Awakin Calls » Kim Morrow

Kim Morrow: Minister, environmental advocate, mother
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Sep 14, 2019: Climate Change, Community and Personal Resilience, and the Journey of Motherhood

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Kim Morrow is a Nebraska-based minister, environmental advocate, and mother of a remarkable transgender son and a talented daughter. She has worked at the intersection of sustainability, climate change and justice for many years. She was honored at the Obama White House in 2015 as a “Champion of Change” for her efforts on climate change with faith communities. In 2016 and 2018, she was named as one of the 30 Most Influential Women in Lincoln, Nebraska by the Lincoln Journal Star.  In addition to leading a climate resiliency planning process for the City of Lincoln, Nebraska upon appointment by the Mayor, a planning process which will be the first in the region, Kim is currently writing a memoir about parenting her son through his transition from female to male.

Kim is passionate about helping people and communities prepare and thrive in the face of climate change. She says she feels grateful that most people no longer are arguing about whether climate change is happening, because “almost every American has been touched by an extreme weather event,” including Nebraskans due to recent floods.  This allows communities “to have conversations about solutions.” She is drawn to a vision of resilience that includes not only the traditional sense of the term, as the capacity of a system or organization to rebound following a disaster, but also includes a second aspect – about the capacity of a system to continue to adapt amid changing circumstances.  “We’re moving into period of time where there will be continuing and ongoing changes, so it’s not just a matter of being able to bounce back to where we were before, but it’s a matter of bouncing back in the middle of continual, ongoing change.”

As a minister and climate resilience professional, Kim has spent years working at the intersection of hope and despair. Her passion for vibrant communities and healthy ecosystems drives her holistic perspective and work in the sustainability sector. She serves as Senior Associate at Verdis Group, a sustainability consulting company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Her expertise includes sustainability master planning and implementation, climate resiliency planning and sustainable behavior change program design. On the side, she leads worship services, gives talks and leads retreats helping people to process their feelings of despair and grief about the environment and to grasp hold of new forms of hope for a new era. Her work has been influenced by Joanna Macy, Charles Eisenstein, Wendell Berry and Emanuel Swedenborg, among others.  

Kim has found resilience in her own life as she faced a seemingly extreme "family weather" event requiring collective transformation, as her teenage son transitioned from female to male.  She is writing a memoir about her experience from shock to love, including reflections of “my own experience as a straight woman sandwiched between two generations of queer family members.” 

“Having grown up in California with a mom who was lesbian, I thought I was one of the most open-minded people around,” she writes. “But when the child I thought was my daughter came out as transgender at age 15, I was shocked. … The grief I felt at losing my daughter was destabilizing, even as Luca insisted he was simply becoming his real self. Each of our family members responded in their own unique ways, from simple acceptance to principled avoidance. My mom, who had entered the LGBT world in another generation, was ironically the one who had the hardest time of all. … To my utter surprise, I saw that as soon as Luca began identifying as male, he began to thrive. Soon he had an active social life, started enjoying his appearance, began dating, training for a half-marathon, and approaching his academic life [leading to his acceptance at Harvard University] with unparalleled focus and perseverance. One night, watching from the balcony of a theater as he performed at the piano, I glimpsed an unusually gifted, disciplined, kind and funny young man – and realized that he was my son.”

Kim’s writing has appeared in Sojourner’s, Daily Good, the Lincoln Journal-Star, University of Nebraska academic publications, and the Messenger. She has given numerous radio and podcast interviews, and has extensive public speaking experience, including a TEDx talk delivered in Lincoln in 2015. She is ordained in the United Church of Christ.

Kim serves on the boards of Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light and the Nature Conservancy Nebraska. She is also a member of the Mayor’s Environmental Task Force in Lincoln. In 2017 she earned a Certificate in Sustainability and Behavior Change from the University of California, San Diego. She holds a Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion, a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has done doctoral studies in Christian Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. She has two teenage children and lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Join us in conversation with this wise, compassionate, and loving leader and mother!

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