Reflections on the 2019 Earth Day Walden Gathering in Southern California
How To Build a Future That Includes Humans
Designing a better future for all
On April 20th, 2019, 11 people gathered for the Earth Day Walden Gathering, near the US-Mexico border, and embarked on a day-long nature-immersed journey of connection and passionate conversation to create a future that includes humans. Letting nature guide us in our exploration of the causes of, and solutions to, climate change, we created new connections, educated ourselves and the majority of us felt the call to take new actions.
The Premise Was
Climate change is real, caused by humans and if not the central focus of human cooperation during the next 10 years, the Earth will no longer support human life. [If you are unaware of the conclusive science that supports this premise, please read NEWSROOMPOST Summary for Policymakers of IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C approved by governments]
Give that the solutions for climate change are known, e.g., Project Drawdown, what do we need to create / put in to enable these solutions to scale?
“You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller
Shortly before the gathering, the participants were asked to watch 3, 3-minute videos and rate which one most called to them in order to spark our first conversation. Each video represented a unique voice (Joanna Macy, Charles Eisenstein and Leonardo DiCaprio).
The video from Charles Eisenstein on why systems aren’t changing got the most votes, and so we began with an inquiry: “What is it that has our system not change?” and what solutions might we create that would render our current climate crisis obsolete (vs. fights against the known causes using our current set of largely ineffective methods).
And Expand Upon Existing Solutions:
We began our discussion with 2, 3-minute, TED-style talks, one from Rick Broneic on the 7 generations philosophy of the Iroquois and Algonquin, one he explores in greater detail in his book, and another from Kalani Kreutzberg, on how his organization Cammies and Canines welcomes mother nature into the critical and inspiring work they do to empower veterans on their journey of healing and purposeful contribution.
As the day progressed, we explored what conditions need to be present for a mission-driven community to be successful, how nature provides a fertile setting for inspiration and transformation, what key themes connect our solutions, and finally what solutions can and will we move into action today.
High Level Take-Aways
WHOLE SYSTEM REBOOT: We need a holistic, comprehensive overhaul of the human condition. Climate change is but one symptom of a patently dysfunctional human political economy and culture. We can’t address just one problem, e.g., climate change, we need a whole system reboot - new ways of valuing, relating, recreating, transacting, contributing, educating, worshipping, parenting, providing, etc.
COMMON GOAL: The common goal / standard of success for any organized action or community is that everyone has their basic needs reliably and sustainably provided (safety, food, water, shelter, touch) by the collective and through their contribution. From this place we can unlock human flourishing at scale. This came up in just about every discussion.
COMMUNITY BEST PRACTICES: The practices that surfaced included having a shared purpose with a huge felt emotional impact, embodying interconnectivity / interdependence / interbeing, a sense of urgency / being all-in / this or death, being open and accepting, having conflict resolution protocols, stress management practices integrated into the natural world, artful expression encouraged (with lots of storytelling), and decision-making protocols that were neither purely autocratic nor consensus-driven.
CORE THEMES: As we spent more time with the solutions we generated, a few core themes arose - love, connection, change and community. The solutions that had the most juice centered around culture and education, with two groups emerging, one with a more masculine / system / policy / resources / macro focus, and another with a more feminine / relational / creativity / emotional / micro focus.
Gathering Actions & Solutions
WALDEN GATHERINGS ARE NOT JUST FOCUSED ON TALKING ABOUT SOLUTIONS, BUT PUTTING SOLUTIONS INTO ACTION.
While ideas are shared throughout the day, we gather to create change.
In order to improve the world around us, we must not only speak about the issues at hand, but work towards solutions. The point of the discussions is to establish the framework for identifying and understanding the problems.
What follows, is most important.
SOULFUL COMMUNITY: A community where all the kids are raised by all the adults. We move away from a nuclear family way of living which clearly isn’t possible, practical or enjoyable (100 hrs of parents out of the home, kids raised by screens, isolated, lonely, consumerist, car-heavy, indebted way of life) to multifamily communities with interwoven, joyous connection, shared responsibilities for children, economic sustenance, culture. Near-term actions: a forum to discuss how to implement and get feedback, a call to artists and children to visualize what this could look and feel like, begin by having elders in schools to transmit wisdom.
GENERATIVE FISCAL POLICY: Halve the current US defense budget. Of this new budget, allocate a quarter to new schools, e.g., Lebron James schools, a quarter to universal basic income, a quarter to the peace corps and a quarter to ensure that teachers make as much as people who work on Wall Street. Near-term action: Have a zoom call to discuss implementation.
We aim to bring together passionate individuals, groups and organizations to gather, learn and collaborate in small groups on how best to contribute and invest their time, talent and resources to innovative solutions -- and then take them back into the world. We see everyone who joins as an equal expert at the table because we believe in the wisdom of the crowd to find solutions.