Morgan Curtis of Climate Journey
1) What inspired Climate Journey and gave you the idea to bike to COP21?
This past winter, I was working at a small high school semester program on the coast of Maine, teaching environmental issues and living in a small cabin in the woods. This gave me the chance to slow down and reflect on the climate movement and my place in it in 2015. With COP21 coming up in December, I knew that the world’s eyes would be turning towards Paris and that this presented a huge opportunity for the climate movement to tell the story of our work and dreams. I was knitting by my woodstove on January 14th, around 6pm, thinking through what skills, resources, and privileges that I have and could put to the service of this mobilization towards the conference. I realized that I was happy to be homeless for six months, wanted to try and talk with as many people as possible, and that what was between me on the coast of Maine and the shores of France lay the Arctic, home to some of the most visible impacts of climate change. “I should walk to Paris!” came to me in the middle of a purl stitch. Walking seemed a little slow–and riding a horse sadly impractical–so I arrived at bicycling as the means of a storytelling journey, one that would allow me to sink into reflecting on my own place in the movement and the meaning of this conference while amplifying the untold stories of our changing climate. I soon realized that finding a visual artist would enrich the narrative and set about finding someone who might be excited to join.
The third day that Garrett and I spent together, we took a hike in the Green Mountains and decided to focus the journey on telling the stories of individuals and communities mobilizing for climate action. We realized that by highlighting those who are taking meaningful action, we could hopefully inspire others to take the next step in their own work for climate justice.
2) What will you do at COP21? How will you bring your experiences to that space?
At COP21, we will both be inside the UN space as youth delegates with SustainUS, a US-based youth organization that has been sending delegates to UN conferences since 2003. We will be working on traditional and social media efforts, amplifying youth stories for the world’s media. One way that we’ll bring our experience to that space is by reconnecting with the many many people whom we have met along our journey that will also be in Paris! We’ll be running a storytelling workshop at the Conference of Youth as well as hosting an exhibition and storytelling event of our own.
Garrett is especially excited to be part of the art mobilization around COP21 and is dreaming of collaging on a much larger scale than he has been able to on his bike…think show-stopping creative banner drops. Another influence of our journey is that we will be buoyed by our now firm belief that our movement has the strength and capacity to resist fossil fuel extraction and build the world we need. Regardless of the outcome at COP21, we have seen and are ready to demonstrate that the power is in the people’s hands.
3) What are some of the common themes that you’ve noticed when talking to people around the world?
We’ve spoken with high schoolers, grandparents, scientists, politicians, social movement researchers, activists, farmers, artists…the list goes on. One theme amongst all is the conviction that a better more climate-stable world is within our grasp. We have also seen that taking action, mobilizing beyond our everyday lives, is a positive and meaningful shift for each individual’s life. We have heard so many stories of how engaging with the movement has been the best decision that they have ever made. When we decide to take action, we take control of our own lives, finding greater meaning and purpose in our days.