Saturday, July 20, 2013

Of Hummingbirds and Starfish: Impacts of the Seemingly Small

Yesterday I had a great conversation with several people who are involved with sustainability education here at Western. One of the things we talked about was the value of small changes even in the face of large problems, and how participating in programs like the Sustainable Office Certification helps us connect with each other and with the world we inhabit.

 It has been my experience that participation in the SOC (and other sustainability programs) not only empowers and inspires me, but also leads to even more opportunities for finding creative solutions to real-world problems as part of a larger and highly-enjoyable collaborative process. This kind of collaborative experience is incredibly valuable because it can  assist us in restoring a sense of community to our daily work lives as what we do becomes even more meaningful. There is great joy that comes from aligning our values with our actions, which is why when we do something we believe in, "work" does not necessarily feel like "work." (I happen to think that's one of the reasons so many of us are drawn both to Western and to higher education.)

While we were talking yesterday, several of us were reminded of a couple of inspirational stories: One is the story of Wangari Maathai and also the hummingbird story, (as told by Wangari Maathai), and the other is the story of the boy and the starfish. I am sharing the videos that illustrate these stories here with you now in case you are also looking for a little inspiration.

As Wangari Maathai herself demonstrated during her life, individual actions are what pave the way for broader social change. If after watching these videos you are left wanting more, check out Maathai’s memoir Unbowed, (which you can find here at the library on Wilson 5E, call number SB63.M22 A3 2006). Or, if you’d rather stay online a little longer, sneak a peek at WWU’s Office of Sustainability’s website to learn about some of the things happening here at Western and how you can get involved. There are lots of ways that we can all “be like the hummingbird” (or make a difference to a starfish).

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