Park for Every Classroom
July 2023 Newsletter
Welcome back to another monthly PEC newsletter! This month, we’re featuring the Everglades Team’s recent professional development, a brief exploration of the roles of emotions and psychology in addressing climate change, and for a little summer fun, some resources about the intersection of fungi and climate change.
🐊 Wading into Climate Change in Everglades National Park and Miami
During the last week of June, the Everglades National Park PEC Team, Yvette Cano (NPS), Liz Chatel (Zoo Miami Foundation), and Carlos Mancebo (Miami-Dade Public Schools) conducted a five-day PEC workshop for teachers about climate. Below are some highlights, lessons learned, and photos.
Overview: The EVER PEC Team decided to spread their PD, titled “Miami and Its Climate,” over 5 days and 5 locations around Miami and the Everglades because there was so much the team had learned about the local impacts of climate during their research and they wanted to provide a solid place-based foundation for their their Miami-Dade Public School educators. Though the entire workshop was centered around the concepts of “value” and “connection to place,” each day within the workshop also had a specific theme and purpose. Day 1 saw participants traveling around to various cultural sites in the Miami area (including an archaeological site in downtown!) to “inspire and foster a connection to place.” Day 2 was about empowerment, nudging participants to ask themselves, “What can I do?,” and included a composting tour at the Miami Zoo, a conversation with Dream in Green about how to reduce energy usage and waste at schools, and visiting artists-in-residence in the national park. Days 3 and 4 were dedicated to visiting Everglades National Park so that the participants could experience the park for themselves. Day 5 was all about next steps: exploring climate change communication and lesson planning, including presentations from climate change communication specialists from the Miami Zoo and, importantly, a tour of the zoo!
Partnerships: The EVER PEC Team not only tried to include as many partners as possible, but also made sure these partners were giving presentations, meaning that participants were getting information directly from experts and forging a network with these partners themselves. Though it takes a lot of coordination, this team thought it was well worth the effort and they definitely plan to continue these partnerships into the future. A full list of the workshop partners is at the bottom of this feature!
Fun and Empowerment: The EVER PEC Team made sure to incorporate lots of time for fun and personal reflection into the schedule. They intentionally planned the sessions to empower participants without overwhelming them. One prime example was the two days in Everglades National Park that were really dedicated to letting participants connect with the place without too much structure; as Yvette said, “Everglades can speak for itself.”
Making It Easy for Teachers: The team did a lot of things to make this workshop as accessible and worthwhile for teachers as they could, including bussing participants to all of the locations, providing professional development credit, and ensuring that resources from the workshop were put in an online location where participants could go back to look at them and use them for their own lesson planning. (They hope to add in a stipend and some swag for future iterations!)
Creativity: Teaching about climate change in Florida can be a tricky topic, and the EVER Team realized that they would have to be a little creative about marketing and planning the content of their PD to ensure it would be useful and relevant for teachers. They met this challenge by calling their PD, “Miami and Its Climate,” and on a more substantial level, they let the park and Zoo Miami be in charge of the climate change content.
Flexibility: This team had originally planned to hold this workshop over two Saturdays mostly filled with presentations by Carlos, Liz, and Yvette. Once they got deeper into the planning process and talked about the places they wanted to visit and all of the info and experiences they wanted to share with the participants, they pivoted to a one-week five-day structure with more presentations from partners. This flexibility and pivot to a new plan certainly paid off with their awesome week of PD!
Workshop Size: The number of participants in the workshop ended up being a little lower than the EVER Team had initially planned for, but this turned out to be a positive, as this allowed the group to really get to know each other and engage with the material and each other more deeply. Though they might keep the small group size into the future, the team does hope to get their PD promotion out earlier to reach a wider audience of teachers.
Wow! What a fabulous workshop by the Everglades Team! We look forward to hearing about future iterations of “Miami and Its Climate.”
Everglades National Park
Zoo Miami Foundation
Miami- Dade County office of Historic Preservation - County Archaeologist
Florida Public Archaeology Network - Florida Atlantic University
University of Florida/IFAS Extension
Dream in Green
Artist in Residence in Everglades (AIRIE)
FL Keys National Marine Sanctuary
🥵 Climate Change Emotions and Psychology
You might have seen it already: July 2023 is set to be the hottest month on Earth since global temperature records began in the mid-1800s. Add that to the fact we’re seeing record-breaking wildfires in Canada, record-breaking flooding in Vermont, South Korea, and India, and it’s pretty easy to begin to feel overwhelmed and hopeless in the face of our changing climate.
It may not be comforting exactly, but if you’re feeling that way, you’re definitely not alone. Back in March, Yale published an explainer about climate anxiety which defines climate anxiety as “fundamentally distress about climate change and its impacts on the landscape and human existence,” and highlights a statistic that Google searches for “climate anxiety” soared by 565 percent in 2021.
This upward trend in climate anxiety feels pretty well documented, and anecdotally, I (Ingrid Thyr, PEC Program Coordinator) can confirm it in my own experience. For me, and perhaps for you, climate anxiety manifests as a sense of paralysis rather than any sort of energizing motivation. So, what do we do with these emotions? How do we honor the emotions without getting caught in a whirlpool of helplessness? What can catalyze us to action?
I recently came across an article in The New Yorker that spoke directly to those questions: “What to Do with Climate Emotions” by Jia Tolentino. I’d highly recommend reading (or listening to) the article in full. Here are a few highlights:
She also distills a central question to its essence: “If the goal is for the planet to remain habitable into the next century, what is the right degree of panic, and how do you bear it?”
She points out that “Climate anxiety differs from many forms of anxiety a person might discuss in therapy—anxiety about crowds, or public speaking, or insufficiently washing one’s hands—because the goal is not to resolve the intrusive feeling and put it away,” but rather “aim for a middle ground of sustainable distress.”
She pushes us to consider how sitting in our climate anxiety is a form of privilege: She talks to Isabella Tanjutco, a climate activist who grew up in the Philippines, who says, “In the West, they’re just endlessly processing, going to therapy for their emotions, going to the urban parks that we don’t have and thinking about the earth, and journaling about it… Good for you that you can do that, but we can’t.”
She settles on a form of acceptance of the crisis as it unfolds as a way forwards (though not wholeheartedly), and quotes a paragraph from the book Learning to Die in the Anthropocene by Roy Scranton: “We can continue acting as if tomorrow will be just like yesterday, growing less and less prepared for each new disaster as it comes, and more and more desperately invested in a life we can’t sustain. Or we can learn to see each day as the death of what came before, freeing ourselves to deal with whatever problems the present offers without attachment or fear.”
Tolentino, of course, doesn’t hold all of the answers to our questions about how to not only deal with climate anxiety but perhaps even leverage it to fight climate change, but I found her meditation on the topic deeply helpful, if only because it reminds us we’re not alone in feeling this way. Being a part of PEC, too, has not only been a comfort to mentally and emotionally confront climate change in a community but also a way to take action on the issue of climate change in a community!
To learn more about this topic, you can check out Resources for Coping with Climate Anxiety from Yale and a Tedx Talk titled “Eco-anxiety to Climate Optimism.” If you have any resources you have found particularly helpful, please share them with us!
🕸️ July 15th Community of Practice
The EVER PEC Team facilitated a wonderful conversation about partnerships during the most recent CoP meeting. Some key topics included that successful partnerships often take time to build up trust and rapport, but once you find partners with an aligned mission, you can really push each other to be the best you each can be. Partnerships are more than just the sum of their parts!
The second half of the CoP meeting was devoted to hearing more about the EVER Team’s recent PD, and you can read all about it in the feature above! Even better, you can actually watch a recording of the EVER PEC Team presenting on partnerships and their PD here.
The next CoP meeting will be 3:00-4:15pm ET on Wednesday, September 20th, 2023, and we hope to see you there!
🍄 Fungi Resources
We don’t have too mush-room left at the end of this newsletter, but here are a few resources about fungi and their potential to help with environment issues:
Fungal Networks Are Often Hidden and Overlooked. But They Can Help Save Us. by Tatiana Schlossberg (New York Times, June 28, 2023)
Four Things to Know about Fungi “Climate Warriors” by Colin Averill and Jennifer M. Bhatnagar (August 3, 2018)
Mycelium Matters: How Mushrooms Can Address Climate Change (video from the BBC)
The Mushroom at the End of the World (book) by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing (Princeton University Press, 2015)
🌱 Thanks for reading!
That’s all for now! You can send ideas, questions, and/or feedback about this newsletter to email@example.com.