Sunday, April 14, 2013

Is There a Bigger Issue Before Us

In the last 72 hours I've been stimulated by the opportunity to listen to seven brilliant scientists Say It in Seven: what they are learning about our world that could help us all. From Dave Skole's path breaking work to connect carbon farming (agroforestry) with measurement and payments for small landholders anywhere on the planet, to Joan Rose's work on identifying water borne pathogen's before they reek havoc, to Ruby Ghosh's work at developing oxygen sensors and make them cheap enough they can be used anywhere in the world for all kinds of practical reasons. The others were equally thoughtful and inspiring.
I also was recipient of a link to a recent  and compelling TEDx talk by Allan Savory, an ecologist trying to prevent desertification of the globe's grasslands, a compelling if yet optimistic proposal to slow climate change.

I scurried to collect signatures from faculty and staff to support students who were beseeching the university to divest from fossil fuels on Friday and passed them along to university leaders. Yesterday I attended the annual meeting of the Greater Lansing Peace Education Center and listened to a number of preventable tragedies - around immigration, women's rights, military spending, etc. And of course there is the daily news of 13 oil spills totaling more than 1,000,000 gallons in the last 30 days, violence, injustice, unrelenting poverty, growing inequality, etc. It's enough to have you just pull the covers up over your head and go back to sleep.

But in the darkness of these stories is also the light - faculty/scientists trying to find solutions that could be used in many places. Students putting aside the pressures of approaching exams and term papers to organize around the issue of the time for them. Peacemakers who give hours every week to inform, to bear witness, and to model peace in their community. It's at once maddening and inspiring.

Recently I've been working with a small cabal of local individuals  organizing a community conversation around campaign financing. In the work developing the idea I stumbled upon a recent TEDx talk by professor Lawrence LessigLessig portrait.jpg that is compelling in trying to figure out which issues might our time best be spent at. While there are many places to join in, Lessig's point deserves serious reflection.

As I move towards to the end of Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone's book, Active Hope, there are pearls of wisdom for helping any of us who wrestle with how to make a difference. Regardless of what issue burns most brightly for you. I'll end with one that resonated with this writer. There's a reason I named this blog "Possibilitator" a belief that despite the late Margaret Thatcher's dictum, "There is no alternative", with imagination and inspiration "a better world is possible".

"Thinking in only short stretches of time also severely limits our sense of what can be achieved through us. To grow a project fruitful enough to be inspiring takes time. It is easy to ask, "What's the point?" if we're not seeing results after six months or a year. Imagine what would happen if we applied the same thinking after planting a tender young date palm or love tree. These trees can take decades to become fully productive, but once they do they remain so for more than a century."

What task do you think is to big to tackle but yet is necessary to steer us in a more sustainable direction? Maybe that's the one you should dedicate your energy to.