Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category
I have had the privilege of serving on the board of directors since its inception last year and have seen it grow from seed idea to full-fledged force for food justice and urban agriculture over the past year and half. While my role has often been along the lines of communications, board decisions, and supporting in whatever ways I can, I have often been involved with the on-the-ground work that characterizes the daily work of Planting Justice (PJ). I can tell you personally that you will rarely find a more dedicated, passionate, smart, and skilled couple of people than my friends and co-founders Gavin Raders and Haleh Zandi. They and the rest of the PJ crew have their eyes simultaneously on food access and social justice and on both ecological and financial sustainability.
I have enjoyed the garden work-parties transferring plant starts on the rooftop garden in Temescal and at Explore College Prep Middle School where Planting Justice planted and cultivated a food forest and facilitated a school garden program with the help of the students; I visited San Quentin prison H-unit, where men are learning gardening skills in a collaboration between PJ and the Insight Garden Program. PJ has just recently hired its first participant from that program, a San Quentin parolee, who without the opportunity of the program to have gained these skills and knowledge and care, may have more likely become another statistic in California’s deplorable recidivism rate. I helped build raised beds at an affordable housing senior center just up the road. I have gone door-to-door in Oakland to connect neighbors with PJ’s work. I learned how to install a greywater system with the low-cost laundry-to-landscape workshop that PJ’s Gavin Raders and Andrew Chahrour teach. On the Global Work Party day 10/10/10, I was one of over 50 who joined a food justice bike tour of West and North Oakland that PJ organized along with Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and Peoples Grocery. We ended the day helping transform a plain Bermuda grass-choked yard into a beautiful edible garden. Continue reading »
I had the privilege of joining one of several caravans consisting of indigenous people, farmers, and social movements that traveled from all around Mexico to Cancun, where they hosted an Alternative Global Forum for Life and Environmental and Social Justice from December 5-8.
En route the caravans highlighted local environmental and social justice issues, such as community displacement because of industrial mega-projects, water pollution and water resource control, invasion of agro-industrial giants like Monsanto, contamination from mining and industrial agriculture, toxic waste sites, and a struggle against a planned super highway.
The caravans were organized by the National Assembly of People Affected by the Environment (Asamblea Nacional de Afectados Ambientales) and the international peasant movement La Via Campesina as well as by diverse social movements from the United States, Canada and Mexico including Movimiento Liberacion Nacional (MLN), Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, and Global Justice Ecology Project.
Here is a Flickr Photo group with many of the highlights of the trip from Guadalajara:
Once again, the 3-day Bioneers mother-ship has landed and departed, and a thousand pods of social and environmental change have dispersed across the globe, refreshed and re-energized. Or to use the less technological metaphor by Janine Benyus, founder of the Biomimicry Institute,
“This is kind of a seasonal migration ceremony, Bioneers. If we were migrating birds, this would be our staging ground, where we come and talk about what we have hatched this year and what breeding was like.”
The Bioneers Conference, hosted in San Rafael, CA on what is the ancestral lands of the Coast Miwok, is a leading-edge forum presenting breakthrough solutions for people and planet. Over its twenty-one years Bioneers has become a global community of some of the most dedicated, passionate, and creative thinkers and leaders facilitating a wiser way forward for the earth community.
Farmers, students, social justice workers, scientists, artists, musicians, writers, entrepreneurs, indigenous leaders, environmental activists, peacemakers, and a motley assortment of engaged citizens come together to learn, network, and re-energize their efforts in creating a just and resilient world. The topics discussed range from organic farming, green chemistry, and women in the media to cross-cultural education, traditional indigenous knowledge, and local democracy.
The experience is as intellectually stimulating as it is personally transformational. Over the next few days I will be discussing some of the most visionary and exciting projects, ideas, and people at Bioneers, including the Million Kid March, the new shift in environmental and community protection using a rights-of-nature framework that is taking root across the world, the Dreaming New Mexico local foodshed & fair trade work, the One World Youth Project that is creating a new paradigm for cross-cultural education, new models of clean energy, the transformation of urban landscapes and the work of Andy Lipkus and the TreePeople, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots programs in 120 countries, the heroic ethnographic work of Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey, the first female fellow of the National Geographic Society, and the move to amend the constitution to limit corporate person-hood and restore free speech for people alone.
Here I want to highlight what I take to be some of its core themes and messages and hopefully in the process capture some of the spirit of Bioneers.
1) Urgency of Action: All the signals from the biosphere and indicators from our body and economy are in: the time is past due for massive shifts in how we do things.
“This moment beckons us all to think big,” said Bioneers co-founder Nina Simons. “To match all we are each capable of with the needs of a planet” in peril.
Another panelist, Ami Marcus from Mt. Shasta, whose community is fighting corporate raiding of their water and manipulation of their weather, said, “It is not enough to feel it here,” she said, pointing to her heart, “we must codify it in our structures on the ground.”
And that takes the hard work of speaking out, organizing, speaking face to face with our neighbors about the issues, of challenging the status quo, saying yes to things not yet born but are in our imaginations, not accepting no, and of not waiting on leaders to come. It means scaling up the work we are doing already. It means moving beyond bumper sticker activism and clicktivism.
Bioneers co-founder Kenny Ausubel invoked Winston Churchill: “It’s no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”
The Four Years. Go campaign was presented, a global effort to awaken the best of our collective awareness and action. It is based on the premise that what we do or don’t do in the very short term will effect generations to come and that we have the solutions at hand, but we need all hands on deck. The mission is to empower “individuals and organizations to set and reach goals that will cause a positive global tipping point by 2014, setting humanity on a new path toward a socially just, environmentally sustainable, and spiritually fulfilling future.” As the video suggests, it is not a new organization, it represents goals for every organization.
We are urged to plug-in, co-create, and act with fierce determination. We are the leaders. As one speaker urged, “Whatever you do, wherever you are, find a way to be ever more involved.”
Continue reading »
Founder Kenny Ausubel coined the word bioneers in 1990 to describe “an emerging culture of social and scientific innovators who are mimicking nature’s operating instructions to serve human ends while enriching the web of life.”
Of course I’ll be following up with a report back of the most inspiring and exciting ideas and projects.
You can also see the Bioneers keynote speakers streamed live Saturday and Sunday morning.
Check out some past videos on the Bioneers Youtube Channel. Here’s Brock Dolman from Bioneers 2009 speaking about water & conservation, appropriate for today’s Blog Action Day theme. Dolman is a watershed and permaculture expert at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center‘s WATER Institute.
So says innovative architect and sustainable design leader William McDonough, one of the keynote speakers on the first day of West Coast Green 2010 in San Francisco. McDonough set the tone for a conference that has earned a reputation for being the largest conference on innovative sustainable solutions for the built environment. West Coast Green is a people-buzzing, info-bursting, idea-busting experience, with more workshops, green products, demonstrations, art, books, and break-out sessions than you can get your head around.
So, I’ll pull out some highlights from the first day.
McDonough, Van Jones, and Doug Davis from Intel launched the day with some cutting-edge ideas and examples, mixed with tried-and-true motivational techniques. McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle, is known for his critique of our status quo industrial processes but is even more appreciated for inspiring people with his vision of where we need to go and can go. He served up plenty of insightful questions and stories that captured well some of the major value and framing problems we are confronting as a civilization.
He also didn’t pull any punches. He provoked the crowd with questions like, “What if you are doing the wrong thing efficiently?” He argued that “being less bad is not the same as being good,” which is the subject of a chapter in his book Cradle to Cradle.
Imagine if I cut 10% of my toxic waste or 30% of my pillaging. Hmm, what about the rest? From a whole-systems perspective, McDonough makes the case that we have to eliminate the concept of waste altogether. Waste from one process or system is fuel for another.
Van Jones’ role was to inspire, encouraging values-transformation and self-reflection. We’re the embodiment of Hope.2, he said, so go out and make the difference with that unique dream that you share with others. He said that the solution is as much an inner-outer transformation as it is a top-bottom and grassroots-up process.
Of course Jones also made the case for the Green Economy that he does so well, reminding us (and presumably policy-makers & legislators) that we have a nation to repair and retrofit and urging us to put automakers back to work making wind turbines, making homes and buildings energy efficient, and building public transit infrastructure.
“Homes don’t retrofit themselves.”