December 6, 2019 by Dr. G
A colleague on campus forwarded me an announcement that the founder of Project Drawdown, Paul Hawken, was going to be speaking at Swarthmore College. As I mentored one of the Drawdown REU Scholars at Penn State this past summer and are having my students generate podcasts this semester on Drawdown solutions, I knew I didn’t want to miss this event! I asked my Drawdown Scholar Anna if she wanted to join me, and we headed to Swarthmore to hear not only Paul Hawken but other speakers that were an unexpected but welcomed addition to the event.
The event started with a blessing from a member of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania (also see this NPR story on Lenape Indians, The Original Philadelphians, to learn more). It was incredibly moving to be a part of such an experience and recognition of the lands we had gathered. We then heard from Swarthmore College’s Director of Sustainability – who mentioned that they may be changing the name of their sustainability center to a regeneration center (a topic I’d like to dive into more for the reasoning behind the wording change). And it was fascintating to hear that Swarthmore College has a climate crisis strategy and is aiming to be a zero-waste campus!
- It’s not science, but extraordinatory science behind climate understanding
- The language when it comes to climate is inept – Drawdown puts the language in the context of possiblity
- Keep in mind that we had to name the goal first, and that goal is “drawdown” – then, indentify the solutions
- When people say “game over”, it is a surrender (and an emotional surrender)
- It’s not just about climate, it’s about people
- If our young people are any indication of the future, we are in good shape
- What does the term sustainability even mean? Regeneration is a process, meaning it is going on right now
He also recommended an article by Bill McKibben titled Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math, which appeared in Rolling Stone magazine in July 2012.
The second speaker was Kamuela Enos, Director of Social Innovation at MA’O Organic Farms. He started with the following video:
Overall, we heard from Enos about ancestral systems as contemporary solutions. We learned about moving out of poverty into responsiblity – and so much more.
What did we learn from the Q&A at the end?
- Climate change is not a science problem, but a human problem. It is its identity, that we think it is separate from everything and everyone.
- Regeneration has to start with our minds and our hearts – not the soil, and it is not a top-down solution
- Communities need to be consulted to come up with solutions to solve government problems
- We can’t have sustainability without equity. Moving forward, everything should be done through the lens of equity. In this region, it means always starting with the Lenape (they have the system), and regeneration has to have this equity.
I’m so lucky to be able to have heard these words – so much to think about and reflect upon as I continue with my own work and instruction, helping other students reach their own drawdown solutions.