Alexia’s Climate Story

My mother passed away from breast cancer when I was seven. She was in her mid-thirties and there were some speculations made about chemicals from the cornfield behind our house. My mother and father were very close with nature and took my sister and me canoeing and hiking throughout Indiana and beyond when we were babies. My dad taught me about the excitement and curiosity in the natural world through wildflowers, animals in nature, weather, clouds, and the sun. My mother made all of my baby food from the garden. She put fruits and vegetables in the blender and then froze them in ice-cube trays for later, quick use. They started the local Farmers Market in town and I started selling lemonade and bags of lettuce around the age of five, enjoying my younger years next to local farmers and local foods.  My mother worked in the garden, near the cornfield that sprayed various toxic chemicals. As an 8th grader, I wrote a story on this and it was posted in the local paper.FarmerCharlie

The death of my mother was my first encounter with health impacts related to our food system and the systems of our society. Since then, I have continued to be interested in the environment, nature, food, and wellness. Recently, this interest has crossed over into the realms of sustainability, while striving to use my gift as an outdoor educator. Large scale agriculture based on principles from the industrial revolution is affecting the health and wellness of the environment AND the health and wellness of humans. This affects our ability to engage with and within the natural world. The consumerist systems we have put in place to help society, are in fact poisoning it.

I most value being with nature and in the out of doors. I love foraging for wild plants and medicinals, learning about the forgotten food and medicine around us. I love teaching and being in the wilderness. I love watching the joy on someone’s face when they finish portaging their first canoe, when they taste their first wild blueberry, when they see that first glimpse of a caribou around the riverbend. Those are the moments I value that will not happen if the air, land, and waters around us are contaminated.

I find my family in nature. I find myself in nature. In nature, I find answers to my souls deepest questions. I learn about myself, my insecurities, my strength. Taking a holistic approach, connecting with people, speaking with passion from the heart, I will make a change. I will be the change.

A short story

IMG_3817Preface: During our last evening of Institute for Non-formal Climate Change education in Sandstone, Mn we were led on a short-story writing session. Our facilitator gave us a prompt then 5-10 minutes to write, share within our circle, then another prompt. It reminded me of a conscious writing exercise in my college Creative Writing class. However, this writing session had a specific focus, My Climate Story. This is the result of my mine.

Where does my motivation come from?

As a child looking through National Geographic and feeling a sense of wonder; wonder where that is, how they live, if the photographer was injured taking the photos, if I will be able to see that place in it’s natural beauty and integrity…fast forward thirteen years. Bicycling from from Everett, Washington to Key West, Florida through thirteen states, over 5800 miles was my opportunity to open myself to challenge, adventure and an ultimate haptic experience. On my saddle over steep mountain passes, through the heat of high plains, the constant rotation of my legs, feet, pedals, cranks, the sounds of the proximate and distal environment.

How has or will climate change affect me most?

My view from the saddle spans 160° for miles. I see in the distance trees and clear-cuts, mountains and open mines. As I focus on the road between droplets of sweat from my brow, the road oasis and shining objects, which, with a few more turns of my cranks, shards of glass and cans appear. VROOOOM, HONK, a gust of wind pushes my back as an auto avoids me, and changing lanes. The invisible stink of their exhaust chokes me as I barely catch my breath. I feel confused and angered as I’m on my bike with a minimal footprint enjoying my time, the environment…what’s their hurry?…in their mobile coffin?

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A sampling of photos from Team Members, Alvin and Alexia. These photos were taken within the last two years and represent farming, sustainability, bicycle touring, and community. The Western Hemisphere Project was built on excitement and passion from experiences like these. Alvin and Alexia will continue to build upon this knowledge and hope to grow your interest in these issues as well.