As she read a couple of paragraphs from her book ‘Beyond Climate Grief: a journey of love, snow, fire, and an enchanted beer can’, to an audience of more than 60 people at the Clarence Regional Library in Grafton on June 10, Dr Jonica Newby wasn’t just sharing her story, she was also sharing the community’s story.
While many Clarence Valley residents, including the resilient village of Nymboida, continue to recover from the devastating bush fires which occurred during the unprecedented and destructive 2019/2020 fire season, they are still grieving.
Grief has many layers, many emotional triggers and causes, including climate change.
It is a topic Dr Newby focuses on in her book as she navigates her readers through the emotional turmoil of climate change, how the altering environment evokes different responses from us, and the strategies involved with emotional processing as we move forward with guidance and emotional sustenance to help us face a changing world.
During her research, Dr Newby travelled to Nymboida in December 2019 and met several residents including Debbie Repschlager and her daughter Shiann Broderick, who shared their recollections of the horrific bush fires with her.
As she observed the shocking environmental damage, Dr Newby also saw how climate change had affected the people who call Nymboida home.
Describing the Clarence Valley, and the community of Nymboida, as strong, beautiful and compassionate, Dr Newby returned to the region as part of her book tour earlier this month to share her published work.
“I wanted to come here because I wanted to honour them (the community),” she said proudly, as she reflected on the compassion and generosity she witnessed during her previous visit to Nymboida when friends, families, neighbours and strangers were rallying to support and assist one another following the firestorm.
“When faced with unbelievable changes in reality, the majority of us are overwhelmed by the desire to help one another, and that is what I saw in Nymboida.”
In her book, which Dr Newby describes as a memoir, written in a diarised structure, she also describes to her readers how she feels about the Clarence Valley and her deep admiration for Nymboida and the people who live there, including Ms Repschlager, who was among the audience on June 10.
“She (Dr Newby) did a number of readings from her book and everyone really loved it as she included so much information,” she recalled.
“She spoke very passionately about climate change grief and why she felt she had to write the book, and every copy was sold by the end of the night.
“It was so great to welcome her back to the Clarence Valley.”