By Bryce Cracknell, ’18

An environmental conference on climate change, held in Lowndes County of all places, brought people from all over the state of Alabama and the country to discuss ways to organize and mobilize a diverse base of people to fight against climate change. One member at the conference said, “Climate change does not discriminate. A storm does not know if you are black, white, straight, gay, Christian, or Muslim.” That’s the way we have to organize, bringing people together of all backgrounds to fight this fight.

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Morning earth honoring session

The conference began early Saturday morning with a prayer-like service over the Earth, led by two members of the Center for Earth Ethics and the Union Theological Seminary. The service was based on a Native American Earth honoring in which we blessed the land and the water for the day’s events. There was no better way to begin the conference. We recognized the Native American tribes that once lived on the land, a group of people that lived in close harmony with the Earth. We left the morning session feeling spiritually connected to Mother Nature and ready to defend her.

Residents of Alabama said this was probably the largest environmental gathering in Alabama ever, especially within Lowndes County and the Black Belt. Lead speakers at the event included, Karenna Gore (Director of the Center for Earth Ethics), Catherine Coleman Flowers (Founder and Director of the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise), and Adam Johnston (Coordinator of the Alabama Rivers Alliance).
The Climate Speakers Network headed the workshop. The main message was one of storytelling. We have not done a good enough job of getting our message across to the majority of people.

Karenna Gore and Catherine Flowers being interviewed by local news

Karenna Gore and Catherine Flowers being interviewed by local news

The overwhelming use of statistics and frightening prophecies has turned many people away from acting on climate change. We need to do a better job by telling stories and connecting with people on a personal, human level to advocate for action on climate change. At the conference we worked on developing our stories using personal narratives of our journey to combating climate change.

This was a fantastic opportunity and simply a great conference. It was a pleasure to meet people from all over the state of Alabama and around the country. I got to learn about the powerful things people are doing for the environment and their communities. It was inspirational and highly motivating to hear people’s stories and learn more how to further advocate and organize communities to make a difference.