Tag Archive: climate change

December 6, 2016

Connection is Fundamental … and Adaptive … and Resilient

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Over the recent Thanksgiving break, I had the opportunity to meet with friends of extended family members, a couple who are engaged in both disaster relief and community planning work. She is from Nepal and he is from the U.S., and together they relayed a story about their time visiting Nepal during the devastating earthquake of 2015.

The two of them were hiking in the mountains when the 7.8 magnitude quake struck. Shaken but not hurt, they made their way back to Katmandu as quickly as possible to check in on family members and then to offer their assistance to others. Originally assigned the task of loading water jugs on trucks, they then volunteered and were enlisted for their translation skills, and headed out to some of the hardest hit villages with international relief workers. Read More

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October 25, 2016

Public Engagement for Resilience, Part 1: Structure Matters

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A team of us at IISC are partnering with an engineering firm to work on a climate change resiliency planning initiative in a vulnerable neighborhood in New York City. Our role is to lead the creation and implementation of a “stakeholder engagement plan” for broad-based input into project deliverables, including a fully funded infrastructure project and a feasibility study.

In developing our proposal for this initiative, we were guided by the notion that resiliency can and should be a core feature of social structures and processes. That is, threats to resiliency are found not simply in conditions such as low lying coastal communities or lack of back-up energy generation, but also in social disconnection and impaired flows of key resources. We were already aware of some of the vulnerabilities of this particular community, as well as its strengths in that it is well-organized and has a considerable density of social services and community organizations. That said, even when there are such assets in a neighborhood, there are many examples of municipally-sponsored projects that by-pass or fail to fully honor existing assets and networks in a community, with results ranging from missed opportunities to actually leaching resources (including time and trust). Read More

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September 16, 2015

Defying Fermi: Sci-Fi Wisdom for Our Survival and Thriving

“We are … interested in generating stories, visions and futures that are hard and realistic and hopeful.”

-Adrienne Maree Brown, from “Science fiction and social justice: giving up on utopias

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Image from octaviasbrood.com

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to sit in on a session in Detroit with Adrienne Maree Brown, writer, editor, facilitator and consultant to social movement organizations. Adrienne’s offering was on the potential of “radical science fiction” to realize empowering visions of a just and sustainable future. After sharing some of her own writing, she encouraged participants to play with a sense of imagination grounded in realistic projections of current social and environmental conditions and trends. Read More

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June 24, 2014

Agree on Process

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You might have picked up that I’m down on too much process and too much meeting.  It’s a funny place for someone that makes a living facilitating.  It is part of a semi-conscious effort to look at the opposite of my core assumptions and seek the wisdom there.

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January 30, 2014

The Human Scale

“Life comes when you give people a chance to contribute something.”

– Coralie Winn

IISC board member Jamil Simon brought staff attention to the film The Human Scale a few weeks ago during a discussion about building the capacity of cities to collaborate amidst growing demographic complexity and other social as well as environmental challenges. The film is screening this very evening in Somerville, Massachusetts.

From the film’s website: “50 % of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Read More

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January 10, 2013

New Calls to Leadership

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|Photo by Michael Cardus|http://www.flickr.com/photos/create-learning/4607228635|

At this point in my tenure at IISC, I get the opportunity to return to certain systems and programs that I have been serving for a number of years.  This includes a few organizations and leadership development initiatives to which I’ve been contributing for a half-dozen years now, through two presidential elections, the Great Recession, the Arab Spring, the explosion of social media, and some stormy knocks over the head about the reality of climate change. Through all of this I’ve been interested to see how the conversation has changed, where it has in fact changed, within these institutions and programs and among the participants. Read More

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April 5, 2012

In Transition 2.0

This past weekend, I attended our local Eco-Festival in Arlington, MA and connected with members of the nascent Transition Town group.  They, and now we, are evidence of a growing movement of people interested in grounding solutions to climate change and natural resource depletion in local community.  The above trailer is for a film from the Transition Network that captures inspiring stories of Transition initiatives around the world, “responding to uncertain times with creativity, solutions and ‘engaged optimism’.”

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March 21, 2012

Who Do We Think We Are?

“Ontology transcends interest.”

-john a. powell

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|Photo from fotologic|http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotologic/3108613104|

At last week’s Transforming Race conference, Kirwan Institute founder john a. powell gave a powerful and compelling presentation about some of the false binaries that he says we have embraced in this country, to our own collective detriment.  This includes pitting “whiteness” against “blackness” and “public” vs. “private” spaces in such a way as to lose sight of the larger game that is happening around us.  Read More

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March 1, 2012

"Forward With," Not "Back To"

Last weekend, while on school vacation with my family, my wife Emily and I went to hear Richard Louv speak at McKee Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida.  If you don’t know him, Louv wrote the books The Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle and is a big advocate for getting kids and adults outdoors to overcome what we calls “nature deficit disorder.”  I have heard him speak in the past, and very much appreciate his work. That said, I was a bit troubled by the public comment session and conversation after his talk.  Read More

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March 1, 2012

“Forward With,” Not “Back To”

Last weekend, while on school vacation with my family, my wife Emily and I went to hear Richard Louv speak at McKee Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida.  If you don’t know him, Louv wrote the books The Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle and is a big advocate for getting kids and adults outdoors to overcome what we calls “nature deficit disorder.”  I have heard him speak in the past, and very much appreciate his work. That said, I was a bit troubled by the public comment session and conversation after his talk.  Read More

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September 14, 2011

Choosing Reality

A mentor of mine says that one of the most important disciplines we can individually and collectively engage in is to repeatedly ask and attempt to answer the question, “Where am I/we now?”  This is something of a daunting task when it comes to our global climate, and yet embracing this current reality is key to creating the future we would want to see inherited by generations to come.  In this spirit, we are all invited to join The Climate Reality Project to hear more of the truth about climate change from those who are experiencing its impacts around the world, and watch the live stream here starting at 7pm CT today (September 14).

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September 7, 2011

Rising Waters

“Rain does not fall on one roof alone.”

Proverb from Cameroon

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|Image from NASA Goddard Photo and Video|http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/6096549427|

Labor Day weekend took on a new twist this year in the state of Vermont where people came together to clean up, comfort one another, and rebuild after Tropical Storm Irene’s devastation. I was visiting my in-laws in Chester, VT when the storm hit last Sunday. Chester, as it turned out, made national headlines as a few local residents’ homes were swept away.  This is how The New York Times painted the scene the day after: “With roughly 250 roads and several bridges closed off, many residents remained stranded in their neighborhoods; others could not get to grocery stores, hospitals or work.”  Other parts of the state suffered as well, including Waterbury, where state offices were washed out, even forcing the state’s Emergency Management command post to evacuate.  Three people are known to have lost their lives as a result of the storm.  Read More

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