Alumni / Spring 2018

Alumna shares the human side of climate change

Dayna Reggero travels around the country documenting real people dealing with the real effects of climate change. Photo courtesy of Dayna Reggero

When Dayna Reggero was younger, she was a talker.

The University of Denver alumna took every opportunity to put her face on TV or get her name in the newspaper as she fought to protect the environment.

Now, at age 37, she’s figured out it’s even more powerful to listen.

“We’ve got to care about our neighbors now,” Reggero says. “Nobody’s listening to their stories. That’s what they tell me: ‘You’re the first person to come here.’”

For the past four years, Reggero (MAS ’12) has been traveling around the country, documenting real people dealing with the real effects of climate change in what she has dubbed the Climate Listening Project.

In California, she introduces viewers to worried mothers, afraid of how a natural gas leak will affect their children’s health.

In Florida, she visits a neighborhood overwhelmed by flooding from rising sea levels.

“I try not to try to convince anyone that climate change is real,” Reggero says of her films, which she shares for free online and through social media. “I just try to show the real people and their stories.”

Reggero’s love for the environment goes back as far as she can remember. She was a vegetarian at age 12. By 19, she was appearing as a spokesperson on TV with local and endangered animals. But years after attending the University of West Florida and focusing on communications, she felt unfulfilled.

Initially drawn to DU’s environmental law program, Reggero settled into a master’s program in applied science, environmental policy and management at DU’s University College.

“It really gave me the expertise and the drive to listen more; to really try to understand the science behind everything,” she says. “To understand what policies are in place and how policy works.”

Rather than stay on campus, Reggero finished her degree online, traveling with a camera to document personal stories of climate change. Her work has garnered awards from international film festivals. Partnerships with other environmental organizations, freelance work and speaking engagements have helped pay the bills.

“I’ve fallen in love with all these people that trust me with their stories,” she says. “There’s this sort of idea that it’s not as bad as it seems out there, that the climate change impacts are coming in the future, that what we’re doing is not hurting our communities. Unfortunately, that’s not true.”

 

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