Reports on the state of the planet’s future can sound like something from dystopian science fiction.
Unquestionably, distress signals are flashing throughout nature and society, from drought, sea level rise, and unrelenting increases in temperatures to expanded refugee crisis, conflict, and dislocation.
–Paul Hawkin in Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, page xi
But this is not the end of the story, or it doesn’t have to be. What if climate change, while being a serious threat, was also an invitation? Or as Paul Hawkin describes it “a pathway that awakens creativity, compassion, and genius.” Small personal shifts–like Tony Wolk bicycling to work or the evening walks that Ray Bradbury’s pedestrian takes–can make a difference.
Take the First Step
This spring Ecochallenge and the Northwest Earth Institute sponsored a challenge to engage people’s ingenuity and creativity as they respond to climate change. The spring challenge is over, but you can still access a wealth of information and encouragement on their site (and consider joining their next challenge this fall). You can build community as you learn innovative ways to shift your transportation and food choices (believe it or not, food choices are the 2nd most powerful opportunity for impact, of the top 100 solutions!).
Change always puts us closer to our learning edge, and that can sometimes be uncomfortable. These shifts toward a sustainable future highlight what Forrest Gander calls, “the economy of interrelationship between human and non-human realms.”
Interrelationship is what poetry is made of. Metaphors work by connecting things that seem at face value to not be connected. Haiku, which relies on the simple image rather than metaphor, deeply connects human observation and feeling to the rest of the natural world, often drawing our attention to a surprising interrelationship.
Haiku “Eco” Poems
With my father
I would look out at dawn
over green fields.
a line borrowed
from another poet
look at the red throat
of the hummingbird—then tell
your story again
A deep gorge…
some of the silence
This week try writing about the ways the world, either animate or inanimate, entwines with what is most human and how that changes us. This might be a poem that relies on metaphor, a haiku, or even a paragraph or two of a longer story. Consider adding a sci-fi twist, regardless of the form you choose.
Recently, we wrote about setting and how poems can transport us. Rick Maxon shared two extended pieces that embodied a sense of place. Let’s ride the “promise / of a road” to “Big Sur.”