Earlier this year, the IDF team collectively read and discussed All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, a collection of essays by women leading the climate movement, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson. Here we share some of our personal thoughts, learnings, and reflections.

I like data. Data is important to measure issues and quantify problems. But more than data, the storyteller in me likes stories that remind us of our humanity  and how it’s affected by the challenges that we face. This book puts human/women’s faces on the climate change crisis…. As I kept thinking about it, I thought about (see photo) the leader of a women’s group in Haiti called Fanm Vanyan (which means Courageous Women). Her group grows citrus trees that have been dying because of increasing droughts. They spend hours at night trying to get water from a defective pump. She can tell us about the climate crisis though she doesn’t know the term. We, in the aid sector, have been building and we are still building fields around concepts brimming with ever growing terminology (climate change/crisis, social protection, localization, decolonization)… Sometimes, I just want to scale down the scaffolding and say: “Please, come. Let’s just meet and serve communities.” – Marie-Rose Romain Murphy, Project Director, The Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom

In an age when temperatures are rising, climate-anxiety is filling the space on therapists’ couches, and we are bombarded by eco-disasters across the globe it is hard to find a sense of hope. More than a collection of essays, All We Can Save became a grounding experience for me to move out of a place of feeling hopeless, helpless, and powerless. Instead, seeing a common thread through the individual stories, I found a deep sense of community-driven change; helping me see that my role is part of a larger collective. All We Can Save has me shifting to a perspective of how to engage within a community to further the sacred work already in progress – and to see the climate crisis as an opportunity of communal spiritual practice. – Leah Questad, Project Manager

A dominant and recurring theme throughout the collection of essays and poems in All We Can Save is that of community. Building an inclusive community, one that centers marginalized communities, communities of color, and Indigenous peoples, is what we need to effectively address the climate crisis at hand. As Johnson and Wilkinson observe in the final essay of the book, “From the foundation of science and community . . . [k]now that we already have most of the solutions we need – from regenerative farming to renewable energy to restored ecosystems to redesigned mobility, materials, and structures . . . we just need to get to it.” We all have a role we can play if we’re willing to be part of a collective and collaborative solution. – Jen Oakley, Program Partner

We have been given the wonderful gift of this planet and it is difficult to see how we are continuing to destroy it. As it has been said many times over the years at my church, “it is very easy to ruin something and it can be done quickly, but it takes tremendous time and effort to build something.” (based on Matthew 7:13-14, the narrow and wide gates) All We Can Save is a powerful anthology that brings together many perspectives and voices about the topic of climate change. There is a glimmer of hope reading about the grassroots efforts of many women who are engaging in the effort to save this planet and to be challenged to think how decisions in daily life impact the health of the planet. What am I using or purchasing today? What can I do today to be part of this collective force to make a difference in the race to save this wonderful gift? – Sonya van der Meer, Project Coordinator, The Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom

Following the release of the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the United Nations’ Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the world is “sleepwalking to climate catastrophe.” For me, All We Can Save was another wake-up call, and perhaps more importantly an invitation to action, from women and girls across the globe. It lifted up the power that each of us holds to make change and offers insight into different pathways to engage with the climate movement. Taken together the stories and essays deepened my understanding of the frontline impacts that are happening now, while highlighting the extraordinary work that women and girls are doing to save what still can be saved. It helped me to see that while the issues are incredibly complex, if we listen to people working in frontline communities for climate justice, we will discover ways of moving forward and find reasons for hope. I believe that we need these stories to help shift the narrative around climate change and move us to action that is rooted in our shared love of the earth and our fellow human beings as well as in an understanding that while there is no one correct way to engage, there is urgency for each of us to act. – Sheila Leddy, Program Partner

I really enjoyed the breadth of voices this book brought forward on what has to be one of our most pressing existential risks as a species and planet. I especially appreciated reflecting on both community centered solutions and indigenous wisdom, which reminded me of one of IDF’s original strategic efforts around “Creation Care,” and more generally, good stewardship. – Ross Jones, Founding Partner

Reading All We Can Save has been quite an impactful journey on a personal level which is helping me to connect many dots that can on the surface seem separate and disconnected. I opted for the audio version and have been listening to the book in small little segments while walking and commuting. The book is written as a beautiful and artful chorus of voices of women climate leaders who speak from a deep soulful, yearning place within. Many of the voices draw from and ground all they do in a foundation of indigenous wisdom which honors the balance and sacredness of the natural world. So, for me, this has felt like a devotional reading that touches my own longing to live in a way that is more harmonious, in-tune with, and caring for the deep and regenerative wisdom of Mother Nature which sustains and cares for us. I am not all the way done with the book and feel like with every essay I read/listen to, I am plunging deep into the heart of a movement that is ringing alarm bells and doing so much to wake us all up to unlearn and relearn how to live together on this planet. At times, I have to admit, I resist reading because it can feel overwhelming and sad to become more aware. But on some deep existential level, the “all we can save” collective vision they are inviting us into is something deep down I already know but have lost touch with. What our planet needs is one and the same as the more gender-balanced, equitable, and sustainable world we all seek for ourselves and the next generation. – Emily Nielsen Jones, Founding Partner

One thing I so appreciated about All We Can Save was its acknowledgement of the emotional, spiritual, and psychological trauma that comes from living through the climate crisis. A strong emotional reaction to frequent news of climate disasters has sometimes hindered my ability to engage in productive work towards, or even conversation about, mitigation. But several essays in the book addressed this and made me feel less alone in my “climate grief.” (pg. 238) It was a meaningful reminder that we can’t stop fighting for the people, places, and cultures that are being threatened. – Katinka Hakuta, Grants Manager