Meet Sami Aaron, founder of The Resilient Activist. We recently talked with Sami Aaron to learn more about the background and mission of the non-profit and how she measures success within the organization.
The Resilient Activist is a non-profit organization founded by Sami Aaron that aims to build hope and resilience in response to the impact of the climate crisis. The organization offers support to the community through several programs in order to keep climate activists uplifted and optimistic.
The Resilient Activist originated from a difficult part of Aaron’s life, her oldest son’s suicide, in 2003. Her son was an environmental activist working on his master’s degree in urban and regional planning with a joint law program. The more Aaron’s son learned about the extent of environmental damage and environmental injustices in our world, he felt like he wasn’t going to make a difference, and it all became too much, she said.
Aaron founded The Resilient Activist through trying to understand what her son went through mentally as a climate activist. She learned what services were not available for mental health support and looked into what kind of community building techniques, services, and education could have helped her son at that time and others who are on the same path.
About 15 years after her son passed, Sami felt she had several resilience tools, trauma tools, and stress management tools under her belt.
The Resilient Activist had two research studies done through the University of Kansas’ Department of Psychology to assess the needs of climate activists, one of which showed that simply attending programs or being with other people in the climate community is uplifting emotionally. Aaron says, “The first thing we do is make sure that our program is building a community of like -minded souls. We have partnered with many organizations to provide resilient tools.” The Resilient Activist has partnered with the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness for workshops and retreats, to teach stress management meditation and body relaxation skills.
The Resilient Activist has a visionary activist program, a speaker’s bureau, and interviews with people on their YouTube channel. The goal of these programs is to, “reconnect to nature, respect all life, regreen the planet, revamp our spending, and replenish our resources,” Aaron says. The Resilient Activist shows that what you’re doing is making a difference even if it’s small at home. They also offer self-care resources to replenish oneself.
Aaron says that sometimes activists need to replenish their resources by, “taking time away and really nurturing your body, mind, and spirit with healthy food and healthy conversation.” She continues by saying, “a lot of activists are very focused, and there’s a sense of they don’t need anything because the world needs so much and so there’s this give and give and give and give until it’s burnout, depression, deflation.”
Aaron says advocating and being an activist can look different for each person. Her advice to activists is that “there are ways to be environmentally active, there are ways to be activists, and there are ways to be resilient activists – and it’s really important if you want long-term impact and resilience for yourself. Engage in activism, whatever that looks like to you, in a way that feels joyful, nurturing, and uplifting. Find something that is yours to do, and you will know that with the breath. You’ll go, ‘I can’t believe I get to do this.’
She measures success of The Resilient Activist by how many people the organization connects with and the number of people who reach out to her personally. Success for her is shown in the powerful letters of gratitude people send her. She’s also honored to speak at conferences and write articles. She was recently interviewed by Kansas City’s NPR affiliate for a story on climate anxiety that will be aired nationally. She will participate in a podcast with The Climate Psychology Alliance this month, as well as participating in a conference for NetZero Scotland leading up to COP26 on the emotional aspects of climate change.
Aaron was a software developer when she originally became a member of the Green Business Network and maintained her membership after becoming a meditation and yoga teacher. She joined because she was intrigued and interested in business and energy. She says the Green Business Network has helped her network and reach other climate activists.
Her passion for the environment came from spending time in the Flint Hills at Z Bar Ranch. She says it was the first time she was somewhere and didn’t see a thing that was man-made. It was a complete moment of awe for her. She began connecting with the people who preserve the land and understanding the interaction between land, environment, and native plants. She began to learn from the perspective of wildlife.
Aaron believes that we must be mindful in our actions and always ask, “What is my relationship between my action, a healthy planet, and my personal wellbeing?”