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
NACELE 2015 participants create collaborative art
NACELE 2015 participants create collaborative art

This winter in the North American program, we focus our attention on supporting biocultural landscape revitalization in northwestern Mexico. Across Mexico and North America more generally, revitalizing landscapes requires thoughtful and conscious engagement with the Indigenous communities for whom these lands are traditional territories. At Global Diversity Foundation we understand that people are embedded within, and are not separate from the landscape. Revitalizing biocultural landscapes therefore means working to strengthen the capacity of Indigenous communities who are the caretakers of these lands.

This February, we are organizing a North American Community Environmental Exchange (NACELE) in Sonora, Mexico, on the theme “Collaborating for Change: Strategies for the Protection of Biocultural Landscapes.” This event will provide a training, networking and discussion space for Indigenous community leaders, in a context of rapid climate change and at a moment when adaptive community capacity to confront biocultural threats is crucial. Land and water grabs and extractive industry projects currently threaten the health of Indigenous territories in northwestern Mexico. This in turn threatens the well-being of Indigenous communities. NACELE 2017 will offer workshops from expert facilitators on a range of topics relevant to the protection of biocultural landscapes, including community organizing, coalition building, Indigenous rights, food and water sovereignty, and more. NACELE 2017 will be a space for participants to share stories of struggle and resistance, and will lead to media outputs that will highlight the work of Indigenous communities to care for their territories.

Participants in this event will gain membership into the Global Environments Network, comprised of a growing number of dynamic environmental changemakers working to solve socio-environmental problems around the world. As GEN members, Indigenous community leaders will have access to a strong network of support and diverse expertise that they can mobilize to enhance the impact their work in their communities and globally.

NACELE 2017 is one event in a larger landscape of ongoing actions for territory defense and Indigenous sovereignty in Mexico. For example, the Yaqui community of Loma de Bácum, Sonora is currently engaged in a struggle to protect their territory from the construction of an unwanted gas pipeline. GDF friend and NACELE collaborator Anabela is a Yaqui human rights lawyer who has been a strong community leader in this struggle. In December, Anabela and her husband were kidnapped for their community organizing work and vocal opposition to the project. They have since been released but remain in danger, along with others in the community who are working to stop the pipeline's route through their territory.

Loma de Bácum is struggling to gain international attention for their situation, and Anabela has asked for GDF's support. We are working to bring a solidarity delegation of Standing Rock water protectors to Loma de Bácum, to raise awareness, build relationships, and strengthen the bonds of Indigenous solidarity across North America. Water protectors have voiced interest in travelling to Loma de Bácum and lending a hand to maintain the momentum of Indigenous self-determination generated at Standing Rock. Donations received for this project via GlobalGiving over the coming three months will be directed to covering travel costs incurred for the solidarity delegation, and supporting Loma de Bácum with costs associated with hosting. You can read our detailed statement on this initiative here.

With your support, we continue our work to increase the capacity of environmental changemakers in northwestern Mexico and beyond.

NACELE participant visions of healthy landscapes
NACELE participant visions of healthy landscapes
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Ana Elia co-organised a 2015 GEN regional academy
Ana Elia co-organised a 2015 GEN regional academy

This spring, the Global Diversity Foundation team met to discuss the growing Global Environments Network (GEN).  How are members currently engaging with GEN, we wondered. How can the network become even more accessible and relevant? What kinds of opportunities, platforms and events do members want to see? And what is  the lived experience of GEN? How does it function in members’ lives?

We knew that GEN members-the environmental leaders who have taken part in events and become part of the network--would have answers to these questions. In April, we began to interview members. Here, we share a few initial glimpses into their experiences in and visions for the network (for more, see my blog post on the GEN website). We'll let you know more about our findings as we continue our interviews and analyze our findings!

Ana Elia, from Spain, studies how social capital and gender shape empowerment in community ecotourism in Ghana. She attended the Global Environments Summer Academy (GESA) in 2014, and went on in 2015 to co-organise the first Latin American regional academy, the Academia Latinoamericana de Liderazgo Socio-Ambiental (ALLSA). The organizers' focus on peer-to-peer learning meant that they learned new things during the event, as well.. Ana Elia shared, "At ALLSA, I learned about mapping in a way that accounts for socio-ecological interactions. I think that has been critical in shaping the way I’m going to be sharing my results with communities… because I want to develop participatory workshops and I think there are a lot of methodologies that I was not thinking about that have become more clear. Also Indigenous methodologies, or different epistemologies that since [ALLSA] I have been way more curious about.”

Gloria, from Kenya, works on sustainable resource management in dynamic cultural landscapes and improvement of community livelihoods, using local ways of knowing as a starting point. She reflected on the GESA communications exercise of creating a TED-style talk, and its importance for her professional and academic growth. “That has really helped me. I got a lot of good feedback from the talk I did in Bern. I often use the link. And then I’ve carried on those skills that [GEN founder] Gary was teaching us in giving other talks…. These days I’m very serious about what to say, how to say it, how to make the slides, how to make the story compelling, how to tie it together. No one in my life had ever taught me that.” 

Interviewees also discussed how GEN events generate inspiration that fuels new work. Priscilla (Cree (Canada)) is an activist and academic working on Indigenous, women's and youth issues in Canada and Latin America who took part in both North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchanges (NACELE 2013 and 2015). In her interview she reflected that, “One thing that has happened post-event: I am putting together with a colleague... a book proposal on some of the topics that I spoke on, namely Indigenous food sovereignty. So I think in that respect [NACELE] kind of mobilized me forward. I met some amazing food sovereignty people, like Nancy (GDF US Board of Directors President), and we’ve stayed in touch... so it was a great connection and it was an inspiration that in part led to me wanting to do a book. I mean, I wanted to do a book before I met Nancy... but I think it propelled me forward in new ways.” 

Conducting these interviews has afforded us the privilege to hear about the projects and aspirations of the many wonderful individuals working and collaborating for positive change in their respective contexts. Read the full story in this blog post , titled GEN Interviews: Where is GEN, where are we going, and how should we get there? You can also learn more about Angela, a GESA 2015 alumna from Canada. 

Gloria presents her TED-style talk at GESA 2015
Gloria presents her TED-style talk at GESA 2015
(L to R) Priscilla, Nancy & Melissa at NACELE 2015
(L to R) Priscilla, Nancy & Melissa at NACELE 2015
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Gary receives the International Planetary Award.
Gary receives the International Planetary Award.

In 2011, the Global Diversity Foundation (GDF) organized the very first Global Environments Summer Academy. In the years that followed, four summer academies (one more in Germany and the following three in Switzerland), a regional academy in Latin America and two community exchanges in North America were carried out under the auspices of the Global Environments Network. Ever since the inaugural gathering, we have been inspired by the camaraderie displayed by the groups of individuals from diverse academic, geographical and professional backgrounds. Through all these events, the GEN alumni Network/group has grown to approximately 200 people who continue to collaborate, learn from each other and create change across the globe, building on the vibrant connections made during the events. 

To assist this process, we launched a community-exclusive newsletter earlier this year, spearheaded by GESA alumna and GEN Coordinator, Silvia, who collaborates with GEN alumni and GDF. Three newsletter issues have been circulated to date.

In the latest release, we showcased GEN Director, Gary Martin, who recently received an International Planetary Award at Tage der Zukunft (Days of Future) 2016. The award recognizes people or institutions who have created outstanding initiatives in the field of innovation and in efforts of co-creation of possible and sustainable futures for humanity. He says, “I was honored to accept this award, which recognizes the efforts of all the unique individuals who are part of the Global Environments Network”.

The Updates section in the bi-monthly GEN newsletter, focused entirely on the people who are the core of the Network, announces new births (adding to the next GENeration), fellowships and funding attained, publications released and online features, ongoing projects, and many more. The newsletter also highlights opportunities to connect in person at events such as at the IUCN World Conservation Congress to be held September 1-10 in Hawai'i and the Climate Change COP22, November 7-18 in Marrakech. The newsletter is also intended as a space for sharing and launching Network-based projects and collaborations.

Response to the newsletter has been overwhelming, as noted by Janelle, a GESA 2015 alumna from Canada. She said, “I do have to say, I love the newsletter. I read it every time. …. I love how it is so positive, and just lifts everyone up who is in the Network. Like celebrating Jessica for her PhD, and other things like that… it’s so nice to receive all the good news.” We are appreciative of this feedback, and are excited and motivated about creating more opportunities for connection.  

Full photo caption:

Christof Mauch, co-director of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, presents the International Planetary Award to GEN Director Gary Martin.

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Visit to the Angostura Community
Visit to the Angostura Community

Several months have passed since we convened the first Latin American Regional Socio-Environmental Leadership Academy (ALLSA) in Dominican Republic, from November 13 to 22, 2015. When I remember that gathering, I get goosebumps. With the passage of time, the dust that was stirred up has started to settle and now, in the awakening of another Canadian spring, I have the opportunity to reflect on the experience of ALLSA. My intention is that these words serve as thanks to everyone who made this experience possible, including our GlobalGiving supporters.

In 2014, four Global Environments Summer Academy alumni were moved by their experience. Conscious of the need to transform socio-environmental pedagogies and paradigms at a glocal level, we became engaged in organizing a regional academy in Latin America. Antonia, Yolanda, Daniel and I wanted to help young Latin American researchers and practitioners collectively explore transformative environmental learning and our relationships with biocultural landscapes. We aspired to create a dynamic co-learning space and process that would catalyze young leaders' capacity to act and inspire more people to work toward the great social and environmental transformation, from small communities to international fora. We imagined a bioculturally focused, post-disciplinary event that would not privilege any single epistemology.

35 participants and facilitators from 13 countries gathered in the beautiful natural landscape of Jarabacoa in a co-learning space empowering young socio-environmental leaders to act and inspire! Here is what some of them had to say:

“The dynamic at ALLSA was extraordinary, it had something that many academic spaces still struggle to create: a collective spirit. (…) We had spaces to re-connect with nature with closed eyes, to find ourselves through ecopsychology in the contemplation of nature and education, to be frustrated, to race against time trying to share readings and prepare presentations, to philosophize with hermeneutic practices to discuss a text and generate reflection and discussion, to learn different strategies and policies through play (…). If something was missing from this space, it was time. The days felt too short to bring this process to a close, to laugh, to listen to each other, and maybe to sleep.” Merelyn, Perú.

“The co-learning methodologies used surprised some and helped some of us to learn by leaving our comfort zones. At ALLSA, I have been able to leave my comfort zone as never before. I’ve come to understand that the abysses between science, leadership and philosophy are not as deep as I had previously thought (…) I feel committed and empowered.” Antonio, El Salvador.

“I take from the ALLSA experience a little piece of Latin America, happy to find that from the south to the very north there are people who believe that change is possible in the world, and that we are not only fighting to achieve a state of harmony between people and Nature, but rather understanding that we are part of her and that we must not think of her as separate.” Patricia, Paraguay.

I believe that one of the keys of the success of ALLSA was the diversity of countries of origin, gender, communities, indigenous and local perspectives as well as the diversity of personal and professional experiences that were represented in the group. Another driving force was our mentors, experts both at regional and global levels who facilitated co-learning in different spaces through experiential workshops, discussion circles, research cafes and field trips. It is clear to me that the experiences, reflections, unanswered questions, and aspirations were different for each of us. But I also know that no one was left indifferent.

Please take time to read my full report on the Global Environments Network website.

Ana Elia

Full captions:

Visit to the Angostura community, where they have constructed a series of mini hydropower plants to support themselves as well as a visitors centre with accommodation. (Credit: Felipe)

L-R: Andres, Daniella, Antonio, Bladimil (and at back Alfonso). Daniella shows how her discussion tool or game named  Peruvian Food Chain Jenga works. She invented this fun methodology to facilitate reflections and conversations around the connections that exist within a complex system. (Credit: Felipe)

Allsa members engaged in a personal visioning exercise guided by Daniel and based on Joanna Macy's Work that Reconnects. (Credit: Ana Elia)

ALLSA participant Daniela leads creative prelude
ALLSA participant Daniela leads creative prelude
Personal visioning exercise
Personal visioning exercise

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Mirror walk: opening up to see with other senses.
Mirror walk: opening up to see with other senses.

The Global Environments Network did beautiful work in 2015, nurtured by your support. WIth this report, we'd like to celebrate a few achievements and voices from the past year.

Year in review

In August, we completed our fifth Global Environments Summer Academy. In June, North American indigenous GESA alumni Darcie (GESA 2012), Kaylena (GESA 2013), in collaboration with GDF staff and board members, co-led our second North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange (NACELE). We convened indigenous environmental professionals and practitioners at the Montreal Botanical Garden under the theme Nourishing Relations, People, Plants and Place.

In November, four GESA alumni, Antonia (Chile, GESA 2012), Daniel (Dominican Republic, GESA 2014), Yolanda (Mexico, GESA 2014) and Ana Elia, (Spain, GESA 2014) developed the first Regional Academy, the Academia Latinoamericano de Liderazgo Socioambiental (ALLSA), held in Spanish in the Dominican Republic. They gathered under the theme Transformative environmental education: Our relationship to biocultural landscapes. All three events brought people together in extraordinary, intensive moments of peer-to-peer learning and the exchange of ideas, strategies and techniques. Through these gatherings, participants were woven into an ever-richer and more resilient network. 

In their own words

Participants and staff reflected on each of this year's gatherings, as follows:

"GESA is not so much a summer school focused on environmental issues as it is a space to reconnect with ourselves, others, and the earth." - Karlis (Latvia)

"This work is often tough, lonely, and challenging. I recognize the importance of time for balance and wellness... and of having the collaboration of non-native allies." --Monaeka (Guam)

And returning home from the inspiring experience of ALLSA in November, Gary Martin, GDF Director and founder of the Global Environments Network, shared this: "This sign from the permaculture space at the venue, Rancho Baiguate, sums it up: 'We are in a process of transformation to achieve sustainability... we are moving from the conventional to sowing with conscience.'" (See photo 4, below.)

Our thanks

We are so proud of the ongoing collaborative work and achievements of GESA alumni. As we enter a new year, we recognize and celebrate these processes of transformation, connection, and renewal. Gifts like yours are what make them possible. Thank you for your help in this work towards a world of biocultural diversity, sovereignty and justice.

__

Photo 1: Camila (Chile) guides Bladimil (Dominican Republic) during an ALLSA exercise to experience the natural world with all the senses in Jarabacoa, Domincan Republic.

Photo 2: Shirley, cedar basketweaver from Skwxwú7amesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), and Richard, Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk), pose with their craft during our NACELE visit to his studio in Kahnawà:ke, outside Montreal, Canada.

Photo 3: Janelle smudges Angela with white sage from Alberta, Canada during an early morning creative prelude in Bern, Switzerland.

Photo 4: See text, above.

Photo 5: ALLSA organizers Antonia (Chile, GESA 2012), Daniel (Dominican Republic, GESA 2014), Yolanda (Mexico, GESA 2014) and Ana Elia, (Spain, GESA 2014), tired but happy at the end of a successful first regional academy.

West Coast meets East Coast in woven headwear.
West Coast meets East Coast in woven headwear.
Sharing practices of connection and renewal.
Sharing practices of connection and renewal.
"We are in a process of transformation..."
"We are in a process of transformation..."
ALLSA organizers, tired but happy!
ALLSA organizers, tired but happy!

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Global Diversity Foundation

Location: Bristol, VT - USA
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Nessie Reid
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