Paloma Pavel & Carl Anthony: Breakthrough Communities, Underserved Populations, & Community Engagement

Photo by Sofia Drobinskaya

The newest episode of our university podcast, ‘Mindful U at Naropa University,’ is out on iTunesStitcher, Fireside, and Spotify now! We are excited to announce this week’s episode features special guests Paloma Pavel and Carl Anthony, keynote speakers at Naropa’s 2019 Earth Justice Day on the topic of ‘The Earth, the City and the Hidden Narrative of Race’.

 play-icon Paloma Pavel & Carl Anthony: Breakthrough Communities, Underserved Populations, & Community Engagement

“As we open and see that what we’re carrying around inside ourselves, what we have created around us is kind of a fear story. When we actually step into the fierce love story that we long for, we start having a much more joyful experience and one where we’re not at war with our earth community. One where we’re actually welcoming growing things in our backyards and on our roofs, where we’re seeing that space is imagined in a whole other way. And also, we do need to live closer together if we’re going to preserve wilderness and agricultural land and green space—it’s essential that we learn how to be with one another. And we’re excited for this moment because we feel that it’s probably one of the most energizing, innovating moments that we’ve ever lived through. And it’s accelerating.”

Full transcript below.

Carl Anthony is a visionary architect, urban planner, and author, and Founder of Breakthrough Communities, a project of Earth House Center to build multiracial leadership for sustainable communities in California and the nation. He has been a Senior Ford Foundation Fellow at U.C. Berkeley Department of Geography working on a book, The Earth, the City and the Hidden Narrative of Race examining the connections between fields of environmental justice, community development, and the changing face of global urbanization.

Dr. Margaret Paloma Pavel is President and founder of Earth House, a multicultural media and learning center for environmental and social justice based in Oakland, California. The mission of Earth House is to build healthy and sustainable communities through multi-racial leadership development and community organizing, providing education and media tools. Earth House works internationally, nationally, and regionally providing technical assistance and consulting to individuals, communities, and organizations on large systems change, strategic communications, building multi-cultural organizations, and leadership development.

Paloma Pavel, Carl Anthony, and podcast host David DeVine.
Full transcript
Paloma Pavel and Carl Anthony
Earth Justice Ecological Justice

[MUSIC]

Hello. And welcome to Mindful U at Naropa. A podcast presented by Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

I’m your host, David Devine. And it’s a pleasure to welcome you. Joining the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions – Naropa is the birth place of the modern mindfulness movement.

[MUSIC]

DAVID:
Hello. Today I’d like to welcome a very special guest to the Naropa community and to the podcast. Karl Anthony who is an architect and urban planner and Dr. Paloma Pavel who is an eco-psychologist. They both are here working with the Earth Justice Day being our guest speaker at Naropa University. They are both educators, writers — and they also are founders of the Breakthrough Communities an organization dedicated to building multi-racial leadership and sustainable communities.

So, thank you both for being here today.

PALOMA:
We’re thrilled to be here David with you and also at Naropa.

CARL:
Thank you very much.

DAVID:
Yeah. So how are you both doing today? Carl let’s start with you.

CARL:
Well, I’m really pleased to be here, and this is a new environment for me. I’ve only been in Colorado once in my life.

DAVID:
Oh!

CARL:
About 40 years ago I passed through here and met a lot of people and wonderful to be back.

DAVID:
Awesome. We’re happy to have you.

PALOMA:
I’m really feeling the sense of spring.

DAVID:
Yeah.

PALOMA:
The air has been very warm and the skies opening wide. We’ve had a lot of sun and the blossoms are up and the daffodils and the dandelions and so it just feels like there’s a kind of resurgence of life. I think that’s also happening in our communities. The feeling that we’re coming through something that’s been a very tough winter.

CARL:
I’m wondering also one theme has come out of our discussions has been our orientation to the ocean. And we come from the Bay Area.

DAVID:
Yep.

CARL:
And we look out over the Pacific Ocean and the mountain range is behind us and we can orient ourselves to the ocean and to the mountains east and west. When we come to Colorado we’re really confronted with a completely different relationship to the ocean and relationship to the mountains.

DAVID:
Yes.

CARL:
And that in itself is quite an experience as we try to orient ourselves.

DAVID:
Yeah, and you’re also a mile high up so just the altitude and just being amongst the really tall mountains. I actually grew up in Los Angeles, so I know exactly what it’s like to be oriented to the ocean. I feel you. It’s quite a different environment to be in.

So, I’m actually really curious how did you two meet? It sounded like you were both doing a lot of good work. A lot of community work and then all of a sudden there’s this meeting of you two. Paloma, can you explain to us how you two met each other and decided to work together?

PALOMA:
Thank you. I’m a native of California although I came from the other California — the one in the south. And I was born at the border. La Fontana which really has impacted my journey and my work. I’ve also lived on the East Coast. I was part of a monastic contemplative community — a sort of Buddhist, Christian very inclusive center and built a wilderness retreat center on the coast of Maine. And also attended graduate school at London School of Economics and Harvard before coming back to California.

So, in returning to California and being based in the north I was working with an east west graduate school — California Institute of Integral Studies. And also started a city center that was a reflection of the land based world center that I had built in Maine. So, I knew of Carl as a colleague who had built also nonprofit Urban Habitat and was very respected and renowned in the Bay Area. We knew of each other’s work. And Carl came from Philadelphia.

So, another sort of region but had been faculty member at University of California. And so, we shared that sense of working at the boundary of a learning institution and also community activism. And I was honored when Carl invited me to assist with some of the leadership development in his own organization. And I think we hit it off and began collaborating on a number of other projects together including a film.

DAVID:
Oh, you guys did a film together? Very cool. Carl what was that like for you?

CARL:
Well in putting together our relationship I would say that we had a fundamental reality that came from our professional training. And for me it was a really remarkable gift because as an architect we really think about buildings and thinking about the shape of places that we learn to make. And we sometimes forget the people who have to occupy those spaces and how they — what their reality is. And having met Dr. Pavel and now as I’m thinking back, she’s an eco-psychologist and that means that having an orientation to the psychology of what it is like to be in a situation where there are many different cultures that are operating with each other. And then also a larger sense of how does our psychological orientation relate to our larger than human experience. And so, this is a really been a wonderful journey for me.

PALOMA:
This film was something that — you know sometimes you look back and you see something is like a seed and it has ingredients of many other things that have grown together over the 20 years that we’ve been working together. And what I really loved about that film Carl was that it was an opportunity to intervene in a public process where there was going to be a vote on how the Bay Area was going to grow in the next 20 years. And community groups were being invited to be at daylong planning sessions. But as often happens in vulnerable communities these meetings happen at times that aren’t convenient and they don’t really hear about it and you get to the meeting and it’s all happening in a different language — not only a different physical language, but sometimes the jargon and what not —

DAVID:
Like court language.

PALOMA:
So, we wanted to really prepare our communities.

DAVID:
I see.

PALOMA:
So, this film was intended both as an in reach to communities to help us really get up to speed on our own voices and our own thoughts and feelings and learning about the process so they could participate. But also outreach so that this film would be made and represent the voices of the most vulnerable from the kickoff of the meetings. And it was a remarkably successful process. What would you say Carl?

CARL:
I think for the listening audience to realize that we were in a situation where we had been trying to organize the communities of color throughout the whole Bay Area and as you can imagine with the 70 million people and many different locations in the Bay Area we had quite a challenge to really package it all or put it all together in one frame of reference. And we had a lot of good experience working with people in their own settings. But as I was leaving the Urban Habitat program we were — we had this challenge of how do we put this together.

And know people would not necessarily be with each other during the whole process. And I think Paloma came up with this idea that if we did a film that represented the social justice challenge for each of the communities and put it into a film — we could get the story of all these communities together in a way that could actually create a new reality. And the one thing that happened was that we had made this film and there were nine different meetings throughout the Bay Area in different locations with different constituencies who normally did not work with each other and the way that the film turned out it was shown before the sessions came up and it was the unifying connection between all of the people who were coming to the Association of Bay Area Governments. So, it was a tremendous success.

DAVID:
So, I’m hearing this like beautiful collaboration. So, we have an eco-psychologist and then we have like a city planner, urban planner. And the collaboration between you two sounds really beautiful because Carl you have the building skills — how things flow architect wise and then you have the people flowing skills so you’re like the person architect and then you’re the building architect.

I’m hearing how those collaborations can just be so suitable for a community build and empowering in communities who understand what is needed. I love the idea of the video too because people when they hear it — when they see it, they can really get on board and understand and then find their team that they want to be on and what to work for. So, it’s like you’re engaging them with things that are able to like be received really easily.

CARL:
I also wanted to add that during the 20 years that we worked together, but during the first 5 or 6 years that we worked together we also had a history of working with different communities. And Dr. Pavel had a story that stretched back over 20 to 30 years in the East Coast, in her university experience in Harvard and at London School of Economics. And I grew up and went to Columbia University and then ended up teaching at Berkeley. So, we had this sort of match of the diversity of our experience in different places. And this also came together.

DAVID:
Ok, like both of you on your own have years of experience of city planning, architect, people planning, working with communities and then you came together and just created this beautiful thing. And so, when you did come together you started the break through communities. Can you tell me how that came together cause Paloma you just told me that you were working with Carl already helping him with his organization — so how did the birth of the breakthrough communities come about?

CARL:
I can tell you one story.

DAVID:
Please.

CARL:
We had a rather large title for the book that had been collected. We had worked with a number — some 60 different organizations around the country. And the book was originally titled stories and strategies for metropolitan communities — something like this. And we actually went to a workshop together — a series of workshops together and in the middle of this workshop we were trying to explain the title of it and somebody in the workshop said that’s just too complicated. People can’t get all that information. And that moment thought well we could use the word breakthrough because these communities had been organizing and we told the stories of how they had broken out of their conditioning — they think of themselves in a much more original context.

And then the subtitle of the book was Sustainability and Justice in the Next American Metropolis. So that — out of that the title became Breakthrough for Communities: Sustainability and Justice in the next American metropolis. And it worked out quite well.

DAVID:
So, did the book come first or did the organization come first?

PALOMA:
The work came first. And so —

DAVID:
The work?

PALOMA:
The work came first. So, when we were both working in the Bay Area Carl was approached by the Ford Foundation when they saw the success of the Urban Habitat model. That was a remarkable inspiration to the Bay Area the way in which Carl built multi-racial leadership and also documented it and used the race poverty environment journal as a tool for community organizing and expanding dialogues on every issue that was just erupting at that time from housing to transportation to food, justice and this is in the 70s and 80s.

So, when Carl was invited to the Ford Foundation to direct the largest portfolio in the world at that time on community development and environmental issues, he invited me to work with him on the strategic planning communications and peer learning of those groups. So, what actually was a seed grown in the Bay Area became expanded through working with groups across the United States and in other countries.

DAVID:
I love it.

CARL:
And I would add there was something in our initial meeting that was in and of itself — made a profound difference. And being so-called minorities in a dominant culture based on the English settlement in the US meant that we were each individually from our various cultural points of view trying to cope with this domination and the domination became one organizing point that connected everything. But at the same time the resistance against domination was reflected in our diverse cultures. And what we learned from that initial organizing experience is that we had spent most of our lives and many of our people were in their 30s and 40s and ultimately even older — they had not learned very much about the individual cultures that we represented.

So, we had Native Americans, Asian American, Latino populations as well as African-American, European Americans and we had not actually taken into consideration what the lessons were from each of those bodies of experience. And so, this became a theme in the urban habitat program — it became a theme in the Race, Poverty, Environment journal. We took each issue that came up and talked about how is our food being affected by the diversity of our populations? How is the air quality being affected? How is the transportation requirements of each of these communities? And so, it was a really good mix between individual experience that was shaped by a dominant culture, but also individual experience that really reflected the diversity of places that we came from.

DAVID:
Yeah, I’m kind of curious when you walk into communities and you’re working with multicultural multiracial people of color how does that work amongst the more generic culture — the like — the white European culture. Like how does the multiracial communities show up in a local government setting with the local community being probably more white European kind of based. How do you show up with that sort of setting?

CARL:
Well I’m sure that Paloma has a different experience of that than I have. But one of the things that I think was surprising to me is that the so-called white culture — whiteness in the United States culture is about 300 years old. Before three hundred years ago there were no white people anywhere in the world. And the people migrated from Europe. And it was out of the process of being in a — an alien place that they actually fused with each other to create this dominant culture. And it was against the two hundred thousand years of experience of each of our cultures. This was a rather unique opportunity.

And so, we see looking at the United States that there’s actually a lot more diversity within the European American community than they ever even visualize. So we find that by asking people to really reflect on their own experience a great deal of diversity they’ve already brought to the development of their own consciousness and then measured against the diversity that comes out of the Native American or African-American or Latino culture — that fusion between the diversity among the African and Native culture measured against also the Eastern European — the coastal European cultures — you know Asian American cultures there is a lot more diversity that needs to be discovered and also the seeds of new culture recognizing all the people is being built out of that.

DAVID:
Paloma would you like to speak on that?

PALOMA:
Thank you. I love your question because where ever we sit in our culture it’s an invitation to wake up. And I tend to think of this in practical ways sort of actual groups that we’ve worked with and one of the groups I’m thinking of right now is the West Harlem Environmental Action Project in Manhattan. It’s one of the oldest environmental justice groups in the United States and Peggy Shepherd is an amazing founder, leader there who I learned from always. And an example of what happens in communities — it happened with West Harlem, which is that a decision was made by a very established group, in this case a planning commission, to establish the largest sewage treatment plant ever created in the United States at the west end of 125th Street, which is in Harlem.

So, this decision made sense. They look at the plots of land, their maps from their sky rise buildings and go oh let’s put the sewage treatment plant here. And what is often the case with communities of color, and this is actually well documented and researched is that race is one of the most significant predictors of where toxic waste disposals are done.

And it wasn’t actually going to treat their own sewage — it was going to treat sewage that would be piped up from behind Lincoln Center. So, it was processing someone else’s sewage, which was actually from an engineering standpoint quite inefficient to transport that much sewage north in Manhattan. So, what they did after stopping that initial idea — they began a process of getting grounded in their own community and seeing how did this decision come this far along without us at the table? And how do we get ourselves permanent seats on the planning process so that this doesn’t keep happening to us. So how do we get to the systems change underneath it, which they did. They also began envisioning what they would really want on that site. And they realized they were sitting on one of the most valuable assets in all of Manhattan. It was the last water frontage facing out to the Hudson and the Palisades in the distance. And what would it mean for their own community to have a park, but also to be linked in to this ribbon of land surrounding the entire waterfront of Manhattan. So that they’re not isolated, but actually connected to a flow stream of natural assets around the waterfront in Manhattan. They also had a second dream, which was we feel disconnected up here. We’ve got two ends of our community Puerto Rico on the East End an African-American community on the west end. And we’ve had a divide between us — what would it take to heal this divide and actually imagine a cultural asset that could really support both of us.

And they began envisioning a cultural center where Harlem was an end point that people wanted to come to that would learn about these rich cultures as global assets. So, they then envisioned a cultural performance art and teaching center. And they also said, what would it take to help us be more connected? And they realized that having a stop on the public transit system so that they were more linked to the economic vitality and social of all of Manhattan would bring people to them, but also allow them to connect to the larger assets of the region.

So, these two things of the transportation and also the cultural center, which were finally manifested and completed, and the Julia Burgos Center is a beautiful place where poets and masterclasses and drumming and other things occur on a regular basis. It honors the cultures — all the cultures of West Harlem. And the park now is dedicated in a place that their own community benefits from, but that also is linked to the larger park system within Manhattan.

So, I think they are a brilliant example of how communities are taking power not just saying no, but getting to the decision making table on an ongoing basis and beginning to imagine the future that they really want for their own communities now and for future generations.

DAVID:
Yeah, I love it too. I love the idea of a permanent seat at the table because it would just not be beneficial to have to get one every time and to realize oh wait there’s — there’s decision making happening and let’s do our — you know it’s like if you’re at the table then you understand what is happening. You need to be in the flow of ideas of governmental decisions. So, I really like that.

PALOMA:
And as we’re facing climate disruption in all our communities it’s important to have every part of the community present not only for prevention and being able to secure one another in — in dangerous times whether it’s flooding like I know you’ve had here. So how do we begin to be at the table and have community organizations? And what we’re calling rough weather networks. So that we’re actually becoming resilient leaders as you are training people for here at Naropa.

What happens often in these communities is that we have an expression which is when you’re not at the table you end up on the menu. When you’re not at the table you’re on the menu.

DAVID:
Wow, truth!

PALOMA:
So imagine you’re in a community where all of a sudden the place where you live has just been designated by someone that you don’t know — a faceless bureaucratic institution in a timing and process that you have no knowledge of and all of a sudden the entire character of your community is going to change because there’s going to be a sewage treatment plant in the place that you thought was your playground for your kids.

So, in this case, the community had been through a number of successful fights and had —

DAVID:
Successful fights.

PALOMA:
Yes, and one of them was stopping the diesel trucking industry from going through their neighborhood — primarily into Manhattan. So, the asthma rates were skyrocketing in West Harlem over any other part. Again, it’s sort of a kind of dumping that’s going on — pollution. So they had just stopped this when they found out about the sewage treatment plant going in and they were able to legally organize and get a stay against that and that bought them time to get themselves organized to say if we want to say no to this, which is often how groups begin their intersection with the larger community is by saying no — saying you’re trying to do something and we’re actually going to have to stand up and say no for our lives. We can also think of the Exxon pipeline, Standing Rock — we’re saying no. Taking a stand.

So, often that interface begins because there’s an unconscious exploitive act that’s about to happen. And in order for community groups to survive — even though they’re already struggling with the day to days of survival hoping your kid doesn’t get shot on the way home from school you know is a big thing on your mind. Then all of the sudden you’ve got to take on stopping a sewage treatment plant from going on down the street. Or a toxic waste dump or something else like this.

So, I think the encounter often begins in a polarized situation with a no — with a standing up against — with a speaking truth to power moment, but from the successful groups that we’ve been working with it doesn’t end there. That’s a beginning point for becoming organized, for learning more about how decisions are made, for gaining power and then for beginning a visioning process where you actually create some space within the community time wise, energy wise to say what are our hopes and dreams? What is it that we really want for our children, for our legacy? Not what is some group someplace else deciding for us — displacement, gentrification but actually what’s the dream that we have? And what are the solutions that we have within us and within this community? Because what we’re learning is that frontline communities are brilliant — frontline communities have innovation, have strategies, have indigenous knowledge of their locales that is often an accessible to people who don’t live there and are making decisions remotely or through quote big data or through mapping processes that are often virtual and not even embodied.

So, what we’re excited about is unearthing, excavating, embodying that wisdom, knowledge, leadership and giving it a name, a prominence, an official — that they can stand in the face of that. And what we’re finding is that when we do that — when we actually interrupt these processes, stop the trend and redesign — we find out that not only do community groups make better decisions for their own communities, but they often have solutions for the whole of society.

DAVID:
I love that.

PALOMA:
So, we’re turning the pyramid on its head. We’re dismantling the pyramid. And we’re saying you know when we work in webs, when we work in circles, when we work from a grounded base of knowledge, truth and information often times groups that have lived there for generations — so it also has an ancestral base and knowledge that goes beyond quarter reports for timelines of financial return in our stock market view. And we actually see that there is knowledge about the true wealth of what can be gathered, gained and regenerated on the ground.

And so, when you asked us about Breakthrough Communities and how it got started what we love about this book is it’s not Paloma and Carl’s voice that’s here. These are the collection of voices from community groups on the ground who have led these innovations successfully — the struggles, the mistakes, the recoveries and —

DAVID:
The triumphs.

PALOMA:
The triumphs and the joy that is coming. And this is — this is what I think is really the moment that we’re living in now is that community groups are taking back — they’re taking back their energy generation. They’re taking back their food supplies. We’re becoming knowledgeable of our watersheds, of our air shadows, of the cycles of life that sustain what comes in and through and beyond our communities. And we’re taking hold of that.

CARL:
Yeah, I’d like to also add in a remarkable way the experience of the Harlem project that Paloma described was a project that was already organized and set up by people who had been in leadership of the decisions about where sewage treatment plants and you know where the transportation system was already established and communities had not been part of that process.

But at the other end of the spectrum and I’ll just mention two examples from the other end of the country. There was another project that we had an opportunity to learn about, which was the expansion of the L.A. airport. And it turns out that this was an 11 billion dollar expenditure. And the people in the communities really learned about this before the project had actually solidified and they said well they’re going to spend 11 billion dollars building an airport or extending the airport. What should we do about that? And since we had maybe 40 years’ worth of protests the first response was well, we should just protest and stop it. And then some other people thought well wait a minute hold it. They’re spending 11 billion dollars. Maybe there’s a way that we could think about this 11 billion dollars as a community asset. And they thought discuss this whole thing. The group that organized this was a group of immigrants — the immigrant cultures that had developed among the communities were people who were employed in the hotel industry.

So, they said what should we call ourselves? And you know somebody said well we can call ourselves the organization of unified people who have been exploited by X, Y and Z. And as they thought about this, they said well wait a minute hold it. Why don’t we think about what it is that our hope is for ourselves and call ourselves that? And they actually came up with a new name — they ended up saying the Coalition for a New Economy in Los Angeles and they actually came up with a kind of theoretical approach, which is a very practical approach to planning the airport expansion so that it would serve all of the people in Los Angeles not just a few. And we ended up with the development of basically the community benefits agreement, which is a development that is a way of capturing the intelligence of the whole community creating a legally binding result of the benefits that go to the different communities that had been previously ignored. And so, this particular development had 500 million dollars to be able to create benefits to the communities around the airport expansion so they could actually participate in that process.

DAVID:
That’s so amazing. And yeah it seems like there’s this version of where the ideas are created and where the ideas are implemented within the local governments — the people of multiracial communities don’t get a say. They don’t have a place to say anything. And what I love about your work and what you guys are doing is the fact that you bring that to light. You’re saying like hey there’s a whole community that is going to be affected by the decisions that are being made by people who are not hearing the voices that it should be an all-inclusive place to air out concerns, issues, ideas and you are giving the platform. One thing I’m noticing about the communities that are underserved is when they make decisions, they make decisions based in things that benefit everybody. They’re not making decisions based in what’s good for just them even though they need to do that. They’re making decisions based in what’s good for everybody. And it’s like those are decisions that the local government should be listening to all the time. They shouldn’t be making their own assessments. And looking at stats is way different than looking at emotions. You can’t statistically — maybe you can, but to put a freeway in front of someone’s backyard that affects the vibe and vibes are real and how people are affected emotionally. It really hits a center to your soul and to your heart and to your family. And I don’t think they do that. They just look at like the flow of traffic or what lights are working.

CARL:
This is a remarkable thing. And we talk about regional equity because the platform that we’ve been looking at is beyond the local neighborhood. The strength of our neighborhoods is that they are located together. And I wanted to just mention one other example of this where in Los Angeles and across the country many of the neighborhoods that were affected by the creation of a fund for free lunches at the schools — in the public schools the people in Los Angeles said wait a minute where is this food coming from? The agro business had wrapped up the whole business of the free lunches and was then being able to sell food from everywhere. And people raised this question and said how can we really solve the problem of hunger in our neighborhoods and communities? And they’ve realized we have local family farms in the Los Angeles region who could be supplying the free lunch foods to the inner city kids who don’t have access to it. And creating a kind of consciousness of where the foods come from. So, they created this process of the local family farms creating a market in their metropolitan regions to serve the low income communities in the schools as a kind of national strategy, which is taking place now across the country.

DAVID:
Yes empowerment. I love it. Paloma?

PALOMA:
Well, one of the things that I think is exciting also about this work is that it brings together the inner and the outer — so especially here at Naropa I feel like you are in a position to really lead this work nationally in many ways. And what I love about the synergy of Carl’s and my leadership together is that in the words spatial apartheid, which is beginning to understand how we have created divides. Like you said when you put a freeway in someone’s backyard, we cut them off from their neighbor and from the resources — the local community garden or the way their child was walking to school — something like this.

So, when we become aware of our spatial apartheid the way in which our unconsciousness becomes embedded in our built landscape — the ways in which our fear of one another gets designed into the way in which our cities are built — we can begin on both sides of that. We can start dismantling, reshaping and redesigning our cities so that they are more inclusive and flow. And reconnect one another across the walls you know and the freeways and begin building flow streams with one another and to the things that give vitality and give access to each neighborhood and integrating the neighborhoods.

So, what’s exciting I think as we integrate Carl’s specialty of architecture and planning and mine in ecopsychology is that we’re learning that when we look at our cities, they’re a mirror to us of our own consciousness and our own unconsciousness and our fears. And as we think about reimagining our cities, we can actually change the shape of what we’ve created in a way that actually lives the dream and the possibilities of what we all long for.

DAVID:
Yeah, I feel like there’s this need of redesigning cities completely because our needs are so different at this moment. We are so tight knitted communities that the flow of traffic, the flow of business, the flow of like community spaces, recreational, where foods grown — it feels like we it almost like tear cities down completely and redesign it in such a way where transportation is accessible everywhere for everyone. Education is at the points of interest for everyone. And I want to see like a city built with everyone in mind and not a city built like 100 years ago and then we’re just tearing down little pieces building it here and there. I want to see like a completely integrated city.

PALOMA:
Yay!

CARL:
There you go. That’s why we call it Breakthrough Communities.

PALOMA:
That’s why we call it Breakthrough Communities. So that breakthrough in thinking is exactly. And feeling and yes and embracing one another. And it’s a coming home. There’s a relief that starts happening. As we open and see that what we’re carrying around inside ourselves and what we created around us is kind of a fear story. And when we actually step into the fierce love story that we actually long for — we start having a much more joyful experience and one where we’re not at war with our earth community. Where we’re actually welcoming growing things in our backyards on our roofs where we’re seeing that space is imagined in a whole other way. And also, that we do need to live closer together if we’re going to preserve wilderness and agricultural land and green space that it’s essential that we learn how to be with one another. And we’re excited for this moment because we feel that it’s probably one of the most energizing innovating moments that I’ve ever lived through. And it’s accelerating.

CARL:
Well you know I think that the reality is — is that the crack in the sidewalk and the effort of the earth itself to push up in that crack and give birth to a dandelion in the middle of a concrete situation refined in many of the projects that we worked on including the military conversion of military bases that once the military bases have actually outlived their usefulness during their Cold War. We found that there were all these places — hundreds of military bases that we could reconfigure to begin to serve the neighborhoods and the communities that they live in. And so, we were successful in making film documentation on many of these places. And the film that we developed with Andrea Torrice is called The New Metropolis. It was shown in 160 metropolitan regions of the great possibilities that our neighborhoods and communities could be with one another and begin to build biodiversity and ecological diversity that is worthy of our status as members of the same national community who are bringing the strengths of our own individual cultures — mixing pot of everything. It was a really wonderful thing.

DAVID:
Yes, I’m hearing the importance of the internal garden and external garden of how we show for each other, how we make decisions based in how it benefits everybody not just like a certain few. And I really love this idea of how that actually like thickens the culture of communities and the cities in which we live in. And just bringing that to light because it’s super important and I really appreciate the work you do. I’m like getting — I like want to go to my local government right now and just say what’s up?

PALOMA:
Well, and actually I think part of what we’re moving into also is that we’re moving from a culture of protest to one of governance.

DAVID:
Yes! I hear that.

PALOMA:
And so, that one of the things that we love in working in sort of the area of leadership development is having folks begin to envision themselves as sitting on their city councils — being part of their various environmental commissions. Being at this decision making tables and also, we’re seeing this reflected nationally with a shift in our Congress. And those who are holding the values and vision of disadvantaged communities are coming to power. And we’re — we can do this. We are doing this.

CARL:
It’s a really remarkable thing. And we now have — is at 20 different candidates who are up for — put their names in the ring for presidency? And you know there were mayors of cities — there are at least a half dozen or maybe even more than that — mayors who have said, well you know I have the experience of running a city, which was diverse and this is a good basis for actually how do we lead our nation as a whole. And the fact that the people can think in terms of their role as a leadership of a city and a metropolitan region is a strong basis for actually their candidacy in the president. We’re now going to see in the 2020 election how we can really nourish that diversity. And at the same time come down to making some choices about who will help lead the whole country as we make a move to address the big challenges of our time — including climate change and some of the technologies that have been emerging across the world. And I think the fact that we realized that our neighborhoods and communities are people of color — our labor unions, our churches — many of these other places have enormous sets of experiences that can help guide that decision and we want that to be successful.

PALOMA:
Here at Naropa you have a new graduate program in resilient leadership. And I think this is a perfect example of how this new model of leadership of being able to hold the whole instead of being sort of a pyramid top down structure really creating planning that is engaged and we’re seeing new tools for this. We’re seeing engaged budgetary planning at a community level. We’re seeing the use of technology to include people’s voices rather than exclude them. There are new tools emerging out of technology that can actually increase our ability to be vibrant and resilient and be in a mutually enhancing relationship with the earth. And see that the earth also has rights and a voice — rights of nature. And in this process and also rights of youth and future generations and to really create processes where that counts.

So, we’re seeing the voices of youth rising up. Greta (?) is an example, but also the student strikes. But we’re also seeing not just strikes, but organizations like Earth Guardians. So, we’re excited about reimagining our curriculum. Because the young ones are going to be — these emerging leaders are going to be dealing with climate as one of the major factors of survival as we face option of extinction as an alternative. And we’re rallying and we’re seeing what is the kind of learning — the holistic systems thinking — kind of attunement to one’s own inner process and consciousness as Naropa teaches here, as well as, how we are attune to one another in community and then how we create larger systems that are based on this sense of authentic relationship inside with each other and to the larger earth community.

CARL:
And I would also add to that — that not only are we celebrating coming of age of our young people — potential leadership and the youngest candidate for president is actually from Indiana. And he’s 35 years old, but at the same time we have other candidates who represent the wisdom of our elders. And one of the things that we are learning is that we used to say, well when you get to be 60 years old you’ve really done everything you can do and then we throw those people away and get a new batch of 50 or 40 year olds. Now what we’re seeing is that the people are living longer and they have this potential of bringing together the wisdom of older people who’ve been around for many decades who are now reflecting on some of the mistakes that we made as younger people and how we can really begin to make that experience available to our young people as they try to create a new model of leadership for the whole country.

DAVID:
Yes. Yeah. I love it so much because there is this empowerment of young youth energy. There’s empowerment of ancestral roots and then there’s a bringing light to the fact that you can protest all you want, and you can be an us against them vibe, but what actually works is an us with us vibe. And all the —

CARL:
That’s pretty good.

DAVID:
Yeah.

PALOMA:
We say all in.

DAVID:
I’m all in with you. I’m on your team. I agree fully with that and we need to be inclusive with our local governments, our bigger governments, our decisions, our political stances. If it doesn’t work for all it doesn’t work. That’s the world that I want to live in. And we need to take care of our Earth. We need to take care of our psyches. We need to take care of our children and our elders. We need to take care of everything. And if we’re not taking care of things then we’re not doing it right. And we need to rethink that. We need to have an inclusive voice. We need to come together. And that’s like what you’re doing and it’s just so beautiful. My heart’s like thumping so hard. I’m feeling really just gooey inside. And I just love it so much. So, you guys wrote a book together it’s called, Breakthrough Communities: Sustainable and Justice in the Next American Metropolis. And it’s a very beautiful thick book and it — like you said there’s a lot of voices in here. And then what do we have? We have another book too. So, this is — this is a Carl Anthony book. The Earth, The city and the Hidden Narrative of Race. And I encourage everyone to get these books and oh we got one more. And this is Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty and this is from Paloma. Right?

PALOMA:
Yes.

DAVID:
Yeah. This one’s like a poetry book and then you also have a website as well — so do you want to just go ahead and shout out your websites where people can find you and find the work you do?

PALOMA:
Sure. That’s breakthrough communities dot info. And we also have Earth City Race dot net. So, breakthrough communities dot info.

We’re on the road right now doing community mobilization and what we’re doing is we’re embodying the different practices that we’ve been learning and — and we’d love to come to your community.

DAVID:
And we love having you and your stories and the work you’ve done is just so beautiful to me. And it’s very enlightening and I’m seeing as I move forward with the conversation of bringing communities together, bringing voices gather — I’m realizing that the — the marginalized communities when they speak, they have everybody in mind. They’re not messing around. They want what’s best for everyone because what’s best for them is best for everyone. And the people making the decisions seem like they make decisions based on their sort of I guess privileged statistics or privileged stances and it’s — it’s not fair.

We can protest but showing up in government, empowering yourselves, having an inclusive voice that’s where it’s at.

PALOMA:
And co-creating solutions.

DAVID:
Yes. I wouldn’t consider myself so involved in the community and local government decisions, but there’s something about how both of you — the work you’ve done and it’s very inspirational to be involved and to want to grow deeper with my community. I feel a deeper sense of community at this moment. I really appreciate the work you’ve done and the legacies that you are giving us and the abilities and availabilities to allow people to make them see that it’s possible — we can do this. And the thing is we have to do this together. And it’s just so beautiful to hear that from you. And I just really appreciate it. I just really appreciate you speaking with me and I appreciate you just being here.

CARL:
Well thank you very much for having us. And we realize that we’ve learned so much from the environmental movement — how we appreciate endangered species. And rather than saying well since they’re endangered species let’s just run them out of existence and get rid of them. We’ve realized that these are treasures. And our communities are also endangered, and we have the opportunity to use the strength of our communities as a teaching tool and a leadership tool that will lead us from the chaos of our climate change to a social and racial justice, which can build upon a harmony of all the communities involved.

DAVID:
Yes. And Paloma you want to say something?

PALOMA:
I wanted to just say that the joy of doing this interview together. And for inviting us to this shared space and I’d like to honor you Carl on your 80th year. You’re —

CARL:
80 years that’s right.

PALOMA:
80 years as an elder and also as a visionary of the environmental justice movement in our country and what a joy it’s been to be on this journey with you these 20 years and that one of the things that I continue to learn from you as an architect and planner is that we have made these things and we can remake them. We have invented them, and we can reinvent them. And that we are, as humans, we are inventors, makers, doers and we can take this on.

DAVID:
Thank you so much again. And I honor both of you and it was it was such a treat to speak with both of you because the synergy between you both — the work — you have like a long working relationship and you can just tell within the conversations that we’re having and it’s just so beautiful to see it in action.

So, thank you so much again.

CARL:
Thank you for having us.

PALOMA:
Thank you, David.

DAVID:
So, I would like to thank my guests again who are here speaking to the Naropa community and to the podcast as special guests with the Earth Justice Week. We have Dr. Paloma Pavel who’s an eco-psychologist and Carl Anthony who is an architect and urban planner. They are both educators, writers and they both co-founded the breakthrough communities — an organization dedicated to building multiracial leadership and sustainable communities.

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On behalf of the Naropa community thank you for listening to Mindful U. The official podcast of Naropa University. Check us out at www.naropa.edu or follow us on social media for more updates.

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