There are far too many races and generations in this world to save it (Event Recap)

C.J. ‘Clickbait’ Casey is back on his bullshit clacking on his keyboard. (Buckle up bc this is a long one… sorry about that, I got carried away)

What events are we talking about and why should I care?

So I, as well as other UIC students and faculty, organized the third Bi-annual Symposium on Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (SEES). This event is usually a 3 hour production that includes a keynote address and features student research presentations on energy and sustainability. This year was a tad different, John Johannesson (student government treasure at UIC) reached out to the program coordinator to get involved. Thus, Climate Chance and Future of Energy conference (C2FE) was born. Our event was split into two segments. SEES and C2FE. C2FE featured a keynote and a moderated panel discussion led by Elizabeth A. Kócs of UIC. The event went swimmingly, and I will be sharing all of my personal key takeaways.

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Left to right: John Johannson, Melissa Lee, George Crabtree, Elizabeth A. Kocs, Amara Enyia, Kristen Brown, CJ Casey, Sylvia Panek, H.G. Chissell, Harriet Seymore

 

Keynotes and Members of Panel:
Amara Enyia — Former Chicago Mayoral Candidate & Chicago Community Activist
George Crabtree — UIC Physics Professor & JCESR Group at Argonne Natn’l Lab
H.G Chissel — Founder and CEO of Advanced Energy Group
Harriet Seymore — Ayam LLC — Socially Responsible Energy
Kristen Brown — Exelon Utilities — Innovation Strategy & Policy
Melissa Lee — Founder and CEO of The GREEN Program
Sylvia Panek — Natural Investments — Investment Advisor

Explaining the title: an abstract of sorts.

One panelist, H.G. Chissell answered a question with an interactive activity for the crowd. (Preface: UIC is a top 15 ethnically diverse university in the NATION). When asked about challenges facing working toward a climate goal, he asked the audience to close their eyes and show with their fingers how many different groups of people were here in the crowd. I, knowing what I know about UIC, fire up a quick 8 feeling confident as ever. An inquisitive look comes across my dumb face as soon as he says, “That’s the problem.. There is only one right answer here.”

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One. Much like Jon & Cersei, The Hound & The Mountain, Dany & Jamie taking on that little bitch ass Night King (*he says nervously*).  We are all on the same side of this fight. It’s us vs. climate change. And this time we realllllyyy fucked things up with her. Our ‘Winter’ is here and, tbh, if some asshole decides to pull a Cersei they’re about to catch some verbal hands. We made this bed, my generation, your generation, and the generations before us. We, I included after miserably failing that trap of a question from H.G., need to realize that this isn’t just our problem as students, the younger generation, ‘environmentalist’ or the scientists trying to engineer our way out of climate change. We’re all on this Titanic together. Don’t pull a Rose and not move over on that door that was CLEARLY big enough for Leo.

Melissa Lee had an excellent thought on that (not the Rose and Jack thing, I never asked for the panels opinion on that) :

“When older generations have come to me and say ‘man my generation really screwed things up for you, good luck’ I look at them and I’m like ‘I don’t want you to be sorry I want you to do something about it. I’m not the babysitter of climate change’. We are literally all still standing on this earth but everyone just dumped climate change onto Millennial and Centennials.”

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Preach. This is not just one groups problem to fix, nor should it be. We are much stronger with every generation, ethnicity, religion, height, and yes even pineapple and non-pineapple on their pizza people all thinking and working in the same direction. 

Inspiration over fear.

This is one thing I, as well as many others, have struggled at when it comes to talking about climate change. The go to when talking about climate change (at least in my experience) has been telling people, hey guess what! We are fucked. Here’s what we have done to the world, we’re all pieces of shit, now stop doing this immediately or else were going to choke on the air we breathe and poison all of the food sources. Some quotes from the event on approaches around intimidation:

“Inspire progress to be a part of something. Follow your intent” – H.G. Chissell.

“Invest your money where your values lie” – Sylvia Panek

“Bring people along in your journey, get them invested. Be humble and authentic” – Kristen Brown

“Whether you’re the youngest or only one at the table, don’t be afraid to speak up. Your ideas matter” – Harriet Seymore

“Do one thing better. Practice sustainability without judging others. Lead by example and others will follow” – Melissa Lee

“Be true to your heart” – George Crabtree

Well I don’t know about you, but fuck, I am both on the verge of tears and ready to run through a wall. I have always thought that, when hearing about climate change, I was always told the actions that started it, the projections, and the outcome (the we’re fucked outcome). I was rarely told about solutions, I had to take the initiative myself to find solutions. Or I would just have to wait for Instagram to read my mind and put up an ad for a metal straw. This is what we need to do a better job of as a society: presenting a solution rather than a probably outcome. Change the narrative, but first start by changing yourself. Words that echoed throughout the Illinois room were intent, personal investment, authentic. These are the building blocks of long lasting change. This change is much slower than intimidation, but it is more permanent. Get others to believe in your ‘why’ and make it their decision to follow you because they want to, not because they have to. Be a Dany, not a Cersei.

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Fail. Fail at Everything.

George Crabtree – “Failure is one of the most important things to experience because you learn”.

If you walk into a crowded room and ask ‘who in this room has not failed in their life,’ you could hear a pin drop.

“Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it is part of it. Fail fast and fail forward. Embrace it. Get good at it.” – Melissa Lee.

Everyone in life fails. You fail a test, you fail at a job, you fail a friend, a family member, the planet, yourself. Everyone in life is subject to failure, and if you haven’t failed yet, be ready for it because it is coming. Any successful person learns from their failures. You learn what you can change, what different approaches to take. You may even pivot and try something completely new and end up being extremely successful at. ‘Why do we fall Master Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.’ We failed at protecting this Earth. Okay cool. It happened. Fuck it, let’s pick ourselves up and figure out how to take care of it. Start doing one thing better every day. ~callback~ Attend a speech, read some blog, educate yourself on what you can do to make a difference. Knowledge is the easiest way to make sure you don’t fail the same way again.

We failed at protecting this earth thingy. Everything is dying, landmarks are changing. What has this taught a young, dumb, and broke 23 year old like me? Well, you know how they say after a near-death experience you develop a greater appreciation for things? Well this is earths near-death experience and we can and will fix this problem. Appreciate the breathtaking lakes, oceans, mountains, valleys, plains, animals as they are because we are going to make sure they stay around for awhile. Older generations are here to mentor our generation and we are here to inspire generations to come. From top to bottom, left to right, rich to poor, old to young, black to white, and even normal people to people in St. Louis who cut their bagels in slices. We will make a difference in this world but only if we work as one group.

Branch off

This is one of my favorite takeaways from the night. Thanks to some research from Melissa Lee, the amount of jobs available with the word ‘sustainability’ in the US is 52,093. The total number of jobs available in the US is 7,100,000. For those keeping track, that is .007% That double-oh-seven isn’t going to change much. Don’t let your job title shoestring you into thinking you can’t make a difference. Make those differences as a teacher, a firefighter, a store clerk, etc. Try to make a conscious effort at any job to introduce sustainability. Create your own title.. As Harriet Seymore said during the panel, “our future jobs and solutions that will change the world may not even be invented yet”.

Go out and grab life by the balls. Make your difference and no matter how great it was when you got here, leave the world a little better than you found it.

That’s it, that’s all. That’s the blog.

jæja, CJ

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