What are important skills for humans on Planet Earth?
Erin Schrode: Unity. Organizing. Sustainability. Compassion. Understanding. Resistance. Positivity. Intention. Vocalization. Justice. Perspective. Peace.
We must unite to act with compassion and intention, building bridges of understanding and impact, as we boldly organize to enact solutions that usher in new eras of sustainability, peace and justice for all.
What does community mean to you?
ES: To me, community means a conscious coming together to co-create, to build something of meaning around a common vision or purpose. Community can be an idea, an organizing principle, a physical space, a web of connections. Community is a living, breathing organism that must be fostered and deserves the space and care to develop and grow. It may be incredibly specific or wholly amorphous, intimate or massive, temporary or eternal, focused or open-ended, simple or intricate, rudimentary or contested. Community is what you make of it, what you commit to it, what you breathe into it, what you allow it to become, what we believe it to be.
Where’s your oasis? What’s eden? Where do you go to recharge?
ES: Four places come to mind right away, where I reconnect, refocus and recharge and feel humbled by the majesty of people and planet.
– The ocean, specifically the Pacific Ocean after a coastal hike in my hometown of Marin County, California
– My friend’s farm, late a night, with my feet in the rich soil, staring up at the immensely starry sky
– Black Rock City, where my tribe gathers to create conscious, inclusive, self-reliant community in the desert for one week each year
– The heart of a march or protest, surrounded by the infectious, honest energy and strength that propel me forward daily
What does sustainability mean to you?
ES: Sustainability means living in line with what your body, community and earth can provide for and manage. It is balance and beauty, respect and responsibility, actions and systems that cause no harm to people or planet, no collateral damage, no costs externalized. Widespread behavior change and conscious consumption are critical in this paradigm-shifting equation, as are policies that ensure the masses, industry, and governments prioritize, invest in, become part of, and actively champion solutions.
What strategies do you use to share your message?
ES: Boots-on-the-ground presence matters, face-to-face interactions are imperative in the work of sustainability, justice and movement building. Digital platforms and social media are tools to amplify messaging, reach larger audiences and engage more diverse players, but not in and of themselves enough; the combination of online-offline is invaluable. Storytelling is another critical piece of the puzzle: crafting and sharing a narrative with a specific focus, arc and purpose. I encourage people to first examine and survey their own lives, noting painpoints, injustices and wrongdoings, then envisioning and seeking to enact specific solutions to address the challenges with which they are most familiar. All change begins at the local, personal level – and radiates outward. One must begin somewhere to replicate and scale efforts and ensure and increase impact.
What keeps you optimistic and hopeful?
ES: I am a rabble-rousing optimist. Optimism is a powerful, guiding principle that my mother instilled in me from the youngest of ages. Without it, I would not rise each morning or take on complex challenges day in and day out. Youth inspire me; the faces and perspectives of young people give me hope, a fresh view, innovative ideas, willingness to challenge the status quo, inherently disruptive nature, bold opinions. We raise our voices, we unite, we defy odds, we dare to be the positive, collaborative change that our communities and world so desperately need. We are embracing our roles as active citizens, making an impact in business, media, education, politics, everywhere.
Inspired? Take the next step by putting into practice Erin’s strategies for impactful activism, as shared in her own words below.
The success, sustainability and vibrancy of our communities, towns, states, country and world depends on y-o-u.
We need citizen activists now more than ever before – and that means getting started today.
- Pick up the phone to call your local government representatives about the issues that matter most. You can send an email or post on social media, but speaking on the phone and flooding voicemails makes a far greater impact. Look up your local elected officials using any number of online tools and start dialing to make your voice heard loud and clear!
- Make a meaningful change at your school, office, or home. When you take tangible action as an individual, the impact is noticed and felt by countless more around you. That ripple effect is critical in shifting hearts, minds and behavior. Demonstrate and share your commitment to sustainable, conscious lifestyle choices widely to inspire interest and action from friends, families, colleagues, even strangers.
- Mni Wiconi. Water is life. The power and relevance of those words extend far beyond the Standing Rock nation – to all of us, all life, all industry, all corners of earth, for all time. In honor of World Water Day, may we conserve, steward and protect this sacred resource with heightened commitment and dedication at each and every opportunity.