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The Age of Activism

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I’ve never been a good activist. That doesn’t mean I haven’t tried — I attended Amnesty International conferences in high school, wrote petitions and letters, signed petitions and letters, and held up signs for a dozen different causes. Then I graduated and attended Sierra Nevada College in North Lake Tahoe, a big blue paradise where it seemed everyone was far too busy engaging in environmental activism to worry about humanitarianism.

This was, of course, shortsightedness on my part. Hundreds of conversations I’ve had with community members around Truckee/Tahoe as a result of my job here at Moonshine Ink have showed me otherwise, but at the time I was overwhelmed. I’d just found out the world was far more out of whack than I ever imagined, and began to drown under the weight of its many plights. Prisoners of conscience, racial inequality, genocide, and poverty waged a tug-of-war on my conscience, weighted by concerns for climate change, habitat destruction, and environmental pollution as well.

Sometimes it seems most of my generation is struggling with the same sense of scattered activism as I. — a website that describes its purpose as a platform for starting campaigns, mobilizing supporters, and working with decision makers to drive solutions — currently has over 255 million users and 30,000 new campaigns are launched every month. How does one keep up? In the last 10 years it seems I’ve watched dozens of national movements come and go with little recognizable change: Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo. It’s myopic to believe the world will change overnight, but too many pivotal movements are being left in the rearview mirror of the news cycle before they gain enough momentum to make a difference.

While compiling this climate change edition, I was struck by a different feeling. This paper is brimming with directed resolve, and you can see it at every level. Compared to other movements that burn bright and gradually fade away, I’ve only seen the movement to protect our environment grow in scope and support. It’s not just the environmental activists who are playing a role in this climate story, it’s the scientists working tirelessly to provide us with meaningful data (here), the firefighters risking their lives while adapting to threats from our changing forests (here), the climate lobbyists knocking down doors in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. (here), and the average joes — maybe you — who don’t consider themselves activists per se, but are joining the fight, doing their small part every day to mitigate their carbon footprint because, finally, this seems to be a cause that warrants the mentality “we’re all in this together.”

I’m not an activist, I’m a journalist. I spend my days writing stories, and more often than not, they have more to do with what’s wrong with the world than what’s right with it. But after looking over this edition I have some hope — because in these pages I see a contingency of men and women who are in this for the long haul and that’s what this fight is going to take.

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March 14, 2019