Paloma Pavel: Reimagining Community Organizing & Environmental Literacy

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, keynote speaker at Naropa’s 2019 Earth Justice Day on the topic of ‘The Earth, the City and the Hidden Narrative of Race’.

play-iconPaloma Pavel: Reimagining Community Organizing & Environmental Literacy

“It’s been a great joy and privilege in my life to work with individuals, with communities, with groups—sometimes in traditional organizations and non-profits—sometimes at a community level. We’re living in a time where I think we’re being called to move from a politics of protest and saying no to one of saying yes, and of governance, and of really learning how to take charge of the basic infrastructure of our lives. Communities are taking back locally produced energy and energy grids. People are working on knowledge about where their water comes from and soil—and also their sense of meaning and community and creativity and art in the broadest sense of: how do we imagine a new culture that is truly inclusive of all?”

Full transcript below.

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.

Full transcript
Paloma Pavel
Eco Psychology: Imagining a New Culture Inclusive for All

[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 itÕs 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 podcast and the Naropa community. Dr. Paloma Pavel. She is here visiting Naropa as the guest speaker for the Earth Justice Day with her friend Carl Anthony. She is a writer, an educator and activist, an eco-psychologist, co-founder of The Breakthrough Community project and is president of the Earth House Center. Thank you for speaking with me today. How are you?

PALOMA:
I’m thrilled to be here, David.

DAVID:
Awesome. Yeah, and we actually had a conversation yesterday with both you and Carl and it was such a treat. And so, I got to kind of hear all the work you do and it’s so inspiring and I’m just really excited to dive deeper into the individuality of your work and kind of what’s going on in your life.

So how was it hanging out with Naropa? What was that like being on our campus, speaking to our students and hanging out in like the council groups?

PALOMA:
Well we’re gathering here on Earth Day and Earth Justice Week and it’s spring. And there is life bursting forth in this beautiful Colorado mountain air and sky and bright blossoms and daffodils. And the same is happening in the spirit and activity in the hearts and minds of the students and faculty and administration here. I feel that it’s really an embodiment of hope and what we’re calling active hope — of — hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.

So, we’re creating hope by the embodiment of possibilities and solutions that are occurring at this moment of climate disruption and global crisis.

DAVID:
Yes. Yes. Thank you for sharing.

PALOMA:
So, it’s been fabulous.

DAVID:
Yeah it has. And it’s definitely spring so there’s definitely some magic in the air and I know the community was really enjoying your presence and your talks and I was like hearing feedback from everyone and just — they’re having like such a good time.

So, I just kind of wanted to start off with — as I was researching you you’ve done a lot of things. And I’m just curious could you break it down for me when it comes to the activism, to the ecopsychology, to the — being a writer and educator and then you have like a couple organizations — can you just tell me like how do you hold all that together and what does each facet do for you and how do you work with those?

PALOMA:
Thank you, David. So, as president of Earth Health Center this is the city reflection of earlier land base — one of the first deep ecology leadership centers in the United States — on the coast of Maine.

And that was work that grew out of my work in a contemplative Christian Buddhist community called, The Benedictine Grange with Brother David Steindle-Rast. So, part of my lineage is being in an Earth-based way and looking at the intersection of racial and social justice and leadership development in relation to place and ultimately this place — this fragile planet that we all call home — this earth water planet and this part of the cosmos.

So, all of the work that I do over time has been in different places. But growing out of that commitment on the one hand to environmental activism and on the other hand, working with people and unleashing our treasurer — our gift — our — each one of us is called at this moment of great transformation on the planet.

And we all have an important part to play and it’s been a great joy and privilege in my life to work with individuals, with communities, with groups — sometimes in traditional organizations and non-profits — sometimes at a community level. We’re living in a time where I think we’re being called to move from a politics of protest and saying no to one of saying yes, and of governance of really learning how to take charge of the basic infrastructure of our lives. Communities are taking back locally produced energy and energy grids. People are working on knowledge about where their water comes from and soil and — and also their sense of meaning and community and creativity and art in the broadest sense of how do we imagine a new culture that is truly inclusive of all.

So, my work has taken different shapes in — in different places where IÕve lived and worked, but it’s actually always coming out of the same soil. This intersection of people in place. And in the Bay Area where I currently live and work and explore and invent — we have been working on regional collaboration and building across nine counties responding from the voices and the experience of the most vulnerable communities — creating climate action solutions and preparing both for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

We’re also dealing with how we hold our own grief and our own aspirations and longings for what we can still be as a people to one another. And how do we bring our greatest courage to this moment and really learn how we can be both at service to this moment in time and — and also to one another. And Carl and I have been on a national tour doing community mobilization with a new book, The Earth, the city and the Hidden Narrative of Race.

And this community mobilization experience — whether we’re in Seattle or New York City or the Bay Area or rural places — coming to Boulder, Denver — is learning from communities sort of how climate is showing up, how sustainability is showing up in each of those places and how people can learn to work across silos to be more impactful and effective in reimagining and regenerating.

And we’re looking at the intersection of environment, economy, and social equity — the three E’s. So, we’re finding that sustainable solutions incorporate all of those. We’re also seeing that by leading from those who are most vulnerable and most disadvantaged we create better solutions for everyone.

DAVID:
Yes. Yes. I love how you said there’s an origin to everything and then there’s different pinpoints of where you work from, but it all starts from the same center. I really enjoy that because I feel that too it’s like you have an internal constitution of where you resign in and align with. And then from there then you work out and do the multiple things of community organizing, community building, government engagement, climate activism, climate change kind of work — so it’s like you have all these different things you work on, writing a book, traveling — just doing the good work and so it’s just amazing to hear how that has a center origin.

PALOMA:
I guess part of the verb of Paloma is that I like to think about people as we’re both waves and particles. So, we might have a certain form that we present in at a particular time, but underneath that we’re a wave. We have a specific kind of gift talent energy and so I keep saying yes to new possibilities in addition to working in sort of ecopsychology and individuals — groups and organizations. And I love the work in strategic planning and strategic organizing but also the deep transpersonal work — the transformation of consciousness where each one of us is being unleashed in this moment in new ways.

And there’s a fire in our bellies and a spark in our hearts. But there’s also the invitation from the places where we live and the challenges that our communities are facing that brings forth those gifts and talents even more. And I’m really excited about that too. And we’ve been sharing that this week that as people become more active responding to climate — whether it’s working in food justice or affordable housing or just transportation or reimagining of our curriculum in schools and university settings — what is it that we truly need to learn discover build and design? Going forward it’s exciting to see how as we become engaged the work grows us. The work evolves us. So, I think that part of the new meditation is really putting our shoulders to the wheel and seeing how this work is calling us forward.

DAVID:
Yes. When you’re talking about waves and particles that’s my language. I’m all about waves and particles and how we show up whether it’s energetic waves, the photon light waves, or sound waves. There’s so many different waves. I also like the fact that the work that you do can manipulate and or shift the wave in which you think you are in the moment. So, it’s like you do all this good work and then you’re actually changing the way that the wave affects you and or the waves in which you’re putting out to other people. So, I really like that.

PALOMA:
So, you were remarking about some of the different settings that were working in so California is in a distinct moment where we have the opportunity to create an environmental literacy curriculum for the state of California. Legislation has been passed supporting this and we’ve been working with a number of groups including 10 strands on reimagining and designing curriculum in the K through 12 space for environmental literacy from and environmental justice lens.

So that’s a very exciting project. Working with educators. And also, with teachers. But students — the students are teaching us a lot about project-based learning and how they come alive and also integrating steam in science-based learning, but also as things that incorporate arts and imagination. So that’s been one exciting front of our work and then also in public policy. I’ve been invited to train for women who are being encouraged to run for public office in the state of California. And that’s been a very exciting process of deepening my own knowledge of public policy and how we move and change the frameworks and rules of the game. What’s possible in our communities both locally statewide and nationally. And I think this is a very important moment in which women are being called to public office across the country.

So, whether it’s serving on local commissions for environmental quality or the Metropolitan Transportation Commission working with Bay Conservation Development Commission. I see these as applications of the moment we’re living in and translating it into different languages whether it’s education or public policy.

DAVID:
Yes, beautiful. So, we had a little discussion before we started the podcast and you talking about Emerge California. Can you just explain that to the audience what that actually is? So, you’re telling me it’s about like getting involved in local government inserting more women into power of decision-making processes. Apparently, you were nominated or you’re being seen as someone who —

PALOMA:
Selects.

DAVID:
…is been selected to show up to help local government. Can you tell us what that process is and what emerges is?

PALOMA:
Mm hmm. So, women are running for public office and winning in record-breaking numbers right now — it’s very exciting. And in many cases, there are new tools that are available and I would love for women who hear this as well as men, but that this is really a moment in time when you were re-imagining how we govern, how we organize decision making.

So, Emerge California began in Northern California the first branch grew out of Oakland and expanded to the state of California. And it’s been extremely successful as a — as a teaching and training tool for leadership development and it includes a wide range of skills and skill building for women. Everything from policy and assembling a team to practical aspects of how you file and how you respond to the restrictions and — and regulations that are needing to be learned if you’re going to be effective and — and also how to get your message out — how to reach and build across constituencies for not only running, but winning in public office. So I highly recommend emerge as an organization that is now in many, many states across the United States and has had a very high percentage of women who go through the — in some cases it’s a yearlong program and others they’re doing it in different formats, but it’s teaching and training women to not only become candidates but to win running for public office.

DAVID:
Ok, so it’s an organization to help prepare women and people to insert themselves into local government?

PALOMA:
It’s not only local — it’s run for public office.

DAVID:
Wow.

PALOMA:
Run for public office.

DAVID:
Wow! Emerge.

PALOMA:
So, and also, I think when we begin thinking about our place in the public arena and expanding that space that we can occupy. I like to think about it as sort of being at service to widening circles of the issues that we care about. And so, I don’t think women need to limit themselves to running only locally. It can be — but we can get started anywhere. And I think that’s something that people often don’t know that there are boards and commissions in our local communities where — which are a wonderful place to get going and in fact in the Bay Area we have a boards and commission leadership institute that’s based at Urban Habitat which Carl founded and this trains people through the boards and commission process.

And it’s another one of these scaffoldings where people can begin to see themselves as — as we say, we need to be at the table and not on the menu. So, we need to be at the table where decisions are being made. And not on the menu being subject to decisions that are being made about us. So, anything about us should be with us and not without us.

[00:15:39.11] DAVID:
Yes, ok. Well, congratulations. That sounds like a beautiful opportunity and it sounds like it’s a beautiful opportunity for a lot of people. And honestly when I think about local government and or just big government — I have no idea where to start. You know like — do you just show up for a job interview? Is it like — do you have to be certainly qualified to even show up or — you know that’s not like a Craigslist ad or anything?

PALOMA:
Thank you. And I love your questions because it is mysterious. And we’re kind of on the other side of it and really there are so many places to get started. And I love the boards and commissions because they are often places that you don’t have to run. You can apply or be appointed by your city council or other bodies. And there are so many kinds — so there are hazardous waste. I’m on the Environmental Quality Commission for my local city there. There are arts commissions. There are all kinds of commissions of —

DAVID:
Food, transportation —

PALOMA:
You name it.

DAVID:
Housing, Parks and Rec.

PALOMA:
Exactly. And if you — yeah and when you get started on that — then you learn about other ones and you see how it’s interconnected. And you see how you can begin influencing policy right in your own backyards — rather than feeling that there’s mysterious entities that are making decisions. You’re there influencing that. And then from there you begin to see how city government or localities or counties are organized — and it’s different in different states how those decisions are made. But I think we’re living in a very exciting time for the local — for the neighborhood. Professor Janine Canty has just published a new book on localization and globalization. And so, I think we’re finding that all these large issues that were once thought of as overwhelming and global issues are all being reflected in our local communities. We’re seeing climate change by flooding or high tides. We’re not far away from these large issues that are going on. And we can begin working together, linking arms and in fact that’s what’s needed. And we are doing it. We’re rising to it.

[00:17:58.17] DAVID:
We are. Thank you so much. And shout out to Janine Canty who is the Naropa teacher —

PALOMA:
And the resilient leadership program here. I think all of the things that we’re talking about right now are about how do we build and grow resilient leadership in ourselves, in our families, in our communities, in our regions and a resilient leadership, which is enduring across time, across generations and builds on the skills and talents that each of us have.

DAVID:
Building a type of leadership that is based in good decisions from the get go and not someone who’s in leadership making bad decisions. Being resilient, being fruitful and understanding your community in which you are making decisions upon. So, I feel like these are very important things to consider when going into positions of power and leadership is to get your morals straight and get your ideas right and be able to connect with a body of people to make them benefit from the decisions in which that are made.

PALOMA:
We had a really exciting experience of participatory decision making. And there are more and more tools available to us including online tools to assist with participatory budget making with planning processes that engage more larger bodies and more people. And we were really excited in the Bay Area when SB 375 — one of our new climate legislation called for building sustainable community strategies. And the Bay Area community groups in environment and social justice came together and created a community-based plan that actually ended up outperforming the one that was created by planners and professionals in the field.

And I think this is a good example of how people who are on the frontlines often have genius, have innovation, have successful strategies and we need to listen not only to ourselves, but to one another to build these powerful solutions.

DAVID:
Yeah, being a good leader half of it is listening. Half of it is just understanding the populations we work with and understanding their needs. It’s not this like individualized idea making that needs to happen. So, thank you so much for bringing that up.

I want to shift gears a little bit. So, I heard you were in Japan on a Fulbright scholarship.

PALOMA:
That’s true — that’s true.

DAVID:
And I’m curious how was that? What were you teaching? What did you get involved in and just tell me like maybe some exciting moments? I’m just really curious what that was about because that has been a place I’ve always wanted to go to. But you actually got a scholarship and were able to go and teach and just experience the whole thing.

PALOMA:
And I’d love for people to know more about the opportunities through Fulbright. Because I think this is actually one of the places where an example of good government because this is funded by the State Department and the Fulbright — there are many, many kinds of FulbrightÕs. The particular one that I was doing is called a Fulbright Specialist grant.

DAVID:
So, there’s multiple FulbrightÕs.

PALOMA:
Many kinds for different stages of your life and career and for students as well as faculty and also for independent professionals.

DAVID:
Do they do podcasts FulbrightÕs?

PALOMA:
They actually do as a matter of fact. I can share with you there are people who have gone over and set up radio stations for communities or helped them on a particular strategy or initiative as a technical assistance. So, let’s —

DAVID:
We’ll talk later.

PALOMA:
We’ll circle up on that one.

So, in this case, I went working on leadership development in the face of climate change and I was based and hosted by Tokyo Institute of Technology and they were launching a new global leadership academy there. And in fact, it began the day that I arrived. And so, I was able to meet with and be part of the launch of that, which was very exciting. And my host there was Professor (?) Nakano who had been a student of mine years before at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.

And my work in Japan really began about 25 years ago in which deep ecology and the work that reconnects came to Japan. And I had the opportunity to begin teaching community groups and in schools and universities — and what was super exciting this particular trip was to go back and meet many people who are now themselves teachers, community leaders, elected officials who are building on and expanding and teaching me at this point from their own experience. And to see that early collaboration — that kind of citizen to citizen diplomacy happening twenty-five years ago and now seeing it grow in regions from Yakushima in the far south to Rokkashow and Fukushima in the far north and in city centers like Kyoto and Yokohama and Kamakura and Tokyo.

So, my trip was varied. It included being part of a conference and I think this might be of interest to your Naropa audience that it was a conference on Zen 2.0. How do we reimagine and reinvent the role of Buddhism and an approach to Buddhism that really responds to the needs of the 21st century? And I had the privilege of being able to facilitate part of the conference and work with the staff who are organizing it and — and Kamakura is one of the places where Zen Buddhism first launched in — in Japan. And to see this reimagining happening a long time after that initial — is very exciting and also Kamakura is imagining itself and aspiring to be a mindful city. So not just to have a conference once a year, but to actually bring it into the practice of the economy and of business and of education. Exactly and to create a mindful university that would also bring Buddhist principles into daily life.

So really challenging this idea of Buddhism existing sort of within monasteries exclusively but more infusing every aspect of life. And that was thrilling and that was kind of the beginning of my Fulbright time in Japan.

DAVID:
So, it sounds like you went to a lot of different places and we’re doing a lot of different things. How long were you actually there for?

PALOMA:
I was there this time for a little over two months.

DAVID:
Very cool.

PALOMA:
In the far south, Yakushima is a UNESCO historic site and it’s known for what’s called the Yakusuki — the special cedar tree, which they have one tree that’s touted to be 5,000 years old that’s a national historic tree. And many, many trees — there’s something about the precise ecosystem on Yakushima island in the far south where it gets one of the highest rainfalls in all of Japan. So, this particular type of cedar — and listening to the voices of nature and of the indigenous land in Yakushima was a great joy. And to see (?) retreat that Professor Nakano has built on Yakushima island. And then we proceeded to Kyoto and Yokohama and other places in regions around Japan and then being in residence at Tokyo Institute of Technology. And — and really hearing the hearts and minds of students who are geniuses in engineering and applied science, but who are really longing for their technical expertise to solve true pressing issues of our time. And not simply be harnessed by corporate necessities and — and drives and agendas.

So that was one of the great inspirations for me was seeing how students just as there are here in Naropa and in California are really aspiring to have their technical knowledge be at service to what is truly needed at this time. And to see also that same phenomena happening among faculty and students at Tokyo Institute of Technology. And then one of the sites that was very inspiring to me was Fujino, which is the first Asian transition town. And it’s a place where Tokyo is being dedicated to creating a post fossil fuel, post nuclear city that can actually be regenerative and to see the day that we arrived off the train there was an alternative energy workshop going on where some of the graduate students at Tokyo Tech were there and assisting. I think the youngest was 11 years old — this young boy and this woman who was in her 80s were there and they were learning how to create battery operated solar cell that could actually replace the water heaters.

So, assist with heating hot water in homes by learning how to construct your own solar unit. And that was super exciting and — and also seeing local currency being used there in Fujino, other recycling of crafts into multiple industries, food justice and also food products being manufactured and they’re doing a lot of co-operative work. They have chicken farms and chicken ranch and sheep ranches where six to 10 households will get together and even though it may be difficult for one family to house and maintain chickens or bees or any farm-based urban setting by combining their interests and their capacities they’re able to share that with several households. So that was exciting to see that going on.

DAVID:
That’s so amazing. I love the idea of having a Buddhist lens when it comes to sustainable community engagement, sustainable local city planning. I really find that the Buddhist principles are based in benefit for all. And so, when you have that as a route initiative to move forward in things that you’re working on with a community setting — you tend to not fail. You tend to do really well and it tends to benefit all. And it has like such a beautiful display of what could be and what we could be doing. And I love how you just went there and got to experience all this and educate them and be educated and just take it all in.

PALOMA:
And I think this principle we’ve been exploring here today about co-arising — that as kind of mutually interdependent core rising — that as community groups come together there is from a systems perspective an emergent property that happens. Something occurs that’s larger than what any one individual could come up with as a solution. And seeing communities coming together there’s — gives birth to another third intelligence that is in the space between each other. And that is very exciting and I think that many other cultures know more about that spirit of collaboration and I think I learned a lot from my Japanese colleagues there.

And particularly because they’re facing some very huge challenges with Fukushima, which is where I closed my Fulbright experience with a learning journey to Fukushima. And working closely with people who have been at service since 3-11 and what we’re learning is that there is a very big challenge because the meltdown is still occurring and the radiation is still active and will be for some time. And Fukushima is a major teaching center for the world right now. We need to understand that radiation knows no national boundaries — that Fukushima is here. Fukushima is here. That the lessons, the tragedy and the experience of that triple disaster where we had an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear meltdown all occurring in one place is part of why we need to accelerate immediately our movement to a post-nuclear, post-fossil fuel age where we are moving to clean green renewable energy and where we are really looking at what is community for and questioning what all this is that we’re producing and making and — and creating. And is it really making us happier and more effective as a human species? And what — what is it that we’re really longing for and wanting to create and do and make with the very precious resources that we have, which we now need to recycle, repurpose and change from an extractive economy to a renewable regenerative economy.

DAVID:
Exactly. Thank you.

So it seems like you’re doing so much and you’re just so active in the community and just like in your life and it’s so beautiful to hear that like the heart engagement in the forward movement and the energetic things that you’re putting forth and sounds like you’re doing a lot, but I’m actually just curious what are you excited in the moment and what are you currently working on?

PALOMA:
Well something that keeps surprising me is how the work that Ann Herbert and I launched with the Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty —

DAVID:
And this is the book you have —

PALOMA:
Yes. And so, we co-authored this book in the 1990s in response to the Rodney King incident and the Persian Gulf War — the increasing violence — systematic violence that was occurring. And what can we do in response to this? And so, the phrase Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty is actually a meme that we innovated — designed in response to random violence and senseless acts of cruelty. And I think that’s part of it’s — it’s magic in sort of breaking this trance. And why people have taken to it so strongly and it’s spun off in so many directions over these several decades. And we wanted to bring back a 25th-anniversary edition to take it back to its political roots and its radical start.

And we were thrilled when Archbishop Tutu — whom we have known and worked with over time agreed to do the foreword to this book.

DAVID:
Oh beautiful.

PALOMA:
And it’s a beautiful foreword and the book received a gold medal and Peacemaker Book of the Year award. What I love in this forward that Desmond Tutu wrote is he speaks about our need to become life artists and that we need to see ourselves as inventors and creators in each moment. And to be sort of living at this edge that we’re in right now with a sense of bold creativity and innovation.

I was further surprised when the day that Trump was elected many of us were feeling a sense of dismemberment and it was Maria Shriver who went on internet and said that part of how she was getting through this time was in some of the jewels that were in this book and she pulled it off the shelf and began reading from it. And so, I wanted to — to share a couple of phrases from it.

DAVID:
Please do.

PALOMA:
So, it begins with what we’ve been talking about today. Our leaders got confused. So, we’re all leaders now. They told us there was nothing we could do. They were wrong. And when we tell ourselves there’s nothing we can do. We are wrong. Anything we want there to be more of don’t wait for reasons. It will make itself be more mindlessly. We never know how much. And we never know how far it goes, but always we have power.

And further on in the book — the steps we take now make New Earth grow beneath our feet. The steps we take now decide what kind of earth that will be. And in the — in the closing of it — there are millions of new dances that we can do together minute to minute. And we’re right on the edge of also destroying ourselves out of life because we’re too scared to have that much delight. We’re right on the edge. In every moment we live we have the choice to find the fight or make delight. We have power. It is a circle. Let’s start the dance.

DAVID:
That’s so good.

PALOMA:
So, I guess I want to also say that one of the great joys of my life has been reaching out to Archbishop Tutu when I was a graduate student — being with the students this week. It really reminded me of that — of how we had a deep longing to really impact a larger social change situation, at that time, especially concerned about apartheid in South Africa.

So, we wrote to community groups and heard back from Archbishop Tutu who said we need your support and interest and your concept of a divestment campaign is sound. It will cause additional suffering at this time, but please allow us to be the directors of this movement and of this initiative and to guide you to be community driven and directed from South Africa. And that was an amazing strategy and it was successful at Harvard University. And then going across the United States and even today as the fossil fuel divestment campaign is starting up it’s using some of the same — similar framework strategies and tactics that we were guided in by the South African people themselves for their own liberation.

So, I think in this moment to really reach out and wherever we are and link arms to those who represent the deepest and widest values of service and nobility of the human spirit can often have surprising results. And how would I ever imagine that 40 years later this movement would still be going on — that we would be impacting the fossil fuel divestment and that I’d be in contact with Archbishop Tutu writing the foreword of this book. It’s really a delight. And I think that as we let go of our narrow identity-based sense of who our selves are and give ourselves to the aspiration and times that we’re living in — we are growing — we’re becoming new people. And the road — the steps we take now make New Earth grow beneath our feet — that we’re actually literally the world is reimagining herself through us as we give ourselves to this new life and new work across boundaries.

And right now, we’re working with youth groups in Bayview Hunters Point and in East Palo Alto. We’re really excited about a project this summer of where the youth are going to be leading us as they do a survey on climate impacts because they’re sandbagging in the schools now with high tides and water rising in the Bay Area.

So, the future is now. The future is now and the youth are leading us — we’ll be partnering with them and bringing some tools to the schools of digital storytelling and camerawork and whatnot and we’ll be telling our story and documenting our story as we go — it would be fun to come back in a year and — and share with you what we discover this summer —

DAVID:
You are so welcome.

PALOMA:
Because we are going for it with a youth-led intergenerational movement for climate justice in the Bay area. We’re going to be doing surveys in English and Spanish with how community groups see their vulnerability of responding to rising tides and also the flooding that’s beginning to occur. And we’re looking at what are the tools of urban agriculture, food justice, watersheds, air sheds and we’re learning citizen science. We’re taking air samples and learning how to actually have the tools to monitor our own security and safety of basic resources — elements and resources — water, air, land. And this is all being intergenerationally led with — with youth being a part of it and we’re excited. So that’s the dance that we’re starting right now.

DAVID:
Oh my God, I — in the dance as you keep moving forward with this dance you are leaving the — the world and the earth a better place. It’s — it’s this idea of our cognitive minds can decide what the future looks like, but we need the momentary actions to make it what we want it and for what’s suitable for the future generations. And I love how you’re talking about like you’re walking — that’s how I like came over that little sentence — was as you’re walking like you pick your foot up and there’s a flower just growing as where you just stepped and it’s like we need to be making those steps — regenerative actions towards the earth and towards how we even interact — it doesn’t even have to be planting seeds physically it can be energetic seeds as well. So, it’s just so beautiful to hear all this work that you do.

PALOMA:
And it can start right in your own backyard.

DAVID:
Yes!

PALOMA:
It can start in your kitchen. It can start with inviting your friends over. It can start by working with your cohort group in the resilient leadership program at Naropa and project-based learning and learning about what the students are doing and — and learning culturally relevant practices where we embrace and appreciate each other’s cultures without appropriating them and respecting them. And learning to work across divides. It’s been my privilege to work with Carl as an African-American architect and urban planner and working in multiracial communities that this is really a moment whereas we become a majority people of color nation and California’s already a majority people of color state — that we see that this is particularly for wherever we sit in that spectrum and river of cultures of which we are all a part — that we all have a part to play. And that we are all needed. Each one of us is needed now more than ever. And this is a courageous moment to be living in. Thank you, David.

DAVID:
Yeah. And that’s why we’re here. And thank you so much for speaking with me today. So, before we just go — can you just let the people know where they can find you, where they can find the work that you do and also the books that you have.

PALOMA:
So, Carl and I are on tour with The Earth, the city and the Hidden Narrative of Race and you can go to earthcityrace.net to learn more about this project authored by Carl Anthony and New Village Press. And Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty — and it’s beautifully illustrated by my Mayumi Oda edition — and it incorporates the animals of the (?) — 12th century scroll put into modern imagery and in context also by New Village Press and Breakthrough Communities which is a sustainability and justice in the next American Metropolis stories of success told in the voices of community groups on the ground in 12 regions across the United States. And this work also has the all in learning action guide that community groups can begin using in a community mobilization strategy. And we love hearing from folks at breakthroughcommunities@gmail.com

DAVID:
Ok, thank you so much. It was such a good conversation. I — I feel so good and just hearing all the work you’re doing and just the forward movement — I see the shift. And you are part of this shift and I — I really hope the — the emerge thing works out — we’re getting into government and I just love hearing about all these books that you are putting forth for the audience and the people just to like empower themselves and make good decisions and move forward and to like organize and come together and have the collective ideas — idealize and manifest itself for our next generations.

PALOMA:
We can take back democracy.

DAVID:
That’s right.

PALOMA:
And we are — we are the people.

DAVID:
That is democracy.

PALOMA:
And this is the time.

DAVID:
Yeah. Thank you so much.

So, I’d like again to thank my very special guest Dr. Paloma Pavel. She is visiting here as a guest speaker for the Earth Justice Day with her friend Carl Anthony. She is a writer, educator, activist, ecopsychologist, co-founder of Breakthrough Communities project and president of the Earth House Center.

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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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