Wende’s Climate Story

Wende Randall Headshot 1

I remember my first elementary school Science Fair project focusing on conservation efforts for baby seals, whose lives were threatened due to mass fishing in the northwest. This was the early 1980s, when ecology and conservation was a new topic in suburban Midwest schools. Though my areas of interest shifted many times while growing up, I maintained a sense of awareness to news regarding changes in the environment and impacts on animals and people.

Most often, my personal efforts have been small: recycling, trying to conserve energy and fuel, donating to international environmental causes, only purchasing the amount of food I think my family will eat. Then in the mid-2000s I began learning more about the impacts of climate change on communities of people – cultures across the globe and neighborhoods nearby. This awareness grew at a time when I was also learning about the interconnectedness of systems and the long-standing structures of racism and oppression that have forced low-income families, most often people of color, to live in areas that have been ignored and abused by powerful businesses and governments extracting resources without any regard for sustainability, human wellbeing, and natural growth.

More and more people are recognizing that this is not a distant issue – it has been happening right here in our community for generations.

When I consider my work in the food system, utilities, transportation, health, housing, and all systems related to essential needs, I cannot deny the relationships to the earth and the impacts of climate change. We have established inconsistent rules and expectations, and this has caused trauma and harm to our neighbors. Working together, acknowledging our past and present actions and pushing for change, we cannot fully recover from the damage, but we can slow the impacts of climate change. We can improve health, reduce waste, preserve and restore resources, and build equitable wellbeing across our community.