Director’s Corner: Expressing Gratitude at the End of a Long Year

We are coming to the end of a challenging year. This time last year, none of us could have imagined what 2020 would look like. A pandemic that would bring heartbreaking death, loss and broken dreams; widespread civil unrest in response to ongoing racial injustice and police violence; and unprecedented Western wildfires with a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season. Many of us, including the Climate Impacts Group team, struggled with the challenges of working from home while raising and schooling children, while many others lost their jobs or risked everything to keep them.

In my October blog post I mentioned turning to gratitude during these difficult times. As we wrap up this year and look forward to the opportunities the new year brings, I wanted to take some time to share what I’m grateful for.

I am grateful for our partners — the individuals and organizations across the Northwest using our science to reduce climate vulnerabilities and advance climate resilience. Despite all the challenges 2020 threw your way, you managed to make some really amazing things happen. The Washington Department of Natural Resources, King County, Chelan County and the Methow Valley all released Climate Resiliency Action Plans; Washington’s Insurance Commissioner held his annual Climate Summit; and the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Climate Impacts Group won a 2020 Climate Leadership Award for their work on climate-resilient fish passages, to name just a few.

I am grateful for the support of our donors and funders. In the last year, your contributions made it possible for us to reach new audiences and build new partnerships that we’ll be announcing in 2021. Your support is allowing us to develop new tools for conservation decision-making in a changing climate and staff the strategic efforts of a trans-boundary, trans-jurisdictional partnership for large-landscape adaptation. Most importantly, your support enables us to immediately address climate-related knowledge and capacity gaps as they emerge.

I am grateful for the skill, creativity and dedication of the Climate Impacts Group team. You pivoted to online work with grace and patience, juggling family and home-schooling responsibilities while still moving your important work forward. When the pandemic struck, your concerns were with our partners in public health and how we could lighten some of their load. When protests against police brutality and racial injustice erupted across the country, you showed up and dug into the ongoing process of learning and working to reshape our work and partnerships to better support racial justice and equity. In the midst of the exhaustion, stress and anxiety, you supported each other and never wavered from your conviction in the urgency of our mission. I’m grateful for you, and I’m grateful for the Climate Impacts Group alumni who paved the way for our work today.

I am grateful for the moments of joy and silliness that have lightened this year. Seeing colleagues’ babies, cats and dogs on Zoom calls has helped connect us as humans. Staring out the window has connected me with nature in my neighborhood. And I’m still laughing over the Quarantine boogie.

Finally, I am grateful for the increasing acknowledgment that the roots of this year’s losses, tragedies and trauma run deep. And the recognition that we need concerted, collaborative efforts to create a world where society is just, the climate is stable, families are healthy, work is safe and people and nature can thrive.

As we turn the page on the year 2020, I’ll leave you with my current favorite line of poetry:

“Where there’s music, someone chose to make a song / over all other things on earth.” 
– “Blueberries for Cal” by Brenda Shaughnessy, in The Octopus Museum.

Let’s all make music in 2021.

– Amy