Anne Therese, what led you to become a climate optimist?
I was what I refer to as an “angry activist” for many years. I felt lost, angry, and frustrated with the world and I hated not knowing what to do about it — or that no one seemed to care enough. I thought that the only way to make a difference was to stay connected to that anger so that I could remember everything that was “wrong”. But the truth was that I kept running myself to the ground and without being able to create any allies around me.
The day I had my “climate optimist awakening”, as I call it, I realized I had to do things differently. I understood that in order to sustain myself in this work and to have any chance of inspiring others, I had to choose a different approach. Since that day, I’ve practiced being a climate optimist and what means to not just choose optimism, but create it. Over the years, I’ve deepened my understanding of what it means to stay vividly aware yet resilient in our efforts to make change!
Climate optimism is understanding that in order to change the world, we must be willing to change ourselves first. And in order to heal the world, we must begin by healing ourselves.
What in particular do you think the world needs to be doing more or less of to address climate change?
I think we need to change the narrative on our climate conversations! I agree that we need to (continue to) bring more awareness to the climate crisis but I also strongly believe that we have to change how we talk about climate change. Fear and anger can be powerful triggers for action but only if we have clear directions of what to do once that fear is enacted! If the path forward is unclear, fear and grief can paralyze us, leading to further denial and inaction.
In order to deal with the climate crisis and co-create a better world, we must expand our hearts and minds and choose something new. We have to find the courage to question everything and believe that a better world is possible. For that, we need creativity, hope, and optimistic hearts!
So instead of always talking about what can happen with we don’t do something, how about we talk about the beautiful and exciting world that is possible if we only find the courage to choose change?
What advice would you give to someone thinking of joining the climate movement?
Do it! Not just because the world needs you, but because it’s an incredible way of life! I’m not just saying that, I mean it!
Choosing to become part of the climate movement is signing up for the greatest (and most exciting?) challenge of our time. And by coming together with others and doing whatever you can to contribute to the climate revolution, you will step out of anxiety and into empowered action.
To be the change you wish to see in the world is a truly rewarding feeling and you’ll start to create optimism on demand - I call it being an Optimist in Action! We have nothing to lose and everything to win so — why wouldn’t you? We need you!
Thank you to model, writer, educator and climate optimist Anne Therese Gennari for this interview! Please follow @annetheresegennari for more climate optimism in your life!