A Knight Speaks – Lena Milton
“We must work to expand the circle of environmentalists to everyone taking positive action.”
First, what’s your name? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hey, I’m Lena. I’m California-grown, but currently living in Mashpee, Massachusetts on Mashpee-Wampanoag land. When I’m not writing, you can find me outside, walking, hiking or lounging around!
Why are you concerned about the environment and/or the impacts of global warming?
To put it simply, I’m concerned about my future and the future of my generation. As someone right on the line between Millennials and Gen Z, the word “concerned” honestly doesn’t feel strong enough to describe how I feel about the impacts of global warming. We’re already seeing its devastating effects all around us, whether we recognize it or not. Not only do I believe in preserving the environment because of its intrinsic value, but I believe we need to address global warming because of the impacts it will have on our society.
What climate-crisis-related issues or impacts are affecting you and your community?
While I’m privileged enough to not be facing the worst of climate change’s impacts (yet), I have still experienced it firsthand in my home state of California. Every year, I have come to expect another beloved natural area’s destruction by wildfire. I really came face to face with climate change in the 2020 Creek Fire, when I had to evacuate from the fire while on a backpacking trip. California as a whole is already being impacted severely by climate change, particularly the agricultural and ranching communities. As I walked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2021, I heard firsthand the concerns of rural communities who are already being forced to grapple with disappearing resources and livelihoods.
Why did you join the Knights of the Climate Covenant? (So glad you’re with us, by the way!)
I appreciate the Climate Knights’ commitments to inclusivity and positivity while still maintaining a sense of urgency. I resonate with the message that everyone can be an environmentalist and that our small actions matter (despite the outsized role that corporations play in pushing climate change along!). As a young person concerned about the climate, it can be easy to get pulled into cynicism. The Knights of the Climate Covenant provides a fresh outlook without glossing over the important facts of the matter: that climate change is a real issue that requires collective, systemic change.
How do you think the Knights can inspire more people to talk about the climate crisis with our families, friends, neighbors and/or elected officials or otherwise make a difference?
Most of us already take environmentally-friendly actions frequently. As Knights of the Climate, I believe that we must work to expand the circle of environmentalists to everyone taking positive action, regardless of whether they meant to or not! Inclusivity in the climate movement is crucial to effecting widespread change, and the Knights can start by welcoming everyone to the conversation.
How do you think we can better support one another as environmental/climate crisis activists and Knights of the Climate Covenant?
The best support we can give each other (and ourselves) as activists is lowered expectations. I know, this doesn’t sound that great! But it’s easy to get burnt out as an activist working against such a large issue. We can’t all be perfect environmentalists all the time, and we need to recognize that taking a break or doing something in a less “green” way is only human. The pressure to be the perfect environmentalist all the time is just going to result in a smaller circle of activists. Forgetting the reusable grocery bag or skipping the protest every once in a while is okay.
We want to share your climate story, too! All you need to do is ramble on a video or voice recording or in an email, send it in and we’ll turn it into a post. We’ve even created a list of prompts if you need help getting started. Check them out!
Lena Milton is a Knight of the Climate Covenant, an environment and science writer and, as our new communications coordinator, the most recent addition to the Climate Knights staff.