Yesterday my Arid Land Restoration class was overflowing with students. It was the most I have had attend a class I offer at the Santa Fe Community College. At the beginning of class, I openly delighted at the interest and wondered aloud at why this subject has drawn so many this season. Is it because of the state of the planet? I asked. The response from my class of more than 20 was laughter. I didn’t expect that. Was that just too obvious a question? Listening to the student introductions, I could see that each person cares deeply about the property that they caretake or they want to learn more about the lands of New Mexico. I could see that indeed the Earth is calling us back, collectively. Her people are hearing the call. Each person hears it within her own heart, a desire to know and integrate with the healing of the land.
I have to admit the word Adaptation rubs me the wrong way sometimes. Having been a sustainability educator for so long, the idea that people are more interested in adapting to save their own lives rather than making these changes in order to live appropriately with the Earth and her elements and creatures, can make me feel defeated. But it’s only natural that crisis awakens in us a desire to find new ways.
And there’s another way that adaptation makes sense to me.
The biological definition of adaptation is “a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.”
The fact is we human creatures need habitats that allow us to survive and thrive. We have the ability to predict and model the future. This allows us to observe the discord between our way of life and what the planet can continue to provide for us.
But we are not only biological creatures. We have hearts and souls. We hurt when we hear of the 100 species that are on the edge of extinction from the fires in Australia. We hurt when we learn of the damage we have done to even the deepest ocean environments. It’s too much. When we feel this pain we know that we are not suited to our environment. When we can no longer ignore it, we realize it’s time to change. It’s time to adapt our lifestyles, our ways of thinking and knowing, to the planet we have now.
So adaptation includes that unfolding process from a hunch that our civilization is on a destructive path, to feeling the heartbreak of knowing this, and finally responding by showing up to learn new ways. We can show up to actively care for our planet through building soil and growing plants in our backyards. We can show up by looking at the extractive mentality that we were raised with, and wondering how to shift into a culture of care.
So when I say Climate Adaptation, I mean it in two ways. One is the adaptation our hearts call us to, so that our actions and instincts may reflect our values, to help us be at peace in these unsteady times. The other way refers to our need to meet our needs so that our households and communities can continue to explore living and learning on this beautiful planet.
For 2020, Ampersand offers a workshop series called Climate Adaptation. The events will be offered in May and June. Soon I will announce the schedule on our website, so stay tuned! In the meantime, see the events we have scheduled for March and April.
I hope that there is something that calls to you!
Written by Amanda Bramble