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Local View: Even with climate crisis worsening, hope can be found

From the column: "You'll find hope if you participate in such groups as Duluth For Clean Water, Minnesota Interfaith Power And Light, the Sierra Club, the Duluth Climate And Energy Network, and Citizens Climate Lobby."

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While reading about the triple-digit temperatures in western Europe and fires in London, there are moments when I wonder if we will figure it out, much less make it out alive. I wonder if our anointed leaders have underestimated the severity of climate change and its destructive impact upon the environment and the lives of millions. I wonder how we can remain hopeful at such a critical time on this planet.

In his book, "Dangerous Years: Climate Change, the Long Emergency, and the Way Forward," David W. Orr expressed his concern about the long road ahead of us as we try to figure out how to respond to the climate crisis. He reminds us we've never faced such a daunting and dangerous challenge on a global level.

"As the velocity of change increases … we have less and less time to reflect and mull things over. Without anyone intending it, we have created an increasingly fragile house of cards that hangs by the slenderest of ecological, energetic, social, and economic threads," Orr wrote.

With more than 46 million people under heat advisories in the U.S., we're realizing that the climate is changing faster and with greater impacts than we expected. These events are more severe and lethal than we planned for. And it's evident that we haven't adequately prepared for the overwhelming consequences of hotter temperatures, out-of-control wildfires, and long droughts.

Wendell Berry, in his essay, "Conservation And Local Economy," talked about the challenges we're facing in our response to the numerous changes to our environment and our way of life. Berry proclaimed that our hope for the future is to change the way we think and act. And it is vital that we are "searching always for the authentic underpinnings of hope."

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Where do we find these signs of hope? Who out there is stepping forward and showing us how to think and act differently? How can we embrace and empower ourselves to face this climate emergency?

According to Orr, "Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up as something we do in daily practice, not just something that we wish for or talk about. It is a discipline requiring skill, competence, steadiness, and courage. It is practical. It bonds us to each other and to real places, animals, trees, waters, and landscapes. The hopeful are patient, not passive. They are creators of the gyros of positive change that could, in time, redeem the human prospect. They are people who will know how to connect us to better possibilities waiting to be born."

You'll find hope if you participate in such groups as Duluth For Clean Water, Minnesota Interfaith Power And Light, the Sierra Club, the Duluth Climate And Energy Network, and Citizens Climate Lobby.

You'll find hope if you read books like "Being The Change" by Peter Kalmus; "Hope Beneath Our Feet," edited by Martin Keogh; "Active Hope" by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone; and "The Future We Choose" by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac.

You'll find hope if you reach out and volunteer for a local environmental-justice project or participate in a climate-education program.

These days, I see and experience hope watching three adjoining houses on Jefferson Street rewild their front yards. I see and experience hope meeting with the Earth Harmony book club on the second Tuesday of each month at At Sara's Table. I see and experience hope hearing from people who declare that they're walking and biking around town instead of getting in their cars.

Hope is a collaboration between the head, heart, and hands. It is manifested when we choose to act with courage, compassion, and creativity in any given moment. And, at this moment, our city needs to act with a greater sense of urgency and depth.

Every day, we need to search for and support the authentic underpinnings of hope. And, at the same time, we must find it within ourselves to become the human infrastructure that digs in and lays the foundation for a healthier and more equitable city for everyone.

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Hope is when you look around the space where you're standing and ask yourself: What can I do in my personal life, in my neighborhood, or in my city to make Duluth more climate resilient and sustainable? The climate emergency in front of us is forcing us to ask that question now.

Tone Lanzillo is a member of the Loaves and Fishes Community in Duluth, is a live-in volunteer at the Dorothy Day House, is an active part of the Duluth/365 initiative on climate, and is a regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page.

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Tone Lanzillo

Related Topics: LOCAL VIEWCLIMATE CHANGE
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