In November, I was invited to attend the United Nation’s climate conference, the “Conference of the Parties,” COP26, in Glasgow, as an official observer of the COP in the UN Blue Zone—the space in which negotiations took place. After five years of watching wildfires tear through my hometown of Santa Rosa, as well as Santa Cruz, Paradise, and more, we felt compelled to take action as a family. As a faith leader at the COP, I was able to observe the negotiations and advocate for climate action on behalf of our community.
Our 2nd grader, Phoebe, a Hausner student, joined us at the Climate March, with more than 100,000 attendees, as well as at multi-faith prayer vigils in Glasgow. While I attended the UN sessions, Phoebe and Kevin attended the climate science education events in the UN Green Zone.
The march was certainly the most hopeful and energizing experience for all of us. The pouring rain and chilly weather did not put a damper on the hope, enthusiasm and commitment of the marchers. Our hearts were filled as people from every nation, faith, and language filled the streets with songs, chants, drums, bands, and creative signs. Island nations chanted, “We are not drowning, we are fighting!” Signs declared “Sea levels are rising and so are we!” After feeling a bit alone and hopeless these past few years, worried about my parents as they fled flames in Santa Rosa, heartbroken for friends who have lost everything, worried about the toxic wildfire smoke-filled skies, it was an incredible gift to be surrounded by such a passionate, loving, joyful crowd, adding our voices to the calls for climate justice now.
In advance of our travels, Phoebe shared about her adventure with the second graders, and I had the privilege of sharing with Hausner middle schoolers. In response, the students wrote incredibly heartfelt letters to Climate Envoy, Senator John Kerry and President Biden, expressing their concerns about pollution, plastic, wildfires and smoke. I carried those letters with me for a week of meetings at the COP, feeling the weight of their words, grief and hopes in the official Hausner envelope in my pack. As negotiations were heating up for Glasgow Agreement, it was those letters that facilitated a personal meeting with Senator Kerry’s incredible climate advisor, Jesse Young.
I was so honored to share the concerns of our students and community, and I look forward to continuing to fight for climate justice, for the future of our children. Our family is so grateful for Hausner, where our children are nurtured and equipped to become the innovative, compassionate, and moral leaders needed to meet the challenges facing our world. We have every confidence that in the face of an uncertain future, our daughter will be prepared because of the education she receives here and the incredible community of which we are so grateful to be a part.
Sir David Attenborough addressed the UN COP26 opening session, urging the world to take climate action. Phoebe was very excited to visit the David Attenborough Nature Reserve and center in the UK.