Hello and welcome to the hosts table. Come in, take your jacket off, sit down and stay a while!
Behind the screen today is the website creator Bailey Fogel. I have been a part of the Climate Cafe for almost four years now and am a passionate environmentalist. This part of our blog will focus on the hosts (high schoolers from all around the Great Marsh) and their personal reflections on Climate Cafes. Hosts often have so many important realizations during Cafes that I thought it would be important for them to document them. Below is an essay of mine I have written about how meaningful intergenerational conversation is and also a special person to all us hosts, Shari Melto. Enjoy!
It was then, as the swallows swooped down just feet from us, that I felt harmony in the present moment. Although a few clouds threatened the coming of the sun, the sky still brightened and morning on the marsh continued. I was enveloped in a blanket and my fingers were intertwined in a warm cup filled with coffee that she had kindly filled moments before. On the famous deck we sat, in silence, observing the waking world around us.
Ever since I was introduced to Shari, her enthusiastic approach to find solutions to the world's most complicated and often overlooked problems has impressed me. Decades apart, she and I have many differences, but we have a common goal, to preserve the world for future generations, and we bring awareness to this shared bond through meaningful conversation, giving both of us hope for what is to come.
Although Shari and I have lived separate lives, we still connect through shared goals and core values. She grew up in the midwest, lived in New York City to pursue her career, and moved to her shack on the salt marsh. There she finds solitude on her deck with the marsh; her thousands of books keep her company. I was brought up in a small coastal city, living in a half-house with my family. I spent my childhood along the coast of Plum Island which made a deep impression on my view of the natural world. Throughout the past few years of my chaotic high school life I have found refuge in my friendship with Shari. She welcomes me whenever her butterfly flag flies high, and mostly whenever conversation calls.
She and I have spent hours together on her famous deck looking over the salt marsh, attending climate protests in Boston, and over lunch in cafes. Our conversations stretch from topics as different as ways to implement meaningful conversation in our polarized world to our recent adventures. At times I sit back and zoom out on the situation. We are two women, born nearly half a century apart, and we still connect. Shari has taught me many lessons on how to get the most out of our one “wild and precious life”, as Mary Oliver once said. Shari’s wealth of knowledge stems from the books she has read and the authors she has worshipped, authors to whom she has referred me. She has opened up me to the world of Thoreau, Emerson, and many other famous poets and authors.
Shari and I have built a symbiotic relationship. I inform her of the modern day thought process of teenagers, and she teaches me the lessons that took her many years and books to understand. If I were to meet another being like Shari, to whom I am sure there is no one to compare, I would react the same. I would welcome that person into my life with gratitude, for the stories we could share.
Often people my age overlook elders as people who, “just don’t understand them,¨ or the opposite: Some elders look down upon teenagers and assume we don’t know anything important. But I believe there is a reason for these situations. We don’t communicate. We don’t take advantage of the years of experience they have had of which we have not. Intergenerational communication is needed today more than ever, considering the drastic changes technology has had on our generation as well as the detrimental problems posed by climate change. Clear communication among all generations is necessary to create positive change.
Everytime I walk down Shari’s front steps to head home, I carry a different head on my shoulders than I had when I had climbed up them. I leave determined and inspired, feeling like we just solved all the world's problems through conversation, but one problem is always left unsolved, getting the world to hear us.