We are not being told these stories that are happening right now—the people whose lives are being lost and whose livelihoods are being taken away—we don’t realize they exist. Even if we are told, we feel as if they are too far away.

Fridays for the Future founder Greta Thunberg

Climate change is already causing untold lives and livelihoods to be lost around the world. But too often there has been a failure to individualize and humanize the consequences of these disasters. As a result, we can feel like climate change is something that’s happening somewhere else, to someone else, or to no one else but us – compromising our ability to form community and take action on the most pressing problem of our age.

The Climate Disaster Project is the solution to that problem. Based at the University of Victoria and led by faculty and students at post-secondary institutions across Canada, the project helps climate disaster survivors share their stories. Those stories are preserved in an online memory vault and published or broadcast by our news media partners.

In doing so, the project will help create community around climate change, which will become the defining human experience of the next thirty years. That’s because community can only be created when people know and understand each other, seeing the similarities that unite them and the inequities that must be stopped from dividing them.

The project will also empower climate disaster survivors by launching solutions journalism and investigative journalism based on what our survivors have told us. Our solutions journalism initiatives will report on how they have experienced climate change and what can be done to help them. And our investigative journalism initiatives will uncover failures by public and private institutions to respond to climate change, holding them to account.

After all, climate change isn’t just something that’s “too far” away. It’s something already close at hand, that’s harming the health and wellbeing of our families, friends, and neighbours. But we can survive it together if we build and empower more equitable and resilient communities to confront climate change that is happening right now. Because story creates community, and community creates hope.