Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Tool Kit I Wish I'd Had

May was spent writing, compiling, editing, and publishing a tool kit I wish I'd had when I first endorsed the Earth Charter.  Yesterday the 'Earth Charter Local Endorsement Kit & Activities Guidebook' was officially released to the Earth Charter Community Network members under 'Creative Commons' license.  The guidebook is a starting place that can be expanded, revised, and updated regularly.  It is my hope that the tools and suggestions can be easily utilized by present and future Earth Charter supporters/activists, sustainability advocates, and people in my generation.  

The founders and leaders of the Earth Charter Initiative worked hard to birth the Earth Charter and I feel it is my generation's responsibility to nurture and raise it in ways that make it accessible to a wider demographic and grow beyond the academia nursery it has flourished in so far.

I see the Earth Charter in 2020 being referenced and used as a standard backdrop to the systems, structures, and models that are currently just beginning to emerge within all sectors of society and culture.  I also see the Earth Charter in symbiotic relationship with local governments that by then may have evolved through necessity to be the ultimate authority and jurisdiction in civil society...the trends are definitely pointing in that direction.

Communities and Local Government 
The UK passed the Localization Act and is setting precedents that can be easily duplicated in all developed countries. 

Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age by Michael H. Shuman
Shuman, Michael H. 2000. Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age. New York, Routledge.
Localization: A Global Manifesto by Colin Hines
Hines, Colin. 2000. Localization: A Global Manifesto. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd.
Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth by Jim Merkel
Merkel, Jim. 2003. Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth. Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers.
The Essential Exponential: For the Future of Our Planet by Albert A. Bartlett
Bartlett, Albert A. 2004. The Essential Exponential: For the Future of Our Planet. Lincoln, NE: Center for Science, Mathematics & Computer Education, University of Nebraska.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

- Buckminster Fuller

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Local Endorsements

What does it really mean to endorse the Earth Charter?  For me it meant becoming an Earth Charter activist - a human networking vehicle sharing the Earth Charter and inviting people to endorse.   It also meant striving to live and learn the principles found within the Earth Charter. 

As an EC activist one of the first campaigns I did was to table in front of a health food store in Taos, New Mexico collecting endorsement signatures and passing out Earth Charter brochures.  At the time I was traveling the western US establishing the nomadic 'ecoministry' that I had founded and I was staying near Taos at PeƱasco and the Picuris Pueblo.

I had learned about how the U.S. Mayors Association had endorsed the Earth Charter so I wanted to see if the Mayor of Taos would add his towns signature to the list of growing townships that were endorsing.  I knew it was important to first share the Earth Charter with the citizens of the community and so my basic strategy was to collect 100 signatures while sharing and then bring the petition to the Mayor.  

For 3 days I spent time in front of the health food store talking with people and it was such an amazing experience because I had never done anything like it before and the way that the store management, customers, and citizens were so curious and friendly was a great encouragement.  

The principles of the Earth Charter open up so much possibility for meaningful dialogue about our global issues and even if I had not been collecting signatures or had any kind of a plan I still would have not missed the opportunity to learn so much from the people I spoke with.  

One major thing that kept coming up was how people so much want to see good things happen in the world but they simply are under the gun of our broken economic system and warped calendar/clock that leaves no room for most people to even have time to relax let alone take up a cause.  

After the 3 days of meaningful information sharing and signature collecting I called the Mayor and made an appointment to see him to present the petition for his consideration.  Most people don't know how easy it is to actually have direct contact with city/gov officials and they never even try.  I only had to wait a week for the appointment and I was warmly greeted by the Mayor and granted 30 minutes of his time.  

I first gave him a 5 minute overview of the Earth Charter's key points and where and how it originated.  I gave him a brochure and then the petition and asked him if he could please present it to the city council for a vote.  He was personally very intrigued and he agreed to present it and call for a vote.  I gifted him an Earth Charter poster for his office and thanked him for his time.

I had to continue on my journey to Colorado the next day (I had postponed so I could make the appointment with the Mayor) but when I left Taos I felt deeply satisfied.  

My journey continued on from there and I had many more opportunities to network/share the Earth Charter.  Other places where I have successfully shared and got endorsements include:

  • Non-profit Organizations
  • Businesses 
  • Churches 
  • Native American reservations
  • Private schools
  • Youth groups
  • Clubs  
Local Endorsements are vital to the long term effectiveness of the Earth Charter.  It is awesome that so many cities/towns and government agencies have endorsed the Earth Charter, but most people don't know about these positive actions because the media does not pick stories like that for their headlines.  The Earth Charter Community is developing a 'Local Endorsement Kit' that will help anyone as passionate as I was to have the resources all in one place.  

Just remember that when you share information it will be your own passion and energy that creates the desired outcome of any sharing that you offer and don't be discouraged by the occasional paranoid weirdos or apathetic apes that you will inevitably encounter.  The world is built on diversity and the Earth Charter invites you to practice the principles of 'respect' for all life...