Women and the climate crisis, Talks by the Earth Action Squad on International Women's Day, March 8, 2022
The Earth Action Squad was invited by Zonta, the Soroptimists and AAUW to speak at their luncheon at the Park Theaater in Glens Falls this early spring on the topic of women and the climate crisis. In response to requests that we publish these notes on our talks please see the texts below:
Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting us here today. We are pleased to add our voice in support of women and girls and pleased to meet you all. We applaud your work aiding women and girls around the world. So important, especially in the light of climate change I must say that coming up with this talk was more difficult than I anticipated. So much to say and so little time – hard to slice and dice. Nevertheless, I would be negligent in not taking this opportunity to briefly tell you about our organization.
We began as TNYT several years ago – (to deal with the transition from peak oil) - and have now evolved into a climate action org, rebranding to NCEA 2 years ago to better reflect our mission.
Our mission is to raise awareness of the critical impact of climate change on the environment, society, and all life on Earth, communicate the need for urgent action, inspire civic response, and provide action pathways
we did a boatload of actions over the years as TNYT …no time to talk about it all here, but a couple of the more recent climate leaning actions
single use plastic bag ban campaign resulting in putting forward an ordinance to Glens Falls and Qby
organized a successful climate march
for 5 years ….until pandemic…we had a very successful library film series in the public interest,
You can read all about NCEA on our website developed by Lisa. We have a FB page, maintained by Tony Kravitski
A website blog LTEs provided by Bernice
Diane sends out a monthly news flash with actions to take. Get on our email list.
We attend events/demos with our banner
Focus on state and national climate bills
One of our regular actions is the North Country Light Brigade presenting various climate messages at different locations around the area. I must give a shout – out here to Gus Myreberg, Gus initiated this by realizing the potential, getting a blueprint online and manufacturing the lights, ….you rock Gus…great initiative
We are not experts, not scientists, but…… we are concerned citizens - persistent, passionate, do our research, and take action.
The climate crisis is massive … complex …. We can only touch upon it here….it reaches into all areas of life. Everything i.s connected.
Each of us will speak to a different aspect …my colleagues will touch on personal experiences, women as heroes, women at COP26, women’s ways of knowing and ecofeminism, ……. We will conclude with a few actions folks can take and question time
Since we are in a theater, I was gonna say consider me the warm up act but then thought that was not quite appropriate for the topic………. so just consider me as the opening act
I had been planning to talk give a summary - what is the climate crisis and how we got here but decided to leave that out and assume you all know what it is and its causes.
Instead, touch upon the most urgent matter of the IPCC report that came out last week. The IPCC is the UNs Intergovernmental panel on climate change, an internationally recognized authority. And when I say ‘touch upon’, that is literal as it is 3600 pages, contributions by hundreds of scientists. Incredibly comprehensive and impossible to even relate a nano bit of it.
In August last year, the 1st report of the 6th Assessment addressed the physical understanding of the climate system and climate change. which UN Secretary-General António Guterres’said, is a “code red for humanity”.
The 2nd report of the 6th Assessment, approved by all 195 countries, was published last week. This report assesses the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability at global and regional levels. It is stark. But it does provide options to act and adaptMr. Gutteres states it is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership
The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet. Unprecedented changes have already affected all forms of life in every part of the world, some already irreversible. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a live-able future. The choices we make in the next decade will determine our future.
The IPCC has identified an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7F) above pre-industrial levels as the threshold for avoiding climate change’s worst impacts. According to the report we are most likely to reach or exceed 1.5 on a global scale by 2040, sooner, depending on location..
The destruction of life is not in the future, it is now. Already, 30% of the world is exposed to deadly heat., extreme weather, extinct species, involuntary migration… As changes are already in motion, it is critical that as well as reducing emissions we must also adapt to the existing changes and be prepared for those we can no longer avoid.
The report states that …there may no longer be the time to adapt … current adaptation efforts have been “uneven” that “there are increasing gaps between action taken and what is needed to deal with increasing risk. These gaps are caused by for example a lack of funding, political commitment, reliable information and sense of urgency. Successful adaptation requires urgent, more ambitious and accelerated action and, at the same time, rapid and deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.. and its development must consider diversity, equity and inclusion .
Women and Girls
Poor communities everywhere have the least capacity to adapt.. It is these countries, the most vulnerable, the least developed, that will feel the greatest impact… about 50% of the world. It is unjust, it is a human rights issue ….as it is the wealthier countries that are responsible. E.g. The US is only 5% of the world pop, but emtt 25% of the world’s Co2.
And the women and girls of these countries will bear the brunt.
Worldwide consensus states women and girls are disproportionately affected by climate change.. This is because they are already more vulnerable due to entrenched gender inequity.( due to lack of education, legal protection, bodily autonomy, medical care, religious freedom, political representation, etc) . CC will is and will exacerbate this
Women and girls around the globe have been subject to maltreatment through the ages….poverty, food insecurity, sexual violence, domestic violence, sex trafficking, child marriage, displacement, war, inadequate healthcare, child mortality.
CC undermines the health, education and livelihood of rural women, differently to men, Just one example…although women manage most of the agricultural land in developing countries, they do not have decision making power, they do not own the land. This means that after a disaster, many women cannot independently claim state funds. Women can also be ore at risk during flooding in countries where boys are taught to swim at an early age, but girls rarely are.
Athough women are 50% of the world’s population –(it is higher in all countries except India and China) …they have not been equally represented– whether in government, communities or families. And they certainly have not been at the table through the decades of climate change decisions….or shall I say, non-decision.
CC will cause more droughts, flooding, disease, death …….. adaptation is required to change the crops, to buttress against heat, flooding and disease …to have a fallback. The world must work to change this – give women more autonomy over their and their families lives. – education is key.
As food and clean water becomes scarce, stress will cause more violence, women will sell themselves, men will sell women for sex trafficiking and girls will be married off early, child mortality and mother mortality will rise. A terrible spiral ….mitigation and adaptation are required NOW
women are standing up in big numbers. Women and girls are showing remarkable resilience around the world. They’re leading climate action movements, championing clean sources of energy, and building alternative models of community that focus on sustainability and cooperation.
its just that now there is proof CC is happening at a much faster rate than even realized last year. There is but a short amount of time left to halt the worst case scenarios, to reduce the impact on your children and grandchildren. The solutions must move many times faster than the impacts.
Women and girls are on the ground , on the front lines -it puts them in a position to be the agents of change, to be leaders in this crisis.
Mayesha Alam, an expert on climate, women’s rights, and conflict at Yale University, states “It’s really important to emphasize that women aren’t merely helpless victims when it comes to climate change,”. “Their participation and leadership can have transformative effects in their countries and communities.”
We can no longer avoid the crisis as it is here now, but we can reduce the suffering of the next generations
The world has the tools and the knowledge to adapt and to stop the worst effects. – The challenge is one of human behavior… To secure a healthy, live-able planet for everyone, we need to transform our way of life fundamentally, and again, Women are in the position to lead.
We must start to plan be more proactive. We are all connected, no one lives in a vacuum …Lets not wait until it hits us in the face and we realize it affects us personally. We must Act now.
The beauty and stability of the North Country is overshadowed by the harsh climate-threatened living conditions in Africa and the Middle East, the Global South. Severe drought is shattering normal life. Women lead grueling lives, needing to walk for miles to find water and firewood to sustain their families, needing to migrate to survive at all. The U.S. is not immune with severe drought in the Southwest ruining small farms, raging fires destroying homes and towns, and floods. The climate crisis is now. Recent U.N. reports are dire and recommend adaption efforts before it's too late!
Last year I spoke at the Glens Falls Common Council meeting urging members to regularly speak of the climate crisis and our town's response. At first, I pushed against my own resistance to speak. Will they listen? But speaking about the climate crisis and the urgency for action won out. I spoke about the noted author Rebecca Solnit who wrote an essay called "Preaching to the Choir" in which she described that in trying to influence people, the proper audience is actually allies and not enemies. Her reasoning is that the preaching may move allies into action. So today I express my gratitude for the invitation to speak with you. I consider you allies. Allies vitally concerned about the climate crisis and its impact on women and children. Allies interested in learning more about our group, our advocacy, and climate actions that might interest you.
I want to talk about COP26, the U.N. Climate Conference last November in Glasgow. I focus on it because there must be global solutions. National solutions alone won't work. COP, Conference of the Parties; and twenty-six, the 26th meeting of countries that signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1994. The ultimate objective back then was multinational cooperation in stabilizing greenhouse gases and developing sustainable economies. Yes, world leaders have been gathering since 1994 to address climate change. And still national self interest overwhelms collective objectives. A new approach is needed to reach global goals. One grand change for next year's COP27 in Egypt would be bringing more women leaders, especially from the global south, to the decision-making table. John Kerry, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, may be the one to lobby. And add there are concerns already that the high cost of hotels will keep low income peoples away.
At COP26 almost 40,000 people were registered, double the numbers from the last climate conference in 2019. And COVID and cost kept thousands away. People from every country were there, citizens, activists, NGOs, businesses, banks, 120 world leaders. Zonta International was there! Zonta Vice President Salla Tuominen participated on Gender Day discussing the impacts of climate change to women. Thousands marched; young women led climate protests. Powerful voices focused on maintaining the goal of the 1.5-degree Celsius climate warming threshold to prevent disastrous consequences.
Mia Motley, Barbados Prime Minister, spoke at the opening of the summit: "For those who have eyes to see For those who have ears to listen And for those who have a heart to feel 1.5 is what we need to survive 2 degrees is a death sentence for the people of Antigua and Barbuda, for the people of Dominica and Fiji, for the people of Kenya and Mozambique, for the people of Samoa and Barbados We do not want that dreaded death sentence. We've come here today to say Try harder, try harder"
Global temperatures keep rising faster than predicted. We are now at about 1 degree warming since pre-industrialization. Warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030, and even if nations make good on recent pledges to reduce green house gases, the planet will warm to at least 2.7 degrees by 2100.
Vanessa Nakate, a young Ugandan activist spoke about warming on Gender Day:
"I hope you can appreciate that where I live, a 2-degree world means that a billion people will be affected by extreme heat stress.; in a 2-degree wet bub Celsius world some places in the global south will regularly reach a temperature of 35 degrees Celsius, (95 degrees with high humidity). At that temperature, the human body cannot cool itself by sweating and even healthy people sitting in the shade will die within 6 hours"
On COP26 Gender Day, women took the stage to demand equal representation in climate negotiations. Women's voices were raised, holding governments accountable to protect our shared planet. Female activists like Vanessa Nakate spoke about the critical role young women are playing in teaching , rallying protestors and pressuring the world leaders to take action.
But women from the most vulnerable countries were not present at decision-making levels. Men still dominated climate negotiations, with women making up only a fraction of the diplomatic force. This needs to change. A new organization "SHE Changes Climate".org was active at COP26. Their global mission is to have at least a 50/50 balance of leadership in all climate negotiations. Their work is to foster diversity and inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability at climate conferences. Women can (and do) play critical roles in response to climate change due to their local knowledge and leadership in sustainable actions at the community level. Their leadership is most needed in planning and negotiations at COP27. They need to be "in the room where it happens."
Many thought COP26 didn't accomplish enough. Greta Thunberg, who inspires activism world-wide, thought COP26 was a failure - "We need immediate drastic annual emission cuts", she said. She is correct.
There were first-time successes:
100 countries pledged to end deforestation by 2030
190 countries agreed to "phase down" coal power
109 countries pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030
While these pledges were not binding, nations agreed to meet again in one year, in November 2022, to review these agreements, answer to their progress, increase funding for adaptation, and likely increase their pledges to reduce greenhouses gases to keep global warming no higher than 1.5 degrees by 2030.
Many citizens in the United States and Europe are now accepting and, more importantly, feeling the reality of climate crisis. Climate rallies take place almost monthly in Albany. NCEA is often there. On January 25, 2022, Climate Can't Wait.org mobilized thirty climate organizations throughout New York to phone NY legislators demanding climate action. Our rack card has actions to take. You can see Bernice and I on the bridge to South Glens falls every Friday at noon holding our banner and welcoming the many honks from cars passing by. Our Light Brigade lights shine out from bridges and roadsides alerting the public. One or two times a month we send out an e-mail flash with information about climate bills and who to lobby.
Large numbers of lobbying efforts should make a different but so far the bills have not gained footholds: Bills aimed at banks to stop financing projects that emit greenhouse gases, bills to eliminate federal and state fossil fuel subsidies and the New York Climate and Community Investment Act (CCIA) to fund the NY "Climate Act" that was passed in 2019 with ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gases. The CCIA never got out of committee in 2021.There's a climate rally going on right now in Albany calling for the passage of the CCIA. We can call Governor Hochul tomorrow and ask for her support.
We have the technology and knowledge to mitigate climate warming. Globally we have the money. The cost of unchecked climate change far exceeds the trillions needed to prevent planet calamity. Why are we waiting for a public groundswell for climate action?
Research shows that if 3.5% of the population takes continued action on a cause, successful results will follow. Talking about climate change is one key to action. Our local press could talk more, our elected officials could talk more, our church leaders could talk more. As I wrap up my turn, I thank you very much for having our group "talk more" with you today.
Prepared by Diane Collins 3-7-2022
Lisa Adamson Women Environmental heroes and unsung heroes
I support the idea of a consistent global groundswell, on the scale of what we saw for support for the Ukraine. In struggling to define what actions really make a difference as far as influencing climate policy, I would say it going to take a consistent outcry of outrage, alarm and lifted voices to pressure those in power. Our worldwide demand needs to be unified, and cooperative policy, pledges and enforceable plans must challenge the systems-- economic, political, financial and corporate--- that have kneecapped urgent climate action to date.
But how to generate that worldwide movement to demand the end to fossil fuel extraction and use is the task.
In reading your websites and seeing your lists of the women leaders in your organizations it occurred to me that NCEA (North Country Earth Action) needs its own page called the “Shoulders we stand on”…a page honoring those women who embody commitment and courage within the environmental movement. These heroes give heart to initiate creative action in the face of strong opposing forces; these are among many women who understand that the root word in sacrifice is the notion of sacred, giving your all for what is sacred, your children, the earth…perhaps one gives even one’s life; their strength tells us not to be afraid of direct action, of perhaps arrest, detention. The inspire us each to sound the alarm.
Since I am our webmaster I could make this page and would include of course:
Rachel Carson: scientist and Cassandra who warned of the chemical and industrial pollution of Mother Earth and our bodies. Wangari Mathaai:, Nobel Peace Prize winner and creator of the Green Belt movement, the tree planter, who woke the world up to the power of trees as solutions to desertification and deforestation. Jane Goddall primatologist of great humanity and compassion; and by association I would research and post those who speak for the animals, against extinction of all life forms, our birds, our fish,our coral reefs, Greta Thunberg…we already have her on our site!!
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who invented the phrase and the concept of the Green New Deal and stood with Varshini Prakash of the Sunrise youth climate movement. Julia Olson, the lawyer who sparked Our Childrens Trust which now exists in many countries- as court cases by youth, charging their government’s refusal to protect the next generations’ rights to a livable planet, the cases being based in the ancient Public Trust Doctrine. Erin Brokovitch who continues her inspiring activist from “back in the day” to work now against PFOA’s-the forever chemical in all of our blood, in our air, in our water.
Women have sacrificed personal freedom and even their lives: Bertha Cerceras of Honduras and the 100s of environmental activists who have been murdered standing up to Banana republic corporate interests which grab and desecrate Indigenous lands.
Women have been willing to go to prison or be arrested --- Sandra Steingraber here in NY who fought the fracking industry over at Seneca Lake, serving jail time because of her activism, and sparked the NYS no fracking ban. And a shout out to Kathy Naftaly of Crandall Library here in Glens Falls for making it possible to bring Sandra here to speak to us. The 2 young women activists who suspended themselves by ropes high above the port of Newcastle in Austrailia last winter stopping coal freighter traffic for a day before their arrest. The Dakota Access pipeline activists who destroyed DAPL infrastructure and who, when arraigned, said they only wished they could have destroyed the whole pipeline. Our Indigenous women of courage-- the Annishinabe women take an oath to protect the water…they are our pipeline water protectors. Jane Fonda and other women celebrities such as Sarandon and Naomi Klein teaching people that they have options for action and how to cross the line into a willingness to break the law and be arrested for a higher purpose. Leah Penniman-Local Activist, black farmer, reclaiming the notion of farming and soil regeneration as solutions for decarbonization and retooling next generations of young people of color and LGBTQ youth at Soulfire Farm. Maya Von Rossum… Delaware Riverkeeper, advocate who help NYS and the 2020 Green Amendment across the finish line to be adopted by NYS. Kay Olan Ionaetawais local Mohawk storyteller in the matrilineal tradition of water protection who stood with area activists against the XL pipeline; teacher of 2 Row Wampum and its mission to protect the water.
But what I really need to note for the rest of this talk is the role of local activism which does the day labor of getting the word out in a variety of actions, studying bills and lobbying, pressing our local, state and federal officials to do what they can…
Grassroots Activism on policies/bills on a Federal Level
Bernice Mennis and I went to Representative Stefanik with a federal bill package, a “suite” of 10 out of many climate bills in Congress, as part of a nationwide action, sponsored by Climate Crisis Policy, called Adopt a District to request her sponsorship for any of these bills. We studied the issues and cross checked how they might relate to district 21. She declined to sponsor saying she would vote either way when they came up for a vote. I worked with CCP.org on a single renewable clean energy standard bill called the Earth Bill and presented it to Stefanik.
Catherine Atherden and Diane Collins, and then later Bernice and I and others participated in fall 2021 Albany actions, challenging Assemblyman Tonko on his support for the bad portions of the federal Clean Futures Act which erroneously had labled garbage incineration, incremental fracking reduction and atomic energy as viable clean renewable energy.
Local/ Municipal Grassroots Actions Two women implementing local government programs of note include: Claudia Braymer, environmental lawyer and head of an environmental committee at the Warren County supervisor level and Kathy Bozony, chair of the Climate Smart and Clean Energy committees on at the Town of Queensbury.
If we are willing to attend town meetings, zoning and planning board meetings and speak up, our voices can be heard.But as on a state and national level where urgently needed enforceable mandates around climate are slow to pass it also is true on a municipal level so onogoing pressure is critical; Catherine Atherden, our teammate here, ran for and served on our town board; Catherine got the aspiriational Queensbury Resolution: “Were still In “ formatted and passed when Trump pulled us out of the Paris Accord. She chaired a successful Site Plan Review committee relating to improvements on our lakes’ water quality codes. Pema Reed here in the audience, as well as this team here at the table, sit on of our local climate smart community committees; we always need more participants if any of you should be interested. These committees interface with state DEC and NYSERDA programs, and local municipalities respond to the state incentives to reduce emissions through community campaigns such as community solar, composting, re- use, initiatives, LED lightbulb initiatives, EV charging stations. Pema was recently quite active around a Queensbury issue related to PFOA’s, the Jenkinsville issue. Kathy also is a critical activist around water quality issues and, like myself, on the board/officer with the Assembly Point wAter Quality Coalition, a non profit started by women. A shout out to Rosemary Pusateri in the audience here as a passionate water quality activist. State This month is the highpoint of state lobbying which I am presently involved in this week…tomorrow is a Divest Teachers Pension fund day, and electrification of all buildings in NYS by 2024 informational training seminar; Thursday is Direct Air Capture and Extended Producer Responsibility both of which advocate to press for non acceptance of bills which are either incomplete and/ or false solutions known currently as greenwashing. Two local activists, Tracy Frisch of the Clean Air Action network and Zero Waste and Judith Enck of Break free from Plastics have worked tirelessly to get out information about these compromises. AS Judith has said:
“bottom up activism can effect top down legislative action. You can protect against loopholes better on a local level of activism. Women care about their communities.”
NYS needs to hit an 85% reduction of GGH emisssions by 2050. So far we are only seeing incremental steps. We have the premier bill in the country, theCLCPA, but it lacks necessary funding. Today as we speak NY Renews in Albany fighting for $15B to be included in the governor’s budget April 1.
If you lobby or go on webinairs you will meet so many unsung women heroes. Often these zoom teams: The Climate Cant Wait coalition, NY Renews, the Divest NY Coalition, the Extended Producer Bill teams are predominanty women who work behind the scenes. Is this because women are in the frontline of protection of their communities? I am humbled by the many unsung activists with whom I now daily work.
I am in love with this beautiful, bountiful earth., often saying aloud Hopkins’ “and for all this nature is never spent, there lives the dearest freshness down things.” My roots are in the earth, the Bronx Botanical Gardens of childhood, my 42 years in the Adirondack woodland. My roots also in education, my life’s work– for 20 years teaching College, mainly women who didn’t go to or complete college because poor, mothers, told they were stupid and ignorant, ...and teaching in great meadows prison where men were told they were evil, and I seeing the deep wisdom residing in them, and how it blossoms with education and consciousness, with “breaking out of prisons” of the mind which we have inculcated and which keep us entrapped. Everything my colleagues have already said is essential in terms of our climate crisis and what we know we most do–how time is running out, the necessity of action, paths to action. But I am trying to answer the question how, despite all facts, evidence, information, science, immediate catastrophic experiences, films showing glaciers melting, islands becoming uninhabitable, drought making it impossible to farm or live, climate refugees fleeing uninhabitable homelands...... how most people here in the US do not act as if our home, our earth, is heading towards death, do not care or take in that reality. Einstein said:”We can”t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” I want to focus on thinking–or not thinking.– and how we need to rethink, revision how we view, value, name, define our world and our lives. You all know from your excellent and essential work against violence of women how pervasive and seemingly accepted that violence is..throughout history, throughout our world. An, also, how pervasive the destruction and exploitation of our incredible earth. My continual question: what is the mindset that allows people to do such harm and act with such impunity? One of the hardest things for us all to grasp is how people accept a way of being and doing as if it is “natural’-- how hard to see it is not natural, is a construct imposed by those in power often internalized by those who are powerless.–. Ecofeminism iis a movement that sees a connection between the exploitation and degradation of the natural world and the subordination and oppression of women–a system of power in which one group (in power)--historically white and male– sees itself as the center of the universe, the life force, the shaper and maker, and sees the “other” as lesser, empty, valueless, as object, commodity–not possessing life or vitality. And because the value and richness is not seen, those in power can abuse and exploit earth,women,poor peoples with total impunity....Ecofeminism, on the other hand, asserts the strength and integrity of every living being. Feminism questioned patriarchal power existing in most cultures and throughout history, , the “natural” sense of male superiority giving man the right to restrict women, see them as property, control, abuse, rape.. We recognize the Taliban’s control but that desire and will to control is prevalent, rears its head everywhere, even here, the almost vendetta against women’s reproductive rights,not only to ban women’s right to choose an abortion but to restrict contraception. I think of the book Our Bodies, Ourselves . Almost revolutionary when first published: to know and control our own bodies. I think how in the present there are forces wishing to limit that knowledge That control over our bodies has a direct connection to climate change: When women have the family planning tools and education they want and need, they tend to have smaller families, the population is healthier, their daughters are educated,educated girls becoming educated women fusing inherited traditional knowledge with new scientific learning.. Overpopulation has a direct connection to our climate crisis–too many people using too many resources..poverty, hunger, child marriages, sex trafficing... Yet family planning receives just 1%of overseas development assistance.... Millions of women lack birth control they need and want because of hostile attitudes of some medical providers, social and religious norms, sexual partners’opposition to using birth control, our gag orders limiting women’s reproductive health options. I think of how we often accept and don’t question societal “norms”--patriarchal norms. And also how we view our values, the language we use in Capitalism to measure worth, believing that measurement the only hardstick to use. I remember the movement “Wages for Housework”--saying that women should be paid for the work they do in the house– and the book “IF Women Counted “ (1988) –where Margaret Waring questions the “international standard of measuring economic growth and the ways in which women’s unpaid work as well as the value of nature have been excluded from what counts as productive in the economy, how the unpaid work traditionally done by women has been made invisible within national account systems and the damage this causes and the similar neglect of the natural environment.” What it would mean to value, preserve, the work of care that sustains our lives,to redefine economic growth in terms of health care, mortality, mothering, education, nutrition, equality, and sustainability. An infrastructure that is not roads and bridges but a “Build Back Better.” Muhamed Yunnis saw the necessity of rethinking microfinance–instead of big banks, big loans to men, he gave small loans to poor women for small businesses...The women would meet in small groups building confidence in their ability to create a business, to earn money, to send their children to school, especially their girl children.They had a 98% return of loans...He rethought banking as the flourishing of people and nature. Instead of GNP, we could look at “gross national happiness,” or the well being of a peoples. Capitalism defines success as wealth, as buying more, building bigger, being richer, progress as a straight line. The mechanistic materialist model reduces all beings to resources to be used. Consuming not conserving; competition not cooperation, the individual not the community, profit not equity. Computing “cost” in terms of dollars, not cost to our earth, spirit, ethical values. We clear cut, use pesticides and fertilizers, plant mono crops...and deplete our soil. And we have judged as ignorant the wisdom of indigenous peoples: interdependence and interconnection, the great web of life, seven generations, feedback loops, a circular economy, keystone species...biodiversity as a model for life. Vendana Shiva says that women have a special connection to the environment through interactions, women in subsistence economies produce wealth in partnership with nature, have ecological knowledge... In Kenya, Waangari Matthai saw the devastatiion caused by deforestation. the green belt movement, planting 45 million trees. She remembered her grandmother telling her the fig tree was sacred, remembered seeing water gathering at its root, remembered the intuitive sense of environmental balance in her culture and began her “ green belt movement,” planting 45 million trees, fig trees. As a keystone species, fig trees feed more than 1300 birds and mammals, more wildlife than any other fruit. The roots stabilize the soil, bring water to the surface. In our history, indigenous peoples were seen as ignorant, their children taken to white schools where their deep understanding of the healing qualities and nutrition of roots plants,trees was laughed at, almost lost. But that knowledge is returning. In Braiding Sweet Grass Robin Kimmer weaves intricate interconnections from her indigenous ways of knowing, an understanding which requires all four aspects of our being: mind, body, emotion,spirit, science privileging only one or two: mind and body. Wendy Djinnd Geniusz writes of her knowing in Our KnowledgeisNotPrimitive:DecolonizingBotanicaAnishinaabeTeaching. SuzanneMinard connects her scientific research with indigenous knowing in her Finding the Mother Tree where she measures the incredible microbial life in the vast interconnecting root systems of trees, mother trees nurturing their young, a forest ecology, not each tree alone. Diana Beresfprd=Kroeger (medical biochemist botanist, organic chemist...), under the tutelage of her maternal grandaunt goes back to her learning the Irish ways of life known as the Brehon laws and Driudic thinking–trees viewed as sentient beings that connect earth to heavens, she now saving some of the oldest life forms on earth, understanding the symbiosis between plants and humans. In her To Speak For The Trees she writes, ”When we cut down a forest we only understand a small portion of what we are choosing to destroy,” How much we destroy. i think of all the “common: people’s deep knowing that has been ignored, dismissed. The mothers in Love Canal and in Flint Michigan experiencing cancer and asthma in children and neighbors and tracing it to the toxins in their water, called ignorant housewives, their knowledge dismissed by scientists,, organizing for power.. Rachel Carson mocked by the chemical industry, called an ignorant spinster, as she researched the destruction caused by DDT, leading to the banning of DDT. I think of all the indigenous peoples and caring common folk seeing and understanding toxins and poisons risking their lives to save what is precious, to preserve life. Vendana Shiva writes “In nature’s economy the currency is not money; it is life.” “We’ve moved from wisdom to knowledge, and now we’re moving from knowledge to information, and that information is so partial that we’re creating incomplete human beings.” We need all the actions spoken about earlier, the writing, lobbying, organizing, protesting, the technology, the science, but we also need to be complete human beings, questioning what we have been taught, redefining what is of value, seeing the inherent worth of women, earth, all sentient beings. To return to our own childhood, imagination, intuition, to a sense of wonder, to our connection to
the earth, our body, our senses, to think of our children and what our ancestors bequeathed us. To what we know but may have forgotten about what is precious, sacred, and nourishes life.