July 19, 2023, Media-Upper Providence Free Library
A group of eight local explorers interested in understanding what can be done about climate change gathered in Media Borough at the Media Upper Providence Free Library. While reading the book of essays, All We Can Save: Truth, Courage and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, our group has begun having conversations about how to get started.
Below are two topics that we discussed in our group, along with a question to ponder in hope of finding a path to address climate change.
Author Janine Benyus is considered the “Mother of Biomimicry” (the art of applying lessons from nature in problem solving.) Her passage below is a good example of how we must move from old stories of survival-of-the-fittest and competition-between-species, to new stories of cooperation.
“I admit it’s counterintuitive to imagine plants increasing facilitation in the face of scarcity when our competition bias and our economic theories suggest otherwise. For years, careful experimenters tried to explain this as an anomaly, missing the beneficence in their search for the struggle. Now we know that it’s not just one plant helping another; mutualisms— complex exchanges of goodness—are playing out above- and belowground in extraordinary ways.” —Reciprocity by Janine Benyus
She suggests we change our world view to a deeper and more complete understanding. Changing our world view can be an uncomfortable process. Through this change, we will likely uncover personal preferences, habits and opinions in our lives that contradict these new ways of seeing the world.
Sitting with these changes is part of the “life yoga” we must engage in if we want to fully accept the current world.
In her essay, Indigenous Prophecy and Mother Earth Sherri Mitchell writes:
“We have words in our language that help to remind us of the balance that this relationship (between humanity and Mother Earth) requires. One of those words is mamabezu; it means ‘he or she has enough.’ It is an acknowledgement that an individual has what they need to live their life with a sense of safety and dignity. Another word, Alabezu, means ‘everyone has enough.’ The ‘everyone’ envisioned in that phrase includes all the beings in the natural world. When we are contemplating the value ‘enough,’ we recognize that mamabezu must always be weighed against alabezu to ensure that there is a balance to life.”
Today, we live in a consumer-driven culture that encourages constant growth. Could the Native American ideas of mamabezu and alabezu help us discover a healthier way of being in relationship to everyone and everything around us?
In our open discussion, we wondered out loud how we can scale up our thinking? How do we reach the masses? We tossed this around for a while. While I wouldn’t say we came up with the answer, I felt that a couple of ideas hold promise.
From Adrienne Maree Brown’s essay entitled, What is Emergent Strategy? she shares:
“Existence is fractal—the health of the cell is the health of the species and the planet.”
I wonder if just by gathering as a group, and exploring these issues, we are creating the possibility of connection with other groups of similarly minded people.
We can cross-communicate with these groups of similar minds. Surely, people are wrestling with similar questions! Nearby, we can work with groups like the West Chester Green Team, CRC Watersheds and our local Environmental Advisory Councils (EACs).
At the same time, transformation starts inside us… and vibrates into the various groups we already belong to. Transition Town Greater Media, Keep Media Green, Tree Tenders, Bee City are all organizations represented within our little circle.
Can you start to imagine this change process like a growing star of new thinking…glowing, changing and improving, up and down the ladder of human connection?
While the answers are still emerging, for me this group is fostering a sense of hope during a turbulent and off-the-charts summer.