Sunday, November 22, 2009

One Last Moment from Wild 9

A lot of people have asked me what the highlights of the Wild 9 experience were for me. While I have mentioned some of them previously, I have to say that the following moment resonated with me on a purely emotional level and for that reason, it will likely stay with me (and others) for a long while.

Ian McCallum, psychiatrist, physician and author of Ecological Intelligence. Rediscovering Ourselves in Nature, concluded his presentation by reciting a poem - from memory. While I don't recall the details of his presentation (sorry Ian, but I'm getting your book!) I do, most definitely, recall the poem ...

Wilderness, by Carl Sandburg

There is a wolf in me … fangs pointed for tearing gashes … a red tongue for raw meat … and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fox in me … a silver-gray fox … I sniff and guess … I pick things out of the wind and air … I nose in the dark night and take sleepers and eat them and hide the feathers … I circle and loop and double-cross.

There is a hog in me … a snout and a belly … a machinery for eating and grunting … a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun—I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fish in me … I know I came from saltblue water-gates … I scurried with shoals of herring … I blew waterspouts with porpoises … before land was … before the water went down … before Noah … before the
first chapter of Genesis.

There is a baboon in me … clambering-clawed … dog-faced … yawping a galoot’s hunger … hairy under the armpits … here are the hawk-eyed hankering men … here are the blond and blue-eyed women … here they hide curled asleep waiting … ready to snarl and kill … ready to sing and give milk … waiting—I keep the
baboon because the wilderness says so.

There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird … and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want … and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles in
the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes—And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.

O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my red-valve heart—and I got something else: it is a man-child heart, a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to God-Knows-Where—For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wild 9 Post Script

It’s all over but the work.

I have been struggling for 3 days to come up with an effective way to “wrap a bow” around the gift of Wild 9. It’s hard to see and hear everything that we saw and heard at the WWC without coming back to the everyday world highly energized, inspired and more than a little terrified. What are the big take away realizations for me? Small planet ….. smaller than we think. Big problems …. Bigger than we know or can fully understand. Time for solutions is verrrry short – shorter than we care to admit.

But Wild 9 introduced me to so many incredible thinkers, activists and worker bees from every strata of every society that I experienced a profound and deepening hope for our future. I most certainly felt a global reinforcement for what we at Art for Conservation are trying to do in our own small way – the arms and hearts of strangers patting the collective “us” on the back and saying “Nice work! Keep it up! Thanks for what you are doing.”

So, platitudes and affirmations aside, it’s time to get back to work with a knowledge that we are on the right path and that there are many, many others around the world ready and willing to collaborate, connect and conspire to save the planet and to work with the sense of urgency that is dictated by the crisis that grows every day in our air, our water and our landscapes.

To paraphrase President Obama, ”the fierce urgency of now” is indeed upon us and the common themes that inform our work are connectivity, communication and climate change. The party's over. Get to work!

Quotable Quotes from 9th World Wilderness Congress

1.“That just scared the hell out of me!” Art Wolfe, after viewing Jim Balog’s presentation on the
Extreme Ice Survey which is visually documenting the catastrophic decline of the world’s glaciers.

2. “Less than 1/5th of 1% of the world’s oceans are protected from fishing and yet oceans cover 75% of the earth’s surface.”
Brian Skerry on the rapid decline of our ocean ecosystems.

3.“The next 4-8 years are the most important years in human history.”
Bittu Sahgal, editor of Sanctuary magazine, India.

4.“We will not stop climate change if we don’t stop killing nature. It’s that simple.”
Harvey Locke, Canadian conservationist, one of the founders of the Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative.

5.“I awake each day torn between a desire to save the world and savor the world. It makes it hard to plan my day.” E.B. White


Linda Helm, VP

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Proof of the Power in Passion - Martha Isabel (Pati) Ruiz Corzo

My new inspiration comes disguised as a little fireball of a woman by the name of Martha Isabel (Pati) Ruiz Corzo. As I was working on the computer from our room yesterday morning, I had the live video stream from the conference on my computer running as well.
This woman was introduced and began speaking – in Spanish. I thought to myself “Oh well, I’ll leave it on anyway and maybe some Spanish words will sink into my brain while I work.” I soon realized that I had stopped typing and was mesmerized by this woman on the screen who was speaking with such passion that I was pulled into her spell without understanding the details. I was crying and applauding right along with everyone in the live audience for most of her presentation. When she ended by breaking into an a capella song and finished with audience participation on the chorus of “Amen, Amen, Amen” while she inserted verses – in English – about nature, I was completely overwhelmed, energized and inspired. And still sitting there by myself in my pajamas!

I had the opportunity later in the day to thank her in person for her presentation and as we shook hands, we both started crying all over again. I had just connected with a powerful force for nature – a tsunami disguised as a grandma and I will not forget her. She makes me believe that any one of us can make a difference if we choose to.

Below is her bio from the Wild 9 Program.

A recognized leader in Mexico’s civil conservation movement, Martha Isabel (Pati) Ruiz Corzo is known as one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve where she has served as Federal Director for more than a decade.
Martha Isabel (Pati) Ruiz Corzo, reconocida lideresa del movimiento civil conservacionista de México, ha sido una de las fuerzas que impulsaron la creación de la Reserva de la Biósfera de Sierra Gorda, misma que ha dirigido por más de una década.
Spanning more than one million acres, the reserve encompasses mountains and valleys of breathtaking beauty but is also home to more than 600 communities living in grinding poverty and battling high unemployment. Corzo’s leadership focuses on addressing and solving the region’s challenges through environmental education, land conservation and community development.
Ms. Corzo has received numerous awards for her innovative work in environmental conservation, including the Rolex Prize for Enterprise in 2002, the Schwab Foundation award for Outstanding Social Entrepreneurship in 2001 and Mexico’s National Ecology Award in 2000.
Con más de 400 000 hectáreas de extensión, esta reserva no sólo abarca montañas y valles de indescriptible belleza, sino que es el hogar de más de 600 comunidades que viven sumidas en la pobreza y padecen de altos índices de desempleo. Los esfuerzos de Pati Corzo se han concentrado en atender y resolver los retos que la región enfrenta, mediante educación ambiental, conservación de la tierra y desarrollo comunitario.
a Srita. Corzo ha recibido muchos galardones por sus innovadores trabajos de conservación ambiental, entre ellos el Premio Rólex a la Iniciativa Empresarial 2002, el Premio a la Iniciativa Social Excepcional 2001 de Schwab Foundation, y el Premio Nacional de Ecología 2000 (México).

Awards and Inspiration-James Balog and Jane Goodall at Wild 9

Time to get caught up to today, Tuesday(Martes). Sunday morning offered a bit of free time which allowed us to get a small taste of the real Merida because we were able to connect with my friend Nancy and her husband Barry who moved down here last year and are in the process of remodeling a home that they purchased about 6 blocks from our hotel. They have an interesting blog and website which details their move to Merida, their remodeling adventure and has lots of interesting info about Merida. They appear at left with their 3-legged dog buddy.

As Nancy and Barry walked us back to our hotel, they explained that every Sunday one half of the Paseo Montejo, which is a main artery through the center of town, is closed down until noon so that families can ride bikes with their children without worry for the crazy traffic. It also allows families to take a leisurely stroll without left traffic noise and exhaust. What a brilliant idea! Can you just envision half of College Avenue closed down each Sunday morning! It encourages family activity, exercise, not driving, slowing down a bit ... I am ready to come back and lobby the city council for that!

Jane Goodall gave a very moving keynote presentation on Sunday and set the stage for an in depth discussion of her Roots and Shoots Program for Children. If you have never seen this woman speak, you must make a point to do it before she stops travelling and speaking. She only does so out of a sense of urgency for the protection of primates. She says she has not been back to the land she loves for 15 years because she knows that she is their best hope for the future. I don't think she will rest as long as she knows she can connect one more person to the issues and raise one more dollar for protection. Jane inspires simply by her presence but when she says she is inspired and made hopeful by this gathering, it reminds us of the privilege and the power of taking part in this congress.
On Sunday evening, James Balog received the inaugural iLCP Conservation Photographer Award - voted as the very first recipient by his peers, both for his lifetime body of conservation work and expecially for his current project, "The Extreme Ice SurveyHis expansive visual documentation through time lapse photography of the rapid recession and disappearance of glaciers is waking up hearts and minds arounbd the world. He recently testified before the US Congress on the issue of climate change. And all I can say is that if they saw what we saw in Jim's presentation, they had to walk out of chambers scared to death. There is no other way to say this - it is simply horrifying to see the full measure of decline of the glaciers - it is NOT part of the natural cycle. It IS catastrophic! Below is a cut from his presentation at the 2009 TEDGlobal conference in Oxford England. It will give you a good idea of what we saw the other night.
There is SO much more but I'll save it for another post. Adios. Linda


Monday, November 9, 2009

Wild 9. Day 2. Merida, Mexico

November 7, 2009

Today began with a photography keynote presentation by Nick Nichols, called “Window into the Redwoods”. The remainder of Saturday was devoted to sessions detailing the corporate environmental commitments of such companies as CEMEX – a very large cement producer from Mexico and a true leader in the field of corporate conservation, Grupo Bimbo, another large Mexican corporation and Coca Cola Mexico, among others. The presence and participation of these corporate entities at this conference is important not just for Mexico but for the world. It signals a growing awareness of the importance of climate change and conservation issues.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the day was the signing of a “Memorandum of Understanding” on Cooperation for Wilderness Conservation, Between Mexico, Canada and the United States. Government representatives from the three countries signed the agreement which aims to achieve international cooperation for the conservation of wildlands. While this act is certainly not a solution in and of itself, it does set the stage for a more cohesive approach to environmental issues which impact the entire continent as well as the world. It’s a BIG DEAL but only if all of us hold the powers that be to their commitments.

The fact that there are such dignitaries in attendance as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from Guyana, Director of Nature and Landscape Protection – Czech Republic as well as Reps from South Africa, Hungary, Surinam, Russia and Europe is heartening to me and lends a real hope for universal understanding of the issues facing us. It has certainly made it easier to see the world as a fairly small place with common concerns requiring shared solutions.

Inspiring? Oh yeah! Onward!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

iLCP's Yucatan Rave

Day 1. Wild 9. Addendum There is so much happening every day at Wild 9 that it is virtually impossible to keep track of it all but I did want to share iLCP's multimedia presentation on the Yucatan Rave. Check it out! More Later! Linda

Saturday, November 7, 2009

If You Ever want to Empty a Commercial Airliner REALLY Fast

Day 1. Wild 9. Merida, Mexico. Nov 6, 2009

So if you ever want to see a completely full airliner disgorge it's passengers in less than 10 minutes, just have the Captain announce in a rather urgent tone that El Presidente Felipe Calderon is arriving momentarily right behind us and that if we don't ALL debark post haste, we will be stuck in the plane - on the tarmac - until they have cleared all areas for his landing and made sure security precautions were properly in place for his safety and exit. A possible delay of up to an hour........

A thundering but fairly agile herd of water buffalo comes to mind - but with less courtesy and decorum. Needless to say, we got off in record time. And once we all knew we were safe and sound inside the airport, it became clear that many of us were here for Wild 9 - as was Presidente Calderon! How cool is that? The President of Mexico showing up for the opening of a conference on conservation and wilderness protection.

The first day of the conference was primarily devoted to setting the stage for the rest of the week, with a number of international dignitaries and conservation leaders articulating the global vision for wilderness protection and citing concrete examples and programs in action all around the globe. But really, the highlight for me was to see the buzz about town - it was exciting to see the painted jaguar statues starting at the airport and then all about town - an arts and culture project to support the Wilderness Congress. Also to be witness to the excitement of having the President arrive to take part in the opening ceremonies.

The evening of this first day was spent, predictably, in the hotel lounge with many of the attendees catching up on current projects, networking, discussing hot conservation issues and in general, just having a great time seeing lots of familiar faces from iLCP, NANPA and beyond.

Adios. Tomorrow is another day.

Linda Helm