Clean Energy Strategies for Urban Resilience

Follow the link to access this presentation about Clean Energy Strategies for Urban Resilience – a good overview in a nutshell.

Journaling my PhD

The presentation I gave as part of a panel on Adaptation Strategies for Climate Change at the Municipal and Regional-scale at the Climate Resilience and Adaptation Symposium became my first public presentation in America. It makes me happy, while I do realize I could have prepared a little more.

While drawing on my work as an intern at NREL, yet not relating to the organization itself, the presentation discusses the synergies that can be achieved by considering sustainability as a process to resilience, rather an a be-all and end-all proposition. At every stage of the emergency management phases as outlined by FEMA, clean energy strategies have the potential to add value imparting greater advantage than singularly focused efforts.

The presentation can be accessed by following this link

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Venice, Sea Change

VeniceFromCampanile_MaiaKumariGilmanWhen I pulled the “freehand sketches” card from my editorial calendar inspiration bin, my first thought was to share this quick sketch of Venice, Italy. I drew this on vacation, and was intrigued by the peaks and valleys of the Venetian cityscape, as seen from the top of the Campanile.

To tie this into the blog’s theme of environmental change, I composed a list of all those aspects of Venice I think we can learn from, around the world, as so many other coastlines face their own sea change. Granted, the causes of Venice’s sea change are unique. It’s on a leading edge of its own.

On tourism:

  • a tourist economy is key to an evolving waterfront
  • there is tourist interest in the changing intertidal/urban interface
  • temporary accommodations like hotels and hostels provide a continual opportunity for visitors and funds to flow into a place.

On transportation:

  • understanding marine transportation for an urban environment without cars is helpful and so is planning for the public infrastructure around it
  • a mix of private and public investment in transportation infrastructure allows for a variety of access and experience in a place
  • planning ahead can reduce frustrations and losses and lead to a smoother experience for businesses, institutions and residents.

On infrastructure:

  • movable walkways are helpful
  • drainage is manipulable and has plasticity
  • regular maintenance, repair and replacement of below-water foundations are part of the life cycle planning of a waterfront in flux.

On the long term:

  • it’s ok to let some parts go
  • long term vision to moving inland, or upward, or over water to new land, is always an opportunity on the horizon and for those who want to do so, those channels for change exist
  • there is not a one-size fits all solution to resolve issues around water level rise, and building subsidence.

What else would you add?

-Maia

maiakumarigilman.com

The Dalai Lama, Climate Change and Joy

TibetanPrayerFlags_MaiaKumariGilman

Last week, the Dalai Lama’s Facebook page featured a recent video of his appearance at The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He spoke, with several others, about the human response to climate change. Intrigued by the blend of mindfulness and matter in this subject, I watched the almost-two hour video, twice. I took notes. Twice. The same points jumped out at me each time, and I decided to write a blog post around them.

His Holiness is a smart and compassionate man. He paid tribute to science, and to statistics. He honored those in their professional capacities, and framed his own as that of a student of Buddhism. He spoke with equal attention, solemnity and good humor to adult scientists and to youth activists alike. Some of his words were presented through the voice of his translator, and I found that taking notes was helpful in staying with the weave of His Holiness’ own thought process, in my own mind.

The Dalai Lama says we ought to encourage the media to lead the change. To shine a light on that which is serious in the spin-off effects of climate change, and to spend more of the time focused upon solutions. To lead with courage, rather than with fear. To emphasize the potential and ability of people to overcome circumstances.

His Holiness encourages compassion, and seeing the billions of us in oneness – all of us in it together. He encourages mothers to spend more time with their children, in teaching compassion. I would add, it’s not just mothers who teach compassion, it’s fathers too, and all adults who can bring a loving and compassionate experience to children, whether or not they are immediate family. Family is what we make it. Family is all of us.

His Holiness encourages group meetings, more often, and made public, to meet on the issues and solutions around climate change. He does not debate the science. He encourages connection between people, and especially in the younger generations. He points to rural areas as neighborly, and encourages climate dialogue to occur there, where the community connections are already strong. The phrase I wrote down more than once, in his words: “altruism must be translated into action.”

I think he’s right. Compassion, care for the self, the family and the community, as well as a sense of our connectedness: these are the cornerstones of our foundation for moving out of our current context. Compassion, care, connectedness. How do we move toward those three essences? What actions do we take?

I’ve come to find with many difficult aspects of life – and climate change is certainly one of them – it seems that when we approach our target from the perspective of a joyous inner feeling, different (clearer) solutions rise, and they rise faster, and resonate with key people, more of the time. It makes the targets more seen, in their variety, and less pigeonholed, in their narrowness. Joy opens windows and doors to solutions faster than anything else can.

I’ve seen that a state of joy – or even its partial counterweight of contentment – allows for receptivity. Of information. Of sensory experience. Of intuitive inspiration. It’s in those human aspects that creative solutions are discovered. Revealed. Innovated. Brought to light.

Am I crazy to think that joyousness could hold a solution to the issues that spin off from climate change? Let the light in that crack and see what happens. Let yourself off the hook. You don’t have to have to come up with a solution, just let yourself feel joy. Feel appreciation. Appreciate elements in your midst. Focus on what’s working, and celebrate that. From that place of clarity, seek the creative solutions we desire.

-Maia

www.maiakumarigilman.com