We’re leading an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

Join our work today to help us build a thriving and just clean energy future. 


We’re leading an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

Join our work today to help us build a thriving and just clean energy future. 

Hannah Soundrarajan: My Mother's Sun

No matter how academic it becomes, at its heart, climate work is personal work.

A photo of Evergreen's social media manager Hannah Soundrarajan as a child with their mother.

My name is Hannah Soundrarajan, and I’m the social media manager here at Evergreen Action. Next summer will mark two years of me being at Evergreen, and two years of me working intentionally within the climate movement. However, my experience with the climate crisis goes much further back.

My mother and I are children of the sun. Our people are from one of the hottest places on earth. Some of my earliest memories are of being warm, baked beneath the sun. Some of my mother’s earliest memories are also of being warm, baked beneath that same sun. The only difference is that she was raised in the heat of Southern India, and I was raised in the heat of the Deep South of the United States. We are no strangers to the heat of summertime.

But what happens when the effects of the sun, the same sun that shone above all our ancestors, becomes more intense than many of them ever experienced? What happens when the sort of heat that nourishes plants and warms our skin, becomes a threat to life? And what happens, if that becomes a regular occurrence, rather than a catastrophic historical event?

Summertimes in Georgia are an unforgiving thing, but they shouldn’t be record-breakingly unforgiving nearly every year. 

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When I was a child growing up in Atlanta, I remember sitting in the back seat of our old ’89 Buick Regal without a working AC, plastered to the faded leather seat with my hair sticking to my forehead. I would press my face into my unzipped backpack because it felt cooler in there. And I remember wishing I could shrink to the size of my smallest finger so that I could climb into the inviting darkness of my school bag, just to escape the thick, unrelenting Georgia heat. I didn’t understand terms like “greenhouse gas pollution” or “urban heat index.” All I knew was that every summer was hot, and it was humid… and more than that, I knew that each new July seemed to herald a season that was even more sweltering than before. 

I’m not that 8-year-old anymore.

Now, I’m able to understand that when the heat stretched on and on, and the cooler days became far and in between, it was for a reason. I’ve learned about climate policy, about infrastructure and decision makers, and I often hear the phrase “BIPOC and low-income communities are impacted the most by climate change.”

I’ve experienced the impacts of the climate crisis first-hand, and that is why I feel called to do the work today. It is more than a movement to me. It was my childhood, my life. When I think about infrastructure changes, about things like electric cars and climate-resilient housing, I think of my family and my friends. I think of accessibility. I think about how the single mother working three jobs, like my mother, will afford those life changing things that are as inaccessible as they are desperately needed.

Many days, it’s challenging to watch politicians in their Maseratis and yachts, remembering my mother handing me ice packs in the car to make the long drives through Atlanta traffic bearable. But I cherish that experience. I consider it a gift, and have made it the focus of my career to help ensure that every little Black and Brown girl has access to cool air, clean water, and communities that are not only livable but comfortable in a climate-crisis-affected world.

I live in a country that is the number one historical contributor of the emissions that cause the climate crisis, and my roots are in a country that is feeling its sweltering effects despite not being responsible for it. How am I to separate the two, when both these places are integral to who I am?

No matter how academic it becomes, at its heart, climate work is personal work.

The bottom line is this: No matter how academic it becomes, at its heart, climate work is personal work. It’s community work. It’s deeply rooted in the desire for a liveable world and thriving shared future. And that is why you cannot separate issues of climate from issues of justice.

I live, work, and thrive under the same sun as my ancestors. In the worsening heat, that will continue to intensify unless we do something about it. This is our shared goal, because all of our ancestors—mine, and yours—have shared that same beloved sun since the very start of our human history. And our descendants will continue to share that same sun. They deserve to bask in it, to enjoy it, to thrive beneath it, rather than fear it.

To me, that is a future worth fighting for.

To ensure a livable and safe future for impacted communities, the Biden administration must center climate justice in the whole of government approach to addressing the climate crisis. We here at Evergreen are going to keep working to make sure they do.

That means equitable implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act, with at least 40 percent of the benefits going to frontline communities, a comprehensive approach to clean air regulations that will reduce deadly pollution for overburdened communities while also cutting carbon pollution, phasing out leasing for polluting oil and gas drilling; and more.