Climate change is an epidemic that threatens the abundance of life that the earth provides. With such a large, seemingly intangible issue, sometimes it’s hard to visualize the solutions beyond shorter showers and Nalgene bottles. It’s difficult to know where to start.
That’s exactly the limiting ideology that Connor DeVane courageously set out to destroy last month when he started a 3,000 mile hike along the Continental Divide. His mission: to unearth the issues regarding climate change by harvesting and sharing stories along his journey from Canada to Mexico. Ultimately he wants to create a new kind of climate conscious community and give a voice to a global issue that doesn’t typically wear a face.
You don’t have to be hiking across the country to get involved. We can all be a part of this community and solution by following his journey or by visiting his step-by-step guide that makes it easy to find the right resources in order to help. We caught up with Connor while he was on the road to see if he had some advice for our readers. Here were his seven tips to a more meaningful existence:
1 | Talk About Climate Change– Talk about it with your friends, your parents, your neighbors, the mail carrier, your cat, that friend on Facebook you haven’t seen in years, your crazy uncle, and people with different ideologies than you. Talk about the problems, but most importantly, talk about the solutions. You’ll find that you have far more in common with any given person than you have in contrast.
2 | Find Your Niche– There are countless organizations tailored to all types of climate action. If you don’t find a group that strikes your fancy, start something of your own like an advocacy group, or even an art project or book club focused on climate change. The takeaway is that while energy and water saving habits are important (and don’t get me wrong, they absolutely are), individual lifestyle changes alone are just the tip of the iceberg. We have to start taking action on a bigger scale by changing the conversation around climate to one about how we can work together. We need to demand climate action from our political leadership– it’s up to us to decide what that looks like.
3 | Take Time to Enjoy the Things We’re Fighting For– Go see our national parks, and explore our wilderness! More importantly get out in your backyard or head to the park down the road. Learn the native plants. Start a garden. Share these things with the people in your life. Hope is paramount to progress, and we’re lost without community and support systems. We’re fighting for a world worth living in, right? Part of that effort is reminding ourselves what that means.
4 | Don’t Sell Yourself Short– I know an 8-year-old who is about to become the youngest Triple Crown Hiker in history. This means he’ll have hiked the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail before the age of nine. I know a 70-year-old woman who logs 30 mile days of hiking on the regular. It sounds cliché, but you can accomplish pretty much anything if you have faith in yourself. The same applies to climate initiatives. Climate change is a huge issue and it can be scary for sure, but apathy is a self-fulfilling prophecy and as soon as you decide that you have no power to effect change, you truly have none.
5 | Get Out of Your Comfort Zone– Not being involved with climate change feels easier because it’s familiar. But the greatest things happen when you push your boundaries. I didn’t think I could hike across the country, but then I just went for it. You’ll never know what you’re truly capable of until you try. You might fail, but that’s okay because what you learn in the process is even more important.
6 | Go with Your Gut– If you have an inkling to get involved, follow it. There are so many social norms that subconsciously rule our daily lives that sometimes it’s hard to hear your own voice. When you do hear it speaking, don’t just ignore it. There’s probably a reason it’s talking to you, and it could be your ticket down a path you least expected.
7 | Be Present– Modern society is so over-stimulating it’s amazing that we remember to wear pants. We’re constantly pressured to be hyper-conscious of appearance and status, to live in the future and simultaneously obsess over the past. Take time for yourself everyday, shut off your electronics, sit somewhere you can’t see or hear any advertisements and just breathe. Think about the people and experiences that truly make you happy. The more you remind yourself what that means to you, the easier it’ll be to structure your life in a way that emphasizes happiness.