BC youth tackle eco-anxiety in new digital zine

Solastalgia navigates the climate crisis through art and written word

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PHOTO: Rise Vancouver

By: Simran Sarai, Sports Writer

The effects of the climate crisis are disproportionate for minorities and low income countries. In BC, communities have suffered damage and death from extended wildfire seasons, flooding, and heat waves. Although the fight for climate justice continues, many people, especially youth, are dealing with intense feelings of grief and loss when it comes to navigating a world with a rapidly changing climate due to exploitation. 

A Vancouver organization has decided to take action to help BC’s youth share their emotions as they work to combat climate change, by creating a new digital zine addressing youth’s eco-anxiety, titled Solastalgia. RISE Vancouver, a program run by the nation-wide organization, Apathy is Boring, published the first issue of Solastalgia in early December 2022. The zine is a collaborative project, bringing together young artists and writers from across the province to showcase the way that youth “relate and experience eco-anxiety/eco-grief and the full range of eco-emotions when thinking about climate change, anthropocene, and the ongoing planetary health crisis.”

Each poem, story, and art piece was thoughtfully created, showcasing the depth and diversity of emotions being felt by youth across BC. As I read, I felt a sense of connection to each contributor’s story.

Artist and contributor Sabrina Guzman Skotnitsky borrows Glenn Albrecht’s definition of “solastalgia” in her description of her piece, “Winter on the Coquihalla,” as the homesickness one feels when no one is at home.” The zine creates a cohesive and immersive experience for anyone seeking to process the grief and anxiety feel when working towards climate justice. It ties together a symphony of perspectives, all symbolizing individual youths’ shared experiences dealing with the grief of living in a world that is changing so fast that it ceases to feel familiar.

The poem “My Sister’s Children,” by Alex Masse eloquently describes the fear of the future quality of the natural world, and the guilt and despair shared as the climate crisis unfolds and environmental destruction continues. A touching tribute to Masse’s sister and their sister’s future children, this poem encapsulates the sentiments felt by so many young climate justice activists across BC.

As the second-generation daughter of Punjabi immigrants, author Kiran Shoker’s short story, “Punjabi Immigrant Look at Climate Change and Think, Goriye Da Kam,” felt so personal. Her writing captured the ever-important intersections between climate change, race, and our world’s social and economic systems, written poetically through an immigrant’s lens.

Solastalgia is a thoughtfully compiled work that highlights the wide range of experiences youth working towards climate justice have experienced and will continue to experience. It’s a must read for youth looking for a community of young people navigating eco-anxiety and eco-grief, as they deal with the unfolding impacts of climate change. 

Read the full issue at https://issuu.com/solastalgia and follow Rise Vancouver on their Instagram, @aisbrise_vbc, to support the organizers and be alerted about future editions of Solastalgia.

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