While they’re one of the oldest forms of pop culture, I rarely review books for Climate Culture, because I can’t get and read them fast enough to stay current! However, after a string of posts about major music releases by the most of the moment pop stars, I thought it would be nice to take a step back and slow down the pace.
Several weeks ago, I read a recent release (2020) that spoke to so much of what we need in the climate movement. How We Show Up by Mia Birdsong is a brilliant reflection on how to be there for people and build deep communities in all aspects of life. While not explicitly a book for activists, Birdsong repeatedly notes that building solid and intentional communities is a form of activism in and of itself, because these spaces are so rare in our society.
Of course, we all live in communities. The type of communities Birdsong discusses, though, are different. She discusses relationships with people outside of our immediate family and romantic partnerships that offer similar levels of support. Friends who know your medical history in case of emergency, fellow parents who will share childcare duties, or a group who will accept you when your own family won’t. We don’t all have these kinds of deep and meaningful relationships with a whole village of people, because our society is not set up to help us foster them. As Birdsong notes, living in this type of intentional community has been pioneered by people who are already marginalized and ostracized from society out of necessity — the LGBTQ+ community, poor people, people of color. We are indebted to these people’s pioneering efforts and can learn from them.
In this book, you’ll find strategies and stories that illustrate how to build a deeper and more intentional community. You’ll see real examples of the joy that is found in these spaces. I absolutely loved seeing people giving their best selves to each other and was inspired to do the same. Above all, though, I felt validated in seeing that it was ok to want more from our communities.
This is especially true for climate activists (and those looking to become one)! When we’re struggling to change a system as intransigent as the global fossil fuel economy, we need a great support network. We need strong teams. We need to be there for each other in real communities. We simply won’t win any other way. So, consider picking up How We Show Up to get some ideas for how to support your friends. Then, check out our Climate Action Explorer to find ways to get involved with the climate community near you!