My Climate Reality Stories as An Environmentalist and Creative Artist.

In the process of becoming a Climate Reality Project Leader. 

Originally published on Medium.

“The reality we now face implores us to act.”

AL GOREFounder & Chairman, The Climate Reality Project

I am dedicating this article to my mother, Angela de Chevalier Olivo. She has been battling Alzheimer’s and Dementia for the past 7 years and at 55 years old, going through the last stages this year. Unfortunately, her days on this earth are getting shorter and this story would not be, if I didn’t take the time to acknowledge the person that encouraged, supported, and passed down her love for nature and humanity to me when I was younger. I’m from the Dominican Republic and I was born in Santo Domingo. We came to Montreal, Quebec 16 years ago.

She was always my motivator as a child, whenever she would find me on top of a mango tree, trying to understand how fruits grow from trees. “Angie, did you find what you were looking for or do you want to find out together? Let’s go to the library” 🙂 That’s how she would get me out of trees and the ocean. With books. She and I used to love to read and then, I learned how to write. She would encourage me to write my dark and scary dreams which would happen more frequently after my parents divorce. My mother would encourage me to continue embracing art and creativity while also researching and trying to understand the environment. While she was dealing with being a single mother and working at the same time to keep us alive. Until a couple years later, she met my stepfather and my sisters were born. 

Science fascinated me, but so did writing, painting, and photography (this I inherited from my dad who is also a photographer and a lieutenant officer from DR). It took me a lot of fails and tries, but eventually in 2012, on my last day of acting school at New York Film School, I called my mom, with my feet dark from walking through Soho and Manhattan street. “Mom, you were right. I want to go to university to learn science and how to help Earth and humanity. There are a lot of injustices in the world and I want to help change that.” I remember her words like it was yesterday: I know. I wanted you to experience what it means to find your purpose and fight for it. You are a creative being, but you’ve always loved to find solutions to help our planet. I’m happy you realized this and don’t forget to write about it and take pictures okay?“. And that’s where the first seed of becoming a climate leader and environmentalist was born.

The second seed was planted during my final presentations after 4 years of university and being 7 months pregnant with my first child. While I was presenting solutions, I would showcase the biggest polluters and why we should work in changing their strategies and show them, plans to reduce CO2 emissions, ideas to create more green spaces and inspiring people to start living more sustainably. Instead of working for them, and being manipulated in order for them to continue their greed and deadly strategies. 

Also, I would show how the media’s data was corrupted and you clearly, can tell these publishing media companies were sponsored to keep these polluters and big corporations we already consume on a daily basis in power. 

Media and journalists don’t publish the real deal about these big corporations, and if they do, it’s somehow omitted or disguised as the truth. Or worse, tell the truth and make us believe through social media that it is a lie, is propaganda or add it into the many conspiracy theories we already know and share. Mind games right? 

We see it in the news and hear it on the radio regularly now, how words and images are being used to support white supremacy, racist and colonial mindset. In order to degraded and dehumanized those who are being killed and oppressed. 

This is why doing your own research and learning how to properly get facts is vital to learn in schools. Remember, systemic racism, public health and climate change are intertwined. One cannot be fixed without the others at the same time. That’s why this inner work decolonizing, being anti-racist and anti capitalist is very hard but not impossible.

My peers from University also for their finals presented and talked about companies that are the biggest polluters and major causes of the climate change crisis we are experiencing now.

They got really amazing grades, and some got jobs in those companies, even though they knew that these companies’ strategies and ways of keeping minority communities in harm’s way was unethical and possibly deadly. This is what a competition mindset and greed designed inequality capitalist, racists and white supremacy system does to us. Or at least those who have to live with it on a regular basis but we now have to take extra time to educate and make clear our human rights to those who benefit from our oppression.

I refused to work for those companies. Yes I was broke graduating from university, becoming a mother, working two jobs and building a company with no money, just the hope and courage to dare to do something completely out of my comfort zone. My mom taught me better, and I would rather be broke than give away my integrity for money. Either way, looking for jobs here in Quebec was also an exhausting struggle. In the environment and science community here in Quebec, there is racism and discrimination towards women of color and non-speakers of the French language, which is sickening. For example, my teacher in my last semester gave me some advice that pushed me to start planning and creating a space where people weren’t restrained, fighting the status quo and the system, and voicing concerns about climate change, inequality, public health, and environmental racism. “If you don’t speak Quebec french and if you are a woman, you are going to have a hard time finding jobs here. Might as well drop what you are doing and do something else instead.” Yep, I dropped out of her class and took another environmental course instead.

I learned a lot in university about ethics, research and memorizing stuff to pass exams and how to create good scientific presentations that others can understand. Working in a low income gym facility, then telecommunication companies, then working as a waitress in a vegetarian restaurant, writing plus editing scientific papers and building a business at the same time. Is what taught me and now I’m passing down to you and my girls (if they ever get to read this one day) . The government and the education system are designed for these companies to gain more profit and slowly kill those who are more vulnerable. I started by getting familiar with building websites, then with writing monthly newsletters, then blogs and managing social media at first. Learning to network, and finding beautiful, creative, and changemaking leaders along the way, who helped us grow and believed in us. You know who you are if you are reading this ❤

I knew there had to be ways through art and creativity to demonstrate real data and make those voiceless stories heard in an educational and inspirational way. 

The environmentalist goal was to reduce human massive consumption, be plastic-free, and live more sustainably in order to make sure our future generations get a chance to survive. After I graduated, I gave birth to my first girl. While she slept, during breastfeeding, nap times, and working part time in a gym and lots of other horrible jobs to sustain myself and my little growing family, painful struggles and sleepless nights. The WritersYep seed was born after I gave birth to my second daughter in 2016.

This space was created and launched in 2017, with love and for love of Earth and learning to embrace being a good human with consciousness. All from a woman who raises her daughters to be kind to others, their planet, and themselves. My mom didn’t finish school because she was forced to work to sustain her large family… who are now wealthy and they abandoned their sister when she needed them most. Learn from my mom. Don’t quit your dreams and passions to satisfy others and worse, the expectations of your family. My mom was always a nature-spirit, she would pass down her life lessons to us as storytelling, (I got it from my mama! 🙂 sorry needed to write it as I’m thinking about our happy memories together. Which in the end, that’s what really matters. Time is precious, so spend it wisely) she would listen, believe, and support her kids in doing what they love, which is what led to the journey that you are now a part of 🙂

My other climate story was my journey in taking photos of buildings and places in New York where there is improvement in creating greener and more sustainable buildings and spaces. I also show why it is important that New York city starts doing this, because back then, by looking at the data, I already knew that this city that I love so much would one day, would be underwater due to the impact of climate change. Here is the article.

Manhattan street on a Monday morning at 7am, 2019. 

Then, I went to Samana, Dominican Republic.

I came back to Montreal with a finished parenting book (Publishing soon!) , blessed gifts dipped in the Limon waterfalls for my loved ones and teammates (last day I was there it rained for the first time in 8 months!), mosquito bites (finally less itchy*_*), lower lady pains from riding a horse in the mountains for 1 hour and then walking for another hour until I got to my final destination.

Limon Waterfalls, Samana Dominican Republic 2019. 

However the pains were combined with a sense of joy and fulfillment that as a writer & environmentalist, were hard to describe. Since words have power, the best words for this trip were: Exquisite writing (night time), healing (meditation, sleep!, eating local & organic, yoga, dancing in the rain, tours, exploring, and meaningful conversations) expanding horizons, learning about the community you’re visiting (humbles you) and going on a self-care retreat. (definitely planning to create retreats like these for others on TravelYep 😉 Stay Tuned! )

Even when everything was meant to fail… starting with my computer not working from the moment I arrived, among other things… anything is possible if you believe in yourself and have strong goals and ride alongside those limiting beliefs we all struggle to let go of. If you believe you can do it, then I’m telling you, you can do it. I’m living proof and I survived!

Taking time off was vital in order to strengthen my goals and recharge myself so I can continue making positive changes for others, but more importantly for my girls and myself. They are my family and everything I work for. I hope you have been starting to save and invest to treat yourself this Christmas 😉 You know you deserve it.

I came back with a bigger purpose and more sure of my mission and vision for the company and our team for the next five to ten years.

Thanks to 4Oceans, the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of the Dominican Republic, Eco influencers, some awesome content creators and filmmakers and the UN environment, that reached out to me through my stories on social media while I was in the jungle! The power of social media (free marketing) and targeting the right audience for the right reasons!

Here is part 1 and part 2 of my Samana journey 🙂 Enjoy!

Yep, this mama was ready to start with marketing strategies, reaching more online media experts (co-op publishing), the right influencers and organizations to collaborate with, along with our affiliates that follow our values and mission. All in order to ensure that our planet’s remaining resources (one city, community or country at times, starting in January whale season in Samana) are properly managed. The goal is to aid in creating an island (as an example for other islands or cities) that embraces Eco-tourism.

I gathered and spoke with the poorest community in Samana about not burning their plastic waste — which is a lot! Their waste distribution can be properly managed if we are able to educate the people about simple tips such as recycling and plastic waste management, composting and maybe by creating a campaign alongside other sponsors to show them how to maintain it in the long run as well.

Sharing educational ways to embrace eco lifestyles, creating less waste and reducing plastic pollution in marginalized and poor communities, is just one example of a ripple effect that can be spread in positive and realistic ways. Then, Covid-19 happened and locked down. Everything changed, because what scientists and environmentalists were predicting later and voicing for a while that people were too busy to listen… It happened before and much more deadly than anticipated.

I’m still hopeful and we have been working through a pandemic, living in cockroaches, some of us got covid-19 and continue working. Now, we are in the right seat with climate reality leaders and can wait to continue this journey together.

We know that this work cannot be done alone, the unity and the power of the people is what will create the change that we need for our planet and ourselves. I believe and have been voicing to other media companies here in Montreal, in the beginning of my entrepreneur journey. I strongly believe these agencies and individuals could help continue this moment and work. By creating a co-op media and eco publishing business model with existing influencers, agencies, and other changemakers in different parts of the world, I believe we can make progress in marketing and online media and encourage people to not only care about the planet but to also live a more mindful and sustainable life. We need to encourage cities and countries that green cities ABSOLUTELY Yes! and less CO2 emissions and plastic are not the way anymore! For our health’s sake and our remaining resources on this earth.

These are some of the missions that will go alongside our other content; blog posts, guest posts, podcast episodes and email marketing content. These are in order to make sure we influence and inspire others. But more importantly, we want to create an awareness of a healthier planet and the people and animals living on it. All for our future generations to continue to thrive for many centuries to come.

Yep, I’m not only building an empire and helping others along the way, I’m leaving a legacy for our children’s children. Because #sustainabilitymatters now more than ever!

I know what you must be thinking…

That’s a lot of work! There are 7.7 billion people

You are just one voice. Why would anybody listen to you, right? You are going to need a lot of money and a lot of people to do this…

Well, if nobody says or does anything, then who will?!

September 28,2019

Greta’s march (here is the article) in Montreal, was an inspiration and great motivator to keep taking action. Even though in this city, she was used as political gain which is pretty sad. But I was so happy that a lot of people came out and supported the climate change march.

Eco Mom

Participating in Futuristic February with Sustainable Duo was an experience that I learned a lot from and I was glad I got to share it with my daughters and my community. Here is the article.

Black Lives Matter March in the middle of a world pandemic in Montreal, 2020

The BLM and social justice march (here is article) while in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, because of Covid-19 exposing all the inequalities and social justice work that needs to be addressed alongside the impacts of climate change. Which we all know by now, it is affecting more vulnerable, low income communities of colour. Now, we need to collaborate with key news media companies and declutter the colonized and racist media strategies of today, that we all know need to STOP! We need new change makers and leaders or we need to become one ourselves. The climate community provide the tools and support to continue to fight for our planet and humanity. I’m more hopeful than ever before, for future generations building equity alongside a more sustainable planet. Do you feel it too?

Yep, we’re going to need all the help we can get. Money will come, I have no doubts anymore. Because if you care about yourself and your health in the next 75–100 years… or care about not eating plastic food that you know will kill you faster or living underwater… then money will not be the issue.

I know I have a duty as an Environmentalist, Writer, Content Creator and Marketing Unicorn. But more importantly my drive is bigger than myself. My ‘why’ are my girls’ future and other children in this world. If it’s the same for you, I’m glad you are here.

I’ve been studying this for years. My mom at a younger age explained the basics of how the planet provided the oxygen we need to breathe, how our oceans and all living organisms in it are one of the main sources of creating oxygen along with trees. When she didn’t know how to explain the concepts or processes, she got me books. So when I started university in Environmental Science, it was like the teachers were reciting to me what I’d already read at a younger age. Just more updated 🙂

So a university education helped me research better and acquire the data (science and math numbers do not lie or try to omit the truth…we all are trying to live through the impacts of climate change at this very moment). I’ve read all the scientific papers about climate change, global warming, CO2 emissions, ocean patterns and glaciers melting at a faster rate than ever before, which causes sea levels to rise…man, I even edited those papers before they got published! If knowledge is power, why wouldn’t I use my power for good? Why wouldn’t I or show others to give the right tools for all of us to be able to use our voices to speak about what really matters? Health, environment, and justice are not political. These are essentials that we need our government, big polluter corporations and wealthiest individuals to focus on and do better for our societies and for the future of our children. Integrity and compassion is vital during these times.

They fear our unity and our collective mental strength, don’t forget our minds and spirits are very powerful; imagine if we all learn how to use it wisely. That’s why schools systems and their education is designed to keep us mentally slave to this system. Entrepreneurship, money, taxes, saving lessons, women’s and children’s rights, mental health support and living sustainably. Does not benefit a system build on inequality and colonized structures designed many decades ago. The more mentally educated, stronger and independent you get, the less the system can control you. That’s why there is so much clutter in the internet now. That’s why covid-19 has exposed all that was already wrong and deadly. But those who benefit from inequality, called it “normal”. 

We need to keep our energy clean and vibrant, therefore we must continuously work on ourselves every day and do the things we know we must to keep ourselves educated, decolonize our minds and stay true to our journey on this earth. Changing your thoughts and behavioral patterns changes your world.

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Love and Light,

_AO.

P.S: Happy Birthday Sofia, today four years ago was my second best day and happiest day of my life. This weekend was fun with Abuela, and she really loved that you kissed her a lot. If you ever get to read this when you are older. Remember, mami loves you very much ❤

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Edited by Vanessa H❤

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Where are we going next? Podcast #yourstorymatters and bringing solutions with other change makers, leaders plus amplifying those who are voiceless. Creativity for intergenerational justice unleashed. Stay tuned!

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Angie Olivo