Reawakening our Deep Ecological Wisdom – Traditions for Community Health in the 21st Century

Reawakening our Deep Ecological Wisdom – Traditions for Community Health in the 21st Century


– Hello, ooh, that’s loud. How are you all this evening? It’s good to see you. Thank you so much for coming tonight. I’m Elyse Carter Vosen, I’m the director of the Oreck-Alpern Interreligious Forum here at the college, and I also teach in the Department of Global, Cultural and Language Studies, and I serve peace and justice and women’s and gender studies and the Music Department and
our new sustainability program which I’m really excited
about and proud of. So in terms of the Interreligious Forum, it’s been in place for about 13 years and we are the entity that worked together with a number of other organizations to plan this conference. The Interreligious Forum promotes respect, understanding, and peace
among the diverse religious and spiritual communities of our region, and we do this through sustained
cross-cultural dialogue, collaborative projects and events, and we are honored to have
worked with so many organizations in the community to bring you
tonight’s speaker, Sam Grant. I would like to begin with
a land acknowledgement inspired by the examples of
AICHO, UMD and with insights from our colleagues here in
the Native Studies Center at St. Scholastica. We’re here today on the
traditional ancestral and contemporary lands
of the Ojibwe people, the Anishinaabeg. We reside on lands seated
in the 1854 treaty. We recognize and support the sovereignty of the Native nations in
this territory and beyond. By offering this land acknowledgement, we affirm the continued vibrancy of the indigenous community, the powerful example set
forth by Fond du Lac Band through the highly respected
Min No Aya Win Clinic and the Mash-Ka-Wisen Treatment Center. This model of integrative medicine, healing, and wholeness has been present in indigenous communities
and communities of color since they came into being. It’s our hope that the
conference we just concluded and Sam’s talk tonight
can play a small part in honoring these forms of knowledge and drawing attention to the critical role attending to cultural and spiritual values must necessarily play
in healing individuals, families, communities, and
our planet in the years ahead. Minnesota has unfortunately
carried the mantle of having some of the greatest
disparities in the country in education, housing, and
health during the past decade. And in our own city of Duluth, we know that life expectancies can vary among neighborhoods by
as many as 11 years. So we are grateful at this conference that we just are concluding today on culturally and spiritually
responsive healthcare to have support for many
organizations in our community which are strongly invested in
making the structural changes that are needed to achieve equity and deepen respect for difference,
even if the road is long. This conference would not exist but for the work of many people who do the work everyday,
devoted large portions of their lives to opening up conversations about making full health and
healing possible for all people in what is still an inequitable world. So we’d like to thank
all of the major sponsors for their generous support. The Anishinabe Fund of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, the St. Scholastic
Department of Social Work, the HRSA Grant, CSS Native Studies Center, Braegelman Center for Catholic Studies and Essentia Health, as well
as our supporting sponsors, the Minnesota Organization
of Registered Nurses, St. Luke’s Foundation,
CHUM, St. Scholastica Health Humanities and Sustainability in the Environment Programs, and the CSS Schools of
Nursing, Health Science, and Arts and Letters, as
well as the CSS Office of Diversity and Inclusion. I just wanted to point out
that on your way in today you received an evaluation form hopefully, it should be blue, and
if you didn’t get one, feel free to stop by
the registration table on your way out. We would really appreciate your feedback, ’cause we want to know its impact on you and also as we consider
programming for the future. I also wanted to mention a
couple of events coming up in the Alworth Peace and Justice
Lecture Series on Tuesday, November 5th, is Transforming
Crime and Punishment, given by William Kelly,
Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Criminology and Criminal Justice Research at the University of Texas at Austin. And then on Thursday, November 14th, Hard Lessons from the
Catholic Abuse Scandal: Theological Consequences
for a Church in Crisis, a talk by Dr. Massimo
Faggioli, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies
at Villanova University. Both of these talks are at
7:30 p.m. here in the Mitchell. Before I introduce tonight’s speaker, I would like to note that
this screen on the stage here we’re displaying the
text of tonight’s lecture through technology called
real-time captioning. Although we anticipate
a high quality format, there inevitably will be errors that are inherent to the technology. Nevertheless, we believe that many people will benefit from the captioning, including those with hearing loss. A special thank you to the
Edwin H. Eddy Foundation whose generous support makes this inclusive service possible. So tonight we are honored to have with us someone who is a lifelong
organizer and social innovator who has worked for three
decades at the Intersections of Cultural, Economic,
and Environmental Justice and Community Health. Sam Grant, I came to know him as a result of our partnership with
the HECUA Consortium, which is the study abroad
and off campus study program where we send numerous
students every semester. And some of the programs are off campus and some are in the Twin Cities, and I heard about Sam from other people who work with HECUA, and
I was so looking forward to meeting him. And he came and spoke
to our United for Africa student organization about some
of his work in Sierra Leone last year, and I’m so
grateful that he accepted my invitation to come
back and share some more of his knowledge. There are so many
different things he’s done in the course of his career, and it’s really mind boggling, I hope we’ll get to hear
about most of them tonight. Sam helped launch Afro
Eco, the first African farmer led CSA in Minnesota, which trained African-American farmers in urban organic agriculture, and the North Minneapolis
Sustainable Food Lab, which aims to create a local food system in North Minneapolis that
produces community health and community wealth. Sam has cofounded several
other organizations, including Full Circle Community Institute, the Organizing Apprenticeship,
the Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy, there’s some banners that display some of that work, and the Grassroots
Public Policy Institute. He works through Embody Deep Democracy to facilitate healing
through healthy conflict work and offers leadership and organizational development coaching. Sam is a faculty member at
Metropolitan State University and leads the Environmental
Sustainability Program at HECUA, as I mentioned. He is certified in permaculture design and human systems dynamics, and he has trained thousands of social and environmental justice
facilitators around the world, and we get to benefit
from that wisdom tonight. So if you would please join me in warmly welcoming Sam Grant. (audience applauds) – Good evening, family. – [Audience] Good evening. – Thank you for coming. It is Friday night, you have
Monday off, so I’m impressed for those of you who are students here. Faculty, you know, we
give each other love, it’s part of how we practice collegiality so you don’t get any extra points. So I’m here to talk on reawakening our deep ecological wisdom, traditions for community health in the 21st century. There’s a lot of slides in my slide deck, so I’m violating many of the
rules of a healthy PowerPoint, but I’ve been working too hard lately and a little bit burned out, so I figured I’d better
give myself a crutch of a PowerPoint instead of
trying to speak improvisationally which is normally what I would
do in this kind of a setting. So instead of taking copious
notes from the presentation, if you want a copy of the slide deck, Elyse will give you my contact info and I will email the slide deck to you. So she already told you who I am, and I’ll just say that
I am happy to be here and in my own walk with
indigenous ways of knowing I’ve come to understand my
obligation on the planet is to be somebody who is an embodied agent of cooperative dreaming of
our deeper possibilities as Earthlings. And I’m very intentional
about speaking to you and to us as Earthlings, because I want us to begin to transcend all of the borders that we’ve created that
divide us from each other. So my own ecology of action, there’s many things I’m involved in and I won’t have a chance
to really cover all of that tonight, but as Elyse said, I am a faculty at
Metropolitan State University and also with HECUA’s Environmental
Sustainability Program. I never intended to be a teacher. My mother and father were
both lifelong educators and I did not want to
follow in their footsteps. But in 1988 there was an
unfortunate assassination by the police of two senior
citizens in North Minneapolis when they were trying to clean
up a crack cocaine house. It was a fourplex, they
were using a thunder flash stun grenade for the first time. They used it as a training mission. They had right on the
box, it says don’t use this device without the
fire department present. And they threw the
device into the fourplex, the fourplex caught on fire
and the senior citizens died. We’ve called the police
to a community meeting to say, why did that happen? It says right on the device
to have the fire department there, and he simply
said, in the war on drugs, there will be casualties. And so that’s what happened to those two. And we were astounded and so we threw him out of the meeting and began
organizing as a community to think about what the do. And that led to the
creation of Minneapolis’ Civilian Review Authority, and as we created that
I had a lot of questions about what is this history, ’cause I didn’t know it fully enough. So I was doing a lecture at
the St. Paul Labor Center to a room full of about
350 labor union activists, and at the end of that
lecture somebody came up and said, I really like how you did that, we want you to come
teach at our university. And that was 1988, I’ve
been teaching nonstop. So I teach, I just went back to school to do a second PhD in
Africana critical theory looks at climate justice. And so a book I’m hoping will
come out on that in 2021. I created in North Minneapolis
with some colleagues the Environmental Justice
Coordinating Council which is looking at how to address the environmental justice
overburden of 11 companies along the river that are
putting toxic chemicals into the air, soil, and water. Anybody who has heard of North Minneapolis from way up here in Duluth,
what you’ve heard about it is probably negative stuff about all of the community violence. But more significant than all
of that community violence is the environmental violence. So Elyse mentioned that here in Duluth, the life expectancy of
black and indigenous people is 11 years less. In Minneapolis, it’s
12 years less, or more, so there’s a significant burden because of that environmental injustice. I also created a worker
cooperative with my wife and several of our closest
friends around the world called Embody Deep Democracy. And we use somatic science as
a, using body wisdom basically as a tool to help people heal conflict inside their own body and spirit and then in all of their relationships in our organizations,
in our neighborhoods, and in our global networks. With the colleague, I created
the Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy, which
I’ll talk a little bit about tonight. And then Elyse mentioned my
work in North Minneapolis training the next
generation of agroecologists in trying to grow food as
productively as possible in the inner city. So I want to talk a little bit
about complexity tonight too and differences that make a difference. Here you are, many of you students who are taking classes
in health sciences here, and a framework that’s
very well understood for health science students
is the social determinants of health. And I want to unpack the
social determinants of health and deconstruct it just a little bit because there’s something missing from the way that we understand what’s at the root of those things. I’m gonna sort of give you a little bit of insight on that. So on the left side of,
yeah, on the left side you’re looking at, SDOH is the acronym for social determinants of health. Ricky Sherover-Marcuse put
together this powerful, simple diagram really about anti racism and gender repression back in the 1970s, but I’ve been using it nonstop because I love its
simplicity and its elegance. So what she said is that when we have different assumptions about people, we set up different role
expectations about those people. And that leads us to
treat people differently. And when we treat people differently, people generate different outcomes because of that different
relational ecosystem. So if we want everybody
to have the same outcomes, we have to sort of ensure
that everybody’s starting from the same place and
getting the same kind of healthy regard in all ways. As an alternative, what the intercultural health facilitation
orientation talks about, which I teach in Embody Deep Democracy, is that we begin from a
place of embodied praxis, as a teacher, as a
facilitator, as a learner, so I want to pay attention
to what’s happening in the kinosphere as you
and I are interacting and I want to adjust myself to make sure that our minds are aligning,
our hearts are aligning, our spirits are aligning,
because I can’t teach if you can’t be in relationship
with me as a teacher. I can’t learn if you
can’t be in relationship with me as a learner. We can’t be good relatives if we miss each other in the dialogue. So embodied praxis is
about paying attention to what’s happening to the
person on the other side of the dialogue to make sure that they’re tracking with
you in the experience. As I track with you, my body wisdom is helping me understand
when you’re saying something that’s disturbing me and I get thrown off of my capacity to pay attention
to you from a place of love, I can do a simple breathing exercise, I can wobble my body from side to side, and I can give myself the oxygen I need to continue to pay attention from a place of regard and health so that
we can stay in the dialogue. Socially embodied praxis
is us giving that back and forth to each other, and that leads to the generation of a
relational infrastructure that makes deeper social
change possible in the world. So I’ve already said a lot, but
I want to sorta take a pause ’cause in all of work
there’s a recognition that we live in a participatory universe. Ubuntu is a cosmology
that I am because you are, you are because I am, everything happens in the context of relationship. So I need to slow down, decenter myself, and ask you all to go inside for a minute and do a quick little
Earth spot meditation. So this conference on
culturally and spiritually responsive healthcare, there was a couple of great speakers who unfortunately weren’t able to stay with us this evening so I could honor them
in front of all of you, but I just came out of
a dialogue that ended at five o’clock with Skip
Sandman and Pao Vang. And from two different perspectives, an Anishinabe perspective
and from a Hmong perspective, they really shared a
tremendous amount of brilliance about good healthcare begins
with good care of the Earth. And when we take good care of the Earth, the Earth takes good care of us. And we have created
degenerative conditions where we’re not doing that. So I want you all to sort of
honor yourself as Earthlings, take a couple of deep breaths, and think about one of your
favorite times in nature. And as you remember that moment in nature, notice how it feels in
your body to remember that experience, to remember that moment. And just pay attention
to it and amplify it so that wherever you
feel that in your body, you let it rise and become an experience that your whole body is having. Are you all feeling it? Are you guys feeling it? Is it working? Is it happening? Are you letting it happen? (laughs) This is important. When you do this exercise
and you let it in, that energy that you’re feeling is the energy that I’m
asking that you hold when you enter a dialogue. Why is that important? If you come into a dialogue and you’re completely
frozen with your own trauma, your capacity to listen
from your deeper place does not exist. And when people are being listened to, they will notice whether or not you can listen from
that deeper place or not and they will only go
as far as their sense of your spirit’s capacity to hold dialogue will allow them to go. So if you want to know why
many of your conversations are short, it’s because you didn’t offer a big enough opening
for a deeper dialogue. So this simple meditation
I just shared with you allows you to be that deeper space any time you need to be that deeper space for somebody on the planet. So now I want you to just take a second and talk to the person or
persons sitting next to you and just say what
happened as you did that, for those of you who did the exercise. So just take a moment and
check in with each other on it. Thank you for taking a minute to do that. One thing that happens
when you allow people that space for dialogue,
sometimes they could just stay there for a long period of time. So I just wanted you to
at least take a moment to mark that experience so
it’s easier for you to hold the muscle memory of that in your body and continue to let
exercises like that work with you in your life. It’s a couple of
questions that are primary for me when I think about
the requests from Elyse to come and speak with you all tonight. So one is how do we reawaken
our deep ecological wisdom traditions for community
health in the 21st century? Some of you might even wonder,
what does that even mean? Our deep ecological wisdom traditions, so hopefully you’ll get a better sense of what I mean by that tonight. And how might we prioritize
a mutually organized path towards this to reshape the trajectory of health outcomes in the 21st century? My proposition to you is
that I want to propose that in order to,
underneath consensus reality we hold dreams of a
deeper and broader health, and we know that we can’t get there within our current
frameworks of healthcare. So I want to distinguish
health from healthcare. ‘Cause healthcare is institutionalized and health is something that I’m hoping we’ll come to some sensibilities about what are strategies that allow us to honor health of the Earth,
health of all relations, and health of a future that’s being born through the way we relate to each other in day to day practice. Further, I want to propose to you that embodied knowledge traditions provide the primary means by which we can transcend our
current normalized sense of how to structure and
operationalize healthcare in world ecology. Some of you might not be
familiar with this language of world ecology ’cause
it’s relatively new just going back to about 2013 when a graduate student in, I
don’t remember where he was, at one of the schools
in the European Union, came up with this notion
and began the dialogue with his friends about it. And now it’s sort of traveled worldwide. And I really like it,
’cause I’ve been doing world systems theory, learning from Immanuel Wallerstein with the Braudel Center
at Binghamton in New York, but I like this notion of
recognizing as an Earthling that there’s no place we
can go and do anything that’s not on the Earth,
therefore everything happens in world ecology. So a starting place is
to consider the wisdom that is embodied in social
determinants of health and then critique that
and then go beyond it. So to deconstruct, we want to think about what do we mean by the
social determinants of health? We take this word social and we think about how things have been socialized, which already marginalizes
alternative ways of knowing. Alternative contexts have
already been marginalized as we construct a notion of what we think social determinants of health might be. So we have to ask ourselves, what knowledges have been marginalized since the 15th century to generate our current socialized understanding of what we commonly mean
by and operationalize for as health and healthcare
in consensus reality? Part of the reality that I
want us to pay attention to is what I call structural violence, following Johan Galtung’s work, or environmental violence. You think about the global haves, which is about 1.5 billion people, and then the global have-nots, which is a much larger
sum, 5.5 billion people. Do we allow this particular
pattern to continue or do we put brakes on it, do we transcend and transform it? What relevance do questions
of economic inequality have for global health? I think they have profound implications, and I think that we let too much of the discourse not be
part of the conversation because of our fear of
stepping on the toes of elites who provide us our bread and butter. So social determinants of health, you guys have all sort of paid attention to the basics of this in
coursework you’ve already taken, there’s economic
stability, there’s a social and community context,
there’s neighborhood and environment, there’s
healthcare, there’s education. So what social determinants
of health says to us is that in order to understand
somebody’s relationship with not health, we have to understand the social determinants of health more so than just what we diagnose
in a health facility. These social factors have more impact on somebody’s health than what
we can diagnose in a clinic. So diabetes, obesity, whatever
the situation might be, there are social factors
that play a root role in shaping those
disparate health outcomes. That’s what the social
determinants of health helps us to understand. So it’s remarkable and it’s useful, so you might question, why is
Sam having a critique of that? So let’s reconstruct it. Every day provides an opportunity to reawaken our deeper sensibilities of socio-ecological possibility and embody the agency of this sensibility. There is daily work of
radical reconstruction we each need to do. And I like to imagine that as a doctor working in a clinic or a
nurse working in a clinic or a social worker working
in a community center, you’re paying attention
to how people come in to your facility and you’re
trying to be a resource for the strongest, most vibrant aspect of a person’s identity
to interact with you. Because by virtue of that practice, you’re talking to a person’s health, you’re talking to a person’s resiliency instead of a person’s limitation, and that shapes a dialogue
about that person’s power. And that person’s power ends up being the critical resource for
health to be manifested. So in 2017, I began an organization called the Environmental Justice
Coordinating Council in North Minneapolis. When I started the EJCC, I started it based on a conversation with folks in the African-American community about how environmental issues were related to all the
social justice issues that were primary for them. People felt like, no, environmental issues are things that people of
economic privilege care about. There’s a big separation
between environmental issues and social justice issues,
and they didn’t see the dynamic, necessary we
that’s inevitable between these. And so I said, okay, name
a social justice issue that’s not an ecological
issue at its foundation. Nobody could do it. And it was by virtue of that dialogue where everybody could see that, in fact, all of the issues that matter to us are, in fact, environmental issues. Therefore, the practice
of environmental justice is a very profound approach to trying to facilitate greater
health on the planet. So here’s a little acronym here, or really not an acronym but pronoun, so there’s a little i, a big I, there’s a little u and a big U, a little we and a big WE. I’m inviting us to consider
how we can encounter and embody the world
not from a small place of separation in our egos but from a grand pulsing relational energy that awakens every time you
help another human being turn on their dreaming and healing energy. So in my day-to-day work as a professor, as a community organizer,
as a parent, as a husband, as a friend, as a relative, my objective is to nourish your
capacity to connect to me from your highest vibration. ‘Cause then it’s an exciting interaction, and we both benefit from it, and we go back out into
the world replenished and nourished because of our interactions, not feeling drained by them. Too much of our time on the
planet we are feeling drained like batteries that aren’t renewable by virtue of the way we’re experiencing the world around us. So I really feel like this
environmental orientation to health is critical. So this grand, pulsing relational energy, in the late 1990s, I had the opportunity to go and do a presentation
at a fourth world conference up in Alberta, Canada. And the elder who was
there who had organized the conference was Philip Lane Jr. And one of the things he
taught me when I was there, which I feel is a great description of this great pulsing energy, is that the honor of
one is the honor of all. And the hurt of one is the hurt of all. So how can we begin to live in a world in which we’re paying
deep enough attention to our self and each other that I don’t just rush past when you
need my loving care, and you don’t rush past when I need yours. You think about what we
can learn from nature. Geese, as an example,
geese fly in V formation, many of you have heard that
in a basic class in biology or ornithology, but what
we don’t often hear about is that when one goose has
to go down to the ground because that goose has
a ailment or an illness or a broken wing or
whatever the case may be, the goose in front of it and
the goose behind it go with it. And that goose has good
relative energy there with it to help until it
can return to the flock. And if it needs to die, they
stay with it until it dies and then they return to the flock. So that kind of radical
regard for each other is something that too many
human beings are missing. So because of my work in the
world on climate justice, I wanted to bring a little bit of this in. There are many ways in
which climate justice is having profound impacts on health and healthcare on the planet. So extreme weather with heat
waves, floods, and drought, increased diseases, cholera,
malaria, dengue fever, so on and so forth, increased
socio-ecological duress and stressors like
fear, anxiety, violence, migrant flows, closing of geographic and relational borders. These are all things
that are escalating now even though the science has been clear since the founding of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988,
that we need to create a different kind of framework on how the environment needs to be primary more so than economic growth. We’re still privileging economic growth and we’re still putting
more greenhouse gases up into the atmosphere even
though we say we know better. So from complexity fear we have to ask, what are the invisible,
underlying patterns that are causing us to
practice this bad behavior? So this is a question of
ecosystems health for me. So here’s a list of some of the things that are going on under the radar screen that are invisible from
view to too many of us that are having an impact on why we can’t transcend bad behavior. So environmental and socio
ecological consequences of economic growth, what
we call energy slaves, which is using fossil fuels
as a replacement for slavery in the global economy,
and yet the reality is we have more slaves now than we had at the signing of the
Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. We have 40-plus million slaves in the global system right now. We have a tremendous crisis
in terms of biodiversity loss, with what some scientists are calling the Sixth Great Extinction. I’ve got a couple of slides on that later, so I’ll rush past that. And we have an increasing
political ecology of fear and hate and conflict that’s rising rapidly right now. Vandana Shiva talks about this pattern as ecological apartheid. I don’t know how many of
you have read her book, Earth Democracy, which she wrote in 2005 and then it came out again in 2014. But in 2013 she wrote a very short article that was in YES! magazine where she gave a very simple description of
this notion of eco apartheid. Eco apartheid is a world cosmology based on the division
of humanity from nature, where we believe we’re superior
or dominant over nature and that’s appropriate, the
human division from each other with racism, sexism, classism, patriarchy, and the long list of all of the ways we artificially divide
ourselves from each other. And when you have created
the division from nature and a division from each other, what happens inevitably is a division inside your own spirit. So it’s those three divisions that are at the heart of
what she calls eco apartheid. And so her question, and my question, is what’s the relationship
between eco apartheid and the manifestations of
ill health on the planet? And she talks about Earth democracy, I like to call it ecological
democracy, simple semantics. What would it look like to
put a health paradigm in place based on ecological democracy where every breath, every act we are focusing on care of the Earth, care of each other,
and care of the future? So in an intercultural orientation to the social determinants of health, you look at this diagram, and I’m listing again what
the social determinants of health are, and then in the middle I’m listing the mainstream meaning making about these social determinants of health. And then on the far side of the continuum I’m talking about if we look at the social determinants of health from a pluriversal perspective, and here I’m really asking us to think about what we’re learning
from indigenous people around the world, about
how they’re looking at what global healthcare might look like, what they say, very consistently, is that good healthcare on the planet begins with good care of the Earth and good care of the Earth’s cultures. If we do those two things, and then we have a form of education which is truly intercultural, in the educational setting
we’re learning about each other as a way of learning about ourselves and learning about the world we share, then the cosmology that we enact together on the planet is a cosmology of taking care of the Earth as the Earth takes care of us. So here’s a little diagram, and I’m a template geek, I’m
always making simple diagrams that I can use to help my students really understand, how do we move in the direction that we would
prefer the world to move. So in this simple diagram, I’m suggesting that if you look at the
bottom left of the continuum from a fear-based society
and a degenerative society that’s taking from the
Earth without reciprocity, I want to think about how we can draw the most efficient and effective pathway towards a regenerative society
that is also convivial. So regenerative means that we’re healing all of the ways that
the Earth and cultures need to be repaired in
relation to each other. And the convivial means, and this came up in an earlier dialogue by an amazing practitioner
who came here to speak from GirlTrek in Washington, DC, and what she talked about is joy activism. And I think that’s a
really important thing to pay attention to as you imagine, how do you know if you’re
doing work in the right way? Your spirit ought to be nourished by the way you’re doing the work. So think about this notion of joy activism and how to bring that in. So the combination of
regenerating plus conviviality is the pathway towards
the highest expression that we can create at a particular
moment in human society. So here I sort of give a brief
definition of conviviality. Co-creating conditions on Earth for all people in all
places and all cultures to be well in themselves
and well in relation. Well in themselves means they define what their wellness is,
it’s not defined externally. Well in relation means
it’s democratically, mutually determined, not
determined by a group that has more institutional power but truly mutually determined
on a egalitarian basis. I don’t know if any of your coursework you all have had the
opportunity to pay attention to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, but the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was organized by Kofi
Annan, who is from Ghana where my father was from,
and Kofi Annan pushed for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the Millennium Development Goals. And he said we really do not
yet have a global database that helps us understand
bad human behavior in terms of ecosystems. So this particular assessment
which was completed in 2005 looked at the whole world ecology in terms of 24 core ecosystem services. And what it found is that 15 of those 24 core ecosystem services were in significantly degraded status. Now, as an ecologist looking at those nine where it was ambiguous about
whether it was better or worse, so whether or not they
thought it was better, from my cosmology as an agroecologist, I actually felt like I would’ve come to different conclusions
about the nine factors they said we were doing okay. And so in my own assessment, we’re in significantly degraded status on all 24 of those ecosystem services. That was 2005, this is 15 years later, we have not yet sufficiently
improved human behavior. So another group of
scientists at the Stockholm Resilience Institute
put together a framework on planetary boundaries. And what they have said is
that we’ve already exceeded several of these planetary boundaries. And for the ones we haven’t exceeded, they’re saying, you
know, we’re still trying to build good enough science of where those limits might truly be. So I want to say we need to operate with a higher commitment to
the precautionary principle and commit to stop causing
ecological harm right now. That we need to begin to
put a whole lot more energy into ecological and cultural regeneration. Here’s another diagram
that says the same thing. Some scholars talk about the Anthropocene as this era of human-caused
climate change. And scholars have different orientations of when the Anthropocene started, some go back to when we got fire and some say it started
with the fossil fuel craze and some say it really happened and escalated rapidly after World War II. I have a critique of the Anthropocene because it says all human
beings were equally responsible for creating this pattern. In reality, not all human beings were equally involved in
creating this reality. So in Africa, we don’t have the same level of fossil fuel burning going on. We have a very, very low contribution to greenhouse gases and yet the IPCC consistently says that the
impacts of climate change are worse in African than
anywhere else in the world. So using my logic from the time fighting for divestment of corporations from South Africa in the 1980s, I picked up the notion of a apartheid and I call the era we’re
in the Apartheidocene. And so the Apartheidocene is
Vandana Shiva’s eco apartheid. Because we are divided from nature and from each other and from
our own reasonable spirit of relation, we create degenerative
patterns on the planet. So, yes, that is human writ large, but some people are driving
that pattern of human behavior and many, many populations
around the planet are not really participating
and creating it but they’re getting the negative impacts. So what’s the journey back towards health? I want to suggest, since
you all are really close to Fond du Lac Nation and great elders like Babette and Skip
Sandman, that you begin to bring them in to all of your classes and go and support them in
what they’re trying to do in their local community. You have tremendous indigenous
ecological knowledge right at your doorstep here at CSS. I’d encourage every one
of you as an individual and for faculty to design
it into your curriculums to begin to think about,
what would my curriculum look like from the paradigm of indigenous ecological knowledge
here in the Duluth area? So I like to think about
indigenous ecological knowledge as the first science and
the constant science. Many of us learned in school
that indigenous people were conquered and have disappeared, but the reality is that
there’s 400 million indigenous people across the planet. And since we can’t count well, it’s substantially more than that. And other sciences come and go, building lineages based on
extractions and experiments with tested assumptions
turned into working hypotheses further validated in
some cases as theories. But the best among these
theories become world travelers, shaping scientific foundations everywhere, but relationship-based
science is the lasting form from which any other science
journey forms and returns. So this isn’t a critique
of other modes of science, it’s just putting all
science in the context of relating to the Earth and relating to the first peoples of the Earth. A way to get there is what
I call deep democracy, beginning to pay attention
to reality from your heart, not just from your mind. To pay attention to reality
from your open spirit, not just from all of your received conditioning intellectually. So a good friend of mine and colleague who created the framework
of deep democracy, Dr. Arnold Mindell, who was nominated for a Nobel Prize for
his work blending physics and physiology, talks about deep democracy as riding the horse backwards. I was hanging out on
the Fond du Lac Nation with my students in my
HECUA program last week, and we worked with Jim Northrup III and actually built a teepee on his land and began to put together
an agroecology plan that we’re to help him operationalize on his land next spring. And one of the things that
Jim said to my students, which I thought was really remarkable because it’s exactly what Arnold Mindell also talks about in his framework, is that you need to see from
the future you want to create and then work backwards towards today. Too few people know how to live inside their radical open imagination. And partly what I’m hoping
will be a critical resource in school classrooms all over the planet is that the school is a vehicle in which our radical, open
imagination is constantly stoked. Too often we do what
Paulo Freire talked about as the banking concept of education where the teacher knows and the student just has to absorb as much as they can and they get evaluated based on how close their understanding is to
the teacher’s understanding. Well that’s not education for liberation. Education for liberation
requires the teacher to journey towards where the student sits and find out what the
student wants to know, why the student wants to know that, how the student knowing that serves the student’s dreaming process. And then as a teacher,
your gift and your joy is to nourish that
capacity of that learner to be self responsible for
their own learning journey and to bring what’s coming
alive in their learning journey into the classroom. And that dialogue among students is what helps the students understand the world more complexly. None of us as teachers
can ever know enough to convey the full
possibilities of understanding to our students, so it’s
in our best interest to invoke and invite the fullest breadth of insight from all of our
students at every opportunity. So deep democracy says let’s
go beyond facts and figures and come into what we call dreamland, which is all of those
things that we’re sensing, we can’t quite give a word
to, but we know they matter. And then coming down to
a deeper essence layer where we learn how to
midwife the next language, the next understanding,
as opposed to operating from frozen understandings of the past. So how is this relevant for sustainability and for the next evolution
of healthcare praxis? I like to think about systems knowledge that we learn in our schools connecting to traditional
ecological knowledge and indigenous ecological knowledge and social movement learning. So let me talk for a second about that. Communities all over the planet are facing critical questions about how they get from
where they are right now to a healthier, more vibrant place of well-being and prosperity. Many communities don’t have a clue, and many of them feel like it’s impossible because the world is set up in such a way that we can’t have the world we want. Part of my work is to bust that illusion and to say the world we want is possible and it comes through
our effective organizing with each other. I’m gonna start to skip past some slides ’cause my own inner
little alarm just went off and said quicken the pace, Sam. So there’s a few slides
in here I’m gonna skip. This one I won’t skip. This notion of mutual
ecological responsibility. We each have an opportunity
and an obligation in my view to think about how well am I in the way I live my life taking care of the air,
taking care of the soil, taking care of the water? And think about this cute little quote that says nature is so smart, it put medicine inside the food. Every time you eat, do
you feel like your energy is awakened and nourished, or do you feel like
you need to take a nap? If you feel like the food
you’re eating knocks you down, then you’re not eating
what you should be eating. When you eat, you should feel like you’re ready to run a marathon. Should be so energized you
could take on the whole world. So we’re not eating healthy food and bringing that into our lives. So in my day-to-day work I practice critical participatory action research the way I learned it from
Orlando Fals Borda from Columbia, which is living in the
question with communities that are facing critical questions. So I decenter whatever my questions are as an academic and as an organizer and I live my life honoring the questions that come before me from
people and communities. So I imagine a future in which
we’re doing health repair of our bodies, health repair
of our relations and cultures, health repair of our systems,
and then all of that together fostering health repair
at world ecological scale. So here’s a picture from some
of my work in Sierra Leone. I did a teacher training, and on the first day of teacher training I asked all of these teachers
with whom we started a school for children in this village, we started the first preschool, environmental education focused
preschool in the country. And as we’re doing the teacher training, I asked them, what does
a good day of education look like for you? And the very quick
answer from the teachers was the same thing the teachers say here in the United States, compliance. Teachers who are teaching children who are coming from situations of significant socio-ecological stress, they want to get through the day and not have so much
unrest caused by students that they can’t finish their curriculum. And I started to cry. And I said, that’s not education if compliance is your objective. And they said, oh yeah,
so what’s the objective? And I said, at the end of
a good day of education, everybody should be levitating. And they laughed and said, well, come on, that’s obviously an impossibility ’cause people don’t actually levitate. And I said, yeah, they do. And the way to get people to levitate is to set up your educational paradigm where it’s based on a
participatory process of letting each student
find their bliss of learning and share it with each other. And so one way to do that
is to start tomorrow, have all of the children take turns pointing out something on the farm that we’re building to provide the school for the children in the school and have them point out
something interesting and say why it’s interesting. By the time you’re done
with that particular day of curriculum, every child
should have been able to share with all of the other children, and then you come back and report to me whether or not you levitated or not. So they came back and reported to me at four o’clock that
afternoon, yes, we levitated. So it’s the power of
education for liberation in which you use the
participatory process. So here is a picture of
some of these children who are learning to use
the circle as a mode of educational technology. So by learning in circle,
we as teachers remember that it’s not about what we know, our job, our primary job
is to hold the container for learning to emerge,
for knowledge to emerge, through all of the things that people are bringing into the conversation. One example of this is meeting
with the village elders who were talking about the
loss of cultural transmission from one generation to the next. So here’s women who have
been making textiles with cotton in this village
for hundreds of years, and so we asked the women whether or not this was being passed on
to the next generation, and the women consistently said no. None of the younger people are interested in continuing this ancient knowledge. So we said, why don’t we
just bring it into the farm and bring it into the
school and have it become part of the curriculum where the students are seeing it every single day? And so as a result of doing that, now children are beginning to say, oh, that’s not something
that old mamas do, that’s something that’s
part of our culture. So it’s a whole different
shift in their consciousness about their relationship to it. So I’m gonna skip past
this without getting into the details of
it, but I just want you to pay attention to this
notion of integral praxis. And integral is a fancy word developed by a pretty smart guy who I think got in his own way by making it hard for people to follow what
he was trying to say, but the simple point
of integral psychology, integral praxis, and there goes my alarm telling me to shut up as soon as possible. The basic idea is that there’s four irreducible perspectives, and because each of these irreducible perspectives inevitably has an outside,
there’s actually eight. So one perspective is my
interpretation of reality, and then my relationship
with my understanding that my interpretation of
reality’s just one among many. So that’s box one, called the I box. The second box beneath it is the we box, which is the subjectivity
of groups of people, which is just one group of people. There’s many groups of people, so my subjective
understanding has to relate to your subjective
understandings and your cultures, and it’s by that intercultural
process of dialogue we learn how to have a
more complex understanding of the reality we share. So healthcare is one system, so you draw a integral ecology
diagram just for healthcare in the top box for the it, and then in the bottom,
how is healthcare related to all other forms of systems? So with indigenous ecology knowledge, we want to come back to a
holistic relational understanding of everything that’s going on, all of the dynamic pulses and patterns and forces in the world, and we want to think about
them from a cosmology of relationship, from an open cosmology that’s based on learning together, because none of us are fully formed and none of us have
reality fully figured out. And we build social power
based on deepest possible democracy, which requires
a radical humility. When I went to my first
ceremony on Native land in 1983, the elder there taught me a word that has stayed with me
for the rest of my life, ’cause usually if somebody
calls you pitiful, you take that as a bad thing. But for this Dakota elder, to be pitiful was one of the grandest
things you could ever be, ’cause it means you’re humble
enough to keep learning. So the word he taught me was oonshika, O-O-N-S-H-I-K-A, or something like that, oonshika, pitiful. So we are pitiful and that’s why we come into these ceremonies to
pray to continue learn, to pray to continue to be open so that we can continue to
grow together as human beings with the natural world around us. So that’s the practice of deep democracy. So here’s a ecosystem diagram. There’s engaging, experiencing, evolving, at the most outward edge, which supports reflecting
on multiple experiences or supported by reflecting
on multiple experiences, which is supported by making meaning through our own bodies and relationships which starts with you beginning to be an embodied practitioner. Which means they’ll go inside
your own spirit and ask, how well am I able to pay attention to the realities that
are impacting my life? And you might notice, like
when I asked that question I got a flickering sense of
sharp pain in my right arm from right here in the wrist. There is a Native elder I was gonna go see after I finish my lecture
here with you tonight who just had a loss in his family. And I was gonna go down
there and pick up supplies I had left with him, and
then had to email him back and say, you know, you’re
in the middle of grief, I’m gonna just let you focus
on that and not come right now, but my own body is full of
grief because he’s also in grief and he is my good relative,
so I’m feeling that, and that’s the symbol I’m
getting from this right here. And so that’s giving me a
signal that when I leave here what I have to do is honor
that while I have had the blessing of spending
time with you this evening, there’s a lot of people in the world who are terribly impacted
by negative realities on the planet, that we all need to take mutual responsibility for. So what do I mean by health? Health is embodied
regenerative self-relation world awareness and praxis. So it’s my self-awareness of health, my relational awareness of
health in relationship to you, and then our collective
awareness as the world in terms of how are we
practicing whole-scale health at the micro scale, the
meso scale, the macro scale? So how much shifting our notion of health towards this change, our current
sensibilities about health and healthcare. I want to suggest just looking
at the box on the right in the blue color, emergent
horizons open to us mutually when we persist in intercultural dialogue as an open democratic,
open science process through which we co-create
conditions for Earth care, people care, and future care. So embodied Earth awareness in me, embodied Earth consciousness in us, embodied Earth relational organizing through all of our institutions creates an infrastructure
that allows us to give birth, to midwife a healthier and
healthier world of ecosystems that have integrity and therefore
our lives have integrity and therefore health is more
realized and more normalized across all populations,
across all cultures. Edgar Morin had this
great quote that I love, or not quote but a framework
on complex thought, and I’m about to close with this, that in order to understand
how to recreate the world, we have to understand that the world runs through a constant dialectic
of order and disorder. And if we are dissatisfied with
the way things are ordered, the question we have to ask
ourselves at any scale is how do we disorder that negative pattern by bringing order to a replacement for it? Too much of the folks who are concerned about problems in the world
are really good at criticizing, but they’re not good at
coming up with alternatives. So really nourishing
your radical creativity is critical in the 21st century. So dream big about the
future you want to create and shape interactions
in day to day livelihood that allow you to be that
bigger change in the world you wish to see, and what’s gonna happen is if you can hold that
practice of interacting from your dreaming process, more and more of the world
will come and meet you there. Does that make sense? So then I’ll just close and say migwetch, which is the way the
Anishinabe people say it, or bi sie, which is the
way that the Mende people I’m working in Sierra Leone say it, or akpe, which is the
way my father’s people in the southeast region of Ghana say it. And now reflections are welcome. (audience applauds) So Elyse has a microphone here. – One thing I forget to say
when I was doing my introduction was that we have a hope and an expectation that we make space for
students to ask questions first if at all possible. So I would love to invite any students who have questions to start us off, and then others can follow. So I’m really hoping that there might be a couple of questions
out there in your minds. – So please come down to the
mic to ask your question, if you wouldn’t mind. – Is there anyone who would
like to ask a question? Just something you’re even wondering about Sam’s work that he does either in North Minneapolis
or Sierra Leone. – So if you want a copy of my PowerPoint, there’s my email address. So just send me an email. – [Audience Member] I
think I’m more curious on the engagement and how
to make things happen. So what are the steps that you feel that a person should
take to start the change? For you it was like a trigger
to really stoke the fire when those two elderly
individuals had died in that unfortunate incident. So for other people like I
am currently being educated in occupational therapy,
and so we’re trying to elicit change by promoting that by doing occupations
that are meaningful to you, you have a better life and
you’re promoting health. So really for me if want to
take like a larger approach to how I want to approach the practice, what steps do you think people take to actually just get that first step in and try to create the change? – That’s a fabulous question,
thanks for asking it. There’s a aboriginal woman from Australia who said something that
I think is worth invoking in this space, “If you’ve come here to help me, go away, “but if you’ve come here
because your liberation “is inextricably bound to
mine, then let’s get to work.” And so I think a occupational therapist for you to live in the question of why are you so inspired and required by your spirit to be an
occupational therapist, what calls you to that work? I think being responsible for what and why and how you’re called to it becomes a resource for people who are living in the question of, I don’t have a clue
what I’m supposed to do. I work with a lot of people
who I’m the first person, and I’m talking about people
who are in their 50s and 60s, I’m the first person to ever ask ’em, what’s your dream for your life? And people are saying, I’m
just trying to survive, man, best way I can, I’m
just trying to survive, I don’t even know what a dream is. I mean this seems like
some fake stuff, Sam. – [Audience Member] Sometimes it feels that way in grad school. (laughs) – Yeah, yeah. So I think for you to be a resource for other people to dream big, you need to be an example of dreaming big. And then you need to organize
your own base of support that nourishes your capacity to dream big, because then when you talk to people about organizing an ecosystem of dreaming, you can speak to it from an
experiential knowledge base that gives people a critical resource beyond what you’ve learned in school. So you have your certification, but beneath your certification is your experiential knowledge base, your indigenous ecological knowledge based on your experience. That pays dividends differentially than what you learn in school. So the more that we can
begin to bring experiential knowledge production into our curriculum, into the way we teach and the
way our students are learning this stuff, the more
prepared our students are for stuff in the real world, which is why I do HECUA
which is off campus, deep, immersive learning,
because I want students, while they’re still
students, to have a sense of their capacity and
the way to build capacity to do this work at the
deepest possible level. So another simple thing to do is to, you do these embodied
exercises that help you pay attention when you
feel anxiety and fear and you feel stuck, like it’s intractable and you have no clue and
there’s nobody you can call ’cause it’s three in the morning. If you draw a diagram on the floor of three friends that you would call if it wasn’t three in the morning and you just walk back and forth, what would the, say if I had the chance to talk to her? what would Joe if I had
the chance to talk to him? What would, say if I had
the chance to talk to him? And just by walking that
line back and forth, you’re actually calling up
their relational experience of you, and they’re able
to give you that insight without actually being on the
other end of a phone line. So we have access to more knowledge and capacity to be bigger
than we know how to be at any given instant,
and I think the universe requires us to be that bigger person. And so if you can be that kind
of an occupational therapist, then I am profoundly more excited about how OT helps us
transform the planet. So thank you for your service. – [Audience Member] No, thank you. – [Audience Member] So you
mentioned that good healthcare begins with good care of the Earth, but how do I as a future
healthcare professional articulate that to my future patients in ways that are tangible and things that they can do in their everyday life to make an impact on their well-being and their larger community’s
well-being as well? – Thank you, that’s a fabulous question. So some of the work I do is with residents in public housing, and there’s policies in their public housing that
they can’t grow any food. So when they tell me why, ’cause I say one of the things to do is
to, food is medicine, so begin to grow some of your own food, and they don’t know how
to grow their own food and it’s against the policy
where they live to do it. So then I say, well
join a community garden. Say, well, if I join a community garden, I don’t know how to grow anything. Well, there’s people
at the community garden whose role it is to teach
new people how to do it. So begin to show up and
produce some of your own food is one of the things that
I teach people to do. And I think that asking people to define, what is health to you, and what’s one thing you know you could do that you have an interest in doing that would help you begin
to be on your journey towards health? And some people are very individualistic and it’s easy for them to begin
to take on a health practice without a lot of support. I think a lot of the
people I interact with, they can’t do it unless
they’re in a tribe. They have to be in a group of people who are taking that practice on together. Earlier today, Ebony talked about GirlTrek and the power of getting black women in the United States to
walk at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, and by virtue of being in a group that’s doing that, more women do it, and they
do it more consistently, and they have amazing health outcomes because they’re doing it. So help people move together, not alone. Fragmentation is a signal of pathology. And so when I’m fragmented
and I have no social support, I am less likely to do things
that nourish my resilience. So help people form healthy human bonds and diagnose what’s going
on and where people live that makes it hard for
people to form trusting, generative relationships, and solving that puzzle is
the most important thing perhaps any of us could ever do to nourish people’s journey
toward greater health. People need to come back
to relational health in order to have internal
health, if that makes sense. Is there a follow-up question? ‘Cause I’m not sure I covered as much as you needed me to cover,
but thanks for asking. – [Audience Member] So I’m
a Minneapolis resident, grew up there my whole life,
I grew up in Northeast, I’m just a little curious
about kinda some of your work in North Minneapolis
and how kind of it has that community kind of
rallied around some of that and embraced it, I was just wondering if you would tell me a little about that. – All right, so thanks
for asking a question. So he’s asking about my sense, and I’m gonna sort of
respond to your question by framing a different question that underlies or holds that question, which is this question
of, when do you know if substantive change is really
happening in a community? ‘Cause there’s a history of many funders investing in North
Minneapolis who’ve given up and said, what’s the point
of putting money there, it just goes to pot. So there’s a underlying issue here of how does a community begin
to foster its own well-being? This is an important question. It kind of relates to the
question you were asking, how does a community get on that journey and stay on that journey? So I’ll tell you an example
from one among many stories. I mentioned the police brutality story. We created the Civilian Review Authority, but the Civilian Review
Authority was controlled by the police and the community felt like it’s not really changing
the pattern with the police. So that’s a example I’ll call a failure. In 2008, we did a food
assessment in North Minneapolis and among the questions were, where do you get your food and are your family members consuming five or more servings of fresh fruit and vegetables every day? And we were very far from
food health in the community. So we started a campaign,
we started a project called Northside Fresh. We got substantial sums of money from a few local foundations
to support that work. We built a few new powerful organizations that have now trained a
generation of young people who are doing amazing work
following in the footsteps of their elders. One quick example, which
isn’t a perfect example given some recent challenges, but one day one of our community mothers took about 35 people on a
walk from Penn in Broadway over to the highway. And as they walked, they
counted all of the grease, fat, and cholesterol joints on Broadway. They counted 37. And there were zero five-star restaurants featuring local health freshy food, zero. And so she was speaking about
this from a place of critique using a language of food
desert and food swamp, and her son who was 16
years old at the time and was there in the audience said, Mom, let’s not talk about what’s wrong, let’s talk about what’s right, which is for us who are here, these 35 people on this tour with you, we can create the first
five-star restaurant featuring local food. Why don’t we just do it? So they did it. We created a five-star
restaurant on Broadway called Breaking Bread Cafe. Anybody here ever been
to North Minneapolis and eaten at Breaking Bread Cafe? One, in front, isn’t it amazing? Great food. But Breaking Bread Cafe was
set up as a social enterprise, which means its primary
objective wasn’t to make money, its primary objective was to train as many people in the community
as people in healthy food. And it did that, and it’s done that, and it’s generated a
graduate of the program who is now respected as
one of the most amazing soul food, new imagined soul food chefs in the Twin Cities region. But the restaurant had
to close three weeks ago, or maybe two months ago now, because it was hemorrhaging,
was losing too much money. But that organization that
created Breaking Bread, Appetite for Change, is
doing community cooks every Thursday night, and
we now trained thousands of residents in the community
in producing healthy food. Through my work, I trained
16 African-American farmers in North Minneapolis in
permaculture and agroecology, with the hope that they would all opt in to a farmer cooperative
and grow food together and bring stuff to market together. My dream of what we could
do there didn’t work out as I imagined, because all of the farmers have got the same training about being an individual entrepreneur, as opposed to being a
cooperative entrepreneur, and everybody wanted
their own parcel of land to do things their own
way without having to deal with the supposed
pollution of relationship. So for me that’s a toxic mindset. I think the resource is relationship, that’s not a toxic sector. I think individuality is the toxic sector. So we didn’t have agreement on that and that pattern didn’t work
out as well as I wanted it to. But recently, just to give you a very significant success of late, the residents of the community organized to shut down Northern Metals, which is one of the 11 companies in what we call the toxic
corridor in North Minneapolis. Northern Metals had gone
to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and asked to
have their permit extended to pollute more. And a resident simply
asked the honest question, excuse me, before you’re given
permission to pollute more, why don’t you tell us the impact on us of all the pollution
you’ve already caused? And the company couldn’t
answer that question, and neither could the Minnesota
Pollution Control Agency. But the Minnesota
Pollution Control Agency, because of that challenge, went back and did some work and
decided we better investigate this company a little more thoroughly, and they found that the company was violating its pollution permit. And then that led to a settlement decree signed by that company to
move out of the community within two years and move
to another community. That date that company
was supposed to move was August 1st, the company sent a request for injunctive relief to a judge and said, the site we were gonna
move to isn’t ready yet, so we need permission to
stay as long as it takes to get into the new site. And the community called that company to a community meeting and said you have to look us in
the face and tell us that your right to pollute is
superior to our right to live. And the company said,
I’m not gonna say that, but what I will say is that
as a responsible corporation I want to make sure that I continue to provide a livelihood of
the people who work for me, so we’re gonna keep working as long as the judge is gonna let us keep working. After that meeting, a
whistleblower in that company came and said, I have
been keeping the data and I can verify that we
have been falsifying our data consistently, as long as
I’ve been keeping the data. Once that came out in the public, then the judge automatically
mandated that company shut down and it shut down that next day. So two weeks ago, two Mondays
ago, that company shut down. So that’s an example of success. So this is a community
that is now awakening to the reality that if
we want positive results, we have to come forward and deliver those results collectively. Now, I’m saying that and I want to also not sort of paint a false picture. I’ll give you another
story of a very painful, trauma causing story in the community. We’re working really hard right now on a 48.8 acre site called
the Upper Harbor Terminal Site to reimagine how we could do a eco village in North Minneapolis, very
much like the eco villages I’ve created in Africa where people have self-determined livelihood. The city of Minneapolis has put together a plan for that site which
the community has critiqued and said we don’t really
see ourselves in this plan, we’d like you to cancel this plan, start over from a blank slate
and do something different that’s inclusive and bottom-up. The city has said, we
hear you, we respect you, we would really like to do it
in a way that works for you, but there is so much inertia in terms of the way that a city does development that you just have to accept
that we can’t meet you where you’re at to the
extent you’re hoping we can. We will do our best as your city, but I don’t think you’re
gonna be satisfied with that in the short term. But if we stay at the
table with each other, eventually we’ll be
able to generate better and better and better results. Now, what the community
is doing as a result of that feedback from the city is tension within the community. Some people are saying, okay, we’ll trust that that’s true and we’ll try and work with you in the way that you can work with us. And other people in the
community are saying, no, let’s just shut it down. And there’s this dynamic in the community of the shutdown energy versus
the participatory process energy, and so now that’s a dynamic that we’re having to try and heal through. So part of my work is having
those kind of dialogues with folks in the community while also having dialogues with the city and the developers about how to do this in a truly participatory,
ecologically grounded way. And it’s uphill, and there’s many days I don’t want to go to work. But I keep going, because
my own dreaming process says that when you feel
like you are challenged beyond belief, that’s an
exciting time to show up. So I keep going. Great question. Any other questions? – [Audience Member] I have a question. So you had mentioned earlier how you felt that the indigenous teaching
should be implemented into classrooms, could
you elaborate on that a little bit more on like what exactly? – I think that the simple
request that I have is that, and I think I
witnessed this already from Elyse’s example here, I mean Elyse invited in these indigenous stakeholders to be a presence in this
conference that happened in a respectful,
culturally appropriate way. She made an acknowledgement directly to each person, one at a time, said thank you for coming,
this has been a dream of mine to have a right
relationship with you. I hope you will feel like
this is a relationship worthy of sustaining on your own terms. So she, as one of your stakeholders and ambassadors for good
relationship, did that practice. My request is that faculty
members do the same thing, and that instead of students waiting for faculty to lead you there, that if students feel in your own spirit that you’d like to connect to indigenous ecology knowledge as part of
your own learning process, begin to think about how
you can get on that journey. So a place to start is Elyse has already built some relationships. Draw a map of all of the different forms of ecological knowledge that are available by local indigenous
people, compensate them for their time instead of just assuming they ‘ll give it to you for free, and begin to set up opportunities for them to come in to class. So if you have a botany class, bring in a Native botanist to talk about local, ethnobotany in
the Fond du Lac area, right? If you have a class on
herbal, on medicine, on going beyond allopathic care towards naturopathic alternatives, bring in a local indigenous person who knows in herbal medicine in the region and have that person come into the class with compensation and visible respect to share that knowledge in the classroom. Ask your professors to begin the journey of having the curriculum reflect indigenous ecological knowledge
is alive in the syllabus. So we as faculty have to stop having it be on the periphery or on the outside, and it has to be internalized as core to what and how we teach. So I was in a class earlier today, in Jane Wattrus’ class, and she
is using Braiding Sweetgrass as one of the books in the class. It’s a fabulous book. There’s a very long list of fabulous books that focus on indigenous
ecological knowledge that are out there, so I want to suggest that each of you should get
on the journey for yourselves and then do your own
part to bring it alive in the curriculum. I think we’ve made a mistake of assuming that somebody out there should
take responsibility for that. And Sweet Honey in the
Rock had this great quote that was a key galvanizing quote for the civil rights movement, we are the leaders we
have been looking for. So if you have the critique
of something that’s missing, you also have the solution. Don’t critique and say bring
it, you bring it, right? And somebody might say,
oh, thanks for asking, I’ve been meaning to do
that and I just haven’t been able to, will you help me? And one way of helping
me is just to continue to hold me accountable when I fall short, ’cause trust me, I will fall short. But love me while I fall short, ’cause you’re gonna do the same thing. We’re both pitiful, but
we both have this dream, let’s enact it together. So I think taking mutual responsibility instead of judging each
other is a critical part of this work. So I think part of it is to nourish all the assets here at CSS and source more from what’s possible as
opposed to what’s wrong, and just bring more and
more of what’s possible in by doing what’s easy
to do in the short term and connect what’s easy
to do in the short term to what’s harder to do. So I always encourage people to think in terms of low-hanging
fruit, moderate fruit, and more difficult fruit, but design from an integral process that brings you from what you can do now to what you can do next. So you might find one
professor will fold it into the curriculum in 2019. But maybe eight will do it in 2020. And maybe by 2025, you
can’t take a class at CSS where it’s not there, right? – [Elyse] Thank you, I love that. One thing I just wanted to mention, you were just talking about
low and moderate hanging fruit, I could make another moderate suggestion, which would be any time
you see in announcements or if you look on the website, look for American Indian
Community Housing Organization, AICHO, any time they
have a cultural event. They’re a powerful cultural center, they have art openings,
speakers, poetry readings, music, food, festivals, all
kinds of things going on. If there’s an opportunity, go there. And you’re gonna enter a Native space, and there’s gonna be some adjustment, but I really highly encourage you to take that opportunity
and put yourself there if you have the chance. So I just wanted to invite, if there’s a couple more
questions, it’s like 7:15 right now we can definitely go to 7:20
or, you know, if somebody has, does somebody over there have a question? – While she’s walking the microphone over, I just want to amplify
what I heard Elyse say and just talk about one minimal thing is for each of you to
stop allowing yourself to be a resource for the invisibilizing of indigenous lives and realities. So you to take responsibility to begin to recognize that
indigenous people are here, they’re doing amazing
cultural resurgence work, working against many,
many critical challenges, and they need true solidarity,
not I’m coming to help you, but I’m coming to partner with you because my liberation and yours
are bound with each other. If you can show up from that
level of internal integrity in relationship, then
you’re gonna get gifts out of being present with
them that you didn’t expect. And so that’s just one thing I want to encourage all of you to do is to do your own part
to stop invisibilizing indigenous lives and
realities here locally and around the whole
world and to think about, how is indigenous lives
and realities relevant in whatever I’m gonna do in my life? And to bring it alive as fully as you can. ‘Cause here’s one thing
I want to guarantee, as a person who is
working on climate change and climate justice, I’ve noticed that where the biodiversity
hotspots are on the planet is also where indigenous people are still most active in trying
to foster ecological health. And so instead of thinking about these as two separate things, if we organize a paradigm of climate
justice in which we’re saying we’re going to address biodiversity and carbon sequestration
in prairies and in forests by honoring and supporting
indigenous people’s sovereignty, then that’s a win-win scenario that benefits the planet
and benefits people. So there’s things like that that we can do that I want to consider
as low-hanging fruit over 2020 to 2030 that I really think all of us ought to operationalize. – [Elyse] So another question someone has? – If there’s no other questions, I apologize for my pitifulness. (laughs) I did my best to show you
love in my presentation and I wish you to dream from
your absolutely highest place and then live in constant dialogue with as many people
around you as possible, because I trust that that’s the way that the better world is born, migwetch. (audience applauds)

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