Come Rain or Shine

Climate Hope

January 06, 2021 USDA Southwest Climate Hub & DOI Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center / Ann Marie Chischilly & Amber Pairis Season 2 Episode 1
Climate Hope
Come Rain or Shine
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Come Rain or Shine
Climate Hope
Jan 06, 2021 Season 2 Episode 1
USDA Southwest Climate Hub & DOI Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center / Ann Marie Chischilly & Amber Pairis

We interview Ann Marie Chischilly, a member of the Navajo Nation and Executive Director of the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP), and Amber Pairis, Director of the Climate Science Alliance and partnership liaison for the Southwest CASC, to hear what they have to say about climate hope, and what gives them hope for the future. Episode image credit: USDA.

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Show Notes Transcript

We interview Ann Marie Chischilly, a member of the Navajo Nation and Executive Director of the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP), and Amber Pairis, Director of the Climate Science Alliance and partnership liaison for the Southwest CASC, to hear what they have to say about climate hope, and what gives them hope for the future. Episode image credit: USDA.

All episodes:

We welcome your feedback! Please share your thoughts and suggestions here:
Follow us on Twitter @RainShinePod
Never miss an episode! Sign up to get an email alert whenever a new episode publishes

Listening on Apple Podcasts, Podchaser or Podcast Addict? Please consider leaving us a review. Thanks! 

Affiliate Links
DOI Southwest CASC:
USDA Southwest Climate Hub:
Sustainable Southwest Beef Project (NIFA Grant #2019-69012-29853): 

Climate Hope

Emile Elias: [00:00:00] Welcome to Come Rain or Shine podcast of the Southwest Climate Hub and the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center or CASC I'm Emile Elias, Director of the Southwest Climate Hub. 

Sarah LeRoy: [00:00:12] And I'm Sarah LeRoy, Science Communications Coordinator for the Southwest CASC. Here we share recent advances in climate science, weather and climate adaptation and innovative practices to support resilient landscapes and communities.

We believe sharing this information will strengthen our collective ability to respond to impacts of climate change in one of the hottest and driest regions of the world.

Happy New Year! This being the first episode of 2021, Emile and I wanted to talk about climate hope. Last year was a challenging time for everyone. A global pandemic, extreme wildfires in the West, a renewed civil rights movement in the wake of injustice, lack of action on climate change and many other challenges.

And many of these challenges still remain. Working in the field of climate change, it can be easy to feel frustrated and fearful for the future. Looking at the projections and experiencing the impacts of climate change can lead to despair and cause people to shut down and turn away from this important dialogue.

But a recent phrase has become popular: climate hope. When I hear these two words together, it immediately changes my thinking about the climate crisis. We recently asked a group of people what comes to mind when they hear climate hope. And some of the things they said include: youth, climate education and adaptation work on the ground, traditional ecological knowledge, people feeling they have the knowledge and power to make a difference.

Thinking about adapting to future changes and building resilience in our communities requires hope. Today, we've invited two leaders of climate hope to talk with us about what gives them hope for the future. We welcome Ann Marie Chischilly, a member of the Navajo Nation and Executive Director of the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals and Amber Pairis, Director of the Climate Science Alliance and partnership liaison for the Southwest CASC.

Thank you both very much for joining us today. So we wanted to start off by asking you both what climate hope means to you. So Ann Marie, why don't we start with you if you want to give a little introduction of yourself and then tell us what climate hope means to you. 

Ann Marie Chischilly: [00:02:40] Thank you. And thank you for the invitation to come speak today.

I'm very proud to come to you. I'm coming to you from Flagstaff, Arizona. And to acknowledge the ancestors of this area, it's sacred. This area's sacred to 11 tribes in this region, including my own, the Navajo Nation. I am, we call ourselves Diné and it's important that we introduce ourselves using our clans.

 [Lists her clans in Navajo]

So those who are Navajo challenged, I'm going to say it in English for you. I am of the Red Streak Tobacco People clan. Born for the Bitter Water clan. My maternal grandparents are One Who Walks Around clan and my paternal grandparents are Wolves Path clan. I’m originally from two small communities, called Shonto and Chilchinbeto, and all of those make me the woman that you hear before you today. This is my first ever podcast.

So I'm excited to see what we do today. I'm just honored to be here and representing the people that I've worked with, the people that I serve, which is all 574 tribes. So climate hope for me arose in the summer of 2019. So it feels like a million years ago but last summer I was at a camp up in Montana.

There was a tribal camp and I began talking to a lot of the professionals there that were working and out of that one little conversation we had my breakout session or session, I found that a lot of the tribal professionals who work in this field were very distraught. And so, you know, we had this long conversation back and forth and it was a very open conversation.

Out of it, we grew what was called climate hope. You know, that we had to have it to continue. How do you work around that? How do you acknowledge that you are distraught when you're a frontliner? I mean, that frontliner has taken on a new concept now that we're in the pandemic, but before the pandemic, climate professionals were at the front lines, really getting into what was happening and every person that they were in contact with was traumatized because they were suffering on many different levels.

So really understanding the tribal professionals that we worked with, you know, understanding that they were hurting and listening to them. How do we develop a better sense of taking care of ourselves and taking care of our communities? What does that look like? And so I went down to go talk about climate hope and putting a name on it because I would think a lot of professionals in our field, you know,  didn't want to say they were hurting, you know, they were frontline.

So saying it's okay to be afraid. It's okay to be sad and worried and tired. So it was, it was quite a conversation. And so I went on, as soon as I- it's like a flood gate, as soon as I just said, you know, as a tribal professional in my field, I- I'm tired. I'm sad. I'm scared. It allowed everybody else to do it.

So as soon as we got through that acknowledgement then we worked through the other side, where do we go from here? That then turned up climate hope. So, you know, living your life in a circular plan, you know, being thoughtful in everything you do and understanding that we're accountable to the next generation was really important to me.

And making sure that everyone who's worried about this issue to make sure they don't have to be, you know, the star of the show. They, in their own life, just have to acknowledge that what they're doing is enough, you know, what they're doing in their homes, teaching their kids, teaching themselves how to be a better human being is enough.

They don't have to start, you know, twenty organizations or anything like that, they just have to be acknowledging that they live on the surface everyday, make themselves better. So what we do to ourselves, we also teach our children. So that's the circular motion that's moving forward and teaching them to be not only responsible but to be resilient and love them, let them grow because they are amazing.

And I'll talk about that later but, you know, one of the things I did was last year I took a Master class on gardening. You know, I never garden in my life except when I was a kid with my grandmother. So again, learning the skills of my ancestors and turning, hopefully turning my entire lawn into a garden.

You know, if everyone did little things like that...we would be a lot more helpful to Mother Earth. You know, letting her heal and letting her this time during the pandemic. Really I was, it's both good and bad you know, it allows Mother Earth to heal herself and allows the animals to reproduce in a less harmful environment. Our air, our airspace to clean up, and our water to clean up.

So, I know that's a lot for climate hope, but it's a big term. And you know, I'm really thankful we were able to work through that and share it with many other people. Thank you.

Sarah LeRoy: [00:08:46] Thanks Ann Marie. Yeah. Climate hope is two words that hold a lot of power, right, and a lot of  that power behind them. So Amber, why don't we move over to you? If you could do a brief introduction as well as answer the same question. What does climate hope mean to you? 

Amber Pairis: [00:09:04] Thank you so much, Sarah, for having me. And it's such a pleasure to be having this discussion with my good friend Ann Marie, and to be here.

So thank you for highlighting this topic. As you mentioned before I lead the Climate Science Alliance and also serve as a Partnership Coordinator for the Southwest CASC. And I think that over my career we've really evolved to this point of hope. And I think finding that hope wherever you are is really important, but also knowing kind of where you come from. And so it's, I'll say you know, for me right now, I'm really fortunate that I have sort of been born and raised around San Diego County. And I live here now with my children on the homelands of the Kumeyaay people, just an amazing place to be in San Diego. But even, you know, adding to that story was that I grew up in Idyllwild in the mountains above Palm Springs, which is the homelands of the Cahuilla people.

And I think that those strong ties to place have helped to form who I am and how my careers evolved. And I constantly see these connections back to place as being very important. I think that's very tied to this. You know, how I perceive climate hope and I completely, you know, just wanted to just say ditto to everything Ann Marie said because I just resonate deeply with everything and she's so right. Because no matter what your job is or what you do in your life, if you're passionate about it, you carry it all the time. It's not something you just show up for work and you turn it off at five. And so when you're working on something like climate change, it can become a burden.

It's a burden that you carry and especially, you know, the longer that you work on it. When I was just thinking about my own career, I counted back it’s been 15 years. 15 years! And I'm not that old, but 15 years to work on something. And for a lot of that time feeling like you knew all of these things were coming, these horrible things were coming.

These things we could avoid and no one was paying attention. And you carried that burden in silence. And I think that that's part of why this emergence of this concept of climate hope is so important is that we have to find those things that keep you going and you find those things that also connect you to others so that we move forward together.

And I think that's just incredibly important especially as we've seen people ask like, why aren't people reacting? Why aren't we doing more? Why has it taken so long? And I think it's you know, part of that is we've relied on this concept of scaring people, right? But we know that fear doesn't work. Fear can be powerful, but it can also be paralyzing.

And I think that ability to focus on being hopeful, finding those little things where you get traction every day, and where you contribute and what keeps you going. And then in the bigger realm, what are those things that tie you to others? And so it really, for me, it comes back to those relationships and finding hope every day in what you do to keep yourself nourished and moving forward.

So that's my viewpoint on just starting to open that conversation on climate hope. 

Emile Elias: [00:12:08] Thank you, Amber. I just want to say thanks to both of you for being here and as we were preparing for this, I was thinking about the words climate hope together. And I actually asked our team in a staff meeting.

What do you think of when you hear climate hope? Like what do those two words together bring and elicit for you? And one of our staff members said something that ties into what Ann Marie said. She said that the phrase climate hope or that those two words together make her think of some of the ecological events of 2020, and specifically for example, lower global carbon emissions as compared to the 2019 rates.

And so I want to bring it back to our present current situation with this question. It's similar to the last one, and it's for both of you. So if you had to use one word or phrase or short story to describe how climate hope has evolved for you or how it's manifested in 2020, what would it be and why?

And we'll go ahead and go with Ann Marie first. 

Ann Marie Chischilly: [00:13:20] Thank you. That's a great question. I think I like stories, so I'm going to give you a story. It's very common throughout Indian country, and it's the story of Black Elk. Chief Black Elk. He was a Lakota leader in the 1800s. And at the time when there were great wars between our country and native people, he envisioned a generation that would come.

There would pass seven generations where there was a lot of hardship, but in the seventh generation, a new group of young people that would arise and they would heal the broken circle of life. And if you do the calculations, many of our elders are telling us today that if you have a child today and you're raising them, they are in the seventh generation. And you can tell and it's not just the native communities, it's all across the world, you know? Yes, you have your native leaders like Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, your Peltiers, but you also have your Gretas. You have your young people just rising up from all over the world.

Cause they understand a lot more. I'm raising three “seventh gens” as we call them, the seven generation kids. And my son is 14, his name is Shonto. And you know, he knows more than I ever knew probably until I was 34. You know, they understand things so much more articulately and they're so much more fluid with their thinking, you know, they don't have the confines that we had and they don't have this whole notion of capitalism being the most important thing in our society.

They're looking holistically. And so what we teach them today, how we teach them and what they see at home is critical to learning how to deal with a climate changing so quickly. So for me, we have to protect them. We have to let them be kids too. We also have to educate them. And eventually we have to move out of the way to let them lead, because right now, so many adults are scared of them because they're so wise, but they should be wise because they were foretold to be wise. And so honoring that and really moving forward with that is one of my goals in life. And so I'm working hard to teach many other people. I know it's a native concept, but it's a concept that if you just look around it's coming true. You know, all the other stories that have occurred with that vision have already occurred.

And so I'm really hopeful that, you know, this generation is given the opportunity to heal a world that in many, many ways is broken right now. So that's my story. And thanks for letting me share it. 

Emile Elias: [00:16:44] Yeah, thank you for bringing up Black Elk and that story and our children. As a mom of 13 year old twins, I feel like we're together in this and experiencing these, the seventh generation, these young people and their amazing abilities.

So, yeah. Thank you. And I'd like to ask the same question to you, Amber. When you think about climate hope in the present and during 2020, what would be a word or phrase or short story that comes to mind for you? 

Amber Pairis: [00:17:20] Yeah, I'm excited to kind of think about this concept. I think that, you know, everything that we have been building within the Climate Science Alliance has really been focused on this concept around climate hope and how we make information accessible and available and give people the information they need in a way that they can  use it.

And so we've always practiced this and worked on this. And I think what really happened with the pandemic is that we realized the power of relationships. Now, we always knew this. We knew that our work was always built on relationships, but this really came to fruition when the pandemic really started unfolding and everyone was home and there was a lack of resources and we started to sort of, you know, checking in with people, just making sure people were okay.

We have, you know, the digital divide is a real thing. And I think that really became clear is that we had some folks who just were really cut off. And so we really kind of pivoted our whole team to just checking in with people and seeing what was going on. I realized that there was a real need for PPE  [personal protective equipment].

For masks and for hand sanitizer, all these things that people couldn't get a hold of. And so we just started to sort of activate our networks to find out how we were going to get things to people. And all of a sudden there was just like, boxes showing up on my door. Full of handsewn masks. There were researchers and others calling me and saying, Hey, you know, we made this box of face shields.

Do you want to come pick them up and distribute it? And so here I was like, driving around in my car, loading my car up with things, and driving on the freeway and taking an exit and meeting somebody to drop things off. And I was in the car and I was like, you know, why am I doing this? Like this to me says there is a failure in the system. If I am the one distributing masks and gowns and gloves and face shields that something is wrong. But what I, you know, as I sort of thought through that, realizing that you know, that it was like weird and awkward for us as a climate organization to suddenly turn into this gatherer and distributor of PPE, but it really came back to that's what our friends, our colleagues, our partners needed in that moment.

And it reminds me that, you know, in that moment to having those relationships the pathways are there to be able to activate, to help each other. And this is going to become more and more important as we start to see the impacts of climate change unfold, is that we do not have the luxury of time to wait when these things happen.

And if we're not prepared then we will end up doing things that, you know, fall into the lines of what people think are maladaption or poor choices or they're not able to think through, but if you have those relationships established, if that trust and that respect and that reciprocity is there between the people that you work with and live with and love, you're able to be so much more powerful in those moments.

And so I see that, and I think there's a wonderful term. I think it was started in the water industry, but about climate whiplash. So we are going to have these more frequent, more intense events back to back, more extreme, and we don't have the time to recover. So they're using that as a reason to say, we need to get this planning in place and we need to be prepared.

And I agree with that, but we also need to have our relationships and those lines existing so that when these big things happen, we are able to respond and take care of each other. And I think we have really seen that. That's been maybe the silver lining in some of this COVID pandemic is that we have seen people rise up to help each other.

And that makes me incredibly hopeful because we can do it and we know we can do it. And so I think that we can emerge from this, there's some new insight about how we move forward on this. And I'm trying, I'm not going to say it exactly but Winona LaDuke gave a wonderful plenary session at the National Tribal Climate Summit, which ITEP and Ann Marie put together this summer which was an amazing event.

And then, you know, Winona was really talking about this sort of moving through this next portal, this next phase, and that it really is a time no longer for this territoriality and competition, but really that time for cooperation and collaboration. And I think that that is what this pandemic has taught us is that it's very clear who came out of this strong and who was forgotten.

And so who thrived and who just barely survived. And that's what we have to take moving into this is that we cannot be blind to those spots anymore. And we know that we have the pathways to work together and make it right. And I think that's the spirit that we need to carry forward. As we emerge into this, it's about cooperation, collaboration.

It's about relationships. And so me, for me, that's where I really see that hope. And that learning from those challenges as Ann Marie was saying, is what we learned from what we've come out of this and to not put the blinders back on. 

Emile Elias: [00:22:26] Excellent. Thank you. And I would like to build on what you just said, which is truly profound.

And ask you a little bit about some relationships that I know your organization has and a specific event that you had in August where you convened a lot of different people, including researchers and community engagers and young youth leaders from Southern California and nearby regions, and that you were discussing how climate science is informing some on the ground solutions for building climate resilience. And the opening of that summit showed some videos which really were amazing, that were really profound. And I enjoyed watching them. And those videos were highlighting different managers and researchers discussing what climate hope means to them.

And so I was wondering if you can tell us a little more about the summit and the process of exploring climate hope with the summit participants.

Amber Pairis: [00:23:30] I would be happy to, this was one of those events, like many people where we were just two weeks away, two weeks away from holding the event and you know, anyone who's ever planned an event knows how much work goes into those events.

So to cancel it in that moment because that was what we needed to do to take care of people. That was the safest choice. We really had to think about how could we recreate that space for people in this new kind of virtual world. And this was sort of just kind of out of the box of we didn't want to just put that whole program back as we would have thought we would have done it together.

So the concept around climate hope really built off of our Southwest Tribal Climate Summit, which we held in August of 2019. And that's really where Ann Marie came out with this phenomenal plenary and the quote that is continued to really sort of push a lot of our work, which was I hope I can quote this exactly... 

But Ann Marie came out with this very powerful statement about, we've all heard about climate change. We're here today to talk about climate hope. And I think that's really what we have focused a lot of the work around is how do we bring people together? How do we help our network and everyone involved feel like they're not alone in this?

And so it was pretty surprising. It was incredible amount of work to do all those prerecorded videos, but it was just amazing how many people said yes to do them. We had more content than we ever imagined that we would get in that whole summit. We really focused on how do we help to create and craft that space for people to have these conversations, to share this information, to forge these relationships, how do we do it in these sort of new, fun, interactive environments? And that was really how we planned that whole day-long summit, which was a choose your own adventure. And it was built around these sort of prerecorded and live content and really focused on how we still can nurture those relationships in this online world.

And we had some really fun kind of coffee cup competition, who had their favorite coffee cup and pictures of it. And we had other ways to sort of interact and talk with each other and then really have this, an amazing amount of content from our partners. And I think with any of these summits it's really easy to get kind of caught up in, you do this conference every year and what your perception of a conference is, but that's not the way we view any of this. We view our whole team and all the partners we work with that we want these events to be stepping stones, that we want them to be platforms that we're continuing to learn. We're continuing to foster relationships.

We're continuing to advance our shared knowledge. And we really viewed that in the San Diego Summit of sort of getting our feet wet and figuring out how to do this, sort of how to make space for this online portion of this community. And we really saw that we had kind of a chance to have our summit and then be able to promote it going into the National Tribal Climate Change Summit, which was a couple of weeks after it.

And we're continuing to build that. The Climate Science Alliance is going to be hosting the Southwest Adaptation Forum in April. And we see this as another stepping stone from the tribal summits, from the San Diego summits into the Southwest forum. And then we will have another Southwest Tribal Climate Summit in January of 2022 and on and on so that we see these as pathways of collaboration.

And not competition but they're pathways for communication and information sharing. And that again is part of sort of fostering this network, this community, then making space for the conversations. Making space for the people and whatever support they need to be able to spend that day online. We put together Alex Warneke on our team is just the mastermind and just huge heart she pours into all of our community engagement work in our Climate Kids program. 

And she made sure that in that one day event there was a whole Climate Kids corner. So you're at home with your kids. You can open up another laptop or an iPad and they can sit next to you and have lots of fun with games and videos.

Like we wanted to make sure we could really make space for everyone. And having youth as part of all of our events we started that together with. ITEP and Ann Marie and Nikki and the whole team was involved in our last Southwest Summit where we launched our youth climate challenge, which was all about really listening to and making space and supporting our youth to take on a challenge that they wanted to in their community to provide them with some resources and tools.

To really think through what they wanted to do when they got home to come up with their own plan and to work in teams so that when they went home, they were not alone in their projects. Then we were able to seed fund these projects and what they have done with this little tiny bit of seed money is just phenomenal and so inspiring and just it's about supporting our youth now, listening to our youth, and making space for them to move into their leadership roles now and into the future. And not telling them what to do or saying that we're going to empower them to do it. They're already empowered. They already know this. They're already smarter. As Ann Marie said, they're ready to take that helm.

We just have to support them and give them the space they need for as long as we can. So that's somewhat, it's definitely evolving and we're always pushing on how to make these new and different and interactive and that they really are nurturing our community. And so that San Diego Summit was our first sort of step on that.

And we learned a lot from it and I think it was really successful given where we were coming out of, but I think there's even more fun on the horizon. So mark your calendars. Here's my little pitch for the Southwest Adaptation Forum in April. The Southwest Tribal Climate Summit will be in January of 2022.

And I'm sure we'll have other amazing events. If you don't already, check out  ITEP's website. There's my promotion for you, Ann Marie. They are the place to go for all trainings. But I just think there's a lot. And I think when the more collaboration and cooperation we have, we really can leverage these activities so that they're not redundant. They're not territorial. We're building a community of practice together. We're building a community and network of support, and that's really important for all we have ahead of us. 

Emile Elias: [00:30:14] So I want to build on or continue this idea of collaboration and relationships. And I want to ask Ann Marie as the director of ITEP, I'm sure you interact with many tribal environmental professionals, many young people in the scope of your work. And so I wonder if you can describe some events or interactions that you know of, that give you hope personally, in the face of climate change. 

Ann Marie Chischilly: [00:30:44] Thank you. Yes. Well ITEP, since 2009, we've been training and we started with Sue Watkins now, Rose and her group. And now the team leaders are Nikki Cooley and Karen Cozzetto. We have an incredible team and they have, you know, taken off with this. And they train about, four to five, six courses a year, depending on what they are.

But this year we were challenged to put forward a- it was funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Amber's just talked about it, National Tribal and Indigenous Climate Change conference NTICC as we called it. We really wanted to, we started off thinking it was about 300 people gonna come meet us in Milwaukee and get started.

We ended up opening it up to the world and about 2,400 people signed up. So from 30 different countries, over 170 tribes from the United States. So what little train started off really took off after a while. And we were getting requests to do our trainings because they're culturally sensitive and competent.

So a lot of the indigenous peoples from throughout the world were asking for our training. So this was an opportunity to open up the doors and that's what virtual ability, or capability allows us to do. So we were honored to set up our agenda where we had international speakers from New Zealand, Kenya, China, Canada.

We also, we always had all our speakers be a youth. So we have youth as young as nine years old. We had incredible speakers, like Amber said, Winona LaDuke, probably the most well-known person in the environmental arena. So we had all these conversations, but we also had a track that allowed for just elders and youth to speak to one another. So that track was unfiltered. They could do whatever they wanted in that track. And it was one of the most popular tracks because you really got to hear the conversation, you got to hear the youth asking elders really tough questions. And just for the professionals my age, allowing them to have that space and to say, okay, this is a safe space for you to share and everyone, stay out of the conversation. Let them talk, you know, and let them teach one another. And so let us learn from that. And so that was probably one of the most highlighted things that I saw or I heard come out of that conference and going, yeah, we all know climate change issues are international.

They're global. So when we look at global issues, we're really looking at how we're dealing with people. And a lot of the indigenous peoples throughout the world are the safe, the stewards of the last remaining ecosystems that are healthy. So if you protect the people that live on the land you will protect those, those last healthy ecosystems.

So that's a message that I know that indigenous people from the United Nations level has really been working on. I'm so glad that this new administration is going to pass a new climate change Envoy. That's a miracle. So, there's a lot to be hopeful for, the foresight and the allowance of science to really be.

But not just Western science, to also look at all types of sciences including traditional knowledges that come from indigenous peoples. There's a reason why we still are here 500 years later. All the folks, all my ancestors that survived the Long Walk.

The Trail of Tears, Wounded Knee, we have resilience built in our DNA. And that was one thing that, you know, really teaching our youth that it's inside you, you just have to know it's there, believe it's there and work hard. This is not going to be easy to get out of the situation we’re in. We are in a difficult place, but the hope is that we can change things around, that the United States can take leadership and help other countries really look at this issue again. So for me, that's a lot of hope. I used to not watch the news. I turned off my cable because I just couldn't handle it anymore. And I've become a news junkie again.

So because I think there's a lot of things to learn and a lot of things to be hopeful for. We just, one of the things I really worked on internally in this year apart is that relationship, like Amber said with my son. This pandemic was a lot of things, but it was a gift to me and my son. You know, we used to go 6:00 AM to eight o'clock at night because he had basketball practice and being able to be with him every day good and bad, indifferent, you know, teenager, really. 

And then him not being afraid to ask me questions, what's happening here? What is this, why is this happening? And really, you know, explaining the electoral college. My goodness, who can explain that? I was just like, go to YouTube. No, but we had really great conversations and one day, we were talking and he said, when this pandemic ends, mom, do we have to go back to the same schedule?

And that really impacted me as a mom because I was just like, wow, I didn't know how hard it was for you. So really understanding and saying, okay, you don't have to be on the fast track forever. We can modify and now that we know this is healthier for you and healthier for me, let's look at our schedule after the pandemic, really customize it.

And I think that's going to happen throughout the world, you know, these meetings. We don't have to have every meeting in person. We can meet like this. We can get things done. And that'll help on the whole issues of emissions of GHGs and all these different things but also on our relationships. I know that's a lot for one thing, but really I'm thankful, you know, I opened up my conversation today with an elder who told me that we have to be thankful for our challenges and it's really hardright now, I can tell you that.

And if we don't learn now, we're not going to get through this. So we have to learn to pull together. We have to learn to be strong from one another and serve one another in a way we never had before. So I just want to say, I thank the creators for giving us this time to be together and just time to learn and the time to heal.

Sarah LeRoy: [00:39:19] Thanks, Ann Marie, and I appreciate the conversation that you just had with us about, you know, there is actually some good to this pandemic. And I have a lot of friends who said similar things. Their lives were just too busy. It was too much, and this allowed them to slow down and reflect on how their lives were.

And I really like the resilience word, right. And I see that in my daughter, who also having to all of a sudden, you know, school's online all the time and she can't see her friends and she's an only child, but she's resilient. Right. She's seven years old. They bounce back and she's doing well. So the pandemic has a lot of bad, but there is also some good.

And I want to look forward to this upcoming year. And I, you touched on this as well, right? I feel there's a lot to hope for the new administration. And I think the upcoming year of 2021 is really giving people a lot of hope for the future. And so I want to ask you both, just as our last question to wrap things up, what are you looking forward to in 2021?

You know, what gives you hope for this year? And is there anything that gives you longer term hope regarding the climate? And so Amber, we'll start with you. 

Amber Pairis: [00:40:49] I think I am still holding on. I think that little sparkle of being able to be together again. But I think that in the big picture, when I think about this year that we have come through and all the ups and downs, we still have gotten a lot done and we have been very resilient and persevered too.

And I think just coming out of it, knowing that we can do that and going forward it's going to get a little easier. But that it's also going to change. We are going to emerge into a new world, and I think I'm excited for that. Because we have realized that we don't have to travel all over the place.

We have realized we can get things done isolated. We have realized that we can be very productive in our pajamas. So I think that there is a lot of reasons to go forward. And so I'm really looking forward to this coming year because I feel like we have laid, we have come through something really hard.

And we have learned really valuable lessons and that makes me excited for digging deeper into our projects next year for you know, just the hard work that we are really trying to do. And thinking about sort of, as Ann Marie said, the equal evaluation of ways of knowing. And how you really do adaptation because we have spent so much of this, of our work over the pas however many years around adaptation, really focusing on this planning and strategies. And now we're really at this place to really dig in and start implementing. And how you implement your efforts is completely contingent on where you work, who you're working with.

And how you really dig in to get it done. And so I think that again, it comes back to these strong relationships. That have weathered these challenges, the lessons we've learned about how we treat each other and how we really work together collaboratively moving forward. So that makes me  hopeful.

And I inherently believe in people and the goodness of people. So I think that we have a lot to look forward to and I cannot wait until that time when we can be together again.

Sarah LeRoy: [00:42:59] Thanks, Amber, I think we're  all waiting very anxiously for that time. Ann Marie, how about you?

Ann Marie Chischilly: [00:43:09] You know, winter solstice is coming up. And one of the things I was on a T this weekend with my friend Melanie Goodchild. And she's out of Canada, she runs the Turtle Institute. We have a meeting this weekend, and just hearing from the elders in that circle, it was amazing in that, this is the time of change when we change over the whole world from one time to another. 

So really being reverent and humble and listening to yourself and being gentle with yourself. I used to run around like a crazy woman at Christmas time. I have to do this and I have to be perfect, blah, blah, blah. And it just, this year I just said we're doing a Christmas tree, that's it.

And really looking out for my friends and saying, Hey, You need gifts. Do you need me to pay? My other friends were saying do you need us to pay for utilities? Really reaching out to your friends and asking them what they need. Same with your staff. Ask them what they need, especially if they work in the climate change arena or in the front lines. My sister's a physical therapist in the medical world, my fiance’s front line delivering food, you know, they're all frontliners. Ask your frontliners what they need, how can you help them?

Because they may not be able to go Christmas shopping this year. They may not be able to put a special meal on the table for their family. These are all things that make us feel a little bit more normal, like normal times, but also allowing yourself to make new traditions. You know, I think allowing us to be gentle with one another and be gentle with our soul is a big part of it. When I look into 2021 I'm, like I said, I'm a mother so I'm constantly talking to my son and my kids and asking them. What are you planning? How, how do you want to see this future? Talk to your staff about what they need. I was able to listen to Oren Lyons last week.

I don't know if you all know him. He's the faith keeper of the Turtle clan of the Onondaga Council of Chiefs, just the six nations Iroquois up in New York. Last week I had the honor to hear him speak, and one of the things he said that really struck with me was he said, peace is not an absence of war in your heart, it's peace in your being. So if there's anything I walk out of this pandemic with, if I can keep peace and in a time of war everywhere, whether it's on the news, whether it's in the hospitals, you know, if I can keep that peace and protect it and protect it in my household and protect it in my community, then I know that 2021 is going to be better. You know, because we've learned from one another like Amber said, we’ve carried each other's burdens and we’ve prayed for one another.

My faith has grown exponentially this past year. I never had anxiety before but man, I had anxiety this year. And I had to find my faith and figure out how I was going to get through this and take care of not only myself, but take care of my family. For a while I was taking care of my mom, of other people. So, you know, we've all been put to a test and so understanding that it's gonna take a while longer before we can all hug one another.

But it's coming. I always say, my sister always says, the hardest time is waiting for that sunrise to come, if you’re ill. You know, you're just in the middle of the dark praying and hoping you get better. So we're all waiting for that sunrise to come and to be together. Take heart that it's coming, you know, it will be a bright, shiny day again. And we will get through this time together praying, serving, and loving one another. So that's my hope for 2021. Thank you.

Sarah LeRoy: [00:47:54] Thank you, Ann Marie, that sunrise is definitely coming. I am very hopeful for 2021. And I appreciate both of you joining us today and talking about climate hope. And I hope that maybe both of you have left this a little more hopeful as well. So thank you again for joining us. 

Emile Elias: [00:48:15] Thanks for listening to Come rain or Shine, podcast of the USDA Southwest Climate Hub.

Sarah LeRoy: [00:48:21] And the DOI Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center. If you liked this podcast, don't forget to subscribe, like, or follow for more great episodes. If you want more information, have any questions for the speakers or would like to offer feedback, please visit or Our sincere thanks to USDA Agricultural Research Service, the Sustainable Southwest Beef project, and the US Geological Survey for supporting this podcast.