Jane Fonda, America Ferrera Team Up for Audiobook on Women & Climate Change: ‘Guys Had Their Shot'
Jane Fonda and America Ferrera help narrate the audiobook for All We Can Save: Truth, Courage and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, which spotlights women in climate
When Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson wanted to add star power to the audio version of the eye-opening new anthology on women in the climate movement that she and Dr. Katharine Wilkinson co-edited, she reached out to some of the more high-profile climate movers and shakers she knew.
“I just started calling in every favor and texting,” Johnson tells PEOPLE about how she found the high-wattage, climate-minded women she did to narrate the audiobook for the sparkling collection of essays and poems in the new anthology, All We Can Save: Truth, Courage and Solutions for the Climate Crisis.
“I happened to already know Sophia Bush, America Ferrera, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jane Fonda,” says Johnson. “I helped to edit the ocean chapter of Jane’s new book on climate, What Can I Do?: My Path From Climate Despair to Action.... Jane was like, 'Totally. I'm in.'"
So were all the others.
The immediate yeses they got from the busy stars to lend their talents to the audiobook “is exactly what we need for the climate movement, which is for everyone to offer their superpowers to the work,” says Wilkinson.
“Not everyone has to be a march organizer,” she says. “Not everyone has to be a policy wonk or climate scientist. We need people playing those roles, but we also need word nerds like the two of us editing books, and incredible actors narrating important climate books. We need literally every hand on deck, not just in some box-checking sort of way, but with the very best skills they have to offer the movement.”
In keeping with the theme of the book, Johnson and Wilkinson — two climate powerhouses in their own right — wanted to “pass the mic” to other women doing groundbreaking climate work.
Named by Time in 2019 as one of 15 women who will save the world, Wilkinson is a former Rhodes Scholar, editor-in-chief at Project Drawdown, and the primary writer of The New York Times bestseller Drawdown, considered the go-to for climate solutions. She's also the writer and editor-in-chief of its follow-up, The Drawdown Review 2020.
“At the most basic level, we wanted to do this book because there are so many magnificent women doing really important work on climate,” says Wilkinson. “But the platforms they get, the resources they have for their work and the public awareness that exists around their work — none of those are sufficient. Ayana and I really believe that that's not only unfair, it’s an Achilles heel for the climate movement when we have to transform society this decade.”
Among the contributors in the book are teen activist Alexandria Villasenor, who writes A Letter to Adults, author Alice Walker, whose essay is entitled Calling All Grand Mothers, and scientist Katherine Hayhoe, who penned How to Talk About Climate Change.
Strong leaders — in many areas, not just one — are needed if we are to heal the planet, they say.
“Clearly we have not had the leadership we need to successfully address the climate crisis,” says Johnson. “So we are very excited to be bringing dozens more voices, experts and leaders to center stage and give them a spotlight and a microphone and a platform and see what might be different, if people followed their lead, or heeded their wisdom.”
“From where we sit,” says Wilkinson, “a lot of that looks like women.”
Adds Johnson: “Well, the guys had their shot at it, didn’t they? That hasn’t gotten us where we need to go.”
Metal Straws Are Good — But Not Enough to Heal the Planet
Governments and corporations need to step up because individuals can’t solve the complex climate crisis alone, say Johnson and Wilkinson.
“I think that we want the solution to be simple,” says Johnson. “So many times when we're interviewed, people are like, ‘Okay. What's the one quick, easy thing I can do to help?’ We're past that. Your metal straw is not going to get us there. Even riding your bike everywhere is not going to get us there. We need a complete transformation of our energy, transportation, food system, building, manufacturing, land use, all of it."
She continues: “I think it's important to give people something to do first, but we've spent the last 20 years like, ‘Just bring your own bag and everything will be fine.’ That’s just not true, right? We could all never use a single-use plastic water bottle again and we would still be melting the planet. We still need to do all those things, but we also need to be thinking larger, thinking about shifting systems and where we each have influence and leverage to make bigger changes.”
Become a Part of the 'All We Can Save' Movement
The anthology is just one way Johnson and Wilkinson are trying to inspire others to help heal the earth.
Starting Oct. 5, interested readers can start All We Can Save “circles” — small groups who will continue to move the dialogue on climate forward.
“The circles are really an attempt to meet a need that we see and care about,” says Wilkinson. “Participants are hungry for connection and more open and generous dialogue about the climate and the movement that we're in. So the book can also be a catalyst for doing the kind of community-building that we know is totally necessary for any healthy and successful social movement.”
“We hope it's just the beginning of bringing folks together and implementing the web between us and seeding action," she adds.
They have also started a nonprofit, The All We Can Save Project.
“It will carry on the work of supporting women climate leaders,” says Wilkinson.
The two say they hope more women, as well as men and the old, the young and everyone in between, can lend their talents and skills to solving the climate crisis — starting now.
“The way that social movements grow is that someone invites you in,” says Wilkinson.
Right now, she and Johnson are saying to everyone: “We need you.’”