Dear Fellow Climate Justice Organizers,
My name is Michaela Steiner and I am a student at Northern Arizona University, class of 2016.
I am a student organizer with Fossil Free NAU, a part of the movement for fossil fuel divestment and climate justice. Our University is waiting for the student campaign to subside as our members graduate, but I am writing to tell you that I am in this movement for the long-haul. Injustice is not an investment. I organize for divestment because my body, the planet, and my future are not disposable.
Growing up, I never had high self-esteem. I always felt like I had to outperform my peers, that what I did was never good enough. I would go to extreme lengths to please people and sacrifice my own well-being and happiness. I was bullied as a child and if any peers were nice to me, I’d cling onto their kindness. I started to be afraid of letting people down, losing their trust, and eventually losing their friendship altogether. Failure and diving into the unknown became something to avoid at all costs. I felt disposable; I couldn't really be liked unless I allowed other people to use and walk all over me. I was an easy target for this because I never stood up myself; I never raised my voice and I never felt heard by my peers.
My self worth being based on other’s approval and feeling like I needed to be perfect for others to like me spiraled into a pattern of self-destruction when I was a young teen. I developed an eating disorder that relied upon me seeing myself as disposable for the sake of perfection. Having the eating disorder was easier than being alone; It was there telling me what to do, and it gave me a sense of superficial self- confidence that I had a will like none other. I felt lost and my body was beginning to break down. I desperately wanted to recover yet I was addicted to starvation and the cycle of anorexia. I was afraid every time I went to sleep that I would never wake up. Yet the eating disorder was my entire existence and identity, and without it, I knew no other path to take. I felt lost in that I didn't know who I was apart from the eating disorder.
I have a stake in fighting the fossil fuel industry because I cannot bear to watch our society's addiction to fossil fuels kill the body of our earth. My organizing for the long haul is a crucial piece of my recovery process. My body, planet, and future are not disposable. I have seen first hand how harmful addiction is and I cannot watch our society kill our planet simply because we cannot stop our addiction to fossil fuels and quit cold turkey. My addiction with anorexia hurt myself, my friends, and my family. While I was engaged in this addiction, I denied I even had one in the first place. Will we continue to deny our addiction in an attempt to not have to face the truth and consequences of our actions? When will our society face our addiction and take the side of healing and recovery?
I pledge to remain committed to the movement for fossil fuel divestment and continue to organize for climate justice far beyond college graduation. I am dedicated to building the power of our movement over the long-term. I will not graduate out of this movement.
In addition to continued organizing, I also pledge to withhold donations from Northern Arizona University until they commit to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies with the largest reserves.
I take this commitment very seriously, and I hope that you will also commit to protecting the future of generations to come. Will you join me?
Northern Arizona University, 2016
Regional Organizer with the Divestment Student Network