Klima Kabisayaan: Building grit to sustain climate activism

By Paula Bernasor

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Halfway through the year! Are you still inspired? If you don’t feel motivated, your inspiration is just gone, if your excitement for work is just not what it used to be, it is all fine! Whatever your job is, this is bound to happen. Pulling yourself out is never particularly easy. 

Have you ever had an extremely challenging experience before a great victory? Then you have had a grit-building moment. Grit is mental, physical, and emotional resilience. A combination of passion and perseverance towards long-term goals. It mixes resilience, ambition, and self-control in the pursuit of goals that take months, years, or even decades.

As environmentalists and activists, we often face challenges. The current political and policy changes in the Philippines are proving to be another giant hurdle for us to overcome. It is easy to get depressed with the current state of our planet on top of the constant harassment and red-tagging of environmental activists. Why do we continue to do what we do for the Earth? 

Even the most triumphant among us occasionally fails. What they don’t do is quit. How can environmentalists become more resilient? Is grit something we can control or develop?

There are four (4) things Angela Duckworth explains that make up the formula to developing more grit:

First is time.

Give yourself time to practice and learn and stay in the game. Having the time to do things is crucial to improving.

Second is practice.

Every time you fail, think of it as just having been another practice attempt. How do the Climate Reality Leaders practice? Here are some of the Acts of Leadership that our Visayas Climate Reality Leaders have done over the months:

  • Mainstreaming biodiversity conservation and protection among youths;
  • Joining youth cluster and actively campaigning against single-use plastics;
  • Taking part in Climate Science Olympiad;
  • Being part of the communications team of YOUNGO;
  • Volunteering in the Climate Reality Philippines Youth Cluster’s Mag-ASUP Tayo;
  • Promoting white roofs to reduce residential cooling costs;
  • Writing articles about the climate movement in the school publication;
  • Actively participating in the community of several organizations that have the same climate-related advocacies;
  • Promoting DRR Preparedness Activity through Theater;
  • Joining relief operations;
  • Creating awareness campaigns;
  • Talking to youth organizations and the Sangguniang Kabataan about environmental issues;
  • Serving as the Partnerships Head of Rethink Plastic, an NGO dedicated to understanding the world’s plastic addiction, promoting new material innovations, and acting against plastic waste and we are currently preparing for our Internship Program which will immerse and orient participants in the usual operational tasks of a non-profit organization focused on the environment and plastics;
  • Drafting of the People Survival Fund and Resilient and Green Recovery Plan for Ormoc City; and
  • Organizing coastal and community clean-ups and initiated environmental competitions at school.
 

Even the smallest act has an impact and oftentimes this is just a stepping stone toward bigger projects.

Third is purpose

Practice is useless if what you’re practicing is something you don’t feel purposeful about or can be highly interested in. As humans, we tend to be compelled by reasons for doing something, and need that intrinsic motivation. In a personal development or career sense, this “why” stands for a sense of purpose. 

"Fulfillment is not born of the dream. Fulfillment is born of the journey."

- Simon Sinek

During the June Regional Hangout, the Climate Reality Leaders in Visayas and I asked ourselves about our individual purpose. One of our leaders said that whenever he is feeling demotivated he just reminds himself, “What if the next innovator of the Philippines is coming from an underserved community?” For most, the dream of a sustainable and climate-resilient future for their families and communities is what keeps them going. 

Last is hope.

Learn that it’s alright to fail as long as you don’t give up or quit. In a community like The Climate Reality Project Philippines, you always feel a sense of hope. The culture we live in and identify with powerfully shapes just about every aspect of our being. If you want to be grittier and hopeful, you need to find a community with such a culture and join it. Every time you connect with a fellow Climate Reality Leader, you always discover new ways, approaches, and perspectives on an environmental and climate issue.

Though the Philippines is now the deadliest country for environmental activists, according to a report from the watchdog group Global Witness, environmentalists continue their fight despite being vilified and red-tagged. We have to continue working every day in order to achieve the changes and the protection of the environment that we have all collectively worked on. When hope seems bleak, we have to stay motivated, passionate, and grittier.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR 
 

Paula Bernasor is the Visayas Coordinator of The Climate Reality Project Philippines. She is a Climate Reality Philippines Leader and Mentor, Chapter Director for Startup Grind Cebu, and a volunteer for Project Sharklink and Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project. She previously worked as an Associate for Partnerships for Rare Organisation’s Fish Forever in the Philippines. She started Project Library in the Philippines, a grassroots movement that helps underprivileged communities in remote areas gain access to books and reading materials, as well as Ocean Love Philippines, which uses social media to spread awareness on pressing environmental issues and to promote a sustainable lifestyle and the circular economy. 

ABOUT KLIMA KABISAYAAN

Klima Kabisayaan is a space that aims to amplify the climate stories and initiatives of the more than 300 Pinoy Climate Reality Leaders in Visayas.

It is one of the monthly columns launched by The Climate Reality Project Philippines to elevate the climate discourse and strengthen climate action across all regions in the Philippines.