Mother Nature spent aeons taking care of herself, all-the-while humans and ecosystems adapting to her ebbs and flows.  Now, we are entering a new era, one where humans are the ones exerting the greater pressure.  We call this era: Anthropocene.

A New Era

This is the era of the powerful many.  The United Nations report about 9.7 billion by 2050.

Adam Sweidan describes it as the “black elephant,” one that is unanticipated, with enormous consequences and everyone can see, but no one wants to talk about.

The stresses are accelerating because of the coupling of the socio-economic system and the biophysical Earth System and the tremendous population growth we are facing worldwide.  Not only are there more people, but they are moving to urban areas with middle-class lifestyle expectations.

The graphs were first published by scientists led by Will Steffen in 2004 and they look like this:

Mother Nature’s Boundaries

What’s at risk in this great acceleration?  Our environment.

While we don’t know exactly all of her tipping points, we must be aware that Mother Earth is “getting a fever.”  Boundaries like climate change, deforestation, acidification, and biodiversity are either approaching their limits or being breached.  So it is more complex than just the temperature going up.

So, one of the primary purposes of federal governments in the coming generation will be to responsibly steward this coupling of socio-economic and environmental impact.  Enter the delicate dance with nature.

Caring for Her “Together”

Educators and parents must step forward. We must act in bold and wise ways.  The urgency for us to embed these ideas into our schools is acute.  One of our primary weapons,

“Hope now, hope always.”

With hope, we can enter into our neighbourhoods, communities, and local contexts to create change and to show care for our environment.

At our Learn Forward incubator school, Willowstone Academy, we are fortunate enough to have a beautiful, wetland pond in our backyard.  It is a touchstone for our neighbourhood and it was dying.  Our students took baseline measurements of the pond water and did an inventory of the ecosystem.

Then, the community, including local politicians, non-profits, and neighbours, came together to restore the pond.

Now, the students are monitoring the health and trajectory of this wetland habitat.  Students stewarding nature.



Photos Credit: David Shipclark

Pond Celebration

For me, an ecosystem of community is built one “together” at a time. The Belmont Pond project brought students, educators, neighbours, leaders, birds, and turtles together. The query was how can we nourish each other? How can we work together to protect the environment?  It was a changemaking endeavour.

It wasn’t easy, but worthy.

For the sake of the children,