Mother’s Day is this Sunday. It marks my almost a one-year anniversary of turning in my last graduate school paper and then really turning my attention to develop DearTomorrow. Working on this start-up over this past year, I have had some of the highest and lowest points in my professional career. Moments of extreme doubt have been followed by exciting new opportunities and connections with really amazing people and organizations. Finally, it feels like we are starting to gain some traction. Just this week, we launched our two-month Mother’s and Father’s Day campaign with Moms Clean Air Force and The Solutions Project and I spoke publicly about DearTomorrow for the first time.
As we kicked off our campaign earlier this week, I received several emails from moms who told me that they wanted to write letters for our Mother’s Day campaign, but they were struggling to do so. A common theme emerged that as they sat down to write their letters, they felt paralyzed, unable to get the words out. Tears flowed instead of words. I tried to reassure them by sharing my own story about writing my first letter, by reminding them that they will have multiple times to submit DearTomorrow letters, and by encouraging them to just start their stories. I know that this reaction is an attempt to protect DearTomorrow, to downplay the internal challenge they felt in writing their letters. I worry that if this proves to be too hard of a task that this project may never really get off the ground. But the truth is this: I know deep down it is actually a challenging task to write to your kids about climate change.
As I reflect on these reactions and this challenge, I realize that it should not be a simple task. We are asking people to write letters to their own children about climate change and their actions. We are archiving these letters so that our children and future generations can read these letters when they are grown. If it was an easy task to write a DearTomorrow letter to one’s own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or students, then this would mean that the problem and its solutions are simple and that we know all of the answers.
But, as the single greatest challenge over faced by human civilization, the answers to climate change are not simple. And the writing process reflects this complexity. If we could fix climate change and air pollution by implementing one technology or policy, then maybe a tweet length response or sitting down for 5 minutes to write a letter would suffice.
Climate change is interconnected with everything in our lives — where we live, how our economies work, how we grow our food and access fresh water, how our infrastructure is built, how we travel to work and to see our loved ones, how our homes run, how we put food on the table — everything. This means that the challenge is difficult to fully understand and the solutions needed are perhaps inexhaustible. To deal with this issue requires us to think and talk more about it, to reflect on our own role in this challenge, to dig deeper and make new commitments, to participate in the solutions and in our democracy, to be more creative in our approaches, and to be willing to take risks. To write about climate change to the people who are most important in our lives is a challenge. So it makes sense that this project is hard; it should be.
And so, my belief in this project is about believing in people, having faith that enough people will come together to demand that we transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. It requires a belief that people will show up for the mobilization, that people will make changes in their daily lives to be more responsible with our resources, that people will become more engaged in their communities, that people will support candidates that support renewable energy, that people will make their voices heard, and that some will even risk arrest.
I believe that along the way many people will also share their stories with their children and with us. They will tell us how their lives were impacted by climate change, or how they were part of the solution, or even how for first time they thought differently about climate change and made a commitment to become more engaged. We must hold ourselves accountable by publically sharing these stories with those we hold most dear, the important young people in our lives.
As we launch this campaign, beautiful letters and stories have started to appear in my email and on our site. And, at least for now, I get the privilege of reading and hearing all of these stories. I am inspired by a mom who changed careers to become an environmental organizer after her kids became sick from pollution. I learn from a mom with teenaged children about how she has taught her children about the importance of raising their voice, participating and voting. I’m reminded of my own transformation on climate change after reading a letter from a mom who shares a sense of renewed commitment after the birth of her first child.
And, I know there are so many other stories out there to be shared this Mother’s Day and throughout the month of May — stories of moms who teach their kids to love nature by spending more time outdoors, stories of moms who are talking to their kids about climate change, stories of moms modeling behavior for their kids by making changes in the home and by getting more involved in local, community organizations and the political process, stories of moms dedicating their lives to create a safe and clean future for their children, and more. These stories leave me with a sense of hope and possibility for the future and for DearTomorrow.
With much love,