What do Block Island, Iceland, Providence, and Wiscasset, Maine all have in common?* Well actually, throw in the whole earth to that question and the answer becomes both easier and more difficult: Climate Change.
Rising sea level and melting glaciers are huge and complicated problems, but like any giant tasks, they are best considered, and reacted to, with small discrete actions. If we accept that we live in a world where everything is connected, then we must accept/believe that our actions - even small ones - have an affect on everything - even giant things...including climate change.
In the last 2 weeks I've attended 2 workshops about how we, as environmental educators, can work to make the fact of climate change more understandable, less debilitating, and, (to use the jargon) to make us, and our communities, more resilient to the effects of climate change in our surroundings.
The first workshop (March 12) was in Providence, RI sponsored by the Metcalf Institute. It focused on "how to translate scientific data to engage your audiences" , in other words we were encouraged to use the power of story (personal, reporting, historic) and acknowledge our changing environment while promoting alternative actions that are healthier for individuals, communities and the earth. Included in the discussion was how alternative ways of presenting data (think art, sound, social media, etc.) can reach people in ways that may be more effective for fostering understanding, and in turn changes in behavior.
The second conference (March 20) was in Wiscasset, ME at Chewonki, and was sponsored by the Maine Environmental Education Association. At this gathering my focus was "Climate change: communities taking their knowledge to action." Here I was inspired by the role of citizen science as a tool to educate, and develop participation that can both produce important data and encourage behavior changes - even small ones. Included were great suggestions for on-line tools that can be used to assist and support such projects, as well as great examples of actual community involvement programs and projects.
Obviously, I've just touched on the "tip of the iceberg" of fun and useful things that I've been able to learn about, and been able to discuss with others of like mind. Now for the field work... stay tuned.
*Alternate answer to opening sentence questions: places that I have been lucky enough to be in during the last month.