How did you become interested in environmental work?
Early in my life, I was inspired by the northern coast of California where I spent much of my childhood hiking along remote beaches and in the redwoods. This beauty deeply touched me and I knew that I wanted to do all that I could to protect these special places and to bring more awareness to the need to protect the natural world. I understood this early on because I had experiences of seeing the devastating results of magnificent old growth forests that were clear-cut; forests that I loved and knew were irreplaceable. It broke my heart open. The words of Rachel Carson also guided me at that time, especially when she wrote, “I believe that the more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
For many years I have been involved with environmental and societal change organizations, and last year I founded the Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus (WECC), which is a branch of State of the World Forum. As the director of WECC, I have the honor and opportunity to collaborate with extraordinary women here in the US and in other countries. We are developing alliances that can assist, as an example, the most vulnerable communities in Africa that are dealing with the devastating effects of climate change.
What environmental issues are most important to you and how as individuals can we personally support these issues and increase awareness?
We are focused on women because empowering women benefits entire communities as well as society overall. United Nations’ studies show us that worldwide, when women are empowered, local economies improve, populations stabilize, and children’s health and education improves. In many countries, women get out the vote and vote more often. Where the environment is concerned, women are the main recyclers in the home, and often decide how the family income is spent. Women decide some 80% of family financial decisions in America. Imagine that market power focused on demanding a new clean energy economy!
We also need to bring light to, and take action on, the disproportionate burden women face, especially in low-income communities and developing countries, from the impacts of climate change.
Right now, in addition to convening WECC sessions, I am on a tour with my new book “Uprisings for the Earth: Reconnecting Culture with Nature”. The book weaves together history, science, the arts, women’s leadership and governance in order to map out an integral approach to working in partnership with nature. When we embrace our connection to the natural world and to each other, and combine that with the lessons of our ecosystems, we have a better capacity to find answers needed to create sustainable living models. In this sense, the mystery, wonder and elegance of the earth have been at the core of my inspiration.
We gladly welcome more participation in WECC! Please see http://www.worldforum.org/womans-caucus.htm and welcome to my book launch in Berkeley on October 26, 2010.