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Anna Michel

I am the Co-founder of Active Allies and Founder of SpaceshipOne. With both organizations, I help advance the youth climate movement through network-building, professional development support, strategic communications, and community engagement. 

Find me on LinkedIn

 

Organizations I work with & support

 

About me

I grew up in small towns along California’s coast, most at home in the majestic redwood forests of west Marin County and the vibrant kelp forests of Monterey Bay. My upbringing gave me a deep love and respect for nature, a catalyst for getting involved in the environmental movement. At ten years old, I started participating in community beach clean-ups and citizen science, testing water quality in rivers. As a young teen, I was an outreach volunteer for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. I spoke with visitors from all over the world about how healthy oceans support a stable climate and most life on Earth, including human well-being and livelihoods. One summer during high school, I made a PSA video on plastics in the ocean, where I presented reusable alternatives, and the video continues to air on local public access TV.

It wasn’t until adulthood that I started living in big cities, like Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Oakland, CA. I met people whose experiences with the environment differed vastly from mine: air pollution, water contamination, and countless other violations of the basic human right to health and safety. Through these conversations, my education in environmental studies, and witnessing humanity’s estrangement from nature firsthand, I came to understand that yes, we should protect nature for its own sake— but also for ours, especially those of us who suffer most if we don’t. The principles of equity and justice expanded my vision. What’s the point of solving climate change if the world we recreate isn’t one where all can thrive?

I’m fascinated by how people feel, think, and communicate about humanity’s relationship with our environment, and how these attitudes, philosophies, and narratives inform action. I did my undergraduate thesis on climate narratives & strategic communication, focusing on common values and actionable solutions. I then gave workshops on the topic through my fellowship with climate leadership nonprofit Strategic Energy Innovations.

 

My lightbulb moment

In summer 2017, I met Project Drawdown’s VP & Research Director, Chad Frischmann. I was co-hosting an “Intro to Drawdown” event as the Marketing Associate for the UC Berkeley Student Environmental Resource Center (where I worked for two years as a Cal undergrad). At the event, Chad introduced the audience to the many active, tangible climate solutions that provide cascading benefits to a myriad of other social or economic problems, and go beyond mitigation or adaption to reversal. It was my first inkling of the idea that we can actually restore our climate.
After Chad’s presentation and talking with him one-on-one, I realized I had found the precise narrative of opportunity, empowerment, and hope I’d been searching for. I no longer felt doomed; as crazy as it might sound, I actually felt blessed. Blessed to be alive in this critical, powerful moment in history— to make the most of this beautiful chance (likely humanity’s last) to heal our broken relationship with nature, and with each other.
Drawdown’s message resonated with me on a deep, existential level. After six years of volunteering and working in the environmental movement, I could see the future I want for humanity— a new age of ecological resilience and shared prosperity. It’s just over the horizon, and I can help us get there. Now I enjoy the conversations that follow when I say to people, “I’m happy to be alive in these times.”

 

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Climate change in NorCal

 

People I read & follow

 

Climate media

  • Climate Progress for updates on climate-related studies, policy, and politics.

  • Deep Adaptation for a thoroughly-researched framework of restoration and resilience based on climate crisis consequences.

  • Earth Repair Radio for energizing stories of people working on permaculture, regeneration, resilience, etc.

  • Grist for engaging, well-reported climate news, including our Climate Hope Media Project.

  • HEATED for engaging, witty, and clearly-laid-out “accountability journalism for the climate crisis” (highly recommend).

  • Inside Climate News for Pulitzer Prize-winning climate journalism.

  • NYT’s Climate Fwd for a weekly emailed newsletter of the New York Times’ latest climate-related stories and insight.