Climate Storytelling, from Inaction to Participation

cut down tree stump

How it started for me
Recently, I attended a workshop on how to engage my community in talking about climate change. One of the main takeaways was using storytelling to soften the typical science forward approach and bring the overwhelming issue of climate change to a local, familiar, and solvable level. Personal stories help people find common ground about the effects of climate change in their neighborhood and discuss solutions. Making climate change relevant to people’s lives will invite them to move from inaction to participation in their community. The workshop helped attendees understand better the science of climate change, taught us how to develop our personal climate stories, and learn ways to tell our stories through media, policy, and community engagement.

One of My Climate Stories: Awareness of Local Impact
In February this year, the city took down the 48” diameter ash tree that had lived in front of our home from the time it was built in 1947. The reason was that Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) had arrived in our neighborhood and the city determined that all ash trees in the area needed to come down to stop EAB from spreading. My family loved that tree, the way light filtered through the full, mature canopy onto our front yard, and how snow artfully highlighted its bark and branches through the winter. The amount of wildlife that called it home over the years was amazing. We were very sad to see it come down but were proud (and a little glad) to see how hard it was for the city crew to take it down. It took almost twice as long as they thought! The result was the same however, the tree is now gone. My wife and I have been watching the spread of EAB in the news for the past few years, so we knew it was likely just a matter of time before it would be infected but hoped otherwise. We knew of the reports saying winters have been trending warmer so more EAB, and other invasive species, were surviving and spreading to new habitats. Climate Change officially hit us that day right in our front yard. Around 30% of the trees on our block were removed.

Pictures of Bill’s personal climate story.

Future Stories
For the last 2-3 years, I’ve been a member of the Environmental Committee at the D10 Community Council (Como Park) in St. Paul. I’ll continue to develop new stories about the place I live and share them both inside and outside of the committee; adding my voice to fellow citizens, city and regional policy discussions and recommendations.

Our Housing Studio story at LHB has been creating high performance, community-focused, housing for many years. I’ll add my stories to the larger narrative already begun to help continue the LHB Housing Climate Story promoting resilient, healthy communities now and for the future.

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