Hope and activism amidst a pandemic

Charlotte Varela

Youth Council member and young activist, Hannah Croft, shares some of her thoughts on hope and activism in 2020.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we've seen our most beloved campaigns and charities scramble and fight so hard to try and find ways of digitalising the services and messages they provide.

Whilst we have continue to get involved online and find new ways to spread messages of change, many of us have found the rapid change difficult.  Especially those who are technologically inept, including myself, which shouldn't be the case for a 21 year old!

And not to mention, those who are trying their best to make our planet thrive, even when the eco-anxiety and news can make it feel like ones efforts are never enough.

But in reality that is far from the case, more and more people are waking up to the state of the climate emergency and what can be done to stop the damage. It's now easier than ever to make changes. Choosing environmentally friendly transport, food, and everyday items which are all too often made out of plastics that hang about forever.

In recent times we have seen more campaigns and strategies to reduce carbon emissions, to encourage an eco-friendly diet and lifestyle, and even this past month, the government are offering grants to individuals who want to make their homes more energy efficient and green, with the new Green Homes Grant Scheme.

Before lockdown, volunteering for the Lancashire Wildlife Trust's ecotherapy scheme, Myplace, was one of my favourite ways to get involved. The allotment we utilised, is a little piece of paradise that we get to work on.

I also have some involvement in the Lancashire Wildlife Trust Youth Council, which is comprised of a group of passionate young people from Myplace and other similar projects. Over the past year or so we have been involved in some fantastic campaigns and ideas, such as encouraging people to go Peat Free, discussing ways to promote a Wilder Future and even creating our own videos, posters and PowerPoints on the topics we find most pressing and powerful.

Youth Council at Little Woolden Moss

Image by Ellie Sherlock

Since the beginning of lockdown, most of this has been flipped on its head. Many grassroots movements have come to a standstill. campaigns, strikes, marches and projects have halted still, anxiously awaiting information on what, where, how and when they can continue their vital work.

Many of us have taken to video calls and online discussions, which is wonderful for keeping in touch, but not for everyone. I've found recently I've been really missing the direct involvement, such as getting creative outside, getting down to work on invasive species of plants, creating bug houses and bird homes out in the woodlands, and much more.

To overcome this frustration and feelings of hopelessness, I have taken to new forms of activism as well as an online presence. One of the activities I've been working on is something I thought of a few weeks ago, called 'activism rocks'. There are so many magical ways of spreading the message of hope, especially in dark times, when people's futures are so uncertain. In all the chaos and confusion, one thing is certain, we must continue to do all we can to protect our environment.

Activism rocks by Hannah Croft

Activism rocks by Hannah Croft

Activism rocks by Hannah Croft

Activism rocks by Hannah Croft

With the current pandemic landing us in a crazy timeline, it's vital we consider how our actions on this earth leave an imprint. A small but effective way that I've been grasping onto hope for a better climate, is by leaving messages dotted around nature sites, spreading ideas and planting seeds of thought and reflection.

I've been writing the messages on rocks, rather than using stickers or posters that will eventually break down and leave litter. Some of these 'activism rocks' have damning statistics and facts about our current climate disaster, and some are less doom and gloom, with messages on how we can make daily changes to protect our planet.

Most are simply messages of hope, to remind people that each little drop of environmental action we make, can create a tidal wave of change.  Each person we influence and motivate to take care of our planet increases the chance we have of making it a better home for everyone.

No matter how you choose to spread the message of outrage, optimism, hope and change in relation to today's world, just remember that your words are planting seeds, which could blossom into movements of hope and progress for the environment.

Speak out, even if your words tremble, for we could be the last generations who get the chance to do so.