The future of climate change is personal
“It is long past time to wake up. The choices my generation makes now will determine your future.”
-Ryan Swank, submitted for DearTomorrow 2016
DearTomorrow is an online community of people sharing messages to their children, family or future selves about climate change action. Through letters, videos and photos, people share how they think about climate change, why it’s important and the actions that they are willing to take. These personal, hopeful messages are shared publicly on deartomorrow.org, through various media and social media channels, and finally become a part of our long-term archive.
The idea behind DearTomorrow is to help people think about climate change and the future we are creating in a more personal way. Those of us working in the field know that climate change is already happening, but to most people it still feels like a distant issue. By writing a message into the future, we ask people to think of someone they love (or themselves) in the future, looking back on the present. When we imagine how life will be when a child, grandchild, niece or nephew becomes our age, we have a better understanding of the importance of our actions today.
The project began as a single letter written by my co-founder Trisha Shrum to her 10-month old daughter Eleanor. Trisha was completing her doctorate in public policy and had been studying behavioral science and climate change. I was also a new mom at the time and was immediately drawn to the idea. At the time, I had spent the previous 8 years focusing on the labor movement and climate change, building coalitions and leadership education programs. Through this, I had become fascinated with how to best engage people and communities on climate change. After becoming a parent, I felt the urgency and immediacy of taking action on a deeper level.
Our platform allows people not only to reflect about climate change, but also to make a public commitment to take action. These personal stories are then shared with friends, family and the broader community. We currently have over 500 submissions and are looking to grow the project to 10,000 submissions and a reach of 20 million people by the year 2020.
What’s unique about DearTomorrow that it can be used by organizations across social and political boundaries to expand the movement and to help create new narratives. Importantly, the project allows leaders, members and organizations to create, share, and amplify their stories within their own communities. We currently partner with parents-climate groups, faith-based communities, businesses, youth organizations and schools, and we are always looking for new partners who are interested in using DearTomorrow as a motivational, organizing and communications tool.