A post by Amy Mellows
The UK has experienced more extreme weather this week. As I write this, my local borough in East London has experienced a tornado and severe flooding, and Torbay is emerging from the first ever Devon & Cornwall-wide extreme heat warning of the past week. I’ve just turned 22 and I am terrified for our future, I am experiencing climate grief and exhaustion from feeling like my voice isn’t heard as I protest for climate justice. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. Young people, young adults and activists everywhere are understanding and fighting against climate change across the globe. This is our future, this is your future, and your children’s and grandchildren’s lives. We want change. Can you blame us?
“Fighting against climate change is an important issue to me, as although it affects us all, it is often the most vulnerable that are hurt by it – e.g the 151 confirmed dead due to this year’s Texas winter storms. Therefore I feel a sense of responsibility to do my part to help those who are made most vulnerable by climate change. Using your voice and sharing your beliefs is crucial for young people, because even if a protest is ‘unsuccessful’, it teaches other youth around us that we are important and deserve to be heard. Also, having a common goal with like-minded people is a great way to find community, and form relationships with interesting and diverse groups of people.” – Tilly, Doorstep Youth Theatre
“The science is clear: the world is heating and the breakdown of our environment has begun. Even now, warmer temperatures are wreaking havoc, causing an increase in extreme weather, floods, storms and droughts – along with rising sea levels, heat stress in our oceans and degradation of our soils. Extreme weather events are having devastating impacts on agriculture and destroying homes, costing taxpayers billions of dollars and leaving millions of people in need of humanitarian aid.” – Extinction Rebellion
I’m currently running our #CleanUpYourDoorstep campaign, that encourages local people to pick up some litter on their streets and in their local spaces. If everyone took just 15 minutes to do this, think of the difference it could make? Doorstep is not an environmental specialist organisation – we’re an arts organisation that is passionate about environmental advocacy. We are here to collaborate with, support and tell others about the brilliant work you are already doing for Torbay’s environment. However, amplifying the voices of local young people on issues such the climate and ecological breakdown of our planet and helping them to develop the artistic tools to fight for the change they want to see, is at the heart of our work. As I reflect on our Protest & Rebellion project (including Doorstep Youth Theatre’s concept album about climate change & protest) and look forward to the exciting environmental projects we have planned with the young people at Doorstep, I know there is hope. However, no matter how empowered and hungry for positive change we are as young people, our creative & powerful chants for legislative change on a governmental level are being ignored by politicians and misrepresented by the media. Some may call us ‘snowflakes’ and ‘crusties’, or criticize and tone-police us for being too passionate, angry and ‘involved in politics’. If you aren’t angry, you aren’t paying close enough attention, and enough snowflakes coming together can start an avalanche.
“When speaking with my friends and family about the issues that affect me I feel heard, but often trying to raise awareness to something outside of those close to me feels like an uphill battle.” – Tilly, Doorstep Youth Theatre
In my personal opinion, climate change is something that everyone should care about and be ready and willing to fight against with everything they can […] it’s not an exaggeration to say that the Earth’s future depends on it, so why wouldn’t we fight it?” – Wes, Doorstep Youth Theatre.
“We have all the resources we need to deal with this. There is nothing magical about reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We just don’t have the political or economic will to do this.”- Professor Stephan Harrison, Professor of Climate and Environmental Change, University of Exeter
“Unless big corporations take responsibility for their overwhelming contribution to climate change, we will continue to lose time in the race against it. It is not enough to tell the nation to go vegan and bike to work and then not bat an eye when a billionaire builds a rocket for his own ego” – Tilly, Doorstep Youth Theatre
” I do feel that the voices of young people aren’t as listened to or valued as they could be, and I often think we’re treated with a “what do they know?” attitude […] I do think that protest and having [our] voices heard is very important, as we can give different and potentially more accurate information and more relatable opinions about the suitable topics that do or will affect us”- Wes, Doorstep Youth Theatre.
As young people, we often find our information and sense of community on social media. We use our small but powerful platforms to encourage change, inform ourselves and others and find those who believe in our causes as much as we do. Without this sense of community and access to information, hearing comments such as – ‘why are you so angry?’, ‘how dare you say that I need to educate myself’, ‘no-one will hire you if you go around calling people out and shouting about your political beliefs’ and ‘well there’s nothing we can do’- would crush me (even more than they already do). #CleanUpYourDoorstep litter isn’t the only thing we have to pick up- how about the broken pieces left behind by generations of leaders and elite that have destroyed our planet- and still are? As young people we make and share witty political memes, call out, mock and criticize politicians, start campaigns and find our shared, rebellious voice in a society that is constantly tearing us down. From the #TrashTag movement, to finding ethical/sustainable slow fashion, from the incredible youth communities created by XR and Thunberg’s Fridays For Future, to young influencers and activists using their Instagram & TikTok platforms to spread awareness, the list is endless.
“Litter picking helps protect our planet, if everyone helped to pick up rubbish then our world would be better.” – Leo (aged 4), Torbay
“Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming whether you like it or not.”- Greta Thunberg
“Here we dreamed of a better world. Here we imagined the things that might’ve been […] the protests that could’ve happened, but didn’t. What are you waiting for? We give ourselves permission […] We light the way for each other. We fight for our imagined granddaughters, for their right to breathe clean air and see snow, for their right to hug, for their right to sing.” – Written by Doorstep Youth theatre, Track 10 of History Repeats- The Concept Album
How can we take action?
At Doorstep, our young people have devised performance protests, created podcasts, music, art and theatre to amplify their social and political voices in creative ways. We all have the power to come together and demand change, and to every young person out there, your voice matters and deserves to be heard. The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow this year, a chance for our governments and politicians to prove they are listening to the science, to prove they are listening to us. How do our local MP’s plan to represent our concerns, fears and hopes to the government? At times like this, it’s important to think global, but act local. As part of our #CleanUpYourDoorstep campaign, I encourage you to write to your local MP (use this site to find yours). Here (and at the bottom of this post) is a link to an email template (inspired by a letter sent to the MP for Totnes by friend of Doorstep – @davidjubb) that you can use. Using this as a starting point, add your own thoughts feelings and send an email to your MP! Why not also find a local/online environmental group to campain with (maybe take a look at XR, Fridays For Future, Fire Drill Fridays, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace) ?
Small actions can make a big difference, and together, we are demanding and making a change. Will you join us?
Use our #CleanUpYourDoorstep hashtag on Instagram, Twitter (@doorstep_arts) or Facebook (@doorsteparts) and tag us in your posts! Why not share a picture of your competition entry, a photo from a protest or litter pick you have been to, or a before/after picture of the litter you managed to collect on your street?