Decarbonize your mind
Featuring: Julia Curran
April 8, 2020

Worth a thousand words:

These images and words come to us from Julia Curran, an urban/bio geographer, systems-thinker, graphic designer, revolution-fomenter, and world-lover who is all-in for climate.

Julia says “I’m doing my best to model what life can be like in our zero CO2e future, and I’m constantly amazed at how much joy and connection there is in those choices: walking instead of driving, living small/urban, mending and reusing instead of buying new, eating a climate-friendly diet, traveling slowly and savoring local adventures, and joining together with others to shift our culture with the rapidity required of us. I still spend my time in terror watching my worst nightmares unfold in reality, but I’m also deeply in love with the world and thankful for my human kin–there’s no other species I’d rather face them with.”

Self-care is a decarbonized mind

How do I talk about burnout and self-care in the context of years of climate action? I’m imperfect at it, a wrecked grieving mess more than I’m comfortable with. But in the last few years, I started moving beyond climate action, even the kind that suffused every choice I made. 

I started, consciously, trying to live in our better future. Not just live a low-carbon lifestyle, but I’ve been working to decarbonize my mind.

What is the emotional landscape of deep change? How can I practice in my own life the social care and emotional calm we need, the ways of being that fossil fuels burn away?

I’m still learning, slowly, with each of you. But what I know is this: my most radical ways of loving the world are also my most joyful. When I walk, I resist fossil fuels and that tiny complicity in our self-destruction. And when I walk, I heal myself and open myself. I feel the same when I mend, as I make things, in every meeting, in every meal with friends.

Today, we used a street-find tool of mine from two winters ago to extract a carmat frozen into my fav sand pile, for me to use to make sandals. A few miles later, solo and squatting by the lake shore to watch the dusk settle in, I stumbled across a piece of horn rugosa coral, some hundreds of million years old.

Each of those is a fullness, a pocketful of fullnesses. It’s the sparks and clanking of the tool against frozen rocky sand, the pleasure of using something discarded to free something else discarded. It’s the soft blister on my hand, the way the fossil’s stone channels remind me of mushroom gills. It’s conversation between blows about family and adaptation and remaking systems that support us instead of kill us.

I cannot not think about our future, when our sliver of a chance to fully reform ourselves is thinning day by day. And I cannot not live. But it’s a different life, a decarbonized life, an in progress and imperfect reorientation of self to a new north.

The world we need to create—our adaptation to the level of change that’s already starting and our path to zero emissions—isn’t outside us. It’s within us, in the fall of our feet on the earth and the way we greet one another as dusk falls.

A note from Rachel

It’s a privilege to work with creative collaborators like Julia, and I hope you check out more of their work on Instagram @happifydesign. Thanks Julia!

And if you are someone who expresses themselves through images or photography, let us know. Finding a meaningful response to the climate crisis is crucial to a healthy relationship with eco-anxiety, and this is a space for sharing all things creative, courageous, and compassionate. Join us!