Project: Essay by James Daubert

I hope our local story inspires visitors to open a deeper discussion. It’s disheartening that people with so many interests are separated by race politics, especially on a topic as pressing as climate justice. Bringing their stories together under one project helps show that these differences are easily overcome, and will hopefully inspire others to talk to their neighbors. 

My relationship to climate change and environmental justice is a frustrated one because I am a passionate believer. I grew up in the outdoors, primarily near water. I spent summers by the ocean, and have always appreciated this privilege. My mother pushed me outside as a kid, and also spent much of her time working outside cultivating an extensive garden in both of the places we’ve lived. I love the environment, because it is very much a part of my roots. 

My relationship to climate change more convoluted. For a while it captured my rapt attention, and I worked diligently to find out what I could do to help, and pushed myself to accomplish that. This manifested in my advocation against a new power plant being built at Duke. I also worked in Thailand, focusing on marine conservation, which was a way for me to practice some boots-on-the-ground environmental justice. I wanted to see how climate change affected animals and people from the other side of the world; how my consumption affected theirs. I came away from it with having done a small good for others, but, more importantly, having gained perspective on the marine trash problem, and the general force needed to have any change occur. 

I went to school in Durham for my adolescence, but regrettably have not experienced many sides of this city. I went to an affluent school which lacked diversity, especially socio-economically, and accordingly did not experience many people from different backgrounds. This project gave me an opportunity to learn about the people of Durham. I never thought of a garden as a battleground and a stage for political battle before. I imagine many people are in my boat, and that provides us with a rare opportunity to educate others.