Winona LaDuke: Building Sustainable Communities

Image via Olivia One Feather on Facebook

Image via Olivia One Feather on Facebook

Last night Winona LaDuke gave a talk at Seattle University titled, “Economics of Change: Building Sustainable Communities.” She’s a great Native author and activist, although she doesn’t think of herself as an activist but rather just as a responsible human being. Her talk was informative and engaging and I really loved hearing what she was doing within her own Anishinaabe community to promote long-term sustainable energy and food resources. She also definitely connected everything to the bigger picture of corporate energy interests and climate change. We’re all in this together!

At the end when she was answering questions from the audience, there were several people who kept asking the same type of question. It seemed that these folks really wanted her to give them concrete answers about how to enact changes, about what they should be doing. To each of these questions she said pretty much the same thing. “You already know the answers.”

From my recent involvement with the “Fix the Earth: NOW” show, I had been thinking more and more about how powerless it seems that people feel about the world around them. They notice changes happening, they hear about things in the news. Mass media paints a grim picture about oceans rising, glaciers shrinking, food supplies dwindling. And yet, our global economy seems so large, so unstoppable. What difference can one person make?

Winona is clearly a person who is making a difference and I think that some folks in the audience were looking to her for answers on how to fix their own feelings of powerlessness. But as she said, we all know what needs to be done. The question really is whether we want to step up and start taking personal responsibility for what we can do. Not everyone has to do the same thing, but we all have a voice and have things that we can contribute by capitalizing on our strengths.

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