First Person

Thao Nguyen: Why climate change matters, right now

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Oxfam America supporter Thao Nguyen (of Thao with the Get Down Stay Down) is a San Francisco-based singer-songwriter, whose new album “Know Better, Learn Faster” has just been released.

Hello out there. I am very pleased to be writing you on Blog Action Day, as it is my favorite day of the year. Last year on this day I dressed up as a blog, but because I’m more of an idea person, execution was poor and no one could really tell. This year will be clearer and different.

Thao with the Get Down Stay Down. Photo: Tarina Westlund
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down. Photo: Tarina Westlund

I am a songwriter and musician by trade, and although that is incredibly fortunate in and of itself, I feel especially lucky for such job placement because it has afforded me the unique opportunity to closely work with and support Oxfam America.

I have always loved Oxfam’s focus and application of energies and issues to real live people, and how the scope and arch of causes great and small always return to how real places with real people are being affected, and what can be done to help improve their quality of life. Climate change is a real bastard, as we all have heard. And it’s happening, let’s not deny it. If you keep turning a blind eye to climate change it will probably be injured in a surprise gale force wind. Or not. The issue of climate change has painted the town so many times with so many brushes, it is understandable that those of us with the ability and privilege to forget, would.

Enter Oxfam and others of its ilk to keep us aware and connected: The people the world over who have done the least to upset nature are always the ones who bear the brunt of its imbalance and fury.

Speaking of bearing the brunt of most of the environment’s and society’s ills, let us please discuss the women of the world. Oxfam’s Sisters on the Planet films turn much-needed attention to the extreme difficulties climate change presents to women in developing countries, and what can be done. I grew up in Virginia in a traditionally Vietnamese household, raised by a single mother, and witnessed many of the very specific challenges faced by women as providers: the lengths they must go to and the obstacles they must hurdle to keep their families healthy and stable. In many cases and places, the challenge for these women is to keep their families alive.

Global women’s issues are the ones I am most passionately linked to, so it was an enormous honor and excitement to be asked to serve as an ambassador for the Sisters on the Planet. I have seen the list of incredibly impressive women who are also ambassadors. It feels more appropriate to me to ask to interview to be their intern.bad-180-150

This campaign, this footage, and these women give me pause and then an overwhelming sense of urgency. What stronger kick in the pants could we ask for? I hope you will engage in this urgency, this sense that action must be taken, on behalf of all because it affects all. Thankfully organizations like Oxfam can help us distill and focus and maintain, that we might help in the most helpful way.

If you happen to come to a show of ours, Oxfam tablers will most likely be there, waiting to talk to you. They have buttons. And bandanas. And ways we can be better. Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+