Elin Kelsey, author of “Hope Matters,” will discuss her science-based approach to hope amid the environmental crisis during an online program Thursday. Peninsula College will present Kelsey free of charge. (Photo courtesy of Agathe Bernard)

Elin Kelsey, author of “Hope Matters,” will discuss her science-based approach to hope amid the environmental crisis during an online program Thursday. Peninsula College will present Kelsey free of charge. (Photo courtesy of Agathe Bernard)

Environmental scientist to speak at students’ request

Online class to feature idea of hope

PORT ANGELES — We have good reasons for hope right now: That’s the message from environmental scientist Elin Kelsey, who will appear in a free presentation online Thursday.

Peninsula College hosts the public program, part of its Studium Generale series, at 12:30 p.m.; connection information can be found at pencol.edu under the Events listing.

Information also is available from organizer and professor Kate Reavey at 360-417-6268 or [email protected]

Kelsey, a University of Victoria adjunct professor and author of “Hope Matters: Why Changing the Way We Think Is Critical to Solving the Environmental Crisis,” will give a short talk and then converse with the audience, Reavey said.

“Studium is first a class and second a gift to the community,” she said, emphasizing that Peninsula College students are a force for bringing in nationally known — and inspirational — presenters such as Kelsey.

When seeking a speaker for this midwinter program, Reavey discussed several possibilities with the college’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Club.

Members Kaitlyn Viada and Vanessa Affandy were drawn especially to Kelsey, who’s known for making hope her field of study.

This is a figure who’s gained renown of late, so many people are asking for her time, Reavey said, but she encouraged the students to contact her.

Kelsey said yes; Viada and Affandy will join her to cohost Thursday’s discussion.

“I think it was the fact that students were asking her that really made the difference,” Reavey said.

Kelsey uses platforms of all kinds to transmit her message: books including “Hope Matters,” just released in October; “Watching Giants,” her first-person exploration subtitled “the secret lives of whales,” and Twitter, where her #OceanOptimism campaign has been shared more than 100 million times.

She also has ultra-short videos available online for people dealing with what she calls “eco-anxiety.”

One of those, in less than three minutes, has Kelsey explaining how hope works. It’s part of a series titled “An Existential Toolkit for Climate Justice Educators,” and it starts with her call for challenging “the tired narrative” of doom and gloom.

Instead, she says, we’ve got to seek true stories of progress.

A critical mass of people now know about climate change and are worried about it, Kelsey added. Climate strikes and emergency declarations have taken place around the world.

On the North Olympic Peninsula, many activist groups are organizing. Among them are Local 20/20 in Jefferson County, which is launching Taming Bigfoot 2021, a competition open to signups through this Friday at L2020.org.

In Clallam County, Olympic Climate Action provides resources and ways to engage at Olyclimate.org.

We live in a world “alive with 8.7 million other species,” Kelsey observes in her video; “we are not the only ones responding,” nor are we the only ones with elaborate ways of communicating.

“Social networks between trees promote faster regrowth of forests,” she said, just as social networks of humpback whales have led to population recoveries in many parts of the world, faster than scientists predicted.

This means “more whales, more plankton, more fish, more trapping of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Emotions are contagious, both face to face and online, Kelsey said. The positive ones such as hope give us the backbone to keep fighting for justice — for the environment and for the human race.

“Hope is not complacent,” she said.

“It is a powerful political act.”


Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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