As a college student, I am very familiar with the necessity of writing. From class essays to job applications to blogging at Earth to Berkeley, storytelling is integral to my life. Sharing a story on Earth to Berkeley is one of my new favorite parts of my week.
I am not alone in my passion for storytelling on campus. The creativity of UC Berkeley shines through in its dozens of student publications and multimedia projects, each voicing a particular cause or vision. Environmentalism is one such cause.
At UC Berkeley, students can engage in environmental action through research, service, engineering and more. In order for breakthroughs in environmental science or engineering to be heard or opportunities in service to be discovered, the voices of writers and artists bring environmentalism to life.
Earth to Berkeley blogger Elena Hsieh shares her thoughts on why stories in environmentalism matter so much: “Storytelling in environmentalism is especially crucial because ever since the beginning of the Anthropocene, humans have connected with each other via the word of mouth or text. The transfer of stories is integral to the essence of community and the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next. In the context of environmentalism, it is imperative that the messages of climate change are artfully woven together to culminate a cohesive narrative that strikes a chord with both readers who are familiar with and readers who are skeptical about the reality of the climate catastrophe.”
Another Earth to Berkeley blogger, Ashley Carter, describes how stories are part of her environmental experience at Cal: “Stories in environmentalism are important to me because I greatly value the natural world and want to play as much of a part in protecting it as I can. As an Environmental Science major here at Cal, I feel that I am always surrounded by environmental issues/topics so spreading those to a larger population allows me to make a positive impact.”
For me, storytelling has the ability to bring to life numbers and statistics that otherwise don’t resonate as strongly with audiences. For example, when I was researching the decline of kelp forests for my article in Perennial last semester, the reality of the ecosystem became clearer to me once I had discussed it with business owners and researchers in the field.
“I would say that writing for Earth to Berkeley has changed my perspective on how best to engage those in environmental issues. I feel that it is sometimes hard for readers to digest all of the information they take in, in regards to environmental issues, so providing a way to access this in a digestible form has been one of the biggest challenges for me,” says Ashley.
Storytelling has always been much more than words on a page or text on a screen. We tell stories every day through conversations with friends, pictures on our phones and even by our choice of an outfit or accessory. It’s the way we express ourselves in our everyday lives: a SERC laptop sticker, a tote bag made of recycled material and a picture of the sunset taken to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us.
In formal settings of storytelling, I’ve been working to find my writing voice. It’s an ever-changing process and it varies from outlet to outlet. How I speak about the environment differs between an ESPM class essay and an Earth to Berkeley blog.
“I would best describe my writing voice in the Earth to Berkeley blogs as academic at times, but also personable with occasional injections of humor. I am working on composing more light-hearted pieces so that they are more palatable to general readers who may want a break from the rigidity of news articles and scientific reports,” says Elena.
There are many environment-centric stories out there. A great short story collection is “Afterglow: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors. Yale Environment 360″ brings fascinating, intersectional and informative pieces to its audiences on its website. And finally, every person has their own environmental story to share. Whether it’s a photo, a poem or an opinion, storytelling in environmentalism has the power to shape our collective narrative for the better and toward positive and sustainable change.