and we have this whole culture of you know climate silence but it makes starting the conversation you know after you write the letter and and share it you're probably going to talk about it at least a little bit with some people it makes starting that conversation come from a place of love and i think that alone is going to grab people's attention as you start that conversation

no i yes i totally agree

yeah it feels like i mean it feels like it's kind of obvious based on what you've been saying but it's also just so powerful because we don't often talk about that kind of stuff in general i think and then especially with climate all you you typically hear about are the facts and the figures and you don't get this storytelling or personalization of it so i think i think that is fantastic i would love to maybe not do a deep dive but hear a bit more about how you think about cultural work in the climate space uh just just because i've been grappling with this myself and maybe it'll help some people to to better understand why this space is important and maybe how to think about it a bit better because you said you want to kind of reimagine how we think about this type of work specifically because it doesn't fit into the typical mold so as someone who's been thinking about this for a really long time i'd love to hear your quick take at least on on that issue yeah i mean there's so many directions we could go with this with this conversation in this direction um i mean most obvious the first thing that kind of comes to mind is that we and we were talking about this before is that climate change doesn't feel tangible it feels um it feels like invisible and i used to say like climate change is this invisible backdrop to which we're all living our lives like we're going through our day many people especially those let's let's like specify many people in developed countries they kind of go about their day-to-day lives and this is like this has obviously been shifted by covid but like we're going about our lives without really thinking about the climate crisis which is the biggest issue that we face as a civilization in all of human history and yet we don't we don't see it we just kind of we're going about we go to our jobs we take our kids to school we like cook dinner put food on the table you know we go shopping we travel um we you know we struggle to get by i mean we are we are living like a very kind of in this like short-termism like day-to-day whereas like climate change or the climate crisis is this like huge global problem um and so and because it's it's largely invisible um we don't like we don't see it in our own lives and we have no uh this is slightly changing i would say as i'm saying this it's like it is slightly changing but in the past i would say until like 2018 there were no signs you could go up through your entire day or entire week without any signs that the climate crisis was happening you wouldn't talk to anybody about it there was nothing in the street like on your way to work about it if you didn't work on it and you weren't hearing about it at work um you were you know you weren't hearing about it anywhere and you weren't seeing it anywhere you weren't seeing the solutions and you weren't seeing the problems until it was largely this like kind of invisible thing and then i think what the cultural work that i that i've been trying to build is basically like signs and signals that one we're living through but this like great existential threat and two we're trying to do something about it and we need to be we need to have visible signs that this is happening so i'm super interested in like films about it and it being integrated into tv shows and there being like books lots many more books written about the topic and and poems and short stories we're actually starting to see that i'm starting to see that in the in kind of the climate cultural space but i think it's like in a very nascent stage i would also say it's not integrated into other things in a way that um it's very it's it still feels very separate like if you want to go to a film about climate change it's about climate change instead of being like you went to this film it was a love story and the mom happens to install solar panels and like that's like a one sentence like description or an image that you see in the film but it's not but it's not the central theme so that you're exposing people who who might be resistant to it to these signals that this is the where we're living so i'm like super interested in like the kind of arts and cultural sector um and then even more so digging deeper than that because there's like there's like there's a need for for people who create to just like create art and create stories um and create any media about this i think there's also a role for those of us in like in the in the trenches who are like really working on climate change to use creativity and culture in our own work and like integrate this work into our engagement work and to design engagement tools that actually are creative in nature and that's kind of where deer tomorrow fits it fits in this like deer tomorrow is a tool that people individuals or organizations or groups of people can use to deepen engagement and on on the climate crisis and then to share like those stories with other people around them in their communities

and you kind of building off that you recently had a an exhibit for i think it was the audio of a lot of these stories you've collected can you tell us a bit about that before because we um had pivoted and moved into doing public installations um and and yeah i can i would love to talk about it i love i love the um the doing like art and installation work um but but basically like we had like one of my challenges or struggles is that i have so much content and i'm always like looking for places where this content can live and how do i actually share the content in creative ways and in new ways and so in 2019 in the summer i was invited by the human impacts institute to be

an artist in residence which i was like i'm not an artist i'm an organizer but i had this art project so it was it was this amazing opportunity that they invited me to um to be an artist in residence and i worked with the director of that of that um program um and a sound designer um like a very talented sound artist um on creating like a an ins an installation and we were out on governor's island and um the human impacts institute had a house out there on governor's island and we had an entire room where you would walk into the room and you could you could read people's letters and you could hear the voices of of some of the people who had um who had participated in the project um and in order to design that to design that um i we i worked to curate the entire collection and to we picked 50 of the letters and invited the letter writers to send in an audio recording and we had a really short like turnaround and i was basically like emailing people who had written letters like you know some had written letters like six months ago some of them had written like four years ago and i was like do you want to be part of an installation if so can you send your audio recording like in like you know a week because we have to get it all together and um and within 24 hours i had like more than half of the people had responded being like i love this project i still think about it i will do it i'm so excited to be included and and so i think in the end we had we had 34 of the 50 people sent in their um audio and then we did a physical installation of the 50 letters plus include including like 34 of the of the audio um and um and i and when the the thing about it is when you walked into the room um you basically like there were four speakers um and different voices were coming from different speakers and some of the times they're like they would you would just hear like one letter and it would be or an excerpt from a letter so sometimes you would walk in and there would just be like one voice telling telling their story or sharing their letter and then other times you would have this compilation of like different voices on the same topic kind of saying similar things but coming from different parts of the room um and i don't know it was amazing and and um i have big plans to continue to do that um but not until 2021. so i know you mentioned covet a few times could you explain how your work has changed since covid has broken out and um like how deer tomorrow has shifted and pivoted around covet yeah a good question um so so i had briefly mentioned i think that like we had moved in this direction in in 2019 we moved in this direction of doing um public installations and also we had moved in the direction of doing public workshops so in 2020 our plan for 2020 was to do community-led public engagement in physical spaces either in like groups of people coming together to write a workshop or in installations um and i was i had discussions or was like already slated for like like several universities major conferences like and um and when covet hit it just everything was like that obviously we were not going to do this public project this like out into the world public project and so we reverted back to um to the to we already had this great digital project we are we basically made this we had to make this pivot of like we're not doing our like public engagement programming in in the public we're going to move back to being a digital project um i would say though that um one of the challenges and one of the decisions that i made kind of early on with covid is that i stopped asking people to write letters for a good like three months because i felt and and i you know i really felt deeply that like in the moment of a crisis and and many people like people all over the world were like in crisis mode of like do i still have a job how am i going to educate my kid at home how am i going to educate them and work how am i going to pay the bills like where am i going to live and like is it safe to go outside is my family member sick you know people had these am i going to get sick people have these like very immediate like needs and issues and concerns and it was not the moment to have this existential like thought process of like what are you gonna do about the climate crisis so we like pulled um we even we pulled like our digital projects as well for the first couple of months because it just did not feel like it wasn't it's not the moment to do deep reflective work when people are really dealing with like the immediate here and now um yeah and yeah so we did that and that and then it started the work has started picking up um this summer and um and and one last thing i would say is like what we decided to do then was focus internally on our processes so we spent the summer like re-writing um revamping our toolkit um so that so that the resources available for people when they are ready to organize again they are they're they're stronger materials and they also provide options for people to organize in like a purely digital format and in the future they can do like in person format and um so anyway we spent i i i had two amazing interns that that helped me this summer kind of reworked that and that was i i'm i'm really happy that we did that that's great we're definitely going to have to link to that toolkit and some of these uh audio files so people can listen and hear what the exhibit was like earlier was it this year that you had it or was it last year it was it was last september and october okay cool so i know we're running a bit short on time here and there's so much more to talk about so i'm going to try to do some rapid fire ish questions here trying to be more succinct oh no i i'm not sorry one thing we haven't touched on yet which i would love to is you've also co-founded this global network of climate parent organizations our kids climate work i'd love for you to just speak about that oh sorry our kids climate yeah i'd love for you to speak on that uh at least just a little bit and hear what you're up to uh what you're excited about the impact and uh this is from kind of piggybacking here but i don't know how old is gabriel he just turned seven which is like terrible i'm like oh my god time is going by we're not making the changes we need to like we are making progress but it is not accelerating at the pace that needs that not nearly fast enough um but i'd love to also for any parents out there touch upon how you think about talking to kids about this issue and i know he's very young but have you talked to him about this yet or have you thought about how to bring it up i'd love to hear about all that kind of lumped into one okay which one do you want to do first let's start with with gabriel and then move on to our kids climate okay um yeah so so we've been i've been talking to gabriel about climate change since he learned to talk um but i'm not talking about like the scary climate change like the earth is burning like your future is doomed kind of discussions and i think when people think about climate change and like having the conversation they think whoa like this is such a scary topic like i don't know how to do this i'm just not gonna do it at all but i've been talking to him like since forever since he was born basically um and and i i think about it a little differently i think than what you would typically think about like when you're talking to kids about climate um i would categorize the conversations into four pieces the first is that we talk about nature we talk about the plants and the animals and the importance of trees and we take walks in the park and um even like you know we go if we're in a playground we see like a a plant that's like somehow living we talk about like living things um and we talk about it caught like we talk just about the like really just about the importance of nature and around protecting nature and we've been i've been doing that since he was very very young um another the second thing i like talked to him about um that since he was very young is that we talk about solutions so that means like walking down the street and seeing solar panels on the rooftop and pointing it out and being like that is that is a solution for your future isn't that amazing isn't that beautiful i love that or like you know like taking the train and saying like this is you know this is obviously pre-coping but like like you know uh the you know the train is a loca is low carbon it's good for the world people should take the train like and just saying like how great how great trains are or the bus um or like pointing out windmills there's lots and lots of things you can like point to and say like we need more that isn't that beautiful we need more of that that is showing that people care about your future and like and inserting that into conversation so he he knows a lot about climate solutions um more he knows way more about climate change than climate solutions than any seven-year-old on the planet um but that i think is some but that's something that people can can talk about without it being big and scary the third thing i talk about and this is like in also more in our actions is that we go to um rallies and marches um on not just on climate we went to black lives matter um and we talk about the importance of people using their voice and that people are powerful when they are determined to to do something and to change something that is wrong and um and that is a climate solution is like using your voice voting i take them to i take them with me to vote um so we do all that kind of like civic engagement work kind of wrapped up into like climate solutions without without it being specifically about climate yeah um just this idea that like groups of people and can come together around a cause and make the world better um and then the fourth thing that i talk about which is probably like more controversial and like fewer people do is we talk about consumption so we talk about like the fact that the world does not have an endless supply of things and that like we don't get everything every physical item that we want in the world and we model that through and this makes me kind of like a scrooge i would maybe but like we model that like at like birthday parties like we we tell people like don't bring gifts and like we don't have goodie bags and we don't like we like reuse we bring like reusable bags and reusable mugs and like we we try and instill in him this idea that like the things we have are really important but we don't need everything and we can't actually have everything and we don't need everything to live a good fulfilled happy life um and and you know part of the reason i do this is because i think we are in for some big changes in the way that the world is structured um and and i and i don't want him to grow up and think like oh it used to be so great we had all this stuff this that we had and now we have none of it instead i want him to be like we like we did fun activities as a family and we took bike rides and we like went to the beach and we like hung out with our friends and and like in remembering like the things and experiences that we did and make that that stuff very powerful as opposed to like the things that we may not have sometime down the line but i expect that we will not have a kind of like consumption that in the future that we have today

i am so glad i asked that i feel like a lot of parents are going to find that super useful yeah and actually so i am i'm experimenting with this stuff along the way there are a couple of great resources um a a good friend of mine and another climate parent um named harriet sugerman came out with a book um just this year called had to talk to your kids about climate change that i i highly recommend it's i believe it's the first book on the topic ever published and then another colleague of mine who is in sweden is actually um in the process of publishing the second book on this topic um and and that is going to be eventually it'll be in swedish but it'll be translated and distributed globally i think uh probably in winter of 2021. but there's like there's a really there's kind of a and then maybe this is a good segue into the arcades climate network but there are some really amazing leaders like around the globe that are thinking about these questions um thinking about like how do we activate and engage parents how do we provide like the tools and resources for people um to organize to talk to their own kids to create like action and help transform their schools and so i'm i'm really really fortunate that i i get to um uh kind of help build that project called arkids climate um and it's it's so half of my half of my life is like around like building deer tomorrow and then related to that because here tomorrow is very much a legacy project and is using love and emotion i've also became very involved in helping to grow this emerging group of parent organizations and parent leaders um yeah in many countries yeah so tell us more about our kids climate and just what what y'all are up to the impact of the work and how parents or grandparents can plug in if they're interested yeah yeah so so our kids climate is started about five years ago um and i came i met um uh and i'm i met like a group the group of like founding members my colleague freda is always like the original founder and um i i never know what to say like my title is i'm like co-lead i'm co-founder it's like quite not quite sure but about five years ago um she put out this call to organizations like around the globe like who is organizing with a parental lens are there any groups out there um and uh at the cop in paris um she they basically pulled together a meeting and they think they were like at the time there were 12 organizations around the around the globe that we could find that like did this kind of any kind of like family-friendly organizing parent-led engagement or legacy framing like organizing um and then after that meeting so like there were 12 groups kind of came together i think we were about eight countries mostly from the u.s and europe after that meeting we kind of all went back to our home countries and and worked on uh like kind of worked on our own projects and then in 2000 summer of 2018 we decided we would start to relaunch that project um and then the ipcc came out in 2018 and obviously like the kids movement greta became like a household name um and so we officially relaunched in in spring of 2019 and since then since spring of 2019 or since like the founding we've grown to over 56 groups from 18 countries currently um and the role of our kids climate is not to like set the agenda and to like say like this is what everyone should do the role is to say like how can we support these emerging organizations that are that are like totally new and trying to figure out like how do you organize how do you mobilize people how do you engage people um and so we do i would say we do three things we support groups we support new leaders and and new groups through we run training programs we do one-on-one mentorship and we also provide small grants like we call the micro grants to groups that like they need a thousand dollars to make a video or like three hundred dollars to make flyers or print t-shirts or a banner or art supplies we they can come to us for like micro grants and we can we distribute them and then that's the first thing is like we support them the second one is that we connect them we are trying to develop relationships between organizers and organizations in different countries so that they can share ideas and and build off each other and and um and start campaigns like across locations or just say like there's a really successful campaign happening in like in india like can we can somebody in new zealand also get involved in the same project um so we're doing that and then the third thing we do is try and amplify the parent voice so really thinking about what is unique about being the parent and what is the parent's voice in the climate crisis and i think it's really about this like deep love we have for our children and this connection that we have that between generations that we hold that like connects like the youth movement to adults people adults are decision makers in the world and many parents are also decision makers they vote they're voting members they run organizations they are run governments many of those people in in high position in a high position power i didn't say that right whatever we are also parents and so it's like how do we engage people in this like direct kind of emotional plea to them as opposed to being like like why you should do it you should do this we should make these transitions because you are personally impacted because this is about your children or about your grandchildren so we spend a lot of time on thinking about like using that voice and the power of that the power of that voice that's awesome well we will definitely link to that as well so anyone interested can learn more and get involved so last few questions here one is a bit of a pivot but i really wanted to ask it to you and hear what you had to say because i think you you'll have a uh interesting or insightful take on this and so basically a lot of people fall into this trap of thinking that they're just one person and can't do anything worthwhile to move the needle on this very overwhelming climate emergency and i'm wondering what you would say to people who are feeling that way

what to say um i mean i i think this is a question that ever that people come to us all the time and they're like it doesn't matter if i do anything do my actions matter does like it you know what why does it matter and i think i mean there's there's a couple of different like directions we could go but i really think that like we have to understand that social movements or like the cultural change the political change like the big kind of systems change like the policy change that we want it doesn't just happen out of thin air like it it happens because lots of people are are acting a certain way or demanding something and then when when there's enough people who are doing those things then businesses will like respond or governments will respond um and so there's like a there there is a direct link between individual action and the political action and it's not because like it's not because the individual action like like is enough to like actually do something to like reduce emissions and to like solve the climate crisis but it's because we are social we are fundamentally social beings that like the way that we act we you know we all like to pretend that we're like individuals individual thinkers and we're all original but the reality is we're all social beings we are we do things that are like people in our lives we do things like our friends and family we do things like other people in our community we do things that are like acceptable acceptable social norms and so the more that people are taking actions and demonstrating or talking about those actions and like and like showing other people that they're doing it the more we can accelerate that lots of people will do them and that's when you see like the big that's when you have this create the space for big changes they don't exist like apart from each other and i think that we need to do a much better job of of linking the two i would also tell people that like you're you're not going to convince you're like you're not going to convince somebody you don't know you're not going to convince a denier you're not going to convince like your uncle you don't actually need to like convince everyone but you do have a powerful influence over the people in your immediate circle that's like your family members your close friends and you have to like use the power within your own kind of networks to like influence your other influence or other networks um so i think that's where you have like that's where people have power that's such a great point do you have any call to action for the listeners anything that you want them to know will make a difference and like what's what's the key the call to action is to sit down take the time reflect on what climate change means in your own life and to the people that you love people that are closest to you and sit down and write a letter and then to like share that letter i said that's my like like that's my my call to action i think when we started this work people were like that's not an action you know like talking about climate change is not an action like or like sharing a story that's not an action and people were really looking at like uh political mobilizations and voting those were like those are like specific actions but i actually think that like the deep level work that is needed is like is like being intentional and being reflective about our own actions and and the the letter is a is a is a possibility to to do that one more question for you actually a couple more and then we'll call it but so i'm curious this this weaves in well to what you just were talking about but do you have any tips for people on talking to people in your network you know friends family colleagues on how to actually talk about climate change and and weave that into conversations and just any strategy or examples tips that you have for folks yeah i mean i think i've covered it but i can i've covered some of it but i can like synthesize it a little bit um uh i would say three things that you think about when you're when you're talking about the issue um one and i just talked about this is like talk to the people you know influence the people that you know um there's this con there's this concept in climate communications called the trusted messenger that people use if you're in the field you would know what this is but it's basically the simple idea that like people um they believe like the people that they know or they trust the people that they know on climate um and so it's it's simple to simplify that it's basically like your friends and family will listen to you more than a stranger will listen to you and you have influence over them so it's like engage your immediate circle and and think about yourself as a communicator and as the having the power and the ability to help shape other people's thoughts and actions because that's a power that you have um the second one is to like is to speak from the heart is to really think about why you care about this this issue you could write a letter and and uh and or not and then but like really really think about like why you care care about this and figure out what that is and then be prepared to like talk about climate change about what you care whatever it is that you care about but talk about it in that language don't be overly complex you don't need to know everything all the like the latest like scientific data you just need to like know enough and you need to be able to like speak from the heart um and i think the third one is to listen and um there's a there's some good resources out there i think that also talk about this importance of listening but um but really listen to what other people care about and then connect this to climate and i would recommend um climate outreach as a good source they have a they have they had a project they had a project on like on like how to talk to your friends and family about climate change and then catherine hey ho has done some really great talk talks on this topic awesome those sound really useful we'll we'll make sure to link uh so folks can find some of that more easily so very last thing is if listeners want to learn more about you or follow your work where should they go and and what can they do aside from writing a letter and everyone should 100 percent go to the yeah and read other people's letters um and and it's deertomorrow.org so you can go to deertomorrow.org you can write your own letter you can find the toolkit and if you wanted to organize and you can also just take some time um and read through what other people are saying or other people are writing about um so there's that and then also um you can follow us on instagram we're at deer tomorrow on instagram um and those are like the best places i think for right now to follow us we're also on on facebook but we're less active on facebook but we're also here tomorrow on facebook um you can check us out there amazing well jill thank you so much for coming on the show it's been an absolute pleasure and i think people are going to have uh a lot of useful takeaways from this combo and some good homework to do yeah thank you so much to both of you um for asking actually really great questions yeah knowing enough about me that like you could like ask a whole range of questions thank you so much for coming on today and answering our questions i really had such a great time speaking with you and hearing your thoughts so thank you so that is the end of our show thank you so much for joining us today if you enjoyed this conversation you may also appreciate signing up for the crowdsourcing sustainability newsletter that i write most weeks this will also give you access to our cs slack community and there's a link to that in the show notes along with several other links we referred to today lastly please do consider giving us a review to help us grow this community and get this information out to more people we would really really appreciate that and i think that is all we've got for you today so thank you again take care and we'll talk to you soon and we'll talk to you soon and we'll talk to you soon and we'll talk to you soon and we'll talk to you soon

Jill's introduction and background
Jill's thoughts on the climate labor movement
Why and how Dear Tomorrow was created
What is Dear Tomorrow? What makes it so powerful?
The real-world ripple effects of Dear Tomorrow