“We have the knowledge that can contribute to finding solutions to the crisis of climate change. But if you aren't prepared to listen, how can we communicate this to you?” Marcos Terena, Xané leader, Brazil.
Indigenous Peoples, with their long interdependent relationship with their land and resources are not only among the first to witness the impacts wrought by a changing climate, they’re also among the most resilient, having adapted to changes over millennia.
As some of climate disruption’s earliest victims a number of IPs chose to tell their stories through the film project Conversations with the Earth, of which conservation biologist Gleb Raygorodetsky was a part of, when they were shown at the UN COP15 climate summit.
Raygorodetsky has traveled the world visiting and living in indigenous communities, and now he’s working to bring their compelling stories to a wider audience in his upcoming book, Archipelago of Hope: Encounters at the Edge of the Changing World. He is funding the first draft through the crowd-funding site Indiegogo.
“I have a long-standing respectful and totally trusting relationship with the communities I write about,” Raygorodetsky told ICTMN. “I do have their permission to share with the world what I’ve learned, but I do not pretend to speak for them, I’m just sharing what I learned.”
To really understand the meaning of unfolding changes, the world must begin paying closer attention to the experiences of those peoples for whom climate change has long been a reality of their daily lives, Raygorodetsky said. “We must learn from Indigenous Peoples. Even as they fight for their land, their rights, and their identities against corporate and governmental foes, all are exploring and implementing creative solutions to the challenges of climate change.”
It is important to look at such environmental changes as climate change through the prism of Indigenous People’s knowledge, because they view the world as a holistic/multidimensional whole, where the Earth, Air, Mountains, Seas (and all their creatures) are living conscious beings imbued with spirit, he said.
“Our conventional approaches, on the other hand, are all two-dimensional, surgical (we must cut things up into little pieces before we can say we know how it works), ‘flat,’” he says. “And this is precisely why they all fail, because they are mechanical, totally missing the true nature of life and living, and adapting. Having this perspective is as we develop “solutions” to climate change is critical, so that we do not end up creating more problems.”
The book avoids can’t, rant, and politics, instead leading the reader to a deeper understanding of what is happening with climate change on the ground at the community level, and hopefully inspiring other efforts to develop climate change adaptation in communities around the world.
Archipelago Of Hope makes the case that local communities—islands of biological and cultural diversity in the ever-surging sea of development and urbanization—represent an Archipelago Of Hope, for here lies humankind’s best chance to remember how to take care of the Earth, leaving it healthy for the future generations.