I grew up in Utah spending every summer wading along the muddy banks of the Colorado River.
As a 3rd generation river runner my family instilled in me a deep love of wildness and its ability to awaken the human spirit. The wildness of the river allowed me to be transparent, honest and fearless. As I entered adolescence I found myself beginning to name an honest part of myself in coming out of the closet and identifying as a queer person. In that outing, I realized that I had overnight moved from a place of privilege to a place of marginalization. That, in itself initiated a long life process of questioning the things I had previously taken as truth, including humanity's relationship to the environment.
As I traveled across the beautiful landscapes of my home state...
I saw more and more oil derricks, fracking rigs and billowing smoke plumes injecting toxic air into my consciousness. I realized that industry and perceived progress was tearing the wildness of my childhood apart and leaving traumatized communities in its wake.
In late 2008 one man showed me there was hope of stopping the industrial bleeding when he bid on parcels of land up for oil and gas development in the sacred red-rock country of my youth. He won those parcels and thus saved the land from future development. In my gut I knew justice was served by an unlikely judge, Tim DeChristopher.
Tim, now a friend and mentor of mine gave me my climate change ‘A-ha' moment; when we follow our moral compass, average citizens do have the ability to create real change. As a modern-day climate folk hero and domestic political prisoner, Tim's journey of pushing a fractured movement towards finding its soul became a journey I identified with, and now embody.
Together, we started Peaceful Uprising, a community that fiercely defended his act of civil disobedience, while beginning to ask the question, “what does Climate Justice really mean?”. Through this process I have come to realize how high the stakes have become for myself and my generation.
There is nothing exactly like the climate movement...
and so my friends and I jumped off a cliff and built our wings on the way down. In this process of falling through air, I have consistently tried to create a space for creative and experimental activism through a process of perpetual questioning. In this quest, I have learned my most meaningful lessons from seeking advice from a diverse mosaic of activists, community organizers, philosophers and, most importantly, those most affected by the environmental and social issues that the climate justice movement seeks to address.
I have traveled the country from inside the money-lined congressional offices in Washington D.C. to the flattened mountains of Appalachia; from the disappearing glaciers in Alaska to the increasingly unpredictable waterways of the Colorado Plateau. My eyes have been held opened to the realities of our changing climate and the trauma inflicted on the communities it affects most acutely. At the same time, I have learned that the power of personal stories of genuine sacrifice have the ability to ignite a movement... and that a little bit of hope goes a long way. I now hope to continue this journey and share it with many more who are looking towards this critical moment in human history with anticipation, trepidation and fearless resolve.