The following pages invite a radical type of societal and self reflection prompted by the connections drawn between climate change and other systemic issues. They are all related symptoms of a defunct system based on overconsumption and resource inequality. We invite you to imagine a world that’s more equitable for everyone — not just a select few with extreme wealth or luck. You can find essays on topics ranging from gentrification and the importance of Indigenous values, as well as a host of other writings and art highlighting the urgent need for climate action, social justice, and the intrinsic value of nature.
This issue has an emphasis on youth voices: the vast majority of these pieces are by young adults and students at local high schools and colleges. These are their thoughts on climate change, aspects of sustainability, and feelings about today and the future. The sense of urgency is striking, as is the sense that many of us feel that the time to act is long overdue, and our current political leaders are failing to properly address the atrocities leveled here and across the world — but we also see universal hope for a better system, way of life, and future. The emphasis on younger voices emphasizes the dire need for schools to integrate climate change education at every level and in every subject.
Difficult conversations are the ones we need most! Art is a wonderful way to spread this message since it has the ability to foster increased empathy and critical thinking in ways that data alone cannot. Art has been an important facet of the human experience for as long as we’ve existed. Its power lies in its ability to transcend language barriers and challenge thinking that hinders needed progress toward better ways of living. The poignant visual and written works collected here remind us of an important sentiment: We must be creators and not just consumers of knowledge. Every voice added to the discussion increases our chances! Likewise, we encourage you to reach out to us with your thoughts on any of the matters elaborated on in this issue. Your opinion matters!
Meaningful change will come only if we start holding ourselves and others more accountable with our attitudes and actions. Looking into the past can shine a great light on the future and on how we can live in increased harmony with nature. The transformation of individual activism into collective action is a powerful force, one that we must mobilize — if we are not happy with the world we inherited, why not do everything in our power to make it better for all those who will come after us?
Hannah Flaven, Editorial Intern
- SLV 2023 Table of Contents
- Voices of the Valley – Alphabetic List of Authors
- Sustainable Lehigh Valley booklet