Old Ways and New Ideas: Drawing Upon Traditional Cultures To Reverse Climate Change | Mechanics' Institute

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Old Ways and New Ideas: Drawing Upon Traditional Cultures To Reverse Climate Change
With Malcolm Margolin, Paul Hawken and Friends - including Michelle La Pena (Pit River Tribe), Susan Masten (Yurok), and Claire Greensfelder and other invited guests. Cosponsored by Heyday and California Institute for Community, Art & Nature

Old Ways and New Ideas:
Drawing Upon Traditional Cultures To Reverse Climate Change

Cosponsored by Heyday and California Institute for Community, Art & Nature

This program is virtual on Zoom

Two of California's most radical, provocative, and influential thinkers bring a lifetime of work to bear on the greatest problem ever confronted by our species: climate change. The challenges the human race faces are of such magnitude that to solve them will involve rethinking some of our deepest cultural values, assumptions, and ways of being. In his book Deep Hanging Out: Wanderings and Wonderment in Native California, Malcolm Margolin recounts a lifetime spent among Native Americans, listening to stories, making friendships, and absorbing wisdom and traditional ecological knowledge. Paul Hawken, in his NY Times best-selling new book Regeneration, brings forth a contemporary vision both practical and far-reaching. Like Malcolm and Paul, Northern California indigenous leader Susan Masten (Yurok) and native rights attorney Michelle La Pena (Pit River Paiute) have been directly and creatively addressing environmental concerns faced by tribes, the state of California and indeed, the entire world for decades.

While it is naive to assume that we can turn the clock back, there are many Native land management practices, such as controlled burns, that can be used today. But perhaps more significantly, sustainability is built into every aspect of Indian culture. Indigenous social values, spiritual life, and economic and political institutions all combined to sustain an ethic of care and responsibility.

Join Paul, Malcolm, Susan and Michelle online on Thursday evening October 7th, as they weave their experiences into a fresh, provocative, energizing, and attainable vision of the future. while they explore the underlying technologies, world views, and social and economic structures that enabled Native people to live prosperous, and by and large equitable lives for thousands of years and to hear about real solutions to the current climate crisis.

Claire Greensfelder, our evening's moderator has been engaged in climate protection advocacy and collaboration with indigenous peoples in local to global campaigns since the early 1980's. She's participated as a delegate to 13 negotiating sessions for the UN Climate Conference since the preparations for the Rio Earth Summit in 1991 and is a co-founder of the Women's Global Call for Climate Justice. Claire is currently collaborating with Malcolm Margolin to develop innovative and joyful projects and programs for the California Institute for Community, Art & Nature - our program's co-sponsor.


Malcolm Margolin is the publisher emeritus of Heyday, an independent nonprofit publisher and unique cultural institution, which he founded in 1974. Margolin is author of several books, including The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco–Monterey Bay Area, named by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the hundred most important books of the twentieth century by a western writer. He has received dozens of prestigious awards among which are the Chairman’s Commendation from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fred Cody Award Lifetime Achievement from the San Francisco Bay Area Book Reviewers Association, the Helen Crocker Russell Award for Community Leadership from the San Francisco Foundation, the Carey McWilliams Award for Lifetime Achievement from the California Studies Association, an Oscar Lewis Award for Western History from the Book Club of California, a Hubert Bancroft Award from Friends of the Bancroft Library, a Cultural Freedom Award from the Lannan Foundation, and a Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. He helped found the Bay Nature Institute and the Alliance for California Traditional Artists.


Paul Hawken starts ecological businesses, writes about nature and commerce, and consults with heads of state and CEOs on climatic, economic and ecological regeneration. He has appeared on numerous media including the Today Show, Talk of the Nation, Bill Maher, CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose, and others, and his work has been profiled or featured in hundreds of articles including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Newsweek, Washington Post, Forbes, and Business Week. He has written eight books including five national and NYT bestsellers: Growing a Business, The Next Economy, The Ecology of Commerce, Blessed Unrest, and Drawdown. He is published in 30 languages and his books are available in over 90 countries. His latest book, Drawdown, The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming debuted April 18, 2017 as a NYT bestseller and is currently in seventeen other languages. He is the founder of Project Drawdown, which worked with over two hundred scholars, students, scientists, researchers, and activists to map, measure, and model the one hundred most substantive solutions that can cumulatively reverse global warming. He is the founder of Regeneration.org and completed his latest work, Regeneration, Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, published by Penguin RandomHouse, September 14 th in the US and UK.


Michelle L. LaPena is a member of the Pit River Tribe and a mother of three. She is an Indian law attorney and has owned and operated an Indian law practice since 2006. In addition, she has published a number of law review articles, essays and non-fiction articles on topics relative to her work with California Indian tribes. She has served as a trainer in seminars with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research regarding the implementation of SB 18, a statewide general planning law that she drafted in collaboration with Governor Gray Davis’ Legal Affairs Department in 2004. She is extensively involved in developing statewide policy in California regarding cultural resources protection, including drafting, negotiating, and ensuring the passage of improved cultural preservation laws, including burial site protection and consultation requirements for new projects. Ms. LaPena received her B.A. in 1993 and her J.D. in 1998, both from the University of California, Davis. She is a member of the Pit River Indian Tribe, and is admitted to practice in California, all federal district courts in California, the Hoopa Valley Tribal Court and the San Manuel Tribal Court. She was a recipient of the 2015 Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship and earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2017.

Claire Greensfelder, Associate Director,  California Institute for Community, Art & Nature, is a lifelong campaigner for peace, planet and justice who believes that art, eloquence and beauty are often the best means to get one’s message across.  She has collaborated with dozens of indigenous individuals and tribes - both domestically and globally - with whom she has campaigned for environmental and climate justice, cultural preservation and indigenous peoples' rights.  From 2010 - 2012, she was honored to organize the installation of an international multi-media exhibition  Conversations with the Earth – Indigenous Voices on Climate Change (and related symposia) at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).


Susan Masten, who hails from the Yurok Tribe of Northern California, is a lifelong political activist and advocate for tribal and women’s rights. She attended Oregon State University, where she was elected as an original president of the Native American Student Association. After obtaining her degree, she returned to California and worked as a promotion and marketing specialist for United Indian Development Association. As a tribal and national leader, she also served as the 2nd woman to serve as President, National Congress of American Indians, and as Yurok Tribal Chairperson from 1997-2003 and continued to serve 2 terms as the tribal Vice-Chairperson. From 1994-1996, Ms. Masten served as First Vice-President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and also as the Pacific Regional Vice-President and President from 1999-2001. In 2004, she founded and became co-president of the Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations (WEWIN). She has also served 30+ years as the Mistress of Ceremonies at the Indian Film Festival, which is held in San Francisco. Ms. Masten is very active in her traditional Yurok tribal practices, which includes fishing, gathering on the Klamath River and is also responsible for the care and protection of the family’s ceremonial regalia.




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