“When I am asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same,” the author Paul Hawken writes.* “If you look at the science that describes what is happening on earth today and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t have the correct data. If you meet the [people working for social and environmental justice] and aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a heart.”
Vaccinated, masked and social distanced, a group of those social and environmental justice folks gathered at the Climate Land Leaders retreat January 7-9. The expertise in the room was amazing, including:
- Jackie Armstrong, who restores land, gives talks on climate change and serves on her soil and water conservation district.
- Jack Hedin, whose farm grows food for thousands, despite multiple climate challenges.
- Matthew Fitzgerald, an organic grain farmer working to make his farming operation more resilient to the weather whiplash we are experiencing.
- Bonnie Blodgett, an accomplished writer who has purchased farms for regenerative farmers.
- Sylvia Spalding, who stewards land in Iowa and Hawaii, while caring for elderly parents and fighting pipelines.
Climate Land Leaders is growing! And each member brings talent, experience — and heart — to the Initiative.
In the next couple months alone, Climate Land Leaders like Meg and Glenn Nielsen will set conservation goals for the year. Lee Tesdell will talk with the group about communicating conservation and climate change to skeptical audiences. Wendy Johnson and Matthew Fitzgerald will discuss working with farming tenants—from the farmer’s perspective. And much more.
Started in March 2020, Climate Land Leaders now includes 40 individuals who collectively own more than 10,000 acres. The Initiative’s mission is to provide community and support to help farmland owners mitigate the climate crisis and enhance rural vitality.
*Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being. Photos by Climate Land Leader Ruth Rabinowitz