Why should you support the Arkansas Citizens’ Climate League? As part of our Arkansas Climate Accord 3.0 promotions, we are taking time to spotlight some of our wonderful members and supporters and to ask them that very question:
Personal Testimonials Week One: Paulette Meikle
Paulette Meikle is a new member of the League Board and is an associate dean and professor at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. She has a Ph.D. in sociology, a masters of philosophy in geography and bachelors in geography.
Paulette has been and continues to be instrumental in organizing the free Oct 3rd Symposium, which will be held at UAFS and made possible by our Accord campaign donors. She will also be generously donating a piece of art to the Climate Accord silent auction!
After moving to Fort Smith, Paulette said she was invited to attend a Citizens’ Climate Lobby Fort Smith Chapter meeting and found their mission to be right up her ally.
“When I got to this meeting, I thought, ‘I need to be part of this. I need to stick with this,’” she said. “Prior to coming to the U.S., I was actually working on a PhD in environmental management. I started over at Mississippi State in a totally new discipline: sociology. My passion, in fact, was environmental protection/conservation, but not only for the sake of conservation but for the livelihood component.”
She soon met League Administer Robert McAfee and bonded over geography and common ideas about the environment.
“He [Robert] had such wonderful ideas, and then, I met Sonna,” Paulette said. League Board Chair Soniyyah "Sonna" B. Key, “blew me away with her ideas of justice and awareness. We had a conversation, all three of us, and I felt very much intrigued by the mission of ARKCCL and I don’t know what they saw in me but they invited me to serve on the board. I’m up for anything that furthers people’s understanding of climate change.”
Before coming to Arkansas, Paulette worked with grassroots efforts focused on environmental conservation in the Carribean and Mississippi Delta, just to mention a couple of her many wonderful international contributions. It’s no wonder why we wanted her on our team!
“I have a history with grassroots in several countries, helping with issues not only related to integrated pest management but how to conserve the environment, how to farm — on a hillside for example — and still keep a balanced system, so they could earn their livelihood from the earth but also preserve it for future generations,” she said. “I worked with so many of these small farmers, listening to their stories, letting their voices be heard and having their input in different development programs.”
“Climate change” has been politicized in a way that has given the term a negative connotation for many, but Paulette said, “For me, it is not negative. It is actually imperative.
“It’s about families. It’s about survival. It’s about preservation of the environment. It’s about livelihood. People must eat from the earth. We must adapt to the environment, so that we can take from it what’s going to be useful for our food, clothing and shelter. The environment isn’t there just to look at and say ‘Oh, how beautiful you are’; we know we also have to extract from it things that we need to survive. But, if we don’t have the knowledge about how it works and how it gets degraded, we will continue this vicious cycle spiraling down. Information is key.”
Both as a sociologist and as an active League board member, Paulette plans to continue her grassroots efforts here in Arkansas.
“I’m looking forward to the Symposium: to go hangout with people here, to hear everyone’s points of view, how they survived the flooding, what are their concerns, and stuff like that. As a sociologist, we know we can build from the ground up. We’re not necessarily trying to take what we know scientifically and impose that on those who are out there where the rubber meets the road. I hope this will be a journey for that.”