This guest news story was written by June Hament and Marty Levin, Awakening the Dreamer Facilitators and Drawdown Initiative Conveners with the Delaware River Valley Community, about their experience at the 2019 Drawdown Learn Conference.
The Omega Center for Sustainable Living hosted their second annual Drawdown Learn Conference in Rhinebeck, New York, October 18 – 20, 2019, bringing together student activists, indigenous activists, policy makers, Project Drawdown staff, and more to “chart a path forward for solutions-based climate change education and action in schools and communities.” Videos of many of the talks and panels are available until October 16, 2020. Here is a highlight video:
It was our great honor to attend the recent Drawdown Learn Conference as members of the team from the Pachamama Alliance. This journey began over a year earlier when we learned that the first Drawdown Learn Conference was being planned at the Omega Institute in October of 2018.
When Drawdown Learn 2019 was announced this spring, we reached out to Pachamama Alliance staff about a possible collaboration. A team was put together including the two of us, Sue Staropoli of the Rochester Pachamama Community, and staff members Rogér Knoren and Mario Trigueros. Here we were, five people living thousands of miles apart, working together to create a new workshop.
Over the three months leading up to the conference, we created a plan to lead a workshop about Building Transformational Drawdown Communities: Deepening Our Capacity for Meaningful Action, including an introduction to the Pachamama Alliance and the various programs and tools we have to offer.
Through numerous phone meetings, with patience and a commitment to one another and to our purpose, we managed to embody the very concepts that we were speaking about. What had been somewhat theoretical before became very, very clear in practice. We see now as we move through the various other committees and organizations we work with the contrast between the “normal” ways of working together and a truly transformational community. It’s a beautiful thing!
Our workshop was delivered on Saturday morning of the conference and we attracted an audience of about 75 participants, only about 1/3 of whom had heard of the Pachamama Alliance prior to attending. At every break throughout the rest of the weekend, participants came up to us and commented on how we had modeled just what they have been looking for, and missing, in their own organizations.
Many people came by our table later that evening when we participated in an Expo with other organizations at the event. Following the conference, we reached out to a list of 30 attendees who shared their contact information with us and just this week, we held our first Drawdown Learn alumni conference call, hosted by Mario and Roger.
Whereas leading up to the conference we focused on the contribution Pachamama Alliance could make to the Drawdown community, once we were at the Omega Institute we were treated to a wealth of inspirational speakers and learned about various initiatives others are taking to move learning about Project Drawdown and its solutions forward.
In particular, we learned about educational programs being offered around the United States for children in preschool all the way through graduate programs at various universities. One college in Iowa has combined environmental studies with theatre to make their presentations more accessible. They put on a few skits at the Expo on Saturday evening.
Overall, we were most impacted by the presence of several indigenous people from local Native American tribes and a panel of young people who expressed their concern about the urgency of the climate crisis. Listening to these young people ranging in age from 14 to 21, we were reminded of the work of Greta Thunberg and the need to be in action addressing this existential challenge.
The take away from the entire Drawdown Learn experience is that the wave of transformation that we have been waiting for is finally building momentum. Fueled by the passion of these amazing young people who are demanding a sustainable life for themselves and their own children, and by the reemergence of powerful indigenous leaders, we feel that the more beautiful world we all want may truly be realized.
We look forward to welcoming new allies into our Pachamama Alliance community and continuing to learn from others who we met at this important gathering. Plans are already in the works for other environmental programs at Omega during the coming year. We recommend you get on their mailing list if this calls to you.