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Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders

by Global Diversity Foundation
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Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders

Social interactions are described as the very building blocks of society: through them, people design the way in which they seek to live. At GEN (Global Environments Network), we believe these interactions are often the driving force for action. Conversely, the lack of it breeds negative mind states—demotivation, indifference and apathy—in both our personal lives as well as in the workplace.

Over the years, participants of our Global Environments Summer Academies (GESA) have commended our programmatic approach which encourages meaningful interactions and builds positive, long-lasting relationships built of mutual support and respect. At our first Academy in 2011, we developed what we called the Research Cafe, a platform for participants to present their work. This opened up opportunities throughout GESA for practical feedback and the exchange of ideas by fellow participants as well as resource people, such as on alternative approaches adopted in other parts of the world. Over the years, our Research Cafes evolved to a TED-style format, when the delivery of inspiring presentations was enhanced through learning sessions on effective communications and filmmaking. As an example, watch Daniel's inspiring talk, in which he challenges us to reflect on our innate feelings and rekindle the wisdom, innocence and knowledge we had as children to bring the change the world needs.

Each year, as we shape the three-week GESA schedule, we repeatedly ask ourselves “How do we promote an atmosphere of collaboration, trust and respect?” This task is particularly challenging given the nature of the group: in selecting our participants, we always seek to convene individuals who bring with them a distinct set of knowledge and experiences. This means that at any one GESA gathering, participants are from a range of sectors and academic backgrounds, and hail from all corners of the world. Different, yet with the highest degree of commonality in their passion and commitment to improve local livelihoods, resolve conflicts and restore environments.

With this question in mind, we developed the five-day Nature Connection Opening Retreat. The transformative teachings from Joanna Macy’s ‘The Work That Reconnects’, the spiritual ecology practices based on the teachings of Sufi master and teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee and the interactive, performance-based process of Theatre of Transformation led by Rama Mani held during the retreat created a safe container and laid the foundation for a mutually supportive, respectful and creative community for the rest of GESA 2018.

As GESA participants join the Global Environments Network—alongside alumni from our Regional Academies and Community Exchanges—we turn our focus to nurturing and maintaining the strong bonds and nascent collaborations that blossomed during the three-week Academy beyond its boundaries in time. We revamped our internal newsletter, renamed GEN in Action, turning it into a platform for members to share their calls for action. We reach out to members via one-on-one calls and establish online tools to support GEN members through engagement, information and networking. We understand that oftentime, our members work in isolation without an adequate support network beyond their discipline, location or practice. They feel the need to connect. Thanks to our generous GlobalGiving donors, we are able to support GEN members by offering tools and practices for regenerative and restorative ways of living and working in the world.

(Photos by Inanc Tekguc)

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Building leadership at ALLSA Peru (Photo 1)
Building leadership at ALLSA Peru (Photo 1)

A note from GEN’s Director Nessie Reid 

We are delighted to share Yolanda's report (below) about the Latin American Academy for Food Systems Resilience (ALLSA). Given many of the current food and farming crises we are faced with, finding radical and innovative solutions for food systems resilience is more important than ever! We are extremely proud of the core ALLSA team, comprising GEN Alumni, who did a brilliant job organising and facilitating the event. Their efforts truly inspire us as we continue to encourage successful collaborations, networking and peer-to-peer mentoring.

Looking ahead to 2020, plans are shaping up nicely for our next Global Environments Summer Academy (GESA). The four main themes at GESA 2020 will be:

  • effective and non-violent communication and mobilisation within community engagement;
  • working with trauma, grief and tools for deep adaptation in the face of ecological crisis; 
  • overcoming oppression and addressing race, gender and difference in our lives and work; and
  • new economics, where participants will explore emerging economic models that balance between essential human needs and planetary boundaries.

Finally, from all the team at the Global Environments Network, we want to thank and wish all our supporters a very happy and healthy 2020!

 

Building leadership for food systems resilience in Peru

By Yolanda Lopez Maldonado, PhD - Project co-organizer

 

ALLSA: Transformative social and environmental learning: Facilitating innovation in agricultural, food and nutritional systems through pluricultural dialogue* 

From September 14 to 25, 2019, 17 young Latin Americans between 20 and 35 committed to the sustainability of food systems and the biocultural diversity met in an unprecedented Latin American academy. The participants were principally agents of change, community leaders and innovators playing an essential role in taking action for the resilience of our food systems. And most of the volunteer event organizers, myself included, were alumni of other Global Environments Network events.


The four axes:

This 10-day meeting was held in the magnificent Andean region, outside Cusco, Peru. We partnered with Asociación ANDES and the communities of the Potato Park. ANDES is a non-profit association involved in the recognition and strengthening of communal traditional rights on biocultural resources, and promotion of institutional change and policies relevant to conservation and development. ANDES works cooperatively with Indigenous organizations at the communal level and that strengthen food sovereignty and local sustainability.

The aim of this 10-day meeting was to build leadership through processes of reconnection and to increase the resilience of food systems. The academy was oriented around four transdisciplinary axes:

1) The biocultural axis, to (re)connect with traditional knowledge and integrate different local perspectives, serving as a model of how to create bridges between different knowledge and knowledge-holders. This axis was approached by sharing experiences, food, and knowledge with Indigenous people from the potato park. We visited their communities and promote experiential and horizontal learning based on Indigenous knowledge. We learn directly from them topics such as Sumaq kausay (SK), a central philosophy in Andean Indigenous Cosmovision. It is a holistic vision, which considers diverse elements of the human condition, recognizing that a range of factors influence our quality of life. It can be understood as living well, beautiful life, harmonious existence, or beautiful and healthy life. This concept involves the relationship between humans and nature (Pachamama, Mother Earth) to work together to satisfy their needs through ayni (reciprocity). We also learned how Indigenous communities cope with impacts of climate change for the resilience of their food systems (Photo 2).

2) The second axis examined contextual socio-ecological tools to study and assess food security and food sovereignty. For this axis we partnered with skilled facilitators from Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Peru, USA, and elsewhere. They shared diverse methodologies to co-produce knowledge by learning together, and bridging them respectfully (Photo 3).

3) The third axis involved the problems of storage, distribution, transport and marketing of food in sustainable food chains. For this axis, we explored cases from Peru and the overall Andean region. We visited, for example, different local markets, including the “Mercado del trueque” in Lares, where participants were able to interact, buy, exchange products, and learn about the different products from the region (Photos 4 & 5).

4) The fourth and final axis examined participatory leadership and commitment to action, to foster creative approaches to problem-solving through innovation and dialogue among actors. Here participants were able to share their ideas to foster genuine change. We learned how to empower communities to maintain and use their knowledge, concepts, methods and intergenerational knowledge transfer capacity, to support research led by Indigenous peoples and explore ideas for the development of Indigenous communities based on the sustainable use of their biocultural heritage (Photos 1 and 6).

 

Other activities

Whether among friends or in chance encounters, in Peru, as in many Latin American countries, people love spending time together. This is apparent in the countless local and national festivals that are celebrated in almost every Peruvian state throughout the year. I fell in love with the people of Peru. I especially enjoyed activities that had the communal cooking and sharing of a meal at their center, such as cooking in the Huatia (a traditional Peruvian earthen oven which dates back to ancient times, in which meat or potatoes are cooked) (Photos 7 & 8).

New (to me) ingredients, incredible flavors – the colorful dishes opened the door of a new culinary world to the participants (Photo 9). Overall, Peru opened my eyes to a whole new cuisine that I had previously known nothing about. Fascinated by the diverse dishes and culinary experiences, we embarked on a 10-days journey through Peru’s most important potato regions that deepened our experiential learning.

 

The trip

On a personal note, surrounded by a geographically-complex landscape, alpacas and colorful markets, I became aware of the beauty of Peru. As an Indigenous researcher who grew up in the Maya lowlands of Mexico, I had no idea what an incredible place I would land in--these flavors, colors and the geographically insane and breathtaking landscapes (Photo 10). The Andean Mountain region, in general, and the people, in particular, fascinated me with their spectacular scenery and generosity. I quickly fell in love with the country. As a scientist, I have had the privilege to get to know many countries and cultures. But as I traveled to Peru for the first time, I realized this country was special. Wherever I visited, I was greeted by a friendly smile, and instinctively I knew I was surrounded by a rich culture thousands of years old, with incredible tales to tell. All these experiences made me determined to return to Peru, and soon.

 

*Academia Latinoamericana de Resiliencia de los Sistemas Alimentarios (ALLSA): "Aprendizaje transformador socio-ambiental: Facilitar la innovación en los sistemas agroalimentarios y nutricionales a través del diálogo pluricultural"

Photo 2
Photo 2
Photo 3
Photo 3
Photos 4 & 5
Photos 4 & 5
Photo 6
Photo 6
Photos 7 & 8
Photos 7 & 8
Photo 9
Photo 9
Photo 10
Photo 10
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Gaia Spirit Movement poster
Gaia Spirit Movement poster

The ‘Flourishing Diversity Series’ aims to cultivate hope amongst all people and engender resistance to damaging agricultural and industrial practices. Rooted in anthropological research, FDS promotes the idea that encouraging diversity to flourish in all spaces is an important part of how every citizen can contribute to regenerating species diversity and healing ecosystems.

-          Founders of the Flourishing Diversity Series

 

As part of GEN's ever-expanding vision, we have begun official GEN Partnerships. This involves GEN – be it core team, or GEN members – supporting via informal collaborations with individuals and organizations whose values and missions are aligned with the Network’s.

GEN was invited as a partner of the Flourishing Diversity Series (FDS), which involved leading the Gaia Spirit Movement (GSM) and helping facilitate sessions at the Flourishing Diversity Summit: a unique opportunity to listen, dialogue and participate with Indigenous leaders from across the world. 

Taking place from 6-11 September, the summit kicked off with the Gaia Spirit Movement. As the sun filled Canbury public Gardens, along the riverside in Kingston-Upon-Thames, London, singer-songwriter Oona Chaplin played, welcoming the day. Elders Jyoti, Loretta Afraid of Bear Cook, Luisah Teish, Erena Rangimarie Rereomaki Rhose and grand-daughter Kya-Xe’ Zelaya Dudney then led the opening ceremony, sharing songs, blessings and powerful invitations for the coming week: to hold Mother Earth in our hearts and to listen, deeply. Some people ran, some walked and everyone met back at Greenwich Meridian Line at 6.30pm for a closing blessing, led by the Arhuaco Mamos (spiritual leaders). Living high up in Colombia's Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, this was the first time the Mamos have come to Europe to speak to the Western world and share their messages and 'the practices needed to maintain balance'. You can read their inspiring, potent message here.

Held in partnership with London National Park City, Extinction Rebellion International Solidarity Network and Extinction Rebellion Youth, diaspora communities in London were also warmly invited to share issues of concern to them in their countries of origin and to remind all of the importance of thinking globally and acting locally.

Day 1 of the Summit focused on Sacred Lands: exploring the relationships between people and the lands they inhabit, learning from the guardians of diversity about their governance structures, natural resource management, and resistance against extractive industry and industrial agriculture that homogenises environments and people.

Day 2 was Mother Earth: understanding the way Gaia has birthed the astonishing diversity of species on which earthly life depends, this day will explore the importance of the female principle in assuring the flourishing diversity and human blossoming. The day was devoted to delving into the systems that care, nurture and regenerate healthy, thriving communities and landscapes.

Day 3 was about Building Alliances for Diversity, which explored the role of partnerships, alliances and working with shared intentions to regenerate, protect, conserve and enhance Indigenous communities, their lands, food security and ecosystems. The day generated collaborative networks and alliances to support Territories of Life.

Every evening during the summit, Listening Sessions were held across London, where indigenous speakers shared their sophisticated approaches to living in community structures that co-exist and support harmony and abundance with the rest of Life. 

In this short report, it's impossible to capture the vast knowledge and wisdom which the series contained, so I leave you with this snapshot from an indigenous delegate, Jachuka Rete from the Tekoa community, in Misiones, Argentina. Jachuka has worked internationally for many years as a teacher of Mbya Guarani Language and culture and as territorial technician for the National Institute of Indigenous Affairs. 

“We’ve always lived in harmony with nature. Is it possible to continue thinking separately to ‘the environment’ as the western world calls it? There are peoples who have managed to sustainably live for centuries. Why do we want to continue separating the environment and the man? That formula has already failed; destroying much to gain little. Not respecting natural processes. Wanting everything packed and now. Indigenous peoples have been seen as backward communities. Yet they are going after us because we have the natural resources, because we have preserved them. Nature gives you what you need as long as you look after it with love and harmony, like we have for centuries. The Arhuaco Mamos said you have to do and then speak. We haven’t written a lot, but we have done a lot. Now it is time for us to speak.”

To learn more about FDS, see the report, Flourishing Diversity: Learning from Indigenous Wisdom Traditions

If you'd like to find out more, do get in touch. 

Nessie x 

Flourishing Diversity Series Poster
Flourishing Diversity Series Poster
The Arhuaco Mamos lead closing blessing at the GSM
The Arhuaco Mamos lead closing blessing at the GSM
Erena Rangimarie Rereomaki Rhose, Maori elder, GSM
Erena Rangimarie Rereomaki Rhose, Maori elder, GSM
Idu Mishmi shamans at the GSM opening ceremony
Idu Mishmi shamans at the GSM opening ceremony
Loretta Afraid of Bear Cook opens GSM
Loretta Afraid of Bear Cook opens GSM
Indigenous reps at GSM opening ceremony
Indigenous reps at GSM opening ceremony
Jachuka Rete speaking at Day 1 of the Summit
Jachuka Rete speaking at Day 1 of the Summit

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Participants at Theater for Transformation w-shop
Participants at Theater for Transformation w-shop

By Nessie, Global Environments Network (GEN) Director

We are facing an ecological and climate crisis like never before. Biological annihilation of wildlife is currently leading us into a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history and globally, the past 4 years have been the hottest on record, and the 20 warmest have occurred in the past 22 years. According to Oxfam, in 2017, 26 people owned the same as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. The list of environmental, political and social injustices, and crises, goes on but I shall stop here! Instead, I ask: what about the individuals and groups fighting to change this? What about those working to rewrite the story of our mutual, interdependent belonging in the web of life; those actively seeking solutions to ecological and social injustice? Well, some of them are part of GEN!

According to advocacy group Global Witness, those on the forefront of climate change impacts and campaigns are being killed in increasing numbers. Since 2002, the group has registered 57 killings of environmental activists in Peru alone, and these crimes often go unpunished. For the past few months, I have been asking myself how GEN can offer support mechanisms—including training, mentoring and capacity-building—to help those on the frontlines of environmental and social-change activism, and campaigning? Many face 'burn-out' and exhaustion from the highly pressurised systems they are operating in.

I feel it is one of GEN’s chief responsibilities to address this need and as a response we are developing and introducing two exciting features for our members: GEN Partnerships and GEN Project Packages. Through our ‘GEN Project Packages’, we will support our members—and those interested in GEN— to help steward their visions into a reality by offering opportunities to get project ideas off the ground, aided with an injection of seed funding, as well as support and mentoring from GEN Resource People and staff members. An example of this includes supporting and helping promote the Good Food March, in October 2019, with the Land Workers Alliance.

GEN Partnerships’ will build on the existing work of Global Diversity Foundation and GEN staff members in supporting and mentoring GEN members, tailored to their specific needs and aims. This will also include a focused approach on networking and linking relevant members together for collaborations, as well as advocacy support when needed. We have many other ideas in the pipeline for better serving and supporting our members, so watch this space! 

In other news, I am really excited to share that we have recently been awarded funds to cover three full scholarahips for GEN's Latin-American School for Food Systems Resilience (ALLSA), for those participants whom might not normally be able to attend, due to financial constraints. 

Participants discussing biodiversity inventories
Participants discussing biodiversity inventories
Emma Courtine (GEN Member) in discussion at GESA18
Emma Courtine (GEN Member) in discussion at GESA18
Participants in nature-connection workshop -GESA18
Participants in nature-connection workshop -GESA18
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Earlier this week, our Global Environments Network (GEN) core internal team got together (via Skype) to share updates of our work over the past few months, which included creating our communications and impact assessment strategies, producing impact interviews of GEN event participants, visioning and planning future GEN projects and toolkits, continuing to forge collaborations in the Network, and much more. We also brainstormed solutions for creating more efficient and effective ways of working as a remote, part-time, international team, which comes with its challenges! With Nessie based in the UK, Inanc in Cyprus and myself (Marina) in Malaysia—the three of us represent very different cultural, religious, ethnic and academic backgrounds and experiences. It is these very differences which add to the wealth and dynamism of our team, and is arguably one of our greatest strengths. We are drawn together by a common purpose: to work towards the success and expansion of the Network.

During our chat, Nessie raised the topic of working remotely: the challenges we face as we sit in our respective homes on a day-to-day basis without the conventional contact and access to face-to-face conversations that occur in a regular office. Don’t get me wrong, it does have its perks, such as determining my own hours and having self-determined flexibility. I get to spend time with my young child, before she heads off to school in the afternoon, who tickles me pink with conversations filled with humour, prompted by the innocence of childhood.

I mulled over what Nessie had said. Since the first Global Environments Summer Academy (GESA) was held in 2011, I have been in awe of the diversity of participants gathered and the way they sacrifice three weeks of their summer holidays to better themselves, rooted in their passion for their countries and communities. From Munich to Bern, and most recently in Oxford—we have now held six summer academies—participants have brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to GESA, sharing their stories of success and challenges with their peers, and building on it with the immense knowledge brought to the table by our expert resource people.

GEN is a collective leadership network that promotes social and environmental justice. An important aspect of our events is that knowledge sharing does not end when participants leave, and to achieve this, we strive to facilitate connections, exchange and collaborations among GEN event participants and resource people, who are all a part of our growing network. Keeping these connections flowing and encouraging future collaborations, outside of GEN events, is something we are continually working on and exploring ways to develop. To date, those involved in past events have organised three Regional Academies: in Latin America (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), North America (Glimpse Lake, British Columbia) and the Mediterranean (Morocco), and collaborated in three Community Exchanges in North America (Capay Valley, California; Montreal, Canada; Sonora, Mexico) and one in Europe (Barcelona, Spain).

We are now excitedly looking forward to the upcoming regional academy in Peru: Latin American School for Food Systems Resilience. Carrying the theme “Transformative socio-environmental learning: fostering food systems innovation grounded in pluricultural dialogue”, the event will be held this September, driven by seven very impressive GEN Alumni from Latin America. Working to improve local livelihoods, resolve conflicts and restore environments, is a challenging task, and often, it is also very lonely. We are inspired by the efforts of our members, and because of this, we aspire to continue to provide the platform of GEN so that more emerging environmental changemakers are able to engage meaningfully with experts from other fields, to test and co-develop ideas to resolve socioenvironmental problems across scales, and to develop their vision and leadership in a network of peers.

Thank you for supporting global emerging environmental changemakers. If you would like to find out more about GEN’s impact, click here.

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Global Diversity Foundation

Location: Bristol, VT - USA
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Project Leader:
Nessie Reid
Canterbury, Kent United Kingdom
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