Sharing contrasting views of hope and despair based on the readings by Swaisgood & Sheppard, Patton and Lidicker through a conversation in residence, as well as in class, enhanced the perceptions I felt about the two topics. I know this is a belated post, but I felt I still had valuable narratives to share.
Hope and despair seem deeply entrenched as two of the same. Is there a way to have hope without despair?
I believe I live my life within a lens of optimism. I work in a vocation where it is possible to spend every day dwelling on the negative. According to recent studies on landfills in Calgary, it is estimated that we have a mere thirty to forty years left before our three city managed landfills are full. Sounds scary. It could very truly be a reality though. How as an environmental educator can I frame this in a constructive and hopeful manner? Offering a solution could lend itself to a sense of empowerment for those I share my messages with. Learning that, in Calgary, we do in fact have the potential to reduce our waste by 80%. Providing residents with options to do so through waste diversion can renew feelings of hope.
Consider this: most residents are aware that their garbage and recycling get collected once a week and they notice a fee on their energy bill. Do most know where their garbage and recycling end up? Or the process it takes to build a landfill cell or run the Materials Recovery Facility? Encouraging people to invest not just a monetary value on their waste collection services, but understand where their money goes could empower them to make changes to their consumer habits, and solidify a sense of hope that they, as consumers, can make a huge difference.
Is despair necessary? In my case from work I feel that there is no need to facilitate or encourage feelings of despair. I can see that the work David Orr has contributed regarding being realistic could negate the need for despair. His honesty is refreshing and although he will share the truth even if the results are unfavorable, he does it for the greater good, and I feel the hope, that humans have the basis to understand and educate themselves further.
I intrinsically believe that conservation biologists require a support system from which they can lean on each other when they may have a barrage of ill tidings. Is it right for them to only divulge the good news stories like Swaisgood so kindly did in “Zoonooz”? It doesn’t hurt…they share the positive, the hopeful and the optimistic…can collective hope encourage change and provide that support system?
For the benefit of the hard working conservation biologists, I certainly have my fingers crossed in a hopeful way for you.!
Canned Goods from the Royal British Columbia Museum