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
GESA participants in a nature connection activity
GESA participants in a nature connection activity

In April 2022, we launched the Seventh Global Environments Summer Academy (GESA 2022). The 2022 GESA cohort consists of environment and social changemakers working to find durable solutions to complex social and environmental challenges. The participants come from 16 different countries, working as multidisciplinary researchers, practitioners, activists, academics, and artists. 

After meeting online every week for 4 months, in August 2022 we met in person for a 12-day Academy, hosted at The Quadrangle in Kent and the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. GESA participants went on a journey encompassing deep self-reflection, nature connection, thought-provoking dialogue and practical skill-sharing relevant to our contemporary social and environmental crises. Our time together was packed with enriching, transformative and inspiring workshops, peer-to-peer learning, dialogues, field trips and ethnobotany breaks. We had a host of incredible resource people who created a rich environment for sharing and expanding participants’ knowledge, networking and communication skills. 

In the first week at The Quadrangle, we began with an opening ceremony, guided by Terra Mirrim, where we collectively built a kabana in an immersive nature connection ritual that brought us closer to our themes of the five elements: fire, earth, air, water and ether. The participants then shared the personal journeys which led them to become environmental changemakers, before sharing the work and projects they are most passionate about. Filmmakers and GESA alumni, Elif Tibet and Inanç Tekguc from Karma Motion) facilitated a video-making workshop which provided participants with the tools to make campaign videos and spread their message in an impactful manner. Peter Larsen (University of Geneva) and Nana Haja Salifu Dagarti led us through an engaging roundtable dialogue sharing experiences, concepts and practices of dealing with different dimensions of resource governance and conservation, bringing in concrete cases, conceptual issues and human rights dimensions for frontline environmental defenders.

In week two, we visited Knepp Rewilding, a pioneering rewilding project in England, for a field trip followed by presentations and discussions with Chris Sandom (University of Sussex) and Ricardo Rocha (University of Oxford) on critical contemporary environmental issues, ranging from the role of rewilding in conservation efforts, to the false dichotomy between people and nature. Ruth Krause and Oonagh Cousins guided participants through skill-sharing workshops on ethical journalism and effective campaigning where we learnt about engaging with the media. We then went on an immersive walking tour with Uncomfortable Oxford, where we examined racial inequality, gender and class discrimination, and the legacies of empire in Oxford. Karen Larbi (POC In Nature) guided us with ease through these intriguing discussions via  transdisciplinary lenses and Elif Tibet facilitated a workshop on building alliances and transmedia storytelling. Finally, Gary Martin and GESA participant, Laura Vallejo, offered participants practical tools and technical knowledge in a workshop on developing a Theory of Change.   

Participants left infused with a revived sense of purpose and direction and with new friendships and collaborations forged. Participant profiles are available on our website and will soon be integrated into our Global Environments Network Community pages

(Please note this author has permission to use all of the above names).

GESA participants in a team-building activity
GESA participants in a team-building activity
GESA participants in a workshop
GESA participants in a workshop
Presenting the work they are most passionate about
Presenting the work they are most passionate about
Discussions in a workshop on effective campaigning
Discussions in a workshop on effective campaigning
Karen Larbi's session on environmental justice
Karen Larbi's session on environmental justice
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Creating community with 19 environmental changemakers at the Global Environments Summer Academy 2022

In April 2022, we launched the Seventh Global Environments Summer Academy (GESA 2022). The 2022 GESA cohort consists of environment and social changemakers who are working to find durable solutions to complex social and environmental challenges. The participants come from 16 different countries, working as multidisciplinary researchers, practitioners, activists, academics, and artists. 

This year, GESA 2022 takes place over 5 months, encompassing a 4 month immersive digital fellowship, followed by an in-person Academy. Taking inspiration from the five elements of fire, air, water, earth and ether, we curated a holistic programme of workshops and roundtable discussions that offers peer-mentoring, tools-sharing and expertise for those working on the frontlines for ecological and social justice and planetary well-being. 

At every summer academy, we invite a host of incredible resource people who are working on the frontlines of change in their fields. This year is no exception, with a  programme jam-packed with  engaging and thought provoking discussions and tools-sharing. We explored what it means to build community with Karen Larbi (POC in Nature), Shristee Bajpai (Global Tapestry of Alternatives), Maymana Arefin (Fungi Futures & Misery Collective), and Nessie Reid (Global Environments Network, ICCA Consortium). With multidisciplinary artists, Sujatro Ghosh, Nadia Tahoun and Guy Reid, we had an enthralling discussion on using the power of art for environmental justice. Our last roundtable was a powerful dialogue between Aditi Arora (Country Manager for Girl Up, India), Simran Rawat (Global Diversity Foundation, A Cry For Help Foundation) and Frances Mensah Williams CBE on transformational leadership, regenerative activism and navigating uncertainty. 

In August, we are meeting in-person for a 12-day Academy, hosted at The Quadrangle in Kent, followed by the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute. In order to attend GESA, many of our amazing cohort members have been awarded bursaries, but they need to crowdfund to make up the rest of the course fee. Please support these talented, changs today.  You can do so via their crowdfunder links below:

Our Way Home by Dahvii Shiva

Help Francis resolve conservation challenges

Help Kum Christian Tegha mainstream biodiversity conservation

Support a young changemaker from Myanmar!

Support Soner from Turkey to implement agroforestry practices, anthropological sciences and tending the wilderness.

(Please note this author has permission to use all of the above names).

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Event poster
Event poster

Throughout human history, and in many indigenous societies and cultures today, the passage from adolescence into adulthood has been marked by initiatory ceremonies and structured, supervised ‘rites of passage’. While adulthood initiation rites are culturally and contextually specific, they share a common goal: to transform young people into fully-fledged, mature humans. Unfortunately, contemporary ‘Western’ society has largely done away with these rites: the world over, youth are growing into adulthood without ceremonies or rituals to mark their transitions. They also lack the strong containers needed for facing themselves, reflecting on their dreams and strengths, and preparing them to fulfil their future roles and responsibilities within their family and society. Similarly, adults are moving into the final phase of their lives without initiations or honouring ceremonies, becoming merely ‘olders’ rather than the ‘elders’ the world so very much needs. 

Indeed, many of the urgent, interconnected crises humanity is facing stem in part from the fact that we are living in a world of uninitiated adults, governed by uninitiated leaders. Meanwhile, around the world, many cultures’ rites of passage practices have been outlawed, shamed, or shut down, while those that do continue have, in some instances, been reduced to a shell of their former complexity, nuance and power. 

These thoughts inspired our December 2021 In Conversation event. We hosted a GEN In Conversation about Rites of Passage in the 21st Century, moderated by Rachael, an attorney with expertise in community land protection, land tenure security, access to justice, and legal empowerment. Rachel was in conversation with a deeply inspiring group, who are all working on reviving, reinventing or maintaining rites of passage in their communities. We heard perspectives from Kenya with Dr Karambu, who is renowned for her work in innovative and sustainable models of development & peacebuilding, women’s human rights and global leadership programs around the world, and Naomi, who co-founded an initiative working with young vulnerable women and girls from rural communities on menstrual hygiene and empowerment. The discussion was further enriched by Hugu, a tribal mobiliser and organiser of Indigenous Taiwan based in Pongso no Tao, and Max, who works on researching and developing modern forms of rites of passage in the UK. 

Together, we had a lively discussion about the kinds of rites of passage that exist in the world today to support young people and adults as they move through key life phases. Naomi and Dr Karambu talked about their experiences and challenges in creating new rites of passage that maintain the powerful content their ancestors perfected but in new forms more suited to the present. Hugu talked about rites of passage in Taiwan, and how his work supports the communities he is part of to maintain and revive meaningful rites of passage locally. Max brought experiences from reinventing rites of passage in the UK, and reconnecting young people from urban settings to nature.

We are pleased to share the full recording of the event with our GlobalGiving donors. The current planetary crises demand that humans radically adopt new processes, practices, ideologies, and ways of working. We need a legion of initiated adults to lead us. But how can we revive or restore rites of passage to provide this powerful experience to the young people in our communities? Watch our conversation to hear our thought-provoking discussion.

Speakers bio's:

Rachael Knight is an attorney with expertise in community land protection, land tenure security, access to justice, and legal empowerment. She is currently a Senior Associate on the Legal Tools for Citizen Empowerment team at the International Institute for the Environment and Development (IIED). She helped to found Namati, and created Namati’s Community Land Protection Program, then served as its Director from 2012-17 and as its Senior Advisor from 2018-2019. In this capacity, together with land rights advocates throughout Africa, she co-created an integrated model of community land protection that is now practised around the world. Previously, she was Director of the International Development Law Organization’s Community Land Titling Initiative, and has worked as a consultant for FAO since 2004. She supports governments to draft land laws that formalize customary land rights and protect community lands, and has written various books and guides for community land protection advocates and activists, available at: https://namati.org/ourwork/communityland/community-land-protection-publications.

Daktari Karambu Ringera

Born and raised in Meru, Kenya, Dr Ringera earned her PhD in intercultural communication in 2008 from the University of Denver. She is an alumna of Natal University, South Africa, the Iliff School of Theology in Colorado. She received her Bachelor of Education degree and Postgraduate Diploma in Mass Communication from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Dr Ringera is also a lecturer at the University of Nairobi.

Dr Ringera is a 2016 Cordes Social Entrepreneurs Fellow; a 2015/16 Next Generation Leader Fellow of the McCain Institute for International Leadership, USA; the 2015 Life Achievement Award and 2015 Master Scholar Award winner, University of Denver, USA; and the 2012 African Achievers Award, UK – for her cutting edge work in innovative and sustainable models of development & peacebuilding, women’s human rights and global leadership programs around the world.

She has used her extensive academic background and international experience to design and implement effective models of community engagement, women’s grassroots programs, collaborative problem solving, preemptive and post-conflict reconciliation, and health campaigns. In Meru, Kenya, she has built a successful, working model of “Amani Homes,” community homes of peace for orphans and vulnerable children, and Tirigi (“the place of abundance”), a permaculture centre that trains people in the community on how to develop and sustain successful food sovereignty projects. Tiriji has become a training centre for peace and leadership programs. Karambu is a visionary, an activist, a compassionate, committed, formidable force for change, and an inspiration to all who meet her.

Naomi Mwangi

A strong feminist with world change passion, working at International Peace Initiatives (IPI) as the Executive Director. Naomi cofounded Kila Dada Initiative to work with young vulnerable women and girls from rural communities on menstrual hygiene and empowerment. She is a community hub representative at the Nile Journeys, a certified Gender Equity and Reconciliation International facilitator to bring the lost healing into the world. Naomi has hosted two Kenya Global Youth Peace Summits in Meru, Kenya gathering young youths from different parts of the world but mainly Africa. She is a well-known facilitator at the New Generation Leaders Program (NGL) empowering young activist leaders looking for a path to take and own. With all these motivations, Naomi is the founder of Ubuntu Voices International (UVI) that works with young people to heal their ancestral wounds through the ubuntu philosophy, ¨I am because you are.¨ In her belief in oneness, rites of passage for women in deepening their closing and openings in life. Naomi is taking more opportunities to keep her heart open on learning and exploring with no judgements.

Sutej Hugu

Sutej Hugu is a tribal mobiliser and organizer of Indigenous Taiwan based in Pongso no Tao. In his role as Regional Coordinator for East and North Asia of the ICCA Consortium, he has also supported cross-regional networking in the Austronesia – the Indian & Pacific Oceans, helped establish national working groups for ICCAs in China and Mongolia, regional working group for marine territories of life in East Austronesia & Pacific Islands, and helped launch the Taiwan Indigenous Conserved Territories Union (TICTU), a federation for the 748 tribal communities of the 16 ethnic groups whose territories overlap almost entirely with state protected areas and national forests. He is the Chief Adviser of the Indigenous Taiwan Self-Determination Alliance (ITW-SDA) since 2019, and mentoring the Indigenous leadership kernel “On the Indigenous Way.” In 2021, he initiated the workshop series: “Solidarity Exchange on Indigenous decolonization and sustainable self-determination for sustaining territories of life” with partners from Asia, Scandinavia and Latin America.

Max Girardeau

Max Girardeau has been researching and developing modern forms of rites of passage for 6 years through his work with The Visionaries. He trained as a wilderness rites of passage guide with the School of Lost Borders, is a qualified Mountain Leader and Trauma & Mental Health-informed Schools Practitioner. He has extensive experience with The Way Of Council and is passionate about ecocentric approaches to child and community development. Support The Visionaries on Patreon.

Thank you for your support!

(Please note this author has permission to use all of the above names).

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Fortress conservation is a persistent model in the post colonial world. This conservation approach carries the belief that biodiversity protection is achieved through creating pristine environments, i.e. ecosystems which are free from human disturbance. Mostly created, funded and heavily lobbied by the Global North, this top down approach often excludes, quite violently, local communities and their traditional knowledge practices. In doing so, power imbalances intensify.

The idea for our August 2021 In Conversation event came about as GEN members, Milka and Kendi, outlined the root causes behind the problems faced by the Sengwer people in Embobut Forest, Kenya, where fortress conservation prevails. As Milka and Kendi developed the collaborative project, Revitalizing Sengwer people-land relationships through Indigenous Knowledge in Kenya, we learned elaborate details about knowledge systems encoded within the Sengwer story of origin, land use practices, and relationships with nature, particularly the Embobut forest and its associated resources. This interconnection with the natural environment influences all aspects of Sengwer ways of being, from cultural expressions (song, dance, stories, crafts, dress, food) to governance systems. Unfortunately, these knowledge systems and land management practices continue to be undermined. Since the early 1900s to present day, the Sengwer people continue to face evictions from their ancestral lands, which become heavily militarised fortresses in the name of environmental conservation.

During the event, titled Colonial Conservation and Uneven Development: The Struggle for Radical Transformation and Alternatives, Milka and Kendi were joined by Suzanne, co-founder of the UK Tar Sands Network, which challenged BP and Shell investments in the Canadian tar sands in solidarity with frontline Indigenous communities, and Ashish, founder-member of Kalpavriksh, a 40-year civil society organization in India focusing on environment and development issues. Together, they shared their first-hand experiences of the ways Indigenous Knowledge and community-led education can revitalise our human connection to land and build resilient, thriving societies.

We are pleased to share the full recording of the event with our GlobalGiving donors. Around the world, traditional Indigenous territories make up 22% of the Earth’s surface, overlapping with areas that hold 80% of the planet's biodiversity (Sobrevila, 2008). In order to seek alternatives to colonial conservation and radically transform uneven development models, it is imperative that Indigenous Peoples and Knowledge are at the forefront of the conversation. 

Thank you for your support!

Milka (left) with Kapko women (by Elias Kimaiyo)
Milka (left) with Kapko women (by Elias Kimaiyo)
Kendi, one of four speakers at the August event
Kendi, one of four speakers at the August event
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Retreat participants
Retreat participants

The Global Environments Network - in collaboration with Camille (The Collective Liberation Project) and Farzana (Healing Justice London) hosted a 6-day residential retreat, exploring how embodied grief practices can support environmental advocacy and transformative justice in the UK context. The retreat prioritised people with recent ancestral histories of migration or colonisation and was an opportunity to put into practice the Weaving Grief, the Body and Transformative Justice Toolkit research led by Camille, in collaboration with GEN Director, Nessie Reid.

The grief tools explored within the toolkit are predominantly inspired by the work of Malidoma and Sobonfu Some, Francis Wellner and Martin Prechtel. These authors have rich experience using ritual as a way to befriend grief. Art therapy interventions were also woven into the retreat experience, allowing participants to creatively unearth how grief work can be explored in their individual, as well as collective contexts.

Participants were taught embodied self-regulation practices throughout the retreat, based on a variety of somatic practices, such as butterfly taps, crossing-the-midline exercises, scream and moan therapy. Dance therapy, free writing and journaling, drawing, painting and peer counseling practices were used in order to integrate people's experiences.

The retreat provided a space for a majority people of colour (POC) group (20 people in total) to practice embodied techniques and rituals that explore how we can work with our grief to weave resilience, grow strong networks of community care and generate hope, in order to create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. We held a container which had a strong interfaith foundation, allowing for spirit to be part of the conversation in a way that is not dogmatic and allows for a myriad of beliefs to coexist. The retreat took place at The Quadrangle in Kent, UK - a stunning retreat centre. 

In August this year, GEN will be publishing an open-source toolkit with tried and tested tools designed to weave grief, the body and transformative justice together. Watch this space. 

Drawing from a 'Herbs for grief healing' exercise
Drawing from a 'Herbs for grief healing' exercise
Farzana - retreat co-facilitator
Farzana - retreat co-facilitator
Craft session following a grief ceremony
Craft session following a grief ceremony
The dreamy Quadrangle retreat centre
The dreamy Quadrangle retreat centre
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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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