Story: The Most Powerful Renewable Energy

by Brooke Larsen

Storytelling is easier at Kane Ranch—an old homestead nestled in the vast House Rock Valley on the North Rim. The Vermilion Cliffs urge you to speak from the heart, welcome vulnerability, and respect deep time. At the Uplift planning retreat this past November, oil lamps flickered as the Uplift leadership team shared the origins of their love for the Colorado Plateau and an unyielding passion to protect their home.  Story was the focus: we grew closer by sharing our  story of self, the story of us and the story of now.

Recognizing the importance of storytelling for the climate justice movement, Uplift seeks to share climate stories from young people across the Colorado Plateau. In preparation for the Uplift Climate Conference this August in Durango, Colorado, a group of young organizers from Uplift will be traveling from April 29-May 16 holding community conversations across the Colorado Plateau. We want to learn, what does this region mean to you? What agitates you to act on climate?  What are your hopes? What do you love too much to lose?

My climate story is one of self-preservation. My family has called the Colorado Plateau home for six generations. The forests of the Wasatch and the red rock of Southern Utah are my spiritual refuge and teacher of humility. What do I love too much to lose? Burnt orange sand. Rivers that run red. Coyote tracks. Sticky sandstone beneath my soles. Slot canyons with unknown stories. Forgiving aspens. Pink skies at dawn and dusk. Solitude. Vulnerability. Wildness. My self.

A dear friend once told me he could see it in my eyes—they come alive in the red rock wilderness. As the lands and people around me grow increasingly tamed, I fear I will lose my own wild, human spirit. Every new cut, spill, scathe on the red rock leaves a scar on my heart. Every year we tolerate air quality along the Wasatch Front that puts children and the elderly in the hospital and blurs the view of the peaks that ground us in place, I feel trapped in a much more deadly smog—the smog of apathy, greed and injustice.

However, story has power to clear the smog. Our personal stories motivate us, but our shared story sustains us. Climate justice is deeply personal yet so universal—we all have a climate story even if we haven’t articulated it yet. In Uplift, young people find a community that dares to speak from the heart. We howl. We howl with the understanding that we are the daughters and sons of the Coyote Clan.

The organizers of Uplift feel a fierce sense of urgency. As Uplift Coordinator Claire Martini says, “Climate change is the biggest threat to a livable future in the region.” We seek to create a united climate action community across the Colorado Plateau that demands youth voices be heard. We see story sharing as a critical first step. Because it is story that unites us. It is story that makes us a movement, a community, a force.

To share your climate story and connect with other young desert dwellers, find a climate conversation near you. For more information, email uplift@grandcanyontrust.org or follow us on Facebook for important updates!