In her Essays of Undoing*, Terry Tempest Williams painted a picture of our national parks in 2055. The essay entitled The Park of the Future takes visitors to Canyonlands National Park. She describes how access is limited to the park to two “enclosed viewing stations … that are cooled by solar power.” The roads now abandoned, “historical scars reminiscent of a time when the world was fueled by gasoline and people drove cars without thinking.” Virtual goggles are provided at the lookout stations where visitors can look out at the now barren landscape and see what it looked like decades ago when there was sage, other greenery, trees, wildlife and water in the river.
This essay has haunted me since I read it a few months ago.
In its haunting beauty, Terry Tempest Williams has brought to life the issue of climate change by showing us what is at stake. The problem of climate change, as we know, is vast and daunting. To the average person, we know and we care about it. We do our part by drinking water from our Hyrdroflask water bottles and our reusable shopping bags, all while knowing it’s not enough.
In this story, Terry Tempest Williams has shown readers what will happen if we don’t take action today.
In choosing one park and one scenario, she has changed the way I think about something (in this case, a global, abstract-feeling issue). She has held real estate in my memory, which is a huge feat since I can’t seem to remember anything without writing it down. I can’t even remember where I put my sunglasses. But this story, I can’t shake from my mind.
Haunting —-> Thought-provoking —–> Memorable ——–> Action
Any good story has something at stake. In the movie Sliding Doors, director Peter Howitt shows us what’s at stake if Gwyneth Paltrow misses her train. He takes us down the path to see how life has so changed, whether she makes it or not.
So I’ll ask you: Are you working on something that feels bigger than the individual, that is daunting, even abstract? Have you shown your audience what is at stake? Not to be alarmist or threatening, but to clearly illustrate what it would look like if you didn’t exist?
Show them a future that doesn’t include you and them together. Give us impact, make us think, make you hard to shake from my mind.
And we’ll take action.
By the way, follow me on Goodreads and let’s share the great reading we discover.
*Erosion: Essays of Undoing, Terry Tempest Williams
Take care out there,
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