Thank you for taking the time to read our special climate justice issue of Belletrist.
The world is a wild and crazy place but one of the pressing issues in our society is climate change. During the tail end of 2019, it was heavily debated and monitored with anticipation who TIME Magazine’s person of the year was going to be. Some of the popular candidates were current president, Donald J. Trump, Nancy Pelosi, and the Hong Kong protesters collectively. Ultimately, Greta Thunberg, teenage climate justice activist and history-maker, won out. There’s a reason for that. Thunberg may be a young female activist, but she is also tackling what so many people either do not believe in or do not believe will bother them. She’s thinking about the future of the very Earth we live on with a mindset that many adults do not have. She’s thinking about how to avoid the ultimatum caused by irreversible damage humans have already put upon this Earth. She’s thinking about the future generation and the future of the generations that follow when the Earth has already been poisoned by our hands.
We at Belletrist are not ignorant to the changing world around us and we are aware of the effects language can have on people. Climate justice is important to us and we don’t want our future to be so bleak as it is predicted to be. We’ve taken the time to define climate justice as a term that involves shifting the discussion of the climate crisis to address the unequal impact that climate change has on our most vulnerable communities and the systemic change needed to correct it. We’re helping in the best way we can to raise the awareness of climate justice along with the rest of Bellevue College from the voices of our students and staff. We are only one part of the climate justice productions happening on campus but we hope that the stories from our students will resonate with you.
When we jumped onto this project, we took special care into thinking about climate justice and what we wanted to see in our submissions. We came to the consensus that most mainstream climate change narratives are apocalyptic, hopeless, and dark, paired with that foreboding sense that everything as we know it will end and the world only a picture of a place unfamiliar and frightening. While this could be considered a potential future of the world, we were looking for the quieter works. We were looking for work that shows us the stories amidst the evolving climate – stories that involve the people and places connected to and impacted by this changing world. We wanted to see how humans, and turtles, can change along with climate change.
We carefully read through all the submissions from our students and settled on these three works. Alexia Beltran’s “The Turtle Swam Away” took a simple conversation between neighbors in the pouring rain and made it more significant. DeirDre Rohr’s “The Earth Spit Us Out” was especially poignant with the narrative of a family living an isolated life that required adaptation; detached from the world that went to ruin around them. And finally, Mark W.’s “Pearl River 1980” follows the life of a woman to highlight the disparities between men and women and the extent of what humanity is willing to tolerate in times of catastrophe.
I hope that the voices of the students at Bellevue College will open your eyes and inspire you when the world is yelling at you about climate change. I hope that you’ll take the time to think about how climate change affects you. I hope that you’ll take steps to make the strain you cause on the Earth less. I hope that fear doesn’t stop you from taking action. I hope that our special issue will take the edge off all the screaming, shouting, and the chaos. I hope that you will find solace in the connections you hold dear in this time of uncertainty.
I hope that you’ll gain a sense of peace even as the world changes around you.
Yejin Franchesca Seong