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What Kids and Young Adults Can Teach Us About the Environment

Kids and the Environment

As most Save the Earth Cooperative members know, I am a volunteer for Save the Earth Cooperative, as are my fellow co-founders. As volunteers, we are working super hard on the campaign to get the People’s Coop off the ground. It’s a hard and sometimes seemingly formidable task, since we pretty much all juggle full time jobs as well. None of us have done anything like this before and are learning “on the job” so to speak. But why are we doing this? Why bother?

Personally, I do this because I am 100% committed to protecting the future of earth’s children and of all the wondrous array of wildlife we have. Being deeply concerned about the state of the environment that we are leaving to the children, I know that we  have a choice, but that the vulnerable in society, kids, and nature do not. It is the kids who will suffer or enjoy the consequences of our actions and I believe that only immediate action and education will avert a disaster for humanity. The time is now.

My “Day Job” as a Teacher

My “day job” is as a teacher, currently teaching here in Southern Vietnam. I love my job and I see my role more as a facilitator and a guide, rather than some kind of lecturer, dictator or authoritarian figure. My belief is that if everyone was allowed to follow their passion, they would excel in an area or multiple areas: we all have innate talents and passions for somethings. I particularly believe that the current generation of children should be empowered to make decisions about the environment, and to follow their passions.

Children Are Much Smarter About the Environment

Yesterday evening I held a speaking class for children and young adults on the topic of “Environment”. It both encouraged and disheartened me at the same time. Why did I feel both emotions? Because children understand about the environment. They know we have to change. This much became very evident to me within 5 minutes of the class. Children haven’t been tainted by these false illusions; that somehow the “economy” is more important than ecology, that resources are expendable, that someone else will clear the mess up, or that animals are less important than us. Children are much smarter than us adults. They know that we need solutions – and fast.

Kids Deserve Green Schools

And then of course I felt sadness that society in general does not seem to listen to the kids. If only we did. One of the initiatives the Save the Earth Cooperative is going to set-up is our Green Schools Initiative, where we can set up permaculture, aquaponics and/or organic farming in the schools to teach kids how to manage the earth in a sustainable manner. They will also provide organic veggies and vital nutrition education. It is crucial that we get these initiatives off of the ground. Now, as soon as possible.

I am happy to see a general shift with permaculture finally beginning to hit the mainstream and with pioneers of it such as Geoff Lawton pushing forward for more permaculture in schools. An example in schools can be seen at Eumundi State School in Australia . This is heartwarming news and motivates me to continue working with the Save the Earth Cooperative to set up as a member-owned organisation and to start permaculture and aquaponics set-ups in schools all over the globe.  Wouldn’t that be great?

What are Kids Interested in?

Simple answer? EVERYTHING. During the class I presented the kids with a variety of environmental issues facing Vietnam. I gave them photographs of endangered animals, such as the red-shanked douc, pictures of renewable energy sources, floods, drought, pollution, heavy metal poisoning and all the multitides of issues we face. And then we discussed solutions. This is what was very interesting. They applied their knowledge of science, of logic, of art, of geography, of history ( the big issue of Agent Orange in Vietnam is a hot topic that really must be addressed.), and of biology in innovative and funny ways. It was surprising how much they know: more than the average adult, I would hazard at a  guess.

Engaging with Kids on Permaculture

Because of my passion for permaculture and my belief in it as a solution, I was happy that I could contribute something new to the kids’ world. They talked about drought problems in central Vietnam and so I explained about building swales to store water and to prevent run-off. They listened with open ears and soaked it up. (No pun intended). They liked me telling them about the Salmon ladders I saw on a trip to Iceland so that the fish can swim downstream. The young people of Vietnam are worried about the huge Chinese Super Dams built to create hydro-power further up river on the Mekong. These dams have adversely affected the Mekong Delta fish and animal populations. They have also created a problem in places like Ben Tre where the water has been salinated. The sea water is coming further inland year by year, reducing the ability for local people to grow crops.

The Future is Kids and Permaculture

If we really want to give children the chance to be in charge of their own destiny, we have to empower them. Some great work is also being done by people like Yongo Otieno Wycliffe at SHARE Peace Permaculture in Kenya, Africa to teach kids (and for them to teach us!) and this can only be good news. The question is: how many people want to dig their hands in their pockets to invest in the future of earth’s children? I, for one, have become a fully -paid member (you can do so here now) and I am willing to commit myself to helping save the earth to my best ability. This December I am embarking on a journey around Asia to do several permaculture and organic farming courses. I will be volunteering on projects with children, the vulnerable, and with animals. From these experiences I will be better equipped to help set up initiatives. I hope to be connecting with some awe-inspiring people doing important earth work along the way – the real heroes of this age. Not these fake personas – the celebrities and cult personas masquerading as heroes but the the real heroes. It will be humbling, I am sure.

A Deserved Future

Kids and all of us deserve so much more of a future than they currently face. They are more than capable of engaging with permaculture and ecology and this little experience has made me even more determined to push for green schools and eco-education centres within the Save the Earth Cooperative Structure.

Kids can teach us so much.

If you’d like to support these intiatives or you’d like a permaculture set-up in your child’s school, join the Coop and have a say in the future at http://bit.do/Support-us

 

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