30 Days of Love: Rachel Myslivy on Re-Imagining Climate Justice

Re-Imagining Climate Justice

a Blessing for Re-Imagining by Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd;
a Multigenerational Body Practice for Climate Justice by Antoinette Scully
a Time for All Ages: “Re-Imagining to Action” by JeKaren Olaoya
a Grounding for Liberating Our Attention by Kristina Church

Rachel Myslivy says:

The North Carolina Climate Justice Collective offered a framework for the 4 Rs of Social Transformation for people working on climate:

Resist: working against the current systems
Reform: working within the current systems
Reimagine: envisioning a just new system
Recreate: creating models for a just new system

Click through this image to see a video on the topic:

We need people learning, acting, reflecting in each of the four areas. One approach is not better than the other; rather, they are complementary and each approach is as important as the other. Take a moment to think about yourself and the way you approach climate justice . . . Are you a Reformer committed to policy change? Do you take to the streets as a Resister? Do you orient to dismantling and creating new systems? Do you light up with the possibilities of Recreating? Once you find your natural inclination to this framework, ask yourself which approach feels the most difficult for you? Which one do you admire the most?

When I first learned about this framework, the first prompt was: “Where are you in your work?” And the second was, “Where are you in your heart?” For me, most of my climate work has been squarely in the reform and recreate with resist sprinkled throughout. In my heart, I reimagine. For me, the magic happens when we are curious, exploring new ways of thinking and being in relationship with each other and the planet. Reimagining encourages us to shake off our can’ts and embrace our coulds. What could the future hold if love was at the center of our selves, of our relationships, of our actions, of our world? What does the idea of “reimagining” climate justice call to mind for you? How does it feel in your body when you think of reimagining the future? When we embrace reimagining, we move past myopic, my-way-or-the-highway thinking and into the space of possibility; shifting from scarcity into abundance.

If we are to realize a world with no fossil fuels, where clean energy is a human right, and all beings thrive, we need new systems, norms, approaches, and ways of being to bring that world into existence. For the Abolitionist Visions of Climate Justice (see video) event in May 2023, we asked now Pres. Sofía Betancourt, Dr. Rashid Shaikh, and Antoinette Scully to draw a picture of the world they want to see. If you imagine the world we want to create, what does it look like? How does it feel? What does not exist in that future world?

Without a clear vision of the world we want, we prioritize short term gains and false solutions; we advance goals disconnected from cultural shifts, we divide our focus, and our movements are out of alignment with justice. If we reimagine a world with justice, with love at the center, we cultivate communities of care where all beings thrive.

Reimagining is not spiritual bypassing. It is not daydreaming with no action. It does not dismiss the harmful systems of oppression or ignore the climate disruption that is breaking our communities and our world. As we work toward a future where all are free, we must dream beyond our current circumstances. Those dreams are the seed of that future, and as we believe, we begin to shift our relationships, our commitments, and our actions to creating that world.

2023 was the hottest year on record, and we broke the record for billion dollar disasters by September. As we experience the climate crisis, we become increasingly distressed at the perilous state of our world. Climate anxiety, eco-anxiety, and climate grief are breaking the hearts of so many. Reimagining the future we want can soothe this anxiety while also helping folks recommit to meaningful action.

How? What are the connections between anxiety and imagining? How can reimagining inform our resistance? Our efforts to reform? What systems do we need to create? As we reimagine together, what new (and ancient) ways of being can we bring to our relationships? To our organizing? To our inner work? How can reimagining nourish our individual and collective spirits for the long haul?

We invite you to explore these questions and more as we reimagine together this 30 Days of Love.

Rachel Myslivy is the climate justice organizer for the UUA’s Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team.