Global Diversity Foundation

GDF has a dual mission. Through our regional programmes, we support indigenous peoples' and local communities' efforts to protect their biocultural diversity, and peacefully achieve just and autonomous decision-making regarding their territories, resources and futures. In collaboration with diverse institutions, we provide support for communities to elaborate their own research, development and advocacy programmes. Areas of specific focus depend on community interests, although they tend to be community access to lands and resources, community-led conservation, advocacy and campaigning for social and environmental justice, the continuity of ethnobiological and biocultural knowledge...
Jan 6, 2016

Bridging oral tradition and written history

[1] Why Kadui and Sidui?
[1] Why Kadui and Sidui?

Oral histories are loosely defined as stories that living individuals, often older members of a family or community, tell about their past, or that of others. The State Library of Western Australia, discussing Aboriginal knowledge systems, calls oral histories the “bridge between oral tradition and written history”. Worldwide, efforts are escalating to capture indigenous oral histories through interviews with community elders, building their voices by sharing their memories, ensuring unique stories are not forgotten.

In Sabah, three consecutive co-inquiry projects with Dusun communities living in the Crocker Range produced research on patterns of local resource use, valuation of landscapes, transmission of indigenous ecological knowledge, and the impact of subsistence strategies on areas adjacent to, or inside, protected areas. Community elders, prompted by local researchers trained over the 8 years of the projects, came forward to reveal tales of heroism and describe events explaining the origins of place names and sacred sites.

Jenny, a community researcher from the remote village of Buayan in the Crocker Range who participated in the projects, continues to advocate for the wellbeing of her community and the preservation of her heritage. Around two years ago, she developed an initiative to add to the list of oral histories already documented through the earlier projects. She interviewed community elders and transcribed these interviews. Armed with three additional stories, she then set out to design multi-lingual posters for each story and a booklet compilation of the stories, using artwork created by Imelda, a university student who also hails from Buayan.

Here are a few short glimpses of two of the oral histories. Interviews were carried out and first documented in the Dusun language; some have already been translated into Malay and English.

"Why Kadui and Sidui?"

[1] “During a time of war between the villages of Kionop and Tiku, two brothers from Kionop village, Sidui and Kadui, were known to be the strongest and most feared warriors.”

[2] “Kadui and Sidui hid themselves and watched quietly, letting Lumingou and Binagal pass them without making any contact.”

[Told by: Angeline Dingon; Documented by: Jiloris Henry]

"Liwat’s Stone"

[1] “Three people – a man named Liwat, the woman he was recently engaged to, and her younger brother, were traveling one day a very long time ago from Kosungu Village, where Liwat was from, to Tudan Buayan, the village of his fiancée.”

[2] “Sudden flashes of lightning occurred, followed by very loud thunder. Liwat and his fiancee turned into stone, as did the equipment they had with them.”

[Told by: Gorumpang Matanggim; Documented by: Jenny]

"How did Buayan get its Name?" (draft poster)

[Told by: Linggui Lunduan; Documented by: Therisia John; Artwork by: Imelda, Anne Sipanis; Poster design by: Jenny]

Jenny’s work on her mini-project was exclusively supported by donations made through GlobalGiving. She is now working with Imelda to see this initiative through to its publication, facilitated by Shinobu Majima from Gakushuin University, Japan, through their outreach programme, DISSOLVA. For the last four years, Shinobu has led visiting student groups to Buayan who participated in Dusun community initiatives. DISSOLVA has pledged to support the printing costs of an oral histories publication for the Dusun communities in Ulu Papar.

[2] Why Kadui and Sidui?
[2] Why Kadui and Sidui?
[1] Liwat
[1] Liwat's Stone
[2] Liwat
[2] Liwat's Stone
How did Buayan get its name?
How did Buayan get its name?

Links:

Oct 8, 2015

Buayan youth initiate fundraising drive

T-shirts for sale are available in blue and red.
T-shirts for sale are available in blue and red.

The youth from Buayan recently embarked on a fundraising drive, selling t-shirts to the Ulu Papar community and the general public in Kota Kinabalu. Proceeds from the sale will be channeled to the TAKADA taskfoce to cover activity expenses to fight the proposed Kaiduan Dam, which would flood Ulu Papar traditional territory. Indirectly, this drive is also an opportunity to carry out a peaceful campaign to raise awareness, particularly among government authorities responsible in preserving and conserving sacred and cultural sites in Ulu Papar that are important features for the state of Sabah. It demonstrates the power and strength of a united community that does not agree with the proposed dam.

Anne and Khairulfattah volunteered to design the t-shirts, with full support of other Buayan youth, and are also spearheading the sales of the t-shirts. The youth are hopeful for both advice and financial support from concerned parties, enabling them to continue efforts to object to the construction of the dam. Jenny, who has been involved in research activities and outreach efforts highlighting the biocultural heritage of Ulu Papar, says “We need to stand together to fight for our land; our traditional lifestyles are strongly intertwined with nature.”

The printing of the 200 t-shirts available for this drive was made possible through the generous support of GlobalGiving donors.

Oct 5, 2015

21 at 2015 summer academy join growing global network on transformative action

Reaching greater heights at the opening retreat
Reaching greater heights at the opening retreat

Following an intensive three weeks, GESA 2015 concluded on August 14th 2015, successfully completing our fifth summer academy. Participants departed the academy, held in Bern (Switzerland), infused with energy and purpose, celebrating newly found inspiration and the seeds of new collaborations sowed. The academy again delivered an enriching, transformative, and inspiring experience for both participants and organizers.

In this fifth year, 504 candidates applied from 94 countries. Following an intensive selection process, 21 participants joined GESA from all over the world: 5 from Africa, 3 from Asia, 5 from Europe, 5 from Latin America and the Caribbean, and 3 from Northern America. These individuals collectively speak some 31 languages and come from diverse disciplines with exceptional academic backgrounds and broad practical experiences. They clearly possess the potential to become future environmental leaders. Our website has a portrait and profile of each participant, now integrated with the profiles of all other GESA alumni.

This year’s GESA again opened with a 2-day Salvia Goethe Dynamic Engagement Retreat in the Swiss Alps (image 1). This grounded the group in an experience of our ecological identities, and provided guidance and inspiration on how to establish this as a lens for experiencing the world. The group engaged elements of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s process for knowing the phenomenological world (image 2); the practices of Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects; mindfulness practices; and deep ecology methods.

The learning community that emerged in the retreat was engaged, self-reflective, and mutually supportive. It enabled considered and critical dialogue throughout the remaining GESA sessions, which included plenary lectures, roundtables, practical workshops, and field trips (see here for an overview of the various types of sessions held at GESA every year).

GESA evolves every year. In keeping with this tradition, the 2015 edition retained the strongest elements of previous academies while introducing innovations. As in previous years, the academy placed particular emphasis on honing communication of environmental solutions through the development and presentation of TED-style talks and the much-loved video communications workshop (image 3). Novel elements this year included plenary lectures from Alastair McIntosh, a Scottish writer, academic and activist who spoke on spiritual activism and Ashish Kothari, founder-member of the Indian environmental group Kalpavriksh, who spoke on environmental justice. They also joined forces for a dialogue on spiritual activism (image 4).

In keeping with tradition, we held an interim evaluation halfway through the three weeks, giving us the opportunity to hone the schedule and approach to immediate needs, followed by an in-depth anonymous evaluation at the end of the event. Our participants were, as usual, full of enthusiasm throughout the three weeks, and are looking forward to the future as part of the Global Environments Network:

“Wow. What to say. You are all amazing and each of you has touched me deeply. I feel so privileged to have been here and to feel like even a small part of your (our? this!) family and community. I love how this course breaks boundaries beyond the conventional. I love how it is flexible and … willing to risk touching upon what would not long ago have been considered "taboo" topics. The selection of participants and resource people was also brilliant. It really allowed us to both learn and see new worlds, but also to feel so at home and be able to express ourselves to a group of like-minded people to whom we did not feel we need to justify or explain ourselves or to defend our views. Many new skills were gained (highlights are how to give good TED-style talks!).”

“I hope that the lessons learned, friendships and partnerships forged, networks created, and the intangible values of communion will continue to resonate in the hearts, visions, and lives of everyone who was part of it. GESA reminded me that the future is bright.”

We are also please to share these blog posts by Gloria from Kenya on her experience at GESA 2015.

We would like to thank all of our donors who supported us through GlobalGiving, ensuring the participation of four outstanding individuals from all over the world at GESA 2015 and allowing us to grow the Global Environments Network.

Next steps…

In the five years since GESA was launched, we have grown a global action network of over 150 emerging changemakers from 52 countries – drawn from a pool of 1619 applications from 132 countries. We have established connections, ideas and collaborations that had – and continue to have – important practical outcomes for individuals, communities and environments around the world.

At this pivotal moment in GESA’s history, we are excited by the Global Environment Network’s immediate and sustained power to catalyse transformative reflection and action. We are also deeply motivated by our remarkable alumni who have called upon us to propel the Network forwards, galvanising the existing energy of its members and amplifying it to engender the profound shifts in the course our planet needs. In this next phase, we will focus on activating the Network by implementing regional academies and community exchanges, and boosting its “nuts and bolts” – the online networking and communications platform and the Alumni Innovation Fund. Watch this space for breaking news!

Detailed photo captions:

Image 1: Salvia Goethe Retreat facilitator Emily (centre) took participants to new heights with dynamic sessions in the Swiss Alps. (L to R) Sarah-Lan (Switzerland), Gloria (Kenya), Emily, Bryans (Uganda) and Serge (Benin).

Image 2: Janelle (Canada) reflects during a session on the Goethean method on the shores of Lake Oeschinensee.

Image 3: Heliodoro (Mexico), Mohamed (Bangladesh), Delicia (Peru), Chitradarsinee (Mauritius) work with Ruth (Germany; workshop leader) to interview Hasnaa (Morocco)

Image 4: Attentive GESA 2015 participants and GESA organizers Susannah McCandless and Gary Martin during a discussion session with Ashish Kothari and Alastair McIntosh.

Reflection during a session on the Goethean method
Reflection during a session on the Goethean method
Video communications workshop
Video communications workshop
Dialogue with Ashish Kothari and Alastair McIntosh
Dialogue with Ashish Kothari and Alastair McIntosh
 
   

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