One of the most important aspects of our training as Climate Summer riders has been to become more expressive, to share our stories and our reasons for being devoted to addressing the issues of climate change and human conflict as a result of our consumption of deadly energy. We’ve been taught, at Camp Wilmot, that one of the most important “tools” in reaching out to others and helping them to understand where you’re coming from is to open ourselves up, to share our lives, backgrounds and life-long learning processes. This has been encapsulated in something called a “story of self”.
As the days went by we took turns sharing our stories of self in front of everyone else, typically during mealtime. The benefits of the process of sharing and hearing our stories of self have given us the chance to practice public speaking, to receive feedback, and through sharing our stories we’ve been able to learn about others and ourselves in deep ways. I feel truly blessed to be amongst a crowd of such diverse situational backgrounds (we may not be so ethnically diverse, for better or for worse, but we have lots of different stories).
Many of our stories have involved family challenges: stories of having close relatives die way before we were ready for them, stories involving difficult parents and having to grow up despite them, stories involving our own naiveté while growing up despite the blessing of our parents’ influences on us, the list can go on. Our stories have also involved non-familial aspects of growth: stories of learning that the world actually wasn’t in a state of peace, stories of seeing 15-year-old Buddhist monk boys looking at pictures of girls and learning that we humans are all the same regardless of our social upbringings, stories of being compelled to come to protests and being forced to see the severity of an issue despite not necessarily being ready to, stories of flying to Beijing and not being able to see through the fogs of air pollution and deciding that this is not how life should be, and again the list just goes on.
I’m not sure if I can speak for all of us when I say that an over-arching theme from our life stories has been that while you may grow up seeing a challenge or difficulty and be told and struggle with the idea that you can’t do anything about it, you can and do learn that you are more powerful than others may make you think you are. This realization, that you are powerful, is going to be one of the most valuable tools for the environmental movement, indeed any justice movement, and we can only hope that all humans come to learn this.