When I was in college, I was a stage manager for a theatre production with a guest director from the Guthrie Lab. This presented a challenging semester as I balanced a regular class schedule with a busy rehearsal and performance schedule. The director had called a special rehearsal one time that conflicted with my class schedule. I had a decision to make as to which obligation to attend, and I chose to go to my regular class schedule. The director was upset and raised the issue with my stage manager professor. I remained diligent in the discussing priorities, and insisted that I should not be expected to skip regular classes to attend a rehearsal which was not on the original schedule agreed upon at the start of the semester. This experience instilled in me the importance of diligence and holding to my commitments, and to not bed for another’s agenda.
I started in theatre in 7th grade at an outdoor performing arts school located in Fargo, ND that was located on the Red River. This river was the source of my first “A-Ha” moments that climate change was affecting the world I was living in. Spring flooding on the Red River was common when I was a child. I learned the phrases 100-, 500-, and 1000-year floods at an early age. However, these terms didn’t stand out as extraordinary at the time; I just thought it was time for these floods to happen. However, in 1997, the Red River rose over its banks to the point of filling the Oakport Township basin and flooding an entire neighborhood. With that flood, my parents decided to up and move to their retirement home. Over the next 12 years, Fargo and Grand Forks continued to suffer from seasonal flooding. Then in 2009, it finally was clear that these period flooding events were increasing in rate and severity due to something bigger than “just being their time to happen.” This big “A-Ha” was when my performing arts school, plagued year after year by the flooding Red River, built a new outdoor stage and moved to a new campus in south Moorhead, MN.
At which point do we as individuals have these “A-Ha” moments that open your eyes to the realities of the climate crisis? For me, it happened over the 12 years between my parents moving and the school move. Youth today are growing up in a society where climate change is household term, and education standards are pushing towards the inclusion of climate science. However, there is still a lot of political, personal, and religious pushback by climate deniers. Just as I did with my college experience about stage management, people are sticking to their convictions and not bending for the climate crisis “agenda.” It is time to use facts and science to kindly influence deniers into accepting that the natural outdoor engagement that they enjoyed as a youth—such as my original performing arts school located on the river—are no longer there for tomorrow’s generation. The loss of yesteryear’s outdoor explorations should be a resounding “A-Ha” moment today.