Bridging Worlds of Sustainability: The Story of Elizabeth Johnstone
2023, Senior, Interactive & Multimedia
Climate Hero: Elizabeth Johnstone, The Green Team of St. Monica Church
When thinking of the subject of climate action, we often gravitate towards thoughts of innovative carbon capture technology, oil-spill cleanups, or major environmental protests. But while these stories may awe the public, they also give environmentalism an intimidating reputation: the idea that in order to contribute to the fight towards climate change, you must be radical, make ground-breaking discoveries, and leave a big mark on the world. This is why I chose to highlight youth climate activist Elizabeth Johnstone, a high-schooler who leads grassroots efforts to combat climate change at the local level. As Elizabeth’s community resides in a religious space, I also learned about how cultural factors such as religion can act as both barriers to and sources of empowerment for environmentalism. Looking through the lens of a different cultural perspective, I was able to better understand the complexity of the climate change movement and why it has become such a politicized subject. But by hearing how Elizabeth bridged seemingly contradictory spheres of religion and environmentalism, I also learned ways to address these conflicts. I believe it is the work of small-scale local activists like Elizabeth that will truly lay the foundation for a future of sustainability. I hope her story can empower those struggling with conflict between their values and identity to persevere and find strength in these differences and simultaneously inspire other youth to recognize that meaningful environmental action can be simple and accessible.