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Sienna White on a cliffside with hills, mountains and waterways in the background

Sienna White, '19

Real people affected by a warming world

I spent two months this summer living in Sitka, Alaska, working on a radio show about climate change. They were two long months full of rain, clouds, and watery sunlight, with a sky that never really went dark. Every day I'd walk three blocks down to the Island Institute and hole up, editing audio, calling people, reading. The work itself was fascinatingly behind-the-scenes.

You read a lot about climate change up north. Part of it is science: Arctic regions are warming at nearly twice the rate of their equatorial counterparts. The effects of climate change are hauntingly dramatic. Houses fall into the sea. Glaciers disappear. Tides turn red.

But aside from the booming drama, what's missing so often from these stories are the people who call these places home.

Through the radio show, we hoped to explore all the nuanced connections people have with place, and the fragile grief inevitable with a warming world. I listened to hundreds of voices, through interviews and my headphones, and with every reflection, tangent, and fragmented thought, I felt as if I was honing in on something. I couldn't quite tell what I was feeling—empathy? understanding? perspective?—but it felt important, it felt thoughtful and shapeless, and I was thankful to feel it, whatever it was.

Sienna White, '19, spent a summer working with the Island Institute in Sitka, AK.
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