re-telling climate change stories

Embarking on my own Energy Journey

by:

Stephanie Selz


Last fall semester at CU, I had a blast with Rebecca Osnes and my classmates in her Climate Change & Film class. For my final video for the Film Festival, I made a music video with my partner Michael. I spent weeks working on the lyrics, which were all about how our culture’s mass consumption of animals is not only ethically horrendous, but problematic through the lens of climate change. It took a lot of experimenting for me; I had never written/performed a song before, so when I wrote two full pages of lyrics, I started to listen to a lot more hip hop, trying to get the feel of how I could express all of the messages I wanted to say in under five minutes. Over the Thanksgiving Break, Michael and I had a blast filming and recording the song in my hometown of Jupiter, Florida. I was smiling ear to ear when the Film Festival Judges announced that Ellie and I both tied for first place. 

Ellie and I had worked together in the class for our More Than Scientists Film, where we interviewed Christy McCain and edited the video together. From that experience, our friendship came to be and she is an amazing human being. So, when I found that Ellie and I would be working together for the second time for our ITG internship, I was so excited to see what an awesome experience we would have. Ellie graduated with a TAM (Technology Arts and Media) minor, so I knew that whatever we would be doing, it would be blessed with the magic touch of her skills. 

Ellie and I both have other full time jobs this summer. We both work in Boulder; I work at Thrive (AKA the most awesome restaurant ever) and Ellie works for Natural Habitat Adventures. I am also going to be in Israel for around two weeks in July on Birthright, so when discussing our internship plans, Beth knew that whatever we were doing, it would be good to stay local. 

We all started talking before Spring semester ended and at which time Beth showed me a film by Clara Boland. After graduating from CU, Clara had moved to Paonia to live with her family on the land that her father, Boyd, had grown up on. There, Clara is growing food and restoring land that soon will be an orchard filled with apples and peaches. 

From here, Beth knew this was a story asking to be told: What is Clara’s life like now, as she is back in the Coal Town that we saw in “Shades of Gray”?? Her actions show a new perspective in the town as she is working to give life back to the land, rather than extract old life that has been underground for millions of years (coal). 

In conjunction with this, Beth shared with me her personal history of working with women in the Navajo Nation to come together as a community and share their energy stories. Beth uses Applied Theater as a medium to get women included in the energy discussion. 

As Paonia is a community that has strong ties with an energy story that is killing our environment, we felt that Beth’s technique would be wonderful to apply with women in the Paonia area. So, for our internship, we decided to go to Paonia for a weekend, and host a “Womens Energy Party” where women in the community could come together and start to share and create their own energy narrative. Things that we will come together to address will look something like this:

  • What values do these women hold important to them when thinking about their lives and the life around them?
  • What is their current energy story?
  • What do they think of their current energy story as it relates to their values?

And then:

  • What is their desired energy story?
  • What actions can they take to reach this new and improved energy story?

Beth also shared with me a brilliant podcast that she had put together. This is a must-listen for everybody. LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST!!!!

When I heard it, it became so clear that our society’s present actions with energy reflect a sort of “ecological amnesia” where we have forgotten our connection with the natural world. The earth’s ecosystem includes humans, and it is imperative for us to remember this when we look at how we interact with life. Much of telling a new energy story revolves around creativity. Creativity can bring us places that were once thought impossible. Often times though, it is clear that our energy story is currently overcomplicated. If we can look back to life at its core, we can start to resimplify. With this comes voluntary simplicity, less consumption, growing our own food, following the earth’s natural cycles, and being creative with the life that exists. 

And most importantly is this: “There’s not somebody who is going to save us… it’s us.” 

We cannot sit back and wait for the day when somebody else will pull us out of this energy hole that we have literally drilled ourselves into. All of us need to take our own actions to be the change we want to see. 

Listening to this podcast was very inspirational and exciting as I am about to embark on this energy journey of my own. Soon, we will be in Paonia and empowering ourselves with the hopes of returning to homeostasis with the world.