No.1 Real people. Real Stories.
How do you solve problems of safety and danger during extreme weather events that strike the Great Salt Marsh communities? You start to understand how impactful these events have been to the people that have lived through them.
As I sift through the written stories left behind from attendees at the Café last Sunday, my bones are chilled. The cards are all common -- everyone has experienced an extreme and memorable storm. The thing that shakes me the most about the stories is that almost all stories involved the loss of power, and families relying on blankets and warm fires for heat. It might be the dystopian literature I have been reading recently, but I am starting to see these events foreshadowing what the future may bring. With more frequent and more damaging storms predicted to hit the Great Salt Marsh and the surrounding communities, I grow concerned for my home, located at sea level.
Connection through storytelling has been something humans have been doing for thousands of years. It has also been a tactic used in Climate Cafés to use storytelling to connect people as well. In the “storm stories” shared on Sunday from the attendees they all had an urgent tone. Some shared stories of power outages and neighbors coming over to warm up by the fire, but others dove deep into the past when their lives were at risk commuting home from work during the Storm of ‘78. The intergenerational aspect of Climate Café is why these connections grow so important. A seventeen year old was obviously not alive for the Storm of ‘78, but she got to hear a first hand experience of it through direct conversation, how cool is that. It is in these conversations that empathy is created between community members and we grow more resilient and connected together.
Almost all of these stories had something to do with water. Some referenced the notorious Mothers Day Flood in 2006, and others referenced storms from just last year. A writer expressed her experience with descriptions of her basement in April of 2006, “Our basement had water flooding in and reached 3-4 feet level - Our house was built around 1720-40 and I don’t think it had ever flooded like this. We were unprepared.” I am sure many of you reading this can relate to the excess of water these storms bring. Another writer reflects on the time that they were, “nearly stuck in the Ipswich River.” Driving home from work they were conflicted on which road had the least amount of water submerging it. It turns out all of the roads were covered and they had to push through this river water to get home. Home, a place we all have close to our hearts and that which is severely threatened.
These stories all occured along the Great Salt Marsh and were shared through perspectives of all ages and backgrounds. The conversations which grew from all of them also grew relationships between concerned citizens because they were able to relate to each other on level of survival in times of crisis. This is needed in our communities today more than ever because of what our future is predicted to hold. So, let's talk to our neighbors about what we can do for each other in times like these, lets get educated on what we need in our “go bags”, and most importantly lets come together as Great Marsh communities to stand up for the beautiful place we call home.