Heat of the moment: Coming Home to Coal Country

WBEZ Chicago (of Serial podcast fame) has continued their success in telling the human side of stories with climate change. Their Heat of the Moment series aims to tell the story of everyday life on a changing planet.

One of the huge issues in communicating climate change is that almost no one feels any urgency to act when a scientist tells them we will feel a range of climate impacts by 2050 or 2100. It’s too abstract and far way. It doesn’t relate to your everyday life.

WBEZ is trying to change that by collecting stories from people who are confronting the problem that climate change will alter the lives of everyone on earth. They are posting new stories every Wednesday and their first feature story; Coming Home to Coal Country tells the story of Ashley Funk. Funk grew up in coal country, in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. It was the kind of place where as children, she and her twin sister would play in the black sand-like piles of coal dust behind their house.

The story tracks the environmental awakening experienced by Funk through volunteering, and a summer camp at NASA. After learning that coal dust is carcinogenic, she worked with the Our Children’s Trust group to bring a lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania to limit carbon emissions (and through that coal emissions). When she subsequently experienced criticism and resistance to speaking out locally about climate change and pollution, Funk moved away to Wellesley for college, hoping to find her tribe of people. However, at Wellesley she found people who talked about the impacts of climate on communities without knowing any of those communities like the one she grew up in.

Now towards the end of her degree, Funk is looking forward to going home and building strength in the communities that are affected by climate impacts, from within. Somewhere ‘the conversations about this are messy, and that’s the point’.

Follow the rest of WBEZ’s Heat of the Moment stories here.


image via WBEZ Chicago. 

Strategic Approach: Audiences
Type: Campaign
Strategic Approach: Audiences
Type: Campaign

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