Double messages

FREE_PHOTO_CreditRicLander3-1024x683.jpg

Fossil fuel corporations are now faced with push back from those who recognize that they cannot foster impressions that they support environmental campaigns while continuing to pollute the atmosphere. We’re getting full page advertisements of how necessary oil sands industries are to our country - remember that they used to be called tar sands.

As we approach a crucial election in one Canadian province, we all have choices to make. Some in other parts of the world are responding to duel messages and you can read about one of them here.

Nature Needs Half

rainbow.jpg

I’ve been busy enough travelling and catching up on event posting and neglecting things to put here. This one is easy - a Podcast reminding us that Nature Needs Half.

Join our hosts, Ruth Midgley and Courtney Burk, while they talk to experts from around the world on the problems facing nature and how we can solve them. From elephants in Mali to mangrove forests in the Kingdom of Tonga, the Nature Needs Half Podcast will explore biodiversity, talk about our relationship to the planet, and introduce you to the people who are fighting to save nature.

Nature Needs Half is an international movement to give nature the space it needs to thrive and benefit all life on earth. You can find the podcast here, where I’m looking forward to hearing it too.

Drawdown Ecochallenge!

unnamed.jpg

 I recently signed up for a one day symposium on global warming and an additional lecture by environmentalist, Bill McKibben.  One of the benefits of this is learning about another great initiative for the month of April – the Drawdown Ecochallenge.  Using an approach to Global Warming that focuses on solutions rather than problems, it posits 100 actions that ordinary people can take that are already tested as effective. The large project is full of names I know from my previous life as an organizational consultant – founder Paul Hawken, biologist, Janine Benyus, and behavioural researcher Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, which still resides on my Ipad.  As a background document of the project attests:

“Several studies have shown that one’s belief that they should act and their intention to act are often not enough to help a person change an ingrained behavior, or to develop a less convenient or more difficult alternative to the habits they currently perform.”
— Northwest Earth Institute

 When the project started in the US Northwest in 1993, there was a scarcity of information.  Now we have too much data that is frequently unfocused, delivered in sound bites and of questionable authority.  It’s good to see these concerns addressed in a positive way. This project, running from April 3rd-24th, is designed to do just that.  It presents an attractive list of choices – some one-time actions, others to be attempted daily – and it includes a built- in tracking system.  The Drawdown Ecochallenge encourages people to join an existing team or form one of their own – and includes another important behavioral technique – points like the stars we earned in second grade; they support the team as well as the individual. 

 Some of the options include educational awareness.  Others include interaction with politicians that remind us to be citizens rather than numbers with names that they like to pin on us such as “taxpayers” or members of the “middle class”.  Some actions get right down to how much food we are putting on our plates, or food packaging and food waste.  EcoChallenge, the parent of the Drawdown project, also offers course suitable courses for a variety of organizations and enterprises.

 I signed up with enthusiasm and forwarded the invitation to a list of colleagues, encouraging them to join our City of Toronto team – which so far is small.  The enrollment bot told me that I have been overly ambitious and selected too many options.  It already knows me too well and I’ll have to rise to the occasion. It is wonderful to see a positive structure that responds to our wish to begin collective action and gives concrete options to do so in a positive way.

Today's Leaders Have Arrived

LookUsInTheEyes.jpg

Recently I watched a video of a panel in Georgia where a member of the audience asked panelist Mary Evelyn Tucker, “Where are today’s leaders”? He referenced some names of famous adults; Tucker reminded him that Martin Luther King was 26 years of age when he started his crusade for freedom. The moderator noted that emerging leaders are even younger and challenged the audience to watch Greta Thunberg tell us how we are doing so far.

Greta.jpg

You can see a recent talk here.

Thunberg says that she recognized the crisis on her own and her parents listened to her concerns. Her single action of sitting outside the Swedish Parliament She has inspired thousands of other teens to join her and has spoken at those who enjoy the title of leaders at the UN and Davos.

josephine-best-picture.jpg



At the recent WaterDocs festival I became aware of another young leader, Autumn Peltier, who sat at the feet of her great aunt. Josephine Mandamin, known as Grandmother Josephine. She was an Anishinaabe grandmother, elder and water activist involved with the Mother Earth Water Walkers.  They have riased awareness of the importance of water and our need to protect it.

Autumn.jpg

Her great niece, Autumn Peltier carries the torch after re great aunt’s recent death and has already spoken to the United Nations on World Water Day in 2018 and earlier berated Canada’s Prime Minister for his inattention to the importance of Water. She connected with Swedish activism by attending the Children’s summit where she shared her story of the sacredness of water from an indigenous perspective. You can see her UN address here.

Both of these young women in their mid teens have a long perspective - already imagining themselves as grandmothers and having to tell their grandchildren how negligent we were in facing up to reality. They already show the pain of their wisdom in their serious young faces when they speak. At very least it has inspired me to share the story of the Water Walkers with the younger children that I know. As information speeds up, they know too much already and will hold us accountable.

Artists and Water

I’m looking forward to attending the WaterDocs Festival in Toronto next week. One person heavily involved in the film festival before her death was Marjorie Sharpe who was also the founder of the Toronto Community Foundation. The arts organization that I headed up for in the 1980’s was the Foundation’s first grant recipient and it was a privilege to connect with her every year - and wonderful to learn only now of her passion for water and the need to care for it.

Thomas Berry stressed the need for all disciplines and organizations to converge in the great work of telling the new story. The young founder of Unify noted in a presentation at the 2018 Parliament of World Religions that film is the Shakespeare of our day in terms of impact -and his own film on water attests to this, Music is a natural too - and I look forward to coming performances of Missa Gaia.

But I was especially moved by Bill McKibben’s article last fall about the role of two young poets. One watches ice turn to water. Another sees her home go under water. The UN reports give access to real rather than alternative facts. But we human beings need stories to bring the truth home in a way that encourages us to change. It was Shelley who told us that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world". See how the poets help McKibben bring reality to this very important message.

You can see the full article here which also contains this video: