As the ABOUT section details, a big component of this site will be me giving the “climate talk” to my friends and family. This is for practical reasons (these are people I love and I want them to be prepared) and because personal encounters are more relatable than scientific reports. Here is the account of my first recorded talk, given to my family on 8/23/12 in Chatham, MA.
Only a week prior I had quit my job to pursue this project, and I did what any recently employed person would do: I went on vacation. I spent a few days in Provincetown with friends, and then met up with my family down in Chatham. Right away I’d like to give a shout out, because this was one of the best vacations of my life. I think that was because it was so different, at least for us. My mom, my sisters and I all lived together until the kids went away to college, and I don’t think any of us saw that situation as idyllic (to put it mildly). Things were frequently hostile, and I think we all had come to associate living in proximity with anger and frustration.
College to the rescue! In addition to all its other magic, college gave us the space we needed to breathe and relax. Since then we’ve been drifting back together, learning to appreciate eachother as adults, and reincorporating family time as a result. This trip was really the culmination: all of us in close proximity, for an extended period of time, for the first time in more than a decade. And for the most part, things were great…those associations with frustration and anger were replaced by much more positive ones. I think a big part of that has to do with my two newly minted nieces (ages 1 and 3), who are actively changing everyone’s brain chemistry to make us love and appreciate family more.
The intended targets of the climate talk were my sister Jill and her husband John, and after some coaxing they agreed to listen to me on Thursday. It was a nice night so we went out to the deck, they settled in with some wine, and I got ready. But then, surprisingly, most everyone else in my family came out to join us. We had a really good mix of people: my sister Jill (stay at home mother with balls of steel), my brother-in-law John (affable, works in finance), my mom (smart, no-nonsense), Jay (mom’s boyfriend, Fox News devotee), Hildur (John’s charming mother), and Margaret (John’s 11 year old niece).
The full video of the talk (~20 min):
Overall I thought things went pretty well. I didn’t stammer too much, and I knew what I wanted to say without relying overmuch on my notes. The one thing I clearly need to do is figure out what to do with my fucking hands. This video has been edited to soften the banging each time they hit the table, because it was almost unwatchable before.
After the talk we got in to the Q&A, which was fantastic. Everyone seemed curious and asked good questions, and things carried on for quite a while. More wine was poured and people blended in and out of the conversation as it was getting late and people were getting ready for bed. Jay was giving me the business, and John chimed in with doom and gloom every now and then. Below are video shorts for the Q&A portion that came after the talk. I only caught some of what was probably 45 minutes of talking on tape, but here are some highlights:
Jay explains that we’re all doomed.
I beg to differ.
Mom chimes in.
I get the last word.
Once again I just want to say thanks to my family for listening to me and getting this whole project kicked off. Thanks family!