Aletta Brady ’15 saw the power in collective storytelling to launch social justice campaigns such as Black Lives Matters and the #MeToo movements. Knowing that these movements were successful because of the power of words, Brady connected the idea of storytelling to the climate crisis, launching a climate-justice organization that was recently recognized by the J.M. Kaplan Fund.
The J.M. Kaplan Fund awarded Brady’s Our Climate Voices the J.M.K. Innovation Prize for its use of digital storytelling as a new model in the environmental field. The prize is awarded biennially to 10 nonprofit and mission-driven for-profit organizations tackling America’s most pressing challenges through social innovation. Each awardee receives up to $175,000 over three years and participates in a learning collaborative of fellow innovators to support their journey as change agents.
“To environmental leaders across the nation, we urge you to examine the work of these innovators,” said Peter Davidson, chairman of The J.M. Kaplan Fund Board of Trustees. “All 10 awardees show incredible promise, and we believe the innovators focusing on the environment will not only have a tremendous impact in their communities but offer lessons for the larger field.”
The Minnesota-based Our Climate Voices was launched to highlight those who are often excluded by the mainstream environmental movement, such as youth, people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals, and low-income communities. In sharing these stories, the organization connects individual stories to systematic challenges.
“We employ the power of ethical, digital storytelling to humanize the climate disaster,” said Brady, who began the organization in 2017. Following each story posted on the Our Climate Voices site, Brady and her team share concrete actions people can take to support community-based and systemic solutions to the climate crisis.
“When the people and communities on the front lines of climate change are the same people sharing their stories and creating solutions, people around the country will rise up and mobilize around these concrete climate solutions,” she explained. “Our Climate Voices hopes that by connecting people, they will be growing the leadership of people and communities to combat the climate crisis.”