The Chrysalis Symposium

butterfly coming out of its shell in chrysalis phase

The Chrysalis Symposium: Courageous Transformation for the Climate Crisis | 2019

Location: Oregon State University

Scientists have given us an urgent timeline. We have about a decade to cut greenhouse gases in half to avoid catastrophic climate change. How do we, each of us, need to transform to answer this once-in-a-lifetime call and rise to the challenge of the years ahead? How can we change the narratives in our minds from those of devastation to possibilities? How can we build and be sustained by our communities?

Spring Creek Project convened participants in a day long symposium at OSU’s LaSells Stewart Center on May 5, 2019, around these central questions. The gathering featured a Community Climate Fair, practical workshops, lectures by climate change thought leaders, and a dinner reception with prompted community discussions to help attendees make the connections they’d need for the work ahead.

Featured Climate Lectures

“Zero Hour: Youth Marching to the Frontlines of Climate Change” by Jamie Margolin

When Jamie Margolin was 15, she founded the international youth climate action organization Zero Hour, which led the first ever Youth Climate March in Washington, D.C., and 25 cities around the world. Zero Hour has turned that march into a movement. As youth around the world rise up, how are their voices changing the climate movement? How are they holding their adults and elected officials accountable for their climate legacy?

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“Intergenerational Indigenous Solidarity and Resistance Movements” by Luhui Whitebear

Luhui Whitebear has been fighting the fossil fuel industry since she was in her mother’s womb in various aspects and in multiple Native lands. How is the climate movement experienced through an Indigenous intergenerational lens? How can solidarity with Indigenous resistance movements help create positive change?

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“Means & Ends: The Battle of the Story for Climate Justice” by Angus Maguire

Storytelling to confront the climate crisis isn’t just a tactical question of messaging and clever slogans. What we do is as much of our story as what we say. Let's step back and examine not just the opposition’s stories, but our own, become conversant in some of the underlying assumptions operating across the debate, and begin to tell the stories that make the just and sustainable future we crave not just possible, but inevitable.

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“Why We Can Still Build a Thriving Future (& Easy Ways Anyone Can Help)” by Mary DeMocker

Get inspired about how to feel empowered in the fight for a healthy, just and fun future. Leave with several easy ways you — or anyone you talk with — can help change our system, not just our light bulbs.

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“How to Keep Going” by Emily Johnston

When we begin to understand the scope of climate change, it can seem so devastating as to negate the possibility of action. How can we move towards a new understanding, one that will allow us to live with purpose and joy even as much begins to fall apart around us? How can love turn imagination into our closest ally?

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Workshop Sessions

The symposium featured the following workshops that participants were able to choose from:

“Step Up, Step Back: How to Amplify Youth Voices in the Fight for a Livable Planet” with Mary DeMocker

Calling all parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, educators, coaches, neighbors — and anyone who cares about present and future generations: Young people in the Sunrise Movement, Youth School Strikes, and Juliana V. US lawsuit are electrifying the global climate conversation. This workshop outlines family-tested ways to empower, mentor and truly support young people fighting to shape the 2020 election, win a Green New Deal and build the future they want to live in.

“Combating Violence towards Indigenous Bodies on the Frontlines of Extraction” with Luhui Whitebear

Problem solve and create action plans to address the prevalence of violence towards Indigenous bodies along natural resource extraction sites. This workshop will cover violences that include sex trafficking, murdered and missing Indigenous women, and limitations of the law. Learn how you can stand in solidarity with those impacted, their families and their communities.

“What's Grief Got to Do with It?” with Tim Jensen

From sea ice to salmon, insects to old-growth, we're living in an age increasingly defined by loss. As our climate continues to destabilize, both the range and rate of ecological loss will increase. How we grapple emotionally with such unjust destruction factors into how effective we are in fighting against it. This workshop frames grief and mourning as vital resources for those working on climate issues. Together, we'll engage a variety of strategies for transforming anguish into action.

“Environmental Art: Reflection, Provocation, and Action” with David Buckley Borden

What is the role of environmental art as a lens for reflection, source of provocation and inspiration for action? Using the lens of two of David's recent art-science collaborations — “Hemlock Hospice” at the Harvard Forest and “Warming Warning” at Harvard's Science Center Plaza — we'll discuss how art about environmental change has the power to provoke responses in visitors, viewers and ourselves. How might these responses be an impetus for direct climate action?

“Ethics on the Edge of Apocalypse” with Emily Johnston and Alec Connon

The Greek "apokalupsis" means to uncover or reveal — what will be revealed in the human spirit as we face the catastrophes that are coming with climate change? What meaning can we find, and what are our responsibilities?

“Imagination Builds Power” with Angus Maguire

To win, we must exercise political imagination and stretch the terms of what is deemed "politically realistic" in the present moment. Imagination builds power because it opens the space for crafting stories that make ecologically just futures possible. Let's take the time to play — with story and with each other — because we can only go somewhere that we've already been in our minds.

“Youth Uprising: We Are the Leaders We Have Been Waiting For” with Jamie Margolin

Youth around the world are rising up and speaking up in conversations around climate and environmental justice. Zero Hour is a youth-led movement creating entry points, training, and resources for new young activists and organizers (and adults who support our vision) wanting to take concrete action around climate change. Learn how youth movements are forming, and how people — young and old — can get involved to create a livable future where we not just survive, but flourish.

“Transforming Despair and Anger into Compassion and Creativity through Contemplative Practice” with Kate Gallagher

Crisis and tragedy naturally evoke a range of difficult emotions. Left undigested, despair and anger have the capacity to drain personal vitality and to diminish, if not obstruct, even the most benefic efforts for change. They could be considered two hallmark, personal-professional pitfalls of this work. We will investigate the overwhelm of despair and the consequences of righteous anger and explore experiential, contemplative tools to meet these difficult emotions anew with the hope of accessing the compassion and creativity that fuels skillful, effectual action and personal well-being.

david buckley borden
mary democker
jamie margolin
luhui whitebear

About the Speakers and Workshop Leaders

David Buckley Borden is an interdisciplinary artist and designer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Using an accessible combination of art and design, David promotes a shared environmental awareness and heightened cultural value of ecology. David was a 2016-2017 Charles Bullard Fellow (Artist-in-Residence) at the Harvard Forest where he answered the question, "How can art and design foster cultural cohesion around environmental issues and help inform ecology-minded decision making?" As a Harvard Forest Associate Fellow, David continues to collaborate with Harvard researchers and to champion a cultural ecology supported by interdisciplinary science-communication.

Alec Connon is a writer and organizer with 350 Seattle. He has helped run campaigns to push large pension funds and Wall Street banks to divest from fossil fuels. His first novel, “The Activist,” was published in 2016. It was named Book of the Month by Coast Magazine and featured in BBC Wildlife magazine.

Mary DeMocker's book “The Parents' Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Build a Fossil- Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night's Sleep” (foreword by Bill McKibben) is a finalist for the 2019 Oregon Book Award and has been featured on Yale Climate Connections and recommended in The New York Times. DeMocker is the co-founder of 350 Eugene, with which she designed and co-led youth-centered protests featured on PBS NewsHour, ArtCOP21 and in an Avaaz video shown to world leaders entering Paris climate talks. DeMocker has written for The Sun, Spirituality & Health, and Common Dreams.

Kate Gallagher is a yogin, a philosopher, a scholar, a meditator, an educator and forever student. She earned her M.A. in Applied Religious Ethics from Oregon State University, focusing on the intersection of contemplative practice and domestic life. After 15 years of rigorous spiritual study in the Tibetan Buddhist and Indian Yoga traditions, she had the great privilege and opportunity to reflect on the subtle workings of the mind in a year-long, solitary study and meditation retreat. Kate is now the coordinator for Oregon State University's Contemplative Studies Initiative and she continues to study and practice with her personal mentors and teachers.

Tim Jensen is Assistant Professor and Director of Writing at OSU, where he researches and teaches rhetorical theory, environmental communication and composition pedagogy. He is the author of “Ecologies of Guilt in Environmental Rhetorics.” Alongside his academic research, Jensen is actively involved in efforts to breach the Lower Snake River Dams and other wild salmon restoration projects.

Emily Johnston is a poet, a founder and core member of 350 Seattle, and a valve turner. Her book “Her Animals” was a finalist for the 2016 Washington State Book Award. She lives and runs in Seattle with her dog, Mosey.

Angus Maguire is communications manager at Center for Story-based Strategy. Parent, designer, organizer, facilitator, communications strategist — but master of none — Angus believes deeply in our collective capacity to self-govern. He is also a true believer in story-based strategy, using it for everything from eldercare and parenting, to direct action planning and organizing for futures beyond whiteness. Angus was previously a Communications Organizer with SEIU. He's spent the last 19 years creating visual communications with movements for collective liberation across the country. When he's not on the road with Center for Story-based Strategy, you can find Angus at home with his family in Eugene, Oregon, organizing to build power with homeless and precariously housed communities.

Jamie Margolin is a 17-year-old climate justice activist. When she was 15, she founded the international youth climate action organization Zero Hour, which led the first ever YouthClimate March in Washington, D.C., and 25 cities around the world. Jamie's debut book is “Youth to Power: The Ultimate Guide to Being a Youth Activist.”

Luhui Whitebear is a mother, poet, Indigenous activist and enrolled member of the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation. Luhui the assistant director of the OSU Native American Longhouse Eena Haws and is a Ph.D. student in the Women, Gender, & Sexuality. Her research focuses on Indigenous rhetorics, Indigeneity and reclaiming of Indigenous identity/gender roles, missing and murdered Indigenous women, Indigenous resistance movements, and natural resource protection. Her most recent projects include the incorporation of heteropatriarchy in Native traditions as well as intergenerational Indigenous activism with the Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance Movement.