“Their narrative read ‘We do this #ForTheLoveOf Skiing’. Our narrative is one which has a context wide enough to contain the solidarity needed for systemic change. It is one which doesn’t compartmentalize the struggle into climate, racism, migration. It acknowledges that to be truly insurrectional, one must be intersectional.” Joshua Virasami and Alexandra Wanjiku Kelbert, Darkening the White Heart of the Climate Movement

#ForTheLoveOf Skiing is part of my story. As a straight, white, cis-gendered woman that grew up wealthy in the country that invented colonialism and the industrial revolution, then moved to the country that decided to one-up the first on both, I came to “environmentalism” through extreme privilege. It was from time spent in the mountains, on the downs, skiing, riding horses, that I fell in love with the Earth.

Many years have gone by. Endless stories have redefined my notion of what loving this Earth looks like, re-orienting my childhood adamance towards justice. This evening I was stopped by a journalist in the street as I rode my bicycle. He said in a thick French accent: “Are you here for the COP21?” Yes. “Are you an activist?”

Yes, I said, and felt all that the word can mean rush over me. Every day I grapple with what it means to put myself forward in a struggle that stamps harder on others and their families than myself and my own.

Today, it meant not eating. For just one day, I joined ‪#‎fastfortheclimate‬. Inside the whirling COP space was one moment of stillness: a table of faith leaders sat in front of empty plates, including Yeb Sano, former chief negotiator for the Phillipines who did not eat for 14 days at COP19 after Typhoon Haiyan destroyed his hometown. One at a time they spoke: “I fast for…” They spoke of suffering, with love.

Two of my fellow SustainUS delegates had the chance to speak in front of the assembled crowd. Cameras flashing, journalists thrusting, endless tweeting. I felt a part of myself yearning for the spotlight. Ego: the part that seeks to consolidate power and privilege. Naming the sensation, I set it aside, and listened.

“My fast is a form of prayer,” Yeb said. “A prayer for a miracle here in Paris.” He did not smile.

– M