Guest Post: Respecting Environment

SCOPE is partnering with the Peace Education and Action Center and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune to start a community dialogue in three important areas:  Rethinking Education, Restoring Justice and Respecting Environment.  The Sarasota Herald-Tribune will publish guest editorials on each of the three areas, which will be crossposted on the SCOPE blog. On April 9th and 10th, the Peace Education and Action Center will host their second annual Teach Peace Conference with the same three focus areas.  We hope the dialogue that begins through these multiple channels  and the actions that result will bring about positive changes for our community.

The third installment is below.  We hope you will use the commenting space to continue a dialogue about how we can Respect Environment.

What is the new green? By Don Hall,  founder of Transition Sarasota Published: Monday, April 5, 2010

When you hear the words "environment," "sustainability" and "green," what do you think of?

You might think of canvas tote bags and compact fluorescent light bulbs or Al Gore and the National Parks System. I don't mean to diminish the achievements of the mainstream environmental movement, but the approaches behind these words fall short of what is needed now to rise to the monumental challenges of our time.

Fortunately, a new environmentalism is emerging, one that fuses social justice concerns with environmental issues, bridges the gap between Democrats and Republicans, is based on a positive vision for the future, and engages the creativity of ordinary people rather than simply asking them to sign another petition to a government that often doesn't seem to care.

This new environmentalism is manifesting at this time in many remarkable ways. Green For All is working to grow a "green collar economy" that is strong enough to lift people out of poverty. The Pachamama Alliance has joined together with the Achuar people of the Ecuadorian rainforest to change the dream of the modern world. And the Transition Movement, of which I am a part, is serving as a catalyst for rebuilding local community resilience and self-reliance worldwide.

A life-sustaining society

These three organizations are only a small part of what author and activist Joanna Macy has called "The Great Turning" to a life-sustaining society. In fact, Paul Hawken and his Wiser Earth project have now documented over 2 million such groups that collectively make up what may be the largest grassroots movement in the history of the earth.

As the founder of the Transition Movement, Rob Hopkins, has written: "While peak oil and climate change are undeniably profoundly challenging, also inherent within them is the potential for an economic, cultural, and social renaissance the likes of which we have never seen. We will see a flourishing of local businesses, local skills and solutions, and a flowering of ingenuity and creativity."

This historic opportunity is everywhere, and Sarasota is no exception. Even in the midst of great uncertainty about our future, we still have it in our power to revitalize local agriculture, strengthen our local economy, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and rebuild authentic community. But the choice is up to us. As the Hopi say: "We are the ones we have been waiting for."

Don Hall will facilitate a workshop on the Transition Movement April 10 at the Teach Peace Conference, 3139 57th St., Sarasota. More information: sarasotapeacecenter.org

Read the guest editorial in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune here.  See the other SCOPE blog postings in this series: Intro, Restoring Justice & Rethinking Education