Following on from my previous blog post on Overcoming Climate Defeatism, I'm going to share with you some ways I've recently brought climate positivity to my life.
Sharing positive climate news and information is one of the best things we can do for motivating climate action. It tells us it's possible, it inspires us to action, and it gives us an idea of the kinds of things we can do to help.
So, I want to share with you some of the groups, sites, and things I've found or have been doing recently that are really helping me process and move beyond my climate anxiety.
Note: I have not been paid or asked by any of these places or groups to write about them.
As a young adult who is fairly active on social media, one of the most amazing things for me in terms of nurturing my sense of positivity around climate action has been turning my various social feeds into places that inspire and motivate me. I'm very far from having fully achieved this, but one thing that has made a huge impact for me has been the groups I've recently joined.
Now, this isn't going to be relevant for everyone reading this, as groups like this are area or country-specific, but I want to share with you my experience of joining Facebook groups like Tree Planting UK. Whether or not you get involved with projects or interact with the posts, the things I see alone on that group have brought so much positivity to my life. Here are a few of my favourite things the group has shared since I joined:
Successful rewilding and planting projects!
Carrifran Wildwood - Borders Forest Trust
Whitehope Burn, near Selkirk
Visuals like these, that provide a tangible sense of what rewilding and planting projects can achieve, are so important and inspiring. The Tree Planting UK group is full of stories like these, from people planting in their back gardens like us, to people setting up local community projects and buying and rewilding huge swathes of land. The positivity in the group is electrifying, and the photos people share of their projects are thrilling reminders of what's possible.
There are also several brilliant-looking UK-specific projects that have been posted on the group asking people to chip in for the cost of some land in order to either protect it, rewild it, or plant on it. It seems that these projects are often set-up in the face of a threat to that land from detrimental development or logging projects.
This is an online inventory of beautiful examples of ancient trees to visit or learn about in your local area. I had no idea how many there were dotted all around our neighbourhood, and I've resolved to see if I can spot some while out on walks over the next few months.
There was also a post on the Tree Planting UK group with tonnes of personal recommendations for awe-inspiring ancient trees to plan walks around across the country. Groups like these are amazing for reaching out to people, asking advice, getting recommendations, and sharing experiences.
There is an abundance of these kinds of videos and resources on the group, but this is one of my favourites: for learning and teaching about the wonderful living things that are trees:
Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees when you use it. I actually came across this a long time before joining the group, but it's been mentioned on there recently so I thought I would add it here.
Because search engines like Google have completely monopolised SEO, it's harder to find the most relevant search results on Ecosia, but it's really not bad compared to some other search engines, and even searching the word 'google' will plant a tree. Every search makes a difference. You can find out more about how it works here.
The basic premise of Tree App is that you can use it (as an installed app on your phone) to plant one tree every day in an ongoing tree-planting project somewhere around the world. You do this by helping sustainable brands to do market research, viewing their ads and sometimes answering a question. You don't have to buy anything and it won't ever make you, but I've found that as much as I hate product ads and the kind of instant-gratification consumerism they promote, it has created a nice little list for me of sustainable brands to order from should I ever need a particular product that they sell.
Don't have enough money to buy young saplings from nurseries or the Woodland Trust?
Here's a carefully curated database/guide on growing trees from collected seeds. It's called 'Growing Trees' and it's by far the most comprehensive online guide I've seen so far on gathering, extracting, treating, sowing, growing, and planting tree seeds.
Don't have any land to plant on? No problem, you can use the Future Forests Network website to find a tree-planting event to join:
The group are also great at answering any questions you might have about soil typings, mulching, equipment, and anything else you can possibly think of to ask. A lot of these questions are answered from a mix of professional and personal experience, making it a great place to sound out ideas.
Another group I want to briefly highlight is Climate Designers. Through this group, I've found a lot of likeminded people from around the world who I'm currently working with or hope to work with in the future. Climate Designers are a global network of creative professionals taking climate action through their work. They host regular national meetings in various locations across the world, have an international page for connecting with others, and are a fantastic place to build up a network of creative people to start environmental projects with, or to find out about ones you could join.
I've met some wonderful people through this group, and have found new confidence in my ability to set-up projects and actually do something towards mitigating climate change with the creative skillset I have.
Daily Climate is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to driving science into public discussion and policy on environmental health issues, including climate change. Their good news page is full of recent, interesting, and positive climate news!
It's important to acknowledge that the environmental emergency is a global problem, causing strife and horror around the world, but it's also important to know that there are projects and initiatives being started everywhere to help take meaningful climate action and do something about it. By sharing this kind of information we are given cause to hope and can learn from what is being researched, trialled, and done elsewhere.
When lockdown first started, a site called The Isolation Journals exploded online. The basic premise was that you could sign up for journalling prompts, which you would receive in your email inbox, and these prompts would get you started in writing about yourself, your life, and the lockdown experience. Journalling like this can go a huge way to helping you process change, and improve upon your mental health.
The Climate Journal Project is a similar concept, but with a direct focus on climate change and helping people to process and work through their climate anxiety. It's a beautiful idea. In a similar way, I find writing these blogs therapeutic in processing my climate anxiety. It has already helped me in working through the stages from worry to words to action, understanding why I feel immobilised by negative climate news, and what I can do about it. By writing these things down, I find myself committing to goals and ideas, manifesting them into actionable plans.
The climate journal project, from what I know of it, started out as an email-based project but has now also moved into physical form, with prompt journals you can buy and write in.
I am going to take this opportunity to shamelessly self-advertise, and talk about the Predictive Text Poetry Project I started in June 2020.
Right now, in the current pandemic situation, we are using social media on our phones probably a lot more than usual. The constantly updating custom dictionary of your phone's predictive text reflects the conversations you, personally, have been having via your phone and can provide a powerful insight into the collective consciousness of the present moment.
Each week or so, I post a prompt to use as a starting point. I ask people to add to this prompt using their phone's predictive text options, completing a phrase or producing a paragraph of up to 25 words. I then collate all the responses, cutting and rearranging sections, to create a poem for each prompt. These poems are then posted on my website and shared on social media. Though not always directly connected to the environment, I find that many of the poems are concerned with climate change, whether through my own influence as the collator and prompt-setter or through the words I'm given to work with.
Making poetry from the conversations people are having about nature, the environment, and climate change has been - for me - deeply cathartic. Often, I find that the messages that come out of the poems are far more positive than I initially expected, and I hope that the people who contribute take something positive from the experience themselves.
To keep up with the prompts as they're released, you can find me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter: @JKashdanBrown, Instagram: @jesskashdanbrown, or sign up to email notifications on my website: jkashdanbrown.com.
If you have any exciting, positive climate news to share, please get in touch! I'd love to keep a series of blog posts going under the umbrella of 'positive climate news', and it would be amazing to be able to feature and share personal projects from readers of the blog.