By Mary Cappelletti
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with another interesting climate advocate to learn a bit about how she got involved in climate action. Deejah Sherman-Peterson and her husband Ron are two more passionate individuals that had an unconventional start to their fight in climate action. She is now co-chair of the Climate Action Team at the University Unitarian Church, but her introduction to climate change problems started a while back. Her participation in advancing women’s rights through her time with NARAL and NOW led her to learn about overpopulation and the problems associated with it. This was her first introduction to human caused climate problems. Then, in 2005 she and her husband joined the green committee at the Unitarian church. Through the committee she and the team began altering the waste disposal available to the congregation to include recycling and compost. In 2014 she co-founded the climate action team at the church, which has hosted talks and fairs to increase awareness of climate change topics. The group plans to continue hosting a variety of events to educate the community.
Learning about Deejah’s involvement in climate action was engaging, but the most captivating parts of our conversation were the portions that strayed from the planned questions. Deejah was overflowing with interesting stories about both herself and others in the climate change fight. She recounted stories of individuals that stood in front of coal trains and turned off oil pumps in their mission to create change. Deejah’s strategy for creating change is less focused on physical action, but more derived from a desire to create discourse and motivate change on a community level. Her philosophy for creating this change is rooted in the idea that we must find a happy medium between scaring people too much and not scaring them enough. Her grandchildren’s future is a big reason she works to educate people on the topic, but a different approach is necessary for every individual. Connecting the dots between actions and impacts can be very powerful in creating a more conscious community.
Deejah believes that in today’s political climate it doesn’t do much good to work on politicians currently in office. Rather, she thinks the best strategy is to elect people that are going to be advocates for the environment. Educating individuals and fostering a conscious community is one of the best ways to do this because it creates awareness. It’s vital that the importance of electing officials that are proponents of environmental policy is common knowledge in order to build a sustainable future. Deejah showed me once again that the fight for climate change comes in many shapes and sizes. It was not only interesting to hear about her experiences, but also a pleasure to be in her company. She is a positive, spirited individual who filled me with hope for a sustainable future built by many different groups of people.