REFLECTION: Rachel Myslivy

Resilience: Climate Justice

“Stress has deformed and compressed our planet’s glorious body but what if size and shape can be recovered, nourished into a new flourishing.”

Leah Ongiri, from “A Blessing for Resilience

The climate crisis isn’t happening in a vacuum. With attacks on Black lives, trans kids, and reproductive justice all in the face of increasing fascism and white supremacy, rampant gun violence, and ongoing pandemic, sometimes it feels like tragedy is everywhere all the time.

And yet, so is love. So is courage. So is resilience.

This week’s theme for 30 Days of Love is Resilience, a value I think is strongly held by climate justice activists all over the world.

Several years ago, I attended a conference on Equitable Deep Decarbonization.  The organizers had us break out into groups according to the 4 Rs of Organizing:  Resist, Reform, Recreate, and  Reimagine.  In small groups, we drew pictures reflecting what we thought it meant to embody one of these values in climate justice organizing. Together, we explored how other values would shore up and strengthen these original four.

For much of my career, I’ve worked in Reform and Recreate.  When I’m most enraged, I’m squarely in Resist.   My heart is nourished when I rest and allow myself to Reimagine. All of these lay the foundation for Resilience.

But our vision for climate equity isn’t simply to survive. To realize a world without fossil fuels where clean energy is a human right and all communities thrive, we have a clear call: to follow BIPOC leadership, decarbonize and decolonize our relationships, and engage in transformative action. Climate justice requires us to understand who is most impacted by climate change, how, where, and in what ways, and then to not just orient our solutions to prioritize those issues, but to follow the leadership of frontline communities and to act in solidarity with the communities most impacted.   The many systems of oppression that disproportionately harm marginalized groups are inextricably interlinked, chipping away at our fortitude, faith, and imagination. We see scarcity instead of abundance; we fear failure rather than celebrating resilience.

There’s another way. As Nicole said in her reflection on Healing and Decriminalization last week, “What if our commitment to ‘building a new way’ unequivocally included a practice of solidarity with those who are most at risk, most targeted?”

The strength of “what if” is what helps us continue in this work.

And so, what is our resilient, loving way? It’s Reforming energy policy to ensure that no one’s power is shut off during extreme weather for lack of payment.  It’s Recreating the energy system to reject fossil fuels while rapidly advancing clean energy solutions for all, but first and foremost prioritizing policies that benefit marginalized communities.  It’s Resisting unjust systems that sacrifice communities and destroy Earth.  It also means renewing our spirits and Reimaging a future where all thrive.

It’s resilience that unites rather than divides. And we can do this together, today and always.

Rachel Myslivy

Climate Organizer

Side With Love




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