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
Practical retreat at GESA 2018
Practical retreat at GESA 2018

Given the tumultuous political situation with the US Presidential elections, together with the many opposing views circling the globe about the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt important to dedicate November to communication at GEN. On the 3rd, we had the pleasure of hosting a GEN In Conversation event between social psychologist and climate communication specialist Irina (GESA 2018) and shiatsu practitioner, psychotherapist and cultural champion Sandhya on Communicating in Times of Polarity. Together, we explored the psychology behind polarisation, and the deep identity processes that lead us to take strong positions and defend them vehemently. Often when we polarise, we also dehumanise the person standing in front of us. This can lead to forgetting their unique story and who they are as a multidimensional person. How do we communicate in ways that forge connection and understanding, rather than build up walls of prejudice, divisiveness and ultimately isolation?

We are delighted to welcome both Irina and Sandhya back to lead interactive workshops, which will delve deeper into the ways that conflict and polarisation can be doorways into growth and connection (17th November), as well as offering tools for listening to polarities within the body (1st December). We invite you to read more about these workshops by following the links to the respective event pages on our website.

In other news, nine GEN members from Africa, Asia and South America have been awarded seed funding from GEN for five projects that strive to improve the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of their respective regions. The provision of this seed funding is part of GEN Project Packages, which include tailored mentoring, comms support and advice specific to each of the project needs. Read their project descriptions here and follow each link to find out more details.

Antonia, Julian and Constanza are supporting Taller Witral, a working and teaching space in Chile built by Patricia Ayelef, an expert weaver, knitter and natural dyer of wool. Also in South America, Daniel, Manuela and Abigail are offering live virtual and recorded sessions of eco-psychology and indigenous wisdom in the context of a global crisis and changes under COVID-19 and environmental, societal and economic risk drivers and issues. Across the Pacific Ocean, Aini is working to produce, promote and distribute a storybook on Malaysian primates aimed at engaging the attention of young people around the issue of wildlife conservation at an early stage of their lives. Azim, who hails from Bangladesh, is raising environmental awareness and reducing environmental footprints through eco-friendly bags and accessories, while Aina plans a two-day workshop in Madagascar for conservation NGOs to share expertise and learn from each other.

Margaret Mead, an American anthropologist, said ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’ GEN is built upon this belief, and with your generous donations, we are able to continue to support our  members from around the world to build themselves as leaders, striving for positive social and ecological change.

~

(above): Irina leads an embodied session on process work with Wangui during the Practical Retreat at the Global Environments Summer Academy 2018. (Photo by I.Tekguc/GEN)

Photos below are provided by the respective projects.

(1) Lesson on deep ecology
(1) Lesson on deep ecology
(2) Aina prepares for a workshop in remote Mangevo
(2) Aina prepares for a workshop in remote Mangevo

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Weaving land, life and justice
Weaving land, life and justice

When I wrote my last GlobalGiving report - back in December - I could never have imagined what the following six months would bring. The global pandemic has totally changed not only my life and my family's, but also the Global Environment Network (GEN)'s way of working and our much-anticipated 2020 plans.

As the core GEN team, each week we needed to adapt and evolve to what felt like - and continues to be - a constantly shifting situation where plans for in-person events are hard to make. After much discussion, we came to the decision to postpone our Global Environments Summer Academy (GESA) 2020, to the summer of 2021. Although this felt like a great loss at the time, and despite our reluctancy, multiple silver linings and new pathways of engaging with our member and our wider community have emerged. Since its founding in 2011, via in-person events, GEN has brought together hundreds of people dedicated to working for social and ecological justice and wellbeing. Then when Covid-19 came along, we needed to adapt; spreading our wings and taking our 2020 events online.

We decided to create a hybridised version of GESA, and thus the (online) GEN In Conversation Series was born. This four-month online programme of talks and interactive workshops, taking place from June to September (currently underway), includes some of the wonderful resource people we had programmed for GESA 2020. Since June, we have brought together activists, academics, community practitioners, artists, writers, dancers and researchers to share their insights and lived experiences, with each month dedicated to dissecting and exploring a specific theme. Going online has meant we have been able to reach a far more diverse audience, as well as including those who might not normally have the capacity or means to attend an in-person event. 

Our June In Conversation event explored the theme Weaving land, life and justice within, through and beyond colonisation. In the first part of this series, Octaviana, Wangui and Camille shared their lived experiences of coloniality, whilst unpacking the current opportunity we are faced with: to re-consider the path we have been on as a global community and sow seeds to create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. Read more and listen to the audio recording here. 

Our July In Conversation event delved into the theme What does food mean to me, you, us? Constanza, Mama D, Gary and Merelyn shared their journeys and the transformative experiences which sculpted and informed the approaches they now take with food issues they engage with. Through the lenses of biocultural heritage, critical food advocacy, Community Centred Knowledge, local product commercialisation and Farmer Field Schools, our speakers weaved stories and experiences which sit at the intersections of justice, power and resilience. Read more and listen to the audio recording here.

We are currently finalising our August and September programme, which will be released soon on our brand-new website

Camille and Wangui also lead smaller, interactive workshops in June. Camille led Dance as pleasure activism: Visioning environmental regeneration through the body, which asked the questions; How do we build a world in which humans live harmoniously with all beings in the web of life? How do we take the steps necessary to transition from an economy based on extraction and fossil fuels to one based on care and regeneration? And then through group exercises and somatic self-regulation, the group transitioned into a free movement exercise based on following pleasure in the body, in order to feel into our visions for the future. Camille's work is inspired by the work of Afrofutusists, namely Adrienne Maree Brown and Octavia Butler.

Wangui then lead a workshop Is there justice in the world? An introduction to regenerative justice. Participants were invited to question what is justice? What does it look and feel like? In a world labouring to birth new worlds, on what grounds does our justice-making sprout? In this two-hour workshop, participants explored in an embodied way various forms of justice that we have (not) experienced to understand what underpins them, for moving together towards building an understanding of regenerative justice. The workshop explored ways for working with the body, feeling, envisioning, writing and conversation for considering how to apply regenerative justice as a practice, to what’s alive in our contexts and our work on various environmental issues.

As part of our Covid response, we also shared a weekly newsletter Springs of Changewhich included stories of inspiration, tools for personal resilience and self-care, as well as practices for exploring loss, grief and transition. From March, through to the end of May, we held Zoom member support calls which afforded great opportunities for members to share resources and find professional research overlaps. These calls proved to be a space to stand in solidarity together to meet both the challenges, and opportunities, that the pandemic was presenting. 

Very best wishes to you all in these important, challenging times where community solidarity and fighting for justice is more important than ever. 

 

"Let’s meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing"  -  Dr. Abdhu Sharkawy, an Infectious Diseases Specialist

 

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

What does food mean to me, you, us?
What does food mean to me, you, us?
Dance as Pleasure Activism
Dance as Pleasure Activism
Spring of Change Newsletter
Spring of Change Newsletter
Is there justice in the world workshop with Wangui
Is there justice in the world workshop with Wangui

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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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Global Diversity Foundation

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