My name is Akanksha Basil. I’m a student at Wellesley College (originally from New York) and founder of The Cynefin Project, a youth-led environmental organization. I love to write poetry, read, hike, take photographs, watch old films, and listen to jazz. I feel happiest when I'm out in nature or have an antique book in my hands.
Like many of you, I harbor extreme fear and anxiety over the impeding doom that is the climate crisis and the relentless threat of human development faced by nature. If you're here, chances are you know that climate change will be CATASTROPHIC. It will involve impossible sacrifice, abrupt and violent change, and a complete upending of human society. This is not a hyperbole. But what makes climate change and human destruction of the natural world so dangerous is that many of us, in order to cope with the extreme stress of realizing that there may not be a future, push the idea of catastrophe away. Myself included.
…But there are ways for us to create real change. Of course, I could give you the whole spiel on how we need to be the world’s next generation of innovators and how, as adults, we must be the ones to fix humanity’s EPIC mistakes. Not that that’s not true, but those of us who are passionate about preserving the only planet we have can start by simply having an open, honest dialogue about it. The Cynefin Project was created in the hope that we’d be able to build a network of young environmentalists who have ideas, stories, and plans regarding the natural world and the crisis we’re facing. Activism is a crucial part of creating change, but perhaps, together, we can take it a step further by challenging ourselves to put our ideas out there. We are indeed the next generation, for better or worse. Why not start world-saving with our brains?
I’ll be posting on Cynefin regularly. My team and I will cover everything from our childhood exploits of catching ladybugs and cavorting around with spring peepers in our hair (strange story) to how the fabric of society needs to be ripped up (like an old carpet) and redone. But more importantly, we want to hear your voice. We want your work to be here, alongside ours— whether you write, draw, paint, sing, or just jot down world-saving ideas on scrap paper, we want to hear what you have to say. Puh-lease send us your ideas and stories, and we'll post them on The Cynefin Project. When we can have open discussions, we can start creating plans of action to make real change. If you would like to be a longtime collaborator (OH MY GOODALL, YES. PLEASE. WE WANT TO WORK WITH YOU.), we'll communicate, discuss, and eventually start putting some of the pieces of the climate crisis web together. There's a lot of work to be done, and everyone's help is needed. Every single person has the potential to make massive change.
‘Cynefin’ (pronounced kin-ev-in) is a Welsh word roughly translating to ‘habitat’ or ‘a place to stand’. It is the feeling of knowing that you ought to live and belong someplace. Guess what?! We all belong here, on Earth. So let’s do our best to help it survive, and hopefully thrive.
Who knows? Maybe we’ll solve the woes of humanity. I hope your place to stand is here.
Hi! On The Cynefin Project, I’m just SRN, but I promise there’s a name behind the letters and a face behind the bird. (I love birds, especially cardinals, which I did a project on in 10th grade.) I’m from Austin, Texas, but I’m now a student at Carleton College, a small liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota. Yes, it’ll be much colder than Texas. I know. (As of August 2021, when I’m writing this, I have yet to experience a Minnesota winter, but my goal for college was to be somewhere with snow, so hopefully I’ll love it.)
Like Akanksha, I’m a reader, writer, and environmentalist, and nature has always been part of my life. My family has gone on hiking trips since I was little, and by the time I was in middle school, I was reading the EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) Solutions reports that got mailed to us as donors to the organization. I know that climate change is an urgent problem, but it’s taken me a long time to start putting myself out in the world to try to do something about it. With The Cynefin Project, I’m able to explore the webs of connection between the environment and so many other facets of society and the world. I can be part of analyzing the problems we face, evaluating the solutions we might try, and building a foundation for action that will make a difference.
One of the things that’s always thrilled me the most about The Cynefin Project is the vision of creating a network of people with all sorts of backgrounds and perspectives, unified around the environment and the challenge of preserving it. I look forward to seeing our network grow, and I hope we can reach our vision in reality. With human connections, we can address the wicked tangle of climate change.
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