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Hanley Sustainability Institute

Former HSI student leader Sandstrom joins growing climate journaling and healing initiative

By Mark Gokavi

Emily Sandstrom graduated cum laude and with honors from the University of Dayton in May 2020 with a degree in biology and a minor in sustainability, but also when the COVID-19 pandemic began gripping the nation.

The Los Angeles native, who also was a Hanley Sustainability Institute student leader, passed on one job opportunity to stay home with family and work retail part-time to pay off student loans.

But Sandstrom found another outlet to live out her sustainability journey by volunteering as the sustainability lead with The Climate Journal Project, an initiative founded by Yvonne Cuaresma.

The project is “a space, practice and journal to help alleviate environmental anxiety and fears,” its website says. “Through guided reflections and challenges, empower yourself and others to transition away from planetary grief and climate change paralysis.”

Sandstrom said the project is a newer startup, which is adding people who are journaling from the U.S., Brazil, the U.K., Australia, India and other countries.

“I find it very exciting to work with people from all over the world and to be able to connect to others - both young and old - who share the same desire to help our Earth as I do,” Sandstrom said. “The Climate Journal Project has several different projects going on including our Climate Journal Book, crowdfunding, starting a blog, and gearing up for more virtual Climate Wellness Events. We are very thankful to all of our partners, followers, and supporters.”

The Climate Journal Project uses the power of reflection and journaling to create a space for self and planetary healing. The project aims to promote the wellness benefits of journaling and how personal environmental actions can contribute to large scale solutions.

"Environmental grief and climate is becoming more and more familiar to environmental activists and enthusiasts," their website says. "The Climate Journal Project addresses the intersection between wellness and environmentalism - helping people become closer to the planet through a climate focused journal practice. Our goal is to create a space where you, too, can cope with your eco-anxieties in order to move past paralysis to action."

Sandstrom said her father and grandmother are autoimmune compromised so her family has been cautious during the pandemic.

“One of my brothers was exposed to COVID early on through his job as an EMT and was able to quarantine for 14 days,” she said. “He is OK and healthy now and no one else in my family has contracted COVID. With cases worse than ever in Los Angeles, we are undergoing another state shutdown though retail is still open as well as restaurants for delivery or pick only.”

Sandstrom is working with HSI curriculum director Rebecca Potter on an article on the social-environmental nexus of the Sustainable Development Goals and whether there needs to be better or more action to help the state of the natural environment.

But in the meantime, she’s enjoying her time with The Climate Journaling Project, which has a Facebook page, an Instagram account, a Pinterest page and a survey for those interested.

“I got the position and have loved every moment of it,” Sandstorm said. “I figured if I get a paying job in any field to help pay off my loans I could volunteer or get a secondary job related to my degree, which is exactly what I’m doing at the moment.”

For more sustainability news and information, visit HSI’s news blog, the Hanley Sustainability Institute website and the sustainability program website. To sign up for HSI’s Sustainability Spotlight newsletter, register here.

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