Updated: Mar 31, 2020
Mycelium Youth Network emerged out of deep hope and crippling anxiety out of where we were in this particular moment in the world. In my head, I keep hearing the quote, “My great-grandchildren ask me in a dream, what did you do when the world was unraveling?” This, I will respond. This. This wretched hard to beat hope, the love of humanity which many doesn’t live up to its full name. Another quote,
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
My anxiety pumps in and out of me. Sometimes, it feels like I am only made of mad hope, anxious dreams, and fierce passion. All tightly contained by a form that runs towards extremes. The fires were burning, the waters were rising. And us? What are we to do? What are we to do?
At the time, a hurricane had devastated Puerto Rico, multiple earthquakes had hit up and down Mexico, and the air was so toxic in Northern California that it snuck through the cracks and crevices and into closed door houses. I remember nursing my 14-month-old daughter, wondering about the world that she would inherit, the world that I was passing on to her. I kept remembering the quote from Chief Seaettle, “ We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” What was this world that I was leaving from them? Working for a social justice school, where curriculum should be directly linked to the daily lives of our students and the communities we serve, I noticed that even we hit the mark, there was so much that we weren’t preparing our students for – namely how to live in a climate related world. No amount of activism, of organizing will erase the fact that climate change is real. There are processes in places that we cannot change. Given this reality, we need to prepare our youth to live in the newest incarnation of the world. No amount of positive thinking would change that reality. While we still need to fight to lessen the impact of climate change, it’s reality is no longer a hypothetical but a reality.
At my job, I had dropped to 80% to finish my doctorate in theology. I had received multiple emails from my program, ‘early registration now open,’ then ‘registration now open’, to ‘late registration now open’ and finally an email from the people at registration asking me why I hadn’t signed up for any classes. I realized that my pragmatic anxiety had prevented me from signing up for classes. Because if I signed up, it would mean that I was assuming a ‘business as usual’ model’ where the world would be the same in twenty or thirty years as it was today. And I firmly didn’t believe that. And that reality, for good or bad, is no longer a possibility. So, I quit my doctorate program. I wrote a letter of apology to my advisor and the teachers who had nurtured my intellectual spirit. It was the first time I had thought of leaving my PhD program without a feeling of loss.
At first, I was at a bit of a loss in terms of what I should during the 20% of the time that I was calling my own. I could relax, take a day to rest, restore, heal that which is always inevitably damaged at organizations posing as social justice organizations. Yet, no amount of inner peace would change the world that our children are inheriting. The week before my supposed break, I took a long shower, marveling at the wonder of having clean water, wondering when that would no longer be an option. Would no longer be a possibility for our children. And I decided that I would be part of the change. I needed to shift my world, my work to teaching our students how to survive in the world in which they are inheriting. More than that, they need to learn how to thrive.
Mycelium Youth Network is my answer to the question, ‘how will our young people face climate change with open eyes’. I, and others, will help them create a toolkit that they can use to make the necessary changes in their smaller communities. Join us in our movement to prepare our students for the world they will inherit.