The following post is one in a series to recognize Luther's celebration of Climate Justice Week which is scheduled for April 18-24, 2021.
Over the past year, our world has been overwhelmed by the Covid-19 pandemic which caused our lives to grind to a halt and our perceptions of ‘normal’ to become a distant memory. Though they were given far too little attention, issues of social inequity and broad ranging impacts of a changing climate continued to forcefully affect the lives of people around the world. As vaccinations and the onset of spring allow us to feel a sense of hope again, I believe we have a responsibility to illuminate and address issues of social equity and climate change once again.
My coursework at Luther has taught me that climate change is a crisis of disproportionality; nations and people whose ways of life contribute very little to climate change are experiencing some of its worst effects. Traditional homelands and ways of life are threatened by rising seas, extreme temperatures, and intensifying weather patterns. Inequities in access to resources and support further exacerbate the effects of climate change on disadvantaged communities around the world. As I sit alone behind my computer screen, I feel as though nothing I can do will make a difference in the face of these overwhelming issues.
A mentor of mine once taught me that even the most negative of situations can be reframed and reimagined by simply using the word ‘unless’ to open a new range of possibilities. In the face of climate change and social inequity, we can say that our actions won’t make a difference. Unless. Unless we work together with those around us. Unless we educate ourselves and our peers. Unless we lead boldly. Unless we uplift and include all people. Unless we inspire others to take action for climate justice. Unless. The possibilities are endless.
Luther has provided me with a space to lean into the spirit of ‘unless.’ It is a place where I am inspired to engage in an involved community. A place where I am supported and encouraged in the pursuit of my goals and passions. A place where I see tremendous growth and opportunity for the future.
The spirit of ‘unless’ in the face of issues of climate and social justice underlies Luther’s second annual Climate Justice Week, happening April 18-24, 2021. With a unifying theme of ‘Social Equity in Our Changing Climate,’ Climate Justice Week offers an exciting opportunity for the Luther community to embrace the spirit of ‘unless’ by becoming more knowledgeable and engaged in addressing the environmental and social impacts of climate change.
From April 18-24, a series of events sponsored by various student organizations, centers, and departments across campus will be offered to engage and educate the community on issues of social equity in the midst of climate change. There will be opportunities for all members of the Luther community to take part in Climate Justice Week through events including informative discussions, nature walks, guest speakers, sustainability tours, restoration projects, and more! Climate Justice Week events seek to help participants understand the connections between social inequality and climate change, commit to creating positive change, and realize their individual roles and responsibilities in elevating and addressing issues of climate justice.
From my position in Luther’s Environmental Concerns Organization (ECO), I have been deeply moved by the willingness of Luther students to take up the ‘unless’ mentality. Despite the challenges presented by Covid restrictions, our organization has found ways to connect, engage, and inspire the Luther community over the past year. I know that this group is representative of a broader campus community that is willing to engage deeply and purposefully in the issues we face today. I invite you to join me in embracing the opportunities of an ‘unless’ mindset by engaging in Climate Justice Week as the Luther community illuminates and engages in the social and environmental issues that face us today.
You can learn more about Luther’s Climate Justice Week on the Luther website and sign the online Climate Justice Week Pledge here to show your commitment. Please note that masks and appropriate physical distancing will be required at all in-person events.