OUTLOOK with Laura Bither

Outlook explores variables that shape and influence individuals relationships with nature and how they seek to inspire, adapt and reimagine what conservation can look like moving forward in a world where Climate Change is affecting a broad range of human and natural systems.

Author: Laura Bither, Regional Youth Hub Coordinator with JustME for JustUS

OUTLOOK: How my passion for climate justice and outdoor accessibility for all plays out in my work.

SMCC: What are you passionate about and how does that play out in your work?

My passion is climate justice and outdoor accessibility for all. The Scarborough Marsh Climate Change Observatory (CCO) site is ADA-accessible, which is a necessary and obvious step in inclusivity. The restorative benefits of nature are especially vital for folks who are combating ableism, white supremacy, settler colonialism, and capitalism in their everyday lives because of the identities they present.

I’m thrilled about the participatory model of the Climate Change Observatory Network (CCON). In a place like the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center that gets a lot of tourists, visitors develop only a transient, transactional relationship with the land. Bringing in a program that fosters in visitors an intentional engagement with the land is crucial as we adapt to climate change and reframe our relationship to the land to be one of reciprocity rather than of extraction.

In my roles this past summer as the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center Environmental Education Intern and the Maine Environmental Changemakers Community Organizer I created and authored a project on climate change and sea level rise. By focusing on the stories of youth and fisherfolk – those typically left unheard in the traditional environmental movement – I centered on the challenges Maine coastal communities face and their visions for a climate-resilient future. A digital version will be posted to the Maine Audubon website, and a physical display will be mounted next spring on the front of the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center.

In my current role as the Regional Youth Hub Coordinator with JustME for JustUS I am driven by a mission to create a strong youth-led network of civic engagement and climate justice work in rural Maine. I feel incredibly lucky to work with an organization and leaders in the climate justice movement to shift power toward a shared goal of equity and justice for all Mainers. Through a series of political power trainings and micro grants to support youth projects, we are dedicated to supporting the awesome civic engagement and climate justice work that youth are putting forward. We must center youth voices in policy and planning as we reimagine our future with climate change.

POEM: vacationland by Laura Bither