Olga is a 34 year old psychologist and activist. She started helping others at the age of 16, when she organized camps for disabled youth. She later specialized in emotional education, working with children from refugee or mi- nority groups in Moldavia, Jordan, Kurdistan. She organizes her life around activism, constantly working on new projects and helping different groups of people in need. Close ties with nature have always been in her life as her father was a biologist and she was brought up in the countryside. This year she created the first support group for people dealing with eco-anxiety in Warsaw. As a mother of two she has been going through phases of extreme guilt of putting them on a planet which due to overpopulation and overuse of resources will be going through destruction. When she thinks about the future and climate catastrophe she is afraid of all the species of animals going extinct as well as the disappearance of strong local communities.
„Divorced from his roots, man loses his psychic stability.”*
Solastalgia – The pain or sickness caused by the loss or lack of solace and the sense of isola- tion connected to the present state of oneʼs home and territory.**
‚Solastalgiaʼ is a term coined in 2005 by an environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht from Latin words:
solus -alone, sole, solitary
solacium -solace, comfort in the face of distressing events
algia -pain, suffering, sickness
It refers to the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault (physical desolation).
In contrast to Nostalgia, Solastalgia is not about looking back to golden past, nor is it about seeking another place as ‚homeʼ. It is the ‚lived experienceʼ of the loss of the present. A form of homesickness one gets when one is still at ‚homeʼ.
For the people portrayed in this project, Solastalgia is future oriented. As ecological or social activists they are the ones spreading awareness about the consequences of climate change. Faced with devastating facts about global warming causing melting ice and rising seas, plant and animals species extinction, forest fires and droughts, heat waves and many more, they go through phases of eco-grief, acknowledging that the planet and ecosystem as we know it is rapidly dying. Even though they live in Europe, where, so far the climate catastrophe hasn’t shown its worst face and their everyday reality hasn’t changed yet, they feel the upcoming tragedy of mass-migration, unbearable heat wave, lack of green areas, people fighting for last resources.
Despite of differences in age, occupation, financial status or sexual orientation, they all share a strong feeling of hopelessness about the undeniable fact that the earth, their homeland has been deteriorating.
*E. Mitchell (1946),Soil and Civilization , Halstead Press, Sydney, p.4
** G. Albrecht (2005), Solastalgia: a new concept in human health and identity. PAN Partners