TCI Voices: What does Climate Hope mean to you?
By Julia Anders
Hi there! I’m Julia Anders and I currently participate in TCI’s Ambassador Program as an Adult Ally, after being a TCI team member for several years! A big motivator for why I began working with TCI was that I wanted to be an active part of climate solutions, but I didn’t have a climate education background and wasn’t sure if or how I could make a difference. Despite this, I was hopeful that I had skills that could be useful in empowering youth to climate action. I’m so glad I took that leap and reached out! Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to contribute to real, tangible climate solutions, and I absolutely love being an active changemaker in my community. Hope is what motivated me to take that first step into the climate space, and TCI has shown me that, despite the challenges around me, I can choose to hope, and that choice is powerful.
When I talk about my climate hope and the individual actions I take, I’m always amazed at how quickly and eagerly others share what they’re doing to address their own climate concerns. I’ve learned that sharing my hope motivates those around me to join me, leading to collective action. Hope inspires more hope, and is what keeps us fighting for the change we believe in and know is possible.
I find hope in knowing that I don’t have to be a climate scientist or a member of Congress to create real change. The hope within me is powerful enough to inspire me to create real impacts in my community. And when I need help developing a new skill or finding an opportunity to connect, TCI provides the resources I need and connects me with climate leaders who can amplify the work I’m doing.
“Hope is that beacon of light we hold on to when everything else seems too insurmountable, too overwhelming, too far gone. It’s never too late for hope. And TCI reminds me that, even when I feel too small or too powerless, if I look to my right and my left, I’m never alone in this fight.”
I know that hope creates change because I’ve seen it happen:
When TCI hosted a Hackathon, teams of students from all over the United States met with climate leaders and proposed their own innovative solutions to climate issues in their community, then received funding to bring their winning ideas to life. Their hope of improving their communities created real change, from addressing water eutrophication to increasing access to composting and even creating a 501(c)(3) certified nonprofit!
TCI’s Collegiate Climate Policy Institute provides youth with the knowledge and skills needed to be effective climate advocates in Congress and in their own communities, and then actually creates opportunities for participants to meet with congressional offices to discuss their climate concerns. I’ve witnessed these young climate advocates turn into climate leaders over a matter of days – ones who speak about policy with authority and who are ensuring the youth voices are regularly heard and weighed by their elected representatives.
I had the opportunity to orchestrate TCI’s virtual CCPI in 2022, and just last month, I got to see that experience come full-circle. I got to witness and hear about TCI’s in-person CCPI in Washington, D.C., where young climate advocates from across the country, and even internationally, gathered to discuss climate policy solutions. I wanted to share just a few of the many reflections from CCPI participants that really struck a chord with me:
- “I have always held the belief that I should and must invest in the communities I live and breathe in, TCI’s CCPI program has reignited that belief in me again– I hope to bring the experiences and knowledge I’ve learned here back to New Orleans, Louisiana and the community that has given me so much.”
- “At first, I believed that Miami was truly the epicenter of climate change in the country. Now I know that even though we experience a big amount of it, many other states experience it just as bad in different ways; some even worse like Guam. It’s encouraged me to learn beyond myself.”
- “This is the first time I’ve been in a room that is this diverse in backgrounds. It was incredible to have the opportunity to talk to other 4 year students from across the country as well as working professionals and trade school and community college students. It made me feel like no matter where I end up after graduating, my voice is valuable in the fight for climate justice.”
Hope is that beacon of light we hold on to when everything else seems too insurmountable, too overwhelming, too far gone. It’s never too late for hope. And TCI reminds me that, even when I feel too small or too powerless, if I look to my right and my left, I’m never alone in this fight. I’m never alone in this hope. There are thousands of others around me and behind me and ahead of me who are marching forward with me. Together we are choosing hope, and that collective hope is leading to collective action and creating real change. The action in hope is that we choose to give it power.