#4: If You Believe What I Believe

I came into this post still unsure about which of my previous topics to pursue. Do I follow the Vermont Gas Pipeline, which I don’t know much about but want to know everything about, or the incredibly broad but incredibly interesting topic of climate change in Vermont? Now I feel more settled, although chances are still good that I will change my mind again by November 5th, or even before my next blog post. But after watching Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, I’ve realized what sets my two topics apart: the “why”.

Why do I want to follow each of my topics? My reason for pursuing the pipeline centers around learning about it and teaching others about it. I want to know what this pipeline really does and why it is being both constructed and protested. I know that I could become passionate about it and discover the true “why” behind my research. But in the end, it is just one big pipe.

But the environment is everywhere, it is all around me, and I love it dearly. I see my “why” when I have hiked a mountain and gaze out at the fields below me. I see my “why” when I sit with my brother and stare at the pine tree rising above us. My “why” is in every footstep I take and poem I write, my “why” is in me and my neighbors and my state and my world. However challenging it may be, I have to follow a topic as important to me as that.

If Simon Sinek knew how I felt about each of my choices, I think he would agree with me. In his TED Talk, he said, “What you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe”. I don’t know yet what I’m aiming to do, but I do know what I believe. The best I can do is to choose a cause that follows that belief. For like Sinek said about Martin Luther King Jr., “People who believed what he believed took his cause and made it his own”. By no means am I the first to fight for the cause of protecting Vermont’s environment, and that’s ok. I am simply taking the cause and making it my own. What I hope more than anything is that I can inspire others to make it their own cause, too. I know why I have chosen this cause, and “it’s those who start with ‘why’ that have the ability to inspire those around them, or find others who inspire them.”

One story of innovative change that has inspired me is a local initiative called “Bee The Change”. The effort aims to plant flowers in solar fields that attract endangered pollinators. It uses the previously empty space between the solar panel and the ground to create more habitats for pollinators to protect them from extinction. It has increased the number of unique pollinators in its first solar farm from 14 to 174 in just one year. This innovative method of protecting the environment and species in Vermont is exactly the sort of change we need; now we only need more of it. That’s where my project comes in.

My “why” is that I care about the environment, the plants and animals of Vermont, the people of Vermont. I have always loved nature, so I want to understand it and protect it. I believe that the single most important thing that the human race can do is protect the Earth. Our planet’s needs surpass our individual needs, because the planet is our biggest need of all. And the state of Vermont is where I believe we can start.

My “how” is first connecting with people who believe what I believe. I will work with them to inform ourselves and then to inform others on the state of Vermont’s environment. My hope is to create a documentary on what climate change is doing to Vermont, and specifically how it is affecting its plants, animals, and agriculture. I want our documentary to highlight the efforts of Vermonters to slow climate change and adapt to Vermont’s changing environment.

My “what” is not yet fully formed. I know that I want to educate people. I know that I want to communicate effectively on behalf of our Earth. I know that I want to create change, but what kind of change is yet unclear. Will I be able to inspire climate policy change in Vermont, or inspire a new method of innovative change? Or will I simply be able to get more people involved in the initiatives that already exist? Climate action is not an issue to argue for or against anymore. The question is, what type of “for” should I argue for? My end result is not yet clear. It’s a good thing we start with “why”.

I care deeply about Vermont’s environment, and I believe we must protect it. If you believe what I believe, work with me to create a documentary for education and change.

Featured Image by Juwi Renewable Energies Limited

Flowers, John. “Bright Idea: Kiernan Pairs Solar Arrays and Bees.” Addison County Independent 19 Sept. 2016: n. pag. Print.
Greta Hardy-Mittell

4 Responses to “#4: If You Believe What I Believe

  • Greta,

    I’m sharing this link to the Muslim Girls Making Change website with you: http://muslimgirlsmakingchange.weebly.com/ Take some time to look through it.

    So now, you’re surely asking, “how is this connected?” So let me try to connect the dots. This group of high school girls from the Burlington area are using slam poetry to advocate for social justice. They found an issue they feel strongly about (like you with the environment) and decided, that for them, slam poetry was the best medium with which to advocate. They’ve been pretty effective in spreading their message, too. Their media page (http://muslimgirlsmakingchange.weebly.com/media.html) shows they’ve been in the Burlington Free Press, on VPR’s Vermont Edition, in the Huffington Post, and featured in other media as well. Now, I’m not saying you need to start writing slam poetry about the environment or scratch your idea of a documentary, but you’ve mentioned interests in writing and music in prior posts and I’m wondering if you can find a way to combine those interests with the passion you have for the environment to create something truly dynamic and unique.


    • Erik,
      Thank you for sharing that with me. In fact, I’ve already had plenty of time to get acquainted with MGMC! They got started through the same organization that I spend much of my time with: Young Writers Project. I have read their writing on the website, and actually got a chance to see them perform in person at a YWP event! They are certainly an inspiration.
      So are you saying that there is a possibility to create something other than a documentary in WtS, or at least something outside of a traditional documentary? Because you’re right, I do love writing and music, and if I could find a way to incorporate those passions into this one it would be amazing. I certainly want to go through the digital storytelling process of research and interviews and the rest, but like you suggested, I would also love to create something unique.
      Thank you again!

  • Shel Sax
    7 years ago

    Hi Greta,
    Sounds like you are persevering in narrowing down your topic and at the same time, open to all sorts of new and exciting possibilities. I don’t know if it will help, but when I’m in these situations, I try and ask ‘what would success look like?’ What’s my primary objective – is it learning, analyzing, teaching others, increasing awareness, creatively framing the question? And when all of the above seems to be the answer, to what do I give the highest priority?

    If you can pinpoint your audience, what you’d like them to take away and how to most effectively present what you’ve discovered, it may help to further your thinking on how to move forward.
    Cheers, Shel

    • Shel,

      Thank you for your helpful tips, as always! Those questions will be useful for whatever direction my project ends of taking. I’m not yet sure of my priority, like I said, but I think the audience is a critical point. If you read my next blog post, I actually went back to researching the pipeline. It’s not necessarily a permanent switch, but one good thing about that topic is that I think I could have a clearer audience. Either other teenagers to teach them about the pipeline, or landowners on the route, or Vermont’s government.


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