Join the Climate Narrative Project Fellows for their final presentations on Thursday, Dec. 3rd, at the Old Capitol Mall.
Nationally acclaimed author, biodiversity expert and local food pioneer Gary Nabhan met with Climate Narrative Project fellows on Oct. 4th. A MacArthur Fellow, Nabhan discussed the connections between health, biodiversity and cultural diversity. According to the MacArthur Foundation: “Nabhan’s work offers important insights into the relationship between culture and land, especially with respect to the constraints of limited, natural resources that all societies eventually face. In 1983, Nabhan co-founded Native Seeds/SEARCH, a nonprofit organization working to preserve native Southwestern crops. He has studied native agricultural traditions of the Southwest, and has led a multicultural research team to inventory the endangered, useful plants of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. His work has led directly to conservation of the genetic and cultural heritage of the region.”
My tentative outline for my project. Will be improved over time.
Title: Yoga-Restoring yourself. Restoring Nature.
Questions/Theme: What is Yoga and what are the benefits of doing Yoga? Does Yoga help you restore one with positivity? How does Yoga help one better connect with the environment ? Why are trees important? How can they help us reverse climate change? Why is it important to restore nature/ecosystems even if we try and get into green energy and follow sustainable practices? How can Yoga help us achieve an eco-conscious world?
Setting/Story-line: A Yoga class out in nature(mostly Iowa). Instructor telling the students about how to restore themselves and why it is necessary to restore nature, how others are successfully working to restore nature by repairing damaged ecosystems, going vegan, planting trees and how getting nature back is our best solution.
Characters/Real Life Heroes:
Peepal Baba(Male): An environmentalist who practices yoga and meditation and has planted more than 10 Million trees till date in India and Europe. He currently runs the Give Me Trees Trust in India.
Andy(Male): works for environmental restoration by planting trees around the University of Iowa Campus and is one of the main reasons, UI has been named Tree Campus USA for 6 years in a row.
Sarah(Female): A Co-President of the UI Environmental Coalition who practices Yoga and feels that it drives her passion for vegetarianism and environmental sustainability.
Takeaway: It is important to bring nature back. Along with practices like recycling, reducing consumerism and bringing in green energy by divesting from fossil fuels, It is necessary to restore our ecosystems so that we can reverse climate change. Yoga can help you calmly face tough situations, especially when you’re trying to explain environmental problems to people who do not want to understand them.
Type of Arts Medium: Yoga Performance, with nature playing on the backdrop.
Question/Theme: Every seed has a story, and a history. What can we learn from that history, and how can we use it for the future
Characters: The characters of my story will be the three sisters- corn, squash, and beans. Specifically, I would like to focus on
Pride of Saline, a historic commercial variety of corn shown to outperform the common yellow dent in tough growing conditions (this may change as I’m hoping to get an interview with the owner of K&K popcorn, which is grown in Iowa and the seeds seems to have a pretty neat history!)
Swedish Beans- brought to the US by immigrants, has a long history of being grown here, the variety was actually lost in Sweden and through the work of Seed Savers Exchange, was able to be re-introduced. Seed Savers has on file a recipe card for baked beans using this particular variety.
Squash variety- TBD
Story-line/ Narrative: For each seed, I will tell its history, mapping out where it came from, how it has traveled and the adversity it has faced (both the corn and beans have been very close to extinction but revived). After telling each seed’s history the climax will be when the seeds are recognized as being valuable and they are not only preserved but continue to be grown in good hands. Then I will present the potentials that exist for the future, highlighting the importance of preserving these living pieces of cultural history and paying credit to SSE Member-Grower Evaluation Network, which sends seeds to members around the country with the intent to analyze how they perform in a variety of climates and growing conditions.
Take-Away(s): Stored inside a seed is a long cultural history. Each of these seeds has been selected for over many generations, and traveled sometimes around the world, been used in many recipes, and literally and metaphorically, brings a lot to the table. Preserving seeds is not only preserving culture, but an opportunity to learn from the past in order to grow a better future. I would also like to leave the audience with a few resources for how they can become involved in seed saving.
NPR has been doing a series on Brazil and the Amazon rain forest, including an excellent photojournalism essay. One of the episodes reconsiders the role of the Amazon ecosystem as more than the typical “lungs of the earth.” According to one climate scientist, the rain forest serves more as the “heart” of the planet, as a biotic pump.
Here’s the story.
Title: Climate Change Cafe
Theme: To connect international student and community voices, thoughts, and opinions about the upcoming Paris Climate Conference. Through garnering internationals perspectives around this global problem, and bring attention to the tension between the G20 and V20 countries entering into this upcoming negotiations.
Perspectives of G20 and V20 nations represented by students dialogue, discussion, and spoken word. Further incurring from this international perspective by students, comes the perspective of those who have and will be experiencing further consequences of global climate change and biodiversity loss.
Take Away: Connecting the threat to cultural diversity and biodiversity that global climate change presents, attendees will presented with thoughts and commentary on the upcoming negotiations, and visual representations of all the ties that already bind us beyond black water on dead wood.
Art Medium: Dialogue play, props, and spoken word.
Ownself- To follow your heart and be in charge of all of your own actions. You are your own boss, you are Cripsin’s Crispin, make yourself proud.
Climate change can’t be tackled in one angle or with one art project. We all choose to fight the consequences of climate change in our own way and in different scales, but in the end it all comes down to helping communities. It’s impossible to set out to help your community without also helping the environment and vice versa.
Dale-Raises Chickens/Duck and sells eggs at the lowest price available at the farmer’s market. He makes it possible to eat locally on a budget for even a college student. $2.25/dozen medium sized eggs!
Alicia-Runs the Salvage Barn and Friends of Historic Preservation, keeps the city culturally and aesthetically unique as well as saves great materials from going to the landfill.
Rosario-Went from working as a receptionist at the hospital and the WIC (women, infant and children’s) program, to running the sales for Windy City Harvest and getting to put real food into peoples hands.
Average people, doing tiny things that make the world better. We can’t measure our success by instant changes, or by the gallons, but by tiny drops and ripples. Actions matter. And there are people all around us doing great things quietly but with dedication. We should celebrate them and their cause by following their example. Eat local, be frugal, and help your community in whatever way they need help.
Art Medium: 3 Silk-screened Prints for distribution in public and private settings
The story is based around the theological concepts that bring Catholics to an understanding of environmental stewardship. I’ll be illustrating these concepts and the environmental realities they correspond to through video.
The theme is a Mass: I’ll be following the structure of a Mass (roughly Call to Worship, Confession, Prayer, Readings, Eucharist, and Benediction) to tell the story in a more ritual-based format.
The locations are farms and land affected by both good and bad environmental stewardship: untilled soil, soil erosion, chemical application, and more.
The characters are Fr. Bud, one or more farmers, and Mike (the chemical guy I mentioned last time).
The takeaway is twofold: To give us hope that people of faith are tacking the concrete issues related to environmental degradation, and to encourage skeptical people of faith to start approaching these issues with an open mind.
“Call and Response” is the working title.
Here’s my prospective outline for my project. It is subject to change as I flesh the idea out a bit more, but here’s what I’m generally hoping to move toward!
Title (tentative): “Cut from a Tree,” or Maqtoo’ min shajara (مقطوع من شجرة) – In Arabic this means “cut from a tree,” or figuratively someone who has no family.
Question/Theme: What is the significance of cultural diversity and understanding with climate talks in regards to refugees? What do refugees offer to a community? Why is it important that we care about what happens to the refugees and the conflict in Syria and other war-torn countries?
Setting: A tent in a refugee camp outside of Beirut, Lebanon. No running water. Food is scarce; malnutrition is at a high. According to the Lebanese government, refugees are not allowed to work. Children are permitted to go to school, but the buildings are too small to hold the increasing numbers. More people flood in by the day, some staying for as long as they can, others staying for a while before making their way onward to Europe or other countries.
RIMA, 28, female, an LGBTQ-identified Syrian citizen studying abroad in Iowa City who just returned home for the summer for the first time in 5 years
SAMIR, 25, male, brother to TIRA, Syrian, living in a refugee camp just outside of Beirut, Lebanon
TIRA, 14, female, sister to SAMIR, Syrian, living in a refugee camp just outside of Beirut, Lebanon
Storyline: While in line at the Beirut airport, Rima is mistaken to be a Syrian fleeing from Syria and is taken into custody and transported to a refugee camp just outside of Beirut. Rima is taken into Samir and Tira’s tent, where she begins to hear their story and realizes how distant she has become from the conflict in Syria and the refugee crisis, having lived in the United States for the past five years. As Rima attempts to provide evidence she has a residence in the United States, she is faced with a difficult decision: can she help Samir and Tira? If you can only help a few people, is it still worthwhile?
Takeaway: Refugees are people too, who need our help; what has happened in Syria with droughts and economic scarcity has resulted in a three-sided conflict with Syrian citizens having nowhere to go other than to run. By not helping these people in need, we continue to ignore the effects of a changing climate and environment, proving if we can’t help them, we won’t be able to help ourselves if the time comes.
Type of Arts Medium: One-Act Play
Inayat Baloch is a graduate student pursing computer science and another BA in public policy, where he hopes to work for the human rights for Balochistan. He is the president of the Iowa City United Nations Association, and an active member of Nextgen Climate. We sat down to discuss his involvement in addressing climate change, how is background influence him and his views on the environment, what what his thoughts were on the upcoming conference in Paris.
“Where I grew up- the village- my farm, we had a really really huge drought,” began Inayat. In his twelfth year of schooling, Inayat and his family experienced a drought that took almost 1600 heads of cattle, and removed thousands of residents and farmers from their land. With reference to the worst drought that Pakistan has experienced in 50 years from 1998-2002, our interview began with the question of why is global climate change something dedicate your time too? “Because I have seen it. I have suffered it. I live it. I have seen it as a drought. I have seen it as the fossil fuels. I have seen it [as] nuclear tests.” With that, Inayat conveyed an intensity for his work the campus groups Nextgen, United Nations Association, and the KRUI radio program Human Rights In Iowa City. Asking him what he hopes to see out of the upcoming Paris conference, the answer called for illumination. “With China, Pakistan, India, and the United States committing these crimes climate, they will not do this things publicly. Their crimes will have to be shown. I hope for the best.” What are your thoughts on the 2 degrees of “allowable” temperature change as being the baseline for many negotiations? “We know what is on the table. We know what the consequences are. This is our generations. The glaciers are melting- it is in our time. The drought hits us, migration is an enormous problem.” There is no stepping down from this. Our conversation moving from the what is being negotiated at the upcoming conference to where the United States role is in these upcoming negotiations, the hope that the United States will take the necessary actions to be a leader on this issue is ever present. “It was a big deal! A great thing when Obama didn’t sign the Keystone XL pipeline.”
In asking how his understanding of global climate change has changed over time, Inayat feels that his education on the issue has changed drastically. “They say that drought is just the God doing what they like-oh its just God causing this.” Further going on to say, “When I first heard Al Gore, I thought he was an idiot. My professors said this too. I wish my professors knew. A degree does’t make you smart.” I wish I had known more sooner.”
With the amount of work that you doing around global climate change, what do you think are ways people need to engage in this issue? “Education. People need to be educated on this issue. Environmental education needs to be in our schools, and needs to be apart of our schools course.This isn’t an issue for a white collar, polished shoes, or a college campus. It is an issue for everyone”
Where would you like to be working on this issue after you are done with your degree?
“I see my future and Balochistan’s future. I want to develop skills here [Iowa] to better help that future. I may be in Iowa, Germany, Switzerland, or wherever. So long as I representing Balochistan”