Our Climate is so excited to welcome Grace Doleshel to our team as our new Pacific Northwest Field Organizer! In her new role, Grace manages our Oregon and Washington Field Programs including our team of student leaders in each state. Read our interview with Grace below to hear about her commitment to intersectional climate justice, her own resiliency journey, and her experience befriending an octopus! 

Where are you based now, and where is “home” for you?
I am currently based in Spokane WA, but I consider home to be Mt Rainier, WA. I grew up in a small town right at the base of Mt Rainier National Park where I was blessed to see the mountain every day and spent most of my young life outside hiking and exploring. Nothing gives me more of a home feeling now than seeing Mt Rainier.

What drew you to Our Climate and the climate movement in general?
I spent most of my childhood in nature and always wanted to work to protect it. I began volunteering at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium when I was 14 and from there was able to learn about the impacts of climate change both locally and globally. My time volunteering also allowed me opportunities to lobby for environmental protection bills. As I grew up, I also grew as an activist in many organizing spaces and fuly made the transition towards climate organizing during the global rise of Greta Thunberg’s climate strike movement. I was drawn to Our Climate, first as a student in their fellowship program, then as a staff member, due to the commitment made to have youth and frontline communities leading the fight for climate justice. The approach that Our Climate has taken provided me with a space to be fully authentic as a young person when it comes the many emotions that youth are facing in terms of climate justice and I am so excited to return to OC as an organizer and work to continue fostering authentic spaces for future cohorts of fellows and young organizers.

What is something you are really proud of, either in your professional or personal life?
I am really proud of the personal work I have done towards inner healing over the last two years. I feel that the work that organizers do is oftentimes very emotionally heavy, and it is incredibly important to experience, identify, process and heal through these emotions in order to have organizing and activism feel like something that is sustainable. I got very heavily involved with the climate movement at a young age, before I knew the importance of work/life balance or truly understood the depth of the emotions I was experiencing with it. This ultimetly fueled anxiety and led me to feelings of burnout that felt very very hard to be able to come back from. I made the decision to step away from climate organizing for a little bit and focus my energy towards reconnecting with my authentic self and finding balance between work that I love and hobbies that feed my soul. Through therapy and a lot of difficult inner work and reflection I feel I have been able to heal from my burnout and return to climate organizing as a healthier, happier and much more peaceful person and am proud of the life I have been able to create for myself in the present day.

What does climate justice mean to you?
We live in a country rooted in systems of oppression including white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, abelism and capitalism. For centuries, these systems have shaped our thinking and our infrastructure and have had very violent impacts on many communities of people. To me, climate justice means decontructing these systems and centering the voices of communities most impacted by the climate crisis within climate policy. It means divesting in policys and practices that perpetuate environmental violence and investing in policies that are equitable and inclusive in who they serve. And, it means fostering spaces where people may be authentic in their identities, experiences and pain as it shapes their interactions with the world, and use this authenticity to drive intersectional approaches to climate solutions.

Organizing in the climate movement can be tiring work. What is your favorite way to relax, take care of yourself, or unplug from work?
I love music and find a lot of inner peace in listening to songs and/or albums without distraction. Oftentimes in the evenings I will do deep breathing exercises or meditate while listening to music in a comfortable space. By doing this I am able to feel fully present with myself and the music I love.

When (or where!) are you at your happiest?
As a proud fangirl, I am happiest when I am at concerts. I believe that music is a very powerful uniting force and that concerts are a celebration of art, emotion and a shared love. That type of connection and energy always brings me joy.

What’s a song that energizes you?
Fine Line by Harry Styles

Would you like to share any other fun, potentially unknown facts about yourself? Ideas could be a hidden talent, favorite hobby, side hustle, etc.
My first job post college was at an aquarium where I was able to meet and develop an emotional connection with an octopus. Through our interactions the octopus was able to get to know and remember me and I was able to learn about octopus’ communication styles. It allowed me to feel connection to nature and other living creatures in a completely new way and was by far one of my most favorite life experiences. I talk about it to anyone who will listen!

Grace can be reached at [email protected]. She is on instagram at @gracedoleshel. 
Published On: August 29th, 2022 / Categories: Blog /