Michele Bigley

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Award-winning travel and environment writer Michele Bigley's words have been featured in the New York Times, AFAR, Outside, Los Angeles Times, CNN and many more. She is currently writing a book about taking her sons to meet the change-makers working to protect the planet from, and prepare communities for, our climate crisis. She details their journeys, highlighting easy climate solutions for parents in her newsletter EIGHT FEET ON THE GROUND [https:/https://michelebigley.substack.com/}

Follow Michele's adventures https://www.instagram.com/michelebigley/?hl=en and https://twitter.com/michelebigley

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These Earth Helpers are saving their country one tree at a time

We plant fruit trees for everyone to eat when they are hungry, traditional medicinal trees that people use to fight Coronavirus, and we plant endangered native trees too,” Mr. Ebo’o explained on a Zoom call last week. For my friend, writer Tomiko Breland’s birthday this year, she teamed up with a local conservation agency in Monterey County, California to plant trees with her friends and family. Tree Planted, our community stepped up to plant thousands of trees in our home state of California. You can plant a native tree, or a fruit tree in your garden, or donate cash to an organization that’s already planting trees around the world.

In Panama kids are schooling their parents

Along the way, they sang, wide smiles stretched across their faces as if there was great joy in marching down that dirt road, their parents trailing behind them, these young people shouldering the burden of creating a better world. I asked the Panamanian kids’ art teacher Michele Miller, owner of La Buena Vida Hotel in town, what advice she had for parents and teachers wanting to spark interest in the kids. She took me into the classroom and showed me the art they’d made from non-recyclable materials, the same type of bottles we’d seen littering that beach, made into beautiful representations of their environment. Have them decide what’s important for their beach like the kids in Panama and invite them to do something, or better yet, show them people who are doing something and invite them to get involved.

To fix our climate emergency, listen to the kids

Just like the outskirts of every metropolis we’d encountered in Latin America, our arrival in Barranquilla, one of the largest cities on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, was announced by the shantytown. Oh sure, I constantly shoved climate news down their throats—peppering our dinner conversations with facts about oil industry’s crimes, our melting glaciers, wildfires; I spiced our annual vacation with trips to see places that might not exist in their lifetimes, all the while lecturing them on what we can do to fix this mess. Forced the kids to learn about youth climate leaders like Alexandra Villasenor and Felix Finkbeiner leading climate marches and planting trees. In this way, I started actually seeing them: how they delighted in the shade; how Nikko quieted when the trickle of the stream could be heard; how Kai would pause for a moment and take in the dappled light through the redwoods; how excited they grew over a banana slug, a crawfish, a hawk soaring over us, a nest, sap coming out of a cut down redwood.

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Between my kids complaining about Zoom school and not seeing their friends, trying to get breakfast, lunch and dinner prepped before I have to log into work, the fear of losing my job (which gives my whole family health insurance), the tension of our American political system, the heat, the fires, the hurricanes, most days, I just want to dive back under the covers and give up. I’m not talking about massive action, like creating this new super enzyme that can eat the Earth’s plastic, nor getting 300,000 people to protest in New York City, nor even writing 500 postcards to voters We’ve got Project Drawdown creating solutions to combat the real culprits of this climate crisis; and how much I admire the innovators dreaming up solutions over at TED Countdown. Because we’re busy and exhausted, we need to trust that the smartest minds on the planet are doing amazing work to ensure our kids have a habitable planet.

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