Whenever people ask me when I started to care about protecting the environment I never know what to say. Ever since I was little, I knew that something was wrong in the world and I always felt like the only one who cared enough to change it. I didn’t have a magical moment where it all came together for me; it always seemed like my purpose. Instead of playing with Barbies as a little girl, I would go down to the creek in my neighborhood and fish old plastic bags and water bottles out of it (I’m realizing now this was not normal for kids my age). I grew up with this nagging guilt that I was somehow not doing enough to protect the environment from the litterers in our town – but I had no idea how big the scope of the problem was.
My frustration since then has been how much conflict this realm of work creates. I often describe my career as one where we “swim upstream until we make a difference” – and it’s true: seemingly no one but us cares about these issues. The entire idea of sustainability depends on altering lifestyles and imposing regulations, but it is so vital to our future and I wish more people understood that. The fossil fuel industry is so much stronger and more powerful that it’s just easier to give them their way — to frack all throughout Colorado.
But then I think, “how can I allow this to happen when so many futures hang in the balance?” Thinking big picture has been my biggest motivation to keep pushing against the stream, swimming upward until I make things change.
I realize this sense of optimism is quite stubborn of me, however it is the driving force keeping me working at the end of the day. I feel like I’m finally at a point in my life where I can act on these frustrations and make a difference, and I can’t blow the chance to enact systematic change out of fear of the opposition. I need to follow my gut, keep my chin held high, and kick butt on this campaign. Having fallen in love with Colorado throughout my last three years here, I can’t afford to allow the mega-corporations of the fracking industry to continually endanger the places and people that have grown near and dear to me.
This is why I work for 350 Action. The tools, support, and opportunities they have given me are one of the last chances I’ll have to protect the beautiful yet frail ecosystems and landscapes of Colorado. The future I envision for myself here is not filled with fracking rigs, smog, and conflict. I want to connect with other Coloradans who are scared for their future and give them a way to help and a hope for the future. We’re all here to enjoy the mountains, rivers, and fields that make Colorado home – and no industry can take that from us. Bring it on.
Callyn Gonzalez is a 350 Action fellow in Colorado. She is an adventure lover, foodie, and environmentalist.