August 4th is Not a Test

Written by Alivia Ashenfarb, New Media Coordinator, Team RICONN

Something in the air has changed. And I’m not talking about the pollution. Or my team’s dirty laundry. No, I’m talking about the wave, the flow of excitement and purpose that has engulfed my team during the past two weeks. My team has been coasting, riding a wave, a wave of pre-success, and we’re headed to the shore. Of course Team RICONN has experienced excitement and purpose and success before, but these feelings are now more intense, more pressing. These past two weeks are like finals week or the week before finals when all of a sudden it hits you that what you’ve been learning, studying, practicing all year is real and that it has a test waiting for you at the end.

If Climate Summer were a class, August 4th would be the most obvious final exam. It’s a day we’ve envisioned since training in Camp Wilmot, a day we’ve been working towards since we can remember. It’s one day, one project, one Day of Action where we hope to showcase all that we’ve learned and believe in and to gather people near and far to hear and somehow reciprocate our call. Our teammates on our individual teams and throughout Climate Summer, our program directors and mentors, the communities we’ve visited, the friends we’ve made, our friends and family back at home, and ourselves will judge our “success” on August 4th. The media will decide whether we deserve its attention or not. History will show how monumental our Day of Action in five different states will be.

But the beauty of a wave, the beauty of Climate Summer is its many crests, its changing frequencies, its continuing motion. Climate Summer could potentially be an internship where students earn college credit. It’s definitely something one could write on his or her resume. But it could never be a class with a single project, a single test that awaits each of its participants on August 4th. There are no finals in Climate Summer.  (It only feels that way for the finals-minded student like myself!) August 4th is not a test. 

August 4th is a day that our teams and program directors have given us for direction.

And the direction it has given us! We have planned our routes, our events, our presentations, and our conversations around “August 4th.” For Climate Summer as a program, August 4th is a tangible marker that it can use to refer to now and in years to come. August 4th could be a turning point for Climate Summer, but because Climate Summer is a wave, because it is a movement, because it isn’t a class with a final at the end, it can’t be the only turning point.

We can use August 4th to evaluate ourselves as Climate Summer teams, as individuals, as a program, as different communities, as a movement. We can see how we fit into the environmental and social justice movements at large. We can decide which steps to take to keep moving, to keep shaping the movement, to keep spreading the message, and strengthening and connecting communities. But August 4th won’t be the end of Climate Summer for us or for any of the people and organizations we have met along the way. We not only have Facebook, Twitter, our new foursquare, and this blog to record our movement-building this past summer. We also have the conversations, the handshakes, the words, and the message that we’ve learned and shared that will forever be a part of the movement we’ve helped build against deadly energy and for a better future. These will forever be a part of the wave we’ve been riding this past summer. And I think it’s that feeling of soon we will decide which way to ride the wave next, after August 4th, that has been exciting and driving my team these past two weeks. I can’t wait!

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