Let me first say that I come from a culture where cooking, from the preparation to the clean up, is an art that represents where you are from.
The past week I was reading the book Deep Economy by Bill McKibben, where he lists some cases in which burning cheap energy (fossil fuels) ultimately created divisions between ourselves. For example (he argued), the invention of the combustion engine stopped the need to talk to our neighbors, who would otherwise help you pick food up from the farms. My example, more recently, the invention of the smartphones inhibit us from talking to people that are sitting right next to us. Bill is a famous writer, author, and most famously known for establishing 350.org.
The book also dives into the small, resillient, economies that are built when investments stay in the communities. I buy an apple from the farm down the street, then the money stay in the local economy. And that is just one example. For me, this means building strong coalitions in the region, and collaborating for a more sustainable-just Pacific Northwest. If we are serious about phasing out fossil fuels, then we should understand that fossil fuels ultimately created a lack of community. It is a positive feedback loop, like climate change, which we must reverse.
As I neared end of the book, I attended the Climate Solutions annual fundraiser dinner, an event to network with some of the climate leaders in the Pacific Northwest. To build strong coalitions, you need to know the players - all of them. I got to meet some new faces from foundations, some consultants, and also reconnect with folks I had previously worked with. The whole room knew that recent national events were going to make it interesting years for the environmental field, it was the unspoken truth.
Keynote speaker, Majora Carter spread some knowledge on the crowd, and I think she sent a clear and loud message. She highlighted her work in New York City, specifically all the investment that went into green infrastructure in south Bronx. I encourage you to watch the TED video below. I hope to visit the big apple one day.
When I was at the Climate Solutions dinner I felt like I was not part of the environmental movement, but that was something I knew I was going to feel if I attended. What I came to see differently, however, is that the rest of the environmental movement lives in a different reality. I don't necessarily agree with the points of view of everyone whom attended, but that is ok.
We are all different, we all need to come together, bring down barriers and innovate sustainable solutions. We need to do this, by setting the table together and cooking together. When I say we all need to come together, I am refering to the complete process, begining to end. Focusing solely on sustainable solutions, like solar power or wind energy, is like bringing already prepared food to the table. Saying that you got to start to recycle, is like setting down a reusable fork, in the assumption that the rest of us use a fork to eat. Suggesting to take meats out of our diet, is like erasing recipes passed down from elders. With out community, we cannot set the table, we cannot cook the meal.
In the words of Majora "Support investments with a triple-bottom-line return. Help me democratize sustainability by bringing everyone to the table, and insisting that comprehensive planning can be addressed everywhere."
What was most important about the Climate Solutions dinner is that whichever way an individual came into the room - their story, industry or lived experience - we all agreed that more work needs to take place.