A Conversation About Climate Action on the Continental Divide Trail

Flipping the Script

I've had what you might call "environmental issues" on my radar for about as long as I can remember. For the past five years, I've focused a lot of attention and energy on the climate crisis; staying informed, advocating for solutions, changing my own habits and lifestyle. Doing so can be exhausting, and often devastating, at all levels of engagement. Reading about the disruption of our planet's natural systems, the extraction and consumption that drive this destruction, and the political climate that allows it is a source of despair for many, myself included. It can feel as if all the stories we tell about our changing climate weigh us down into apathy, hopelessness.

But hope is not a weighing of odds; nor is it blind optimism. Hope is a recognition that the future has not been decided, and that uncertainty allows for agency. There is a world of difference between "best case scenario" and "worst case scenario," especially with climate change. We don't know exactly how bad the climate crisis will get, and we have power today to make an impact on our shared future: to choose, steer towards, and strive for a livable planet. We need to be reminding ourselves of our agency, of the power we hold together. We ought to be telling stories of how the people have risen against the odds to change history, time and time again. We ought to be reminding ourselves and one another what it looks like to be engaged in the shaping of our world, and that if we don't shape it, someone else - say, the fossil fuel industry - will. 

Hike the Divide aims to share stories that breathe life into the sparks of hope we all harbor, stories that stoke the embers of engagement. I could rant for hours about stories I've heard and stories of my own that run to that effect, but that's not what this project is about. 

The "environmental movement" has, since its conception, been dominated by people of privilege: people like me, frankly. Hike the Divide aims to leverage my privilege to boost the stories of some who may not have the same access to audiences as I do. Wouldn't you rather hear straight from the people whose lived experiences created the stories anyway? 

The people you'll hear from share a broad wealth of experience, ranging from civil disobedience to energy municipalization and more. Some of their stories can already be found in my Follow the Journey blog. 

The Project

The video you just watched is where this whole thing began. If you're just now reading this, you may have already figured out that I completed my hike on November 19th, 2016, 145 days after beginning at the border of Canada. Though you missed the opportunity to follow along in real time, fret not; the best is yet to come.

I’m happy to say that the documentary is finished. It screened as an official selection of the 2019 Portland Eco Film Festival, and there are a few more exciting opportunities on the horizon that I can’t yet divulge. Soon, after a round of community screenings (want to host one?), the film will be available to stream for free on Vimeo. In tandem with the film's release, you'll be able to find pages on this site for each person that I interviewed, including an overview, photos, videos and the audio recordings of the interviews. Finally, I'm in the process of writing a book about the entire experience. If you're more interested in the hiking component of Hike the Divide, or if perhaps you enjoy my perspective and commentary, the book will hopefully scratch that itch for you.