Thursday, April 30, 2009

What Does a Climate Change Worker Do? John Streicker

At the Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit) last week, one of the people I spoke with was John Streicker from the Yukon. He said his job was in climate change, so I asked him what that meant. And he gave me a well thought out reply.

He listed five things climate change workers do:
  1. Monitoring
  2. Creating Scenarios - Projecting Changes
  3. Public Education
  4. Mitigation
  5. Responding To The Changes We're Feeling Now
In the video he gives a little more explanation of each.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Susan and William Goldenberg Make Stunning Music

In amongst the books I've been reading simultaneously is this passage about a married couple who go off into another world while playing the piano together:
The millions sank, as Nietzsche describes it, awestruck in the dust; hostile boundaries shattered, the gospel of world harmony reconciled and unified the sundered; they had unlearned walking and talking and were about to fly off, dancing, into the air. Faces flushed, bodies hunched, their heads jerked up and down while splayed claws banged away at the mass of sound rearing up under them. Something unfathomable was going on: a balloon wavering in outline as it filled up with hot emotion, was swelling to the bursting point, and from the excited fingertips, the nervously wrinkling foreheads, the twitching bodies, again and again surges of fresh feeling poured into this awesome private tumult.
Robert Musil's description on page 45 of The Man Without Qualities came to mind last night as I listened to the Goldenberger Duo - a brother and sister - play the violin and piano together. While last night's music was mellower than Musil's couple's, the Goldenbergs too were invisibly connected, their fingers and souls producing magical sounds that is the promise, but rarely the reality, of live music.

The sanctuary at Beth Sholom has great acoustics, and the trees through the window made a soothing backdrop that included, for a while, a bald eagle making lazy circles in the sky.

I did take a bit of video, but if you watch it, remember it was taken with my little Canon Powershot and so the sound is a raspy whisper while their live sound was rich and enthralling.

For people like Phil who know the music, here's what they played:

Antonin Dvorak - Sonatina in G Major, op.100, Allegro risoluto

Astor Piazolla - Oblivion

Manuel de Falla - Suite Populaire Espangnole (six songs)

John Williams - Theme from Schindler's List

Ernest Bloch - Nigun - Improvisation from Ball Shem Suite

Antonin Dvorak - Sonatina in G Major, op. 100, Allegro

Traditional Hebrew and Yiddish Folks Songs

The last because this concert, nominally, was a musical performance for Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut.

The two musicians were concluding a busy week, having played in Juneau, Skagway, Haines, Homer, Eagle River, and a morning concert at West High School in Anchorage before last night's concert.

Thank you, William and Susan, for sharing your window to a better world.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Biking in Anchorage

Talk of Alaska is discussing increasing numbers of bike users in Anchorage right now (the show will be available as a pod cast later today or tomorrow). There's a draft bike plan and the commenting period has been extended to May 7 I think they said. (As I post this the website still says April 30 is the deadline, but don't believe it.) Lori Schanche of the Municipality said they've already got 80 comments. I suspect that some people haven't commented because they didn't have the time to read the whole plan. But if you're a cyclist and don't have the time, just say you didn't get time to read it all and tell them you support the general idea of improving biking conditions in Anchorage.

I did ride my bike three days last week to the Indigenous Summit last week, but there was lots of summit stuff to post on and I feel that some people out there get sick of cyclists pushing the idea of riding. However, it really is a viable alternative for many people for many trips. Not everything. The parts of Chester Creek I was on were almost totally clear of snow and ice. The picture shows one of the exceptions on the first day. But just in the three days I rode my bike, things cleared up significantly. And while I was disturbed that all the gravel that had been on the streets was now piled in the bike lane (on A Street) and the bike path next to the streets. But then the next day they were cleaning the A Street bike path - see the picture - and the day after the E Street path was clear of gravel.

Our streets were designed for cars so many people think that riding bikes isn't viable the winter makes it impossible here. But improving the infrastructure summer riding can be much safer and the advent of mountain bikes and LED bike lights has made winter biking much easier. And if people can ski or ride snow machines in the winter, then it isn't too cold to ride a bike. Listen to the show pod cast to hear what they are doing. Here's the Talk of Alaska link again.

Monday, April 27, 2009

IPS - Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Canada

I've still got a couple more interviews and other video from the Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit). I also have more observations after four days at the summit. This video was done Friday. Eriel was one of the youth representatives and had just been interviewed by an AP reporter and was upset because she felt the AP reporter had gotten her to say more than she should have. I'll have more to write about that topic - I saw that same AP reporter again soon after at the press conference, which I reported on here. She's identified in the rough transcripts as Mary. In any case, I mention that because Eriel was a little distracted when we did this quick video. But I think the content is important for Alaskans and others to hear.

[UPDATE Feb 12, 2012: Note today's comment from Maz - He's just finished mixing "Elemental" a movie that will get Eriel's message wider attention.]

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Felipe Iniquez, Mexico

It's late Saturday night already and I have a lot of video and pictures and thoughts about the Summit. Yesterday (Friday) afternoon I went with three of the African delegates on a short Anchorage tour. Their biggest interest was to go to the mountains and see the snow. We picked up my friend Jeremy on the way and went to Glen Alps and walked to Powerline Pass. I'm sorry I don't have any pictures - all my memory cards were full - but they had a great time playing in the snow for the first time. We even had some big fluffy snow flakes come down while they were up there.

On the way up the hill, Jeremy got a call that his Friday night live host couldn't do the show. Jeremy's been pestering me - and I've been pushing him - to do more live shows with interesting people. So I proposed that we had three delegates to the Summit from Africa who would make a great show. We ate dinner when we got back to Jeremy's and he played with wires, the mic, and his computer until he said, "OK, you're on in three minutes." And we talked about the Summit and their issues back home for the next hour plus. Jeremy's wife came home in the middle and I went to explain what was going on and she said, "I know, I've been listening in the car." Add my wife and I know there were at least two people listening to KWMD while we were on. I don't normally see myself as a radio type, but I was really into the topic and mostly what I had to do was ask the three guests questions.

Today I went with five others who had an extra day before heading back from Anchorage. We went to Hope and back with lots of stops on the way. And despite the strong winds along Turnagain Arm, they seemed to all have a good time.

Here's one video from the Summit - of Felipe de Jesus Iniguez Perez of Jalisco, Mexico.

Here's a link to all the Indigenous Peoples Summit posts.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Friday 4 Press Conference

I've got to check some names but I'll post this now and fix the details later.

The signing hasn't happened yet. There are still disagreements to be worked out. The Youth group has language they want in and like all groups with committed people, they have to work through the differences between what they really want to say and what they think is politically most effective. I got in a couple of more video interviews and I'm spending free time - what there is of it - to delete old video from my Mac.

What's dividing the group?

Patricia Cochran: Like the UN we are a diverse group. We worked until 5am. Five of the seven regions have signed the declaration. We're working out the language for the last two groups.

Andrea Carmen: Still some concern for language added, strengthening. It's a timing issue. We had a time set for signing, but we didn't get it finished in that time. Not a matter of rejecting the declaration, but just need the process of consensus to work out. I fully expect to sign off by the end of the day.

Vicky Tauli-Corpuz: It is not easy to come up with a declaration to sign after 20 years in just four days. We are a diverse people, we still have to understand concerns of people not in our own region. Generally, if you look at the areas where there are full agreement, we all agree we must do something significant to mitigate climate change happening now. And we have a responsibility to do this. Indigenous people are also caught up in the modern world and are not carbon neutral and we too have to figure out how to move from fossil fuel to renewable energy, small scale energy systems. How do you address the socio-economic implications of moving to there. It's really a natural process you have to go through.

Mary ?, AP. I want to ask specifically. I heard one of the two regions not to sign on is the ARctic.

Patricia C.: I am the Arctic Rep and I signed up.

Mary: What is the sticking point and who is holding up

Kimo Carvalho: Pacific, we respect our elders and the steering committee, and we could not move on with out the permission of our elders. We want to represent our voices well in this document. I want to emphasize we are not here to cut off from any document coming from this summit, and we will work with everyone to get it done.

Mary: What's the problem?

Kimo C: Still under discussion. Sorry, I can't share more now. We will be signing it tonight.

Mary: Speaking as part of the youth group?

Kimo C: Youth Group will also meet and add language they want and bring it to the steering committee meeting and articulate their.

Mary: The moratorium on fossil fuels, you signed on, am I confused here?

Patricia: I've signed on for the Arctic. There are issues. We're talking about a two and a half page document. The whole report will be made available to the world - energy, sustainability, traditional values, all will be there. Good, bad, and ugly. What we hope with the declaration was to find consensus points we could all agree on. We're still working on that. The rest will all come out in its entire form.

Mary: When you say Arctic concerns satisfied. It does not include moritorium on fossil fuels?

Patricia: At the end of the day, all that will be clarified.

Kimo C: I hope you can be respectful as the press, to let us follow through on this process. There are only two small points out of the whole document that everyone has agreed to. I hope you won't put the emphasis on the sticking points, and recognize this is democratic.

Reporter: How realistic is it to call for a moratorium on new gas development.

Patricia: Our document will cover that. It's not just an Alaskan issue. We are trying to find a point of view we can all share. Not easy. Trying to get to consensus.

Vicky: On realistic? STrategically, important to call for moritorium. Big oil, oil disappearing. The call is for phasing out oil. Of course not realistic at this point because there are many socio-economic implications. We have countries totlly dependent on oil. They will ask: "Can you imagine the consequences for us?" They have to work out how to shape their economy so they won't starve. We are not the ones deciding how these resources are extracted. In principle we should all agree to that, but we have to be realistic

James Miller, CBC: Interested in process, you talk about hashing it out this afternoon. What happens if you can't come to common language agreement?

Patricia: We aready have five regions that have signed on. No one disagrees with the conference report and all agree that is far more important than the declaration itself.

Miller: Will the declaration go if you don't have unanimity?

Patricia: It will. Along with the full conferenc report. We want people at the UN to know that we considered all the problems and all the solutions we may or may not have. Perhaps the President has some words.

President UN: I think this has been a very successful gathering. Ive been at many gatherings and these are processes that take some time. The final declartion will be strengthened by presenting the whole report, for people in Copenhagen will have access to the richness of the time spent here. This sort of thing happens always. I'm happy and proud to have been here and this task.

Cletus Springer: When I reflect on where this process was and where it is now, I'm in awe at what has been achieved. This is the first major gathering of indigenous people on climate change. This is the first time they have examined the issue. The point of the declaration is only significant, where the language tends to be so specific, the negotiation becomes intense. You almost had to be working on the declaration. The process of getting the feedback... We did the best we could...amazing to get five regions to agree. One or two issues that separated us will

John Strieker, Canada: ABout UN declaration on indigenous people. How important and your work on climate change, and what it might mean that Canada, US, and New Zealand have failed to sign on.

Vicky: The UN declaration will be the main framework we will push for. I have been present at almost all declarations after it has been adopted. Canada, US, and NZ have not signed that this declaration should be the guidelines. That is our main demand, but not easy to get. Australia has just signed. Still have to work on the other three.
Hope our sisters and brothers from these countries will be able to support or not object. I'm hoping the new US administration might change. NZ might consider following the example of Australia. That leaves Canada.

John: Hoping through Copenhagen Declaration it will put pressure on the holdout countries.

Andrea: Important to recognize that the resolution tells all members to uphold and respect the rights of indigenous people. We all agree strongly on that. I know the press likes to focus on the disagreements.

Mary: Can we talk on what you do agree on:

Andrea: 1. IP are facing a crisis in our communities. Each and everyone of our regions is profoundly affected. Our food, homes eaten by oceans. Extreme impact on IP because we are so close and dependent on our natural environment for life.

2. IP have very significant contributions because of our close relations to the natural world and our knowledge.

3. We have not been included fully and we are calling UN and CCC to take our traditional knowledge seriously. We must make contributions to advance the work of international bodies because our life is at stake.

4. Call for full participation of IP. Very specific suggestions to get UN to recognize the IP forum on climate change as an official advisory body. Hire someone to help support and enhance the work of IP. Call on UN to organize technical briefings to countries on knowledge of IP. There should be an IP member to various UN boards making decisions on how to distribute money. We are contributing to mitigation and have to adapt.

Kenya: It was clear at meeting that one of the challenges as IP is security of land and natural resources, prior to implementing any program, stop any forced eviction of people from their land and territories. Article ?? requires prior consent before relocating IP from their land. Particularly in countries like Africa where governments do not understand our customs. Issue of mobility is also a critical issue. Mobility is a tradition system.

John: Because it can't happen in a day like this process. Indication you're being received.

Patricia: This is just the beginning. We are putting together our own roadmap. We are looking to UN and many others for IP to present their views. Next opportunity in two weeks in NY to review where we are and take steps forward. We have in our plans to address those hold out nations. We intend to follow through to ensure that information from IP goes to administration. Also now realizing and recognizing our own abilities to look at our opportunities we have to address solutions before us. Strength in numbers, strenght in dialogue, shared what's happening in these communities. We have relatives we can call on when looking to solve problems.

Cletus: You who have seen the conflicts in the global warming process have seen how nations have had problems agreeing. The negotiating system in UN is very rigid and fixed. You can only speak in certain bounds or forums in the UN. Structural limitiations on IP to speak. We will have to work around this. Sustaining momentum is also important. People asking Patricia when the next forum.

Patricia: We'll put it out on the website. If not completed this afternoon, we'll put up what we have.

Mary: Before six or seven? Deadlines...

Patricia: Full report not ready for several months. We're doing a video, a book, and the report.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Friday 3 Signing

The Steering Committe is at the front and the President of the UN General Assembly is with them as well and they are asking him to take the Declaration to the UN General Assembly.

UN General Assembly President (these are disconnected snippets as best as I could keep up, this is not in anyway even a partial sense of what he actually said):

Your work plays an important role in changing the mindset of the world on Global Warming and you make it clear that indigenous people must play a prominent role in discussions on climate change.

Scientists have pointed out that we may be at a poiont where the damage of climate change is irreversible. The question is how to slow this decline, or in the best of scenarios, how to reverse it and return the plan it to good health. We are also at a turning point in our awareness of how human have impacted mother earth. Indigenous people are now being listened to as never before. Still, humans continue to squander our tremendous abundance. The unfolding global economic crisis must not only be seen as economic failings, but that we must change our lifestyle and we must put love and justice at the very center of human undertakings. I've come here to demonstrate that the UN stands in support of indigenous peoples. We are putting people and good treatment of the earth at the center of our attention.

The UN has just declared April 22 Mother Earth Day. President Morales of Bolivia has been a champion of protecting the earth. We have called a summit of world leaders in June to address global climate change. We must address these issues now.

(Again, though this is written continuously, it is fragments of what he said.)

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Friday 2

It's 11:30, they've just reopened the doors to where the delegates have been discussing final language for the Declaration. There was a lot of people hanging around outside so it was a chance to talk to people. And today I remembered why I have been riding my bike down here the last three days. I had to run over to the credit union to get more quarters for the parking meter. The Denali Credit Union has a branch across the street in City Hall. But their policy is they won't even give change to someone who is not a member! I couldn't believe it. They said they have to run everything through an account, even change. Fortunately I ran into someone in the City Hall lobby I knew and when I told her what happened she took me back into the Credit Union and got the change through her account. Then I went down the street and put quarters into the meter and was back in plenty of time.

The Youth Delegation is announcing that they are meeting next door and that they aren't compromising. Not sure what that means. Patricia Cochran is calling all the steering committee members to come forward for the signing.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

This is that part of the meeting where people are quietly reading and talking in small groups. The media have been allowed back into the hall, but not much is officially happening.

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Friday 1

I just got here at 9:30am. I'm not quite sure what is happening. An Indonesian woman was speaking when I got in. Now and elder from Bangladesh is speaking. Fortunately there is a time lag for the translation so I can get something down.

I would like to thank the organizers for inviting me to be here. I feel honored to be selected as an elder from Asia and to speak. I do not feel knowledgable to speak for the delagates here.

Climate change is a cruel reality of present. I have been seeing climate change. Before I couldn't imagine it and thought the changes I was seeing were related to the hydro electric dam. But now I understand it is global warming.

When I was 14 years old, there was deep forest, wetland. In the past we didn't have to buy anything. Now we produce for profit and have to work in other jobs. We see changes in norms and culture. Due to the hydro electric dam, there are more people moving to the cities. [This is really rough, it was hard to understand every word.]

Indigenous people are not able to keep their land taken by the settlers. Some believe if they change to Christianity they can keep their land. The flora and fauna have changed. People are oppressed and marginalized.

Our planting is destroyed, indigenous people have had to flee to India. Trees were all cut by non-indigenous people. The government doesn't want to bring back the indigenous people. In any disaster, natural or human, the indigenous people are most vulnerable. The countries are developing and changes are affecting indigenous people most.

In conclusion, I would like to say, human needs are part of nature. Destroying nature is destroying human beings. Changes are destroying human kind through floods, etc. We know how to live with mother earth. Modern culture is destroying mother nature. For our survival we have no other option but unity. The UN must include indigenous people in all its programs. Maybe this summit will become a milestone for us in order for us to survive.

In our indigenous crisis we have norms on how to live with nature. We cannot violate the rules. If we cut trees we have to sacrifice life, slaughter pigs etc. or lose our life...Lets all stand up - Here in this beautiful land of Alaska we must promise to all protect Mother Nature.

We just had a Mongolian woman sing a beautiful opening prayer.

They've asked non-delegates to leave the room so that they can have final discussions of the Declaration. The declaration is the key reason people are here. To have a statement giving voice to the needs and concerns of indigenous peoples when the Copenhagen meeting on climate change takes place. Here's a picture of some Russian delegates discussing the declaration in the lobby just now.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Thursday - Private Sector

Patricia Cochran, the coordinator of the whole summit went over the schedule. There will be an extra hour for people to work on the Declaration. Dinner tonight, then program at 7:30 with performances from all over the world, a night to have some fun. It's five pm already, so I don't think the program will start at 7:30.

Mead Treadwell - Talking about work his company has done with Native Corporations in Alaska and the importance of indigenous people in a variety of areas. I just have to commend the indigenous community for taking leadership in this area. You have high moral ground.

Mary Jean (MJ) Longley ? - Went from science to education because of the high dropout rate around the country. Bringing youth into science fields. Climate change is not in our education system or how it is impacting indigenous people.

Ian Dutton, CEO of the Alaska Sealife Center, before that with Nature Conservancy. The challenge we all face: climate change. I've worked with mining companies, banks, in Australia, Mongolia. Surprising how similar their conversations are to the ones here.
Changes are synergistic. Now 1 million camels walking around Australian desert. Effecting the ecology of Australia.
Asian Tsunami - we've already diminished the resiliance of the land to recover

Reality 2: Geographic Impacts

Emerging Business Foci - what can we do
Risks Opportunities

Barnaby Briggs, from Shell - humbled to be here, but there's no time. We believe in the importance of indigenous people. Energy demand will double by 2050, but the problems of climate change are now. (I didn't get the first part about indigenous people on video, but I got the rest. I'll try to get this up, but the video is building up on the computer.)

Pat Spears, Council on Utility Policy, Tribes in the Northern Plains, Serve of President of Intertribal Council
Development of wind energy, a huge resource. Pat's been talking a while about wind energy, the Missouri River being dammed and the loss of rain and snow over the years. I'm running out of energy myself here, so I'm not doing a good job of tracking him.

Q: How are we sure that wind power won't affect climate?
Q: Interdisciplinary knowledge and indigenous people.

Answer: Spears: If I understand right, you think wind power might affect climate somehow. I haven't seen evidence of that yet. There is a lot of wind projects in US. We think climate is affecting the wind. We get more winds from the south now. It used to be north winds. Winds becoming stronger, more violent, frequent. But no rain. Wind turbines shut down at 55 miles per hour. We don't do anything without prayer. It's been good, we got permission.

Answer 2: Dutton - I (Steve) just can't concentrate enough to figure what Dutton is saying or even what the question was.
Treadwell: Have seen several examples of Alaska Native traditional knowledge adding to what scientists know.

I thought this panel would be more about how to work with business on this issue. It was more about telling the panelists' experiences.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Thursday - Hassab Yousif, Sudan

Hassab is studying at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and was delighted to learn this Summit was being held in Anchorage. He's studying the way Alaska Natives dealt with and were affected by oil and gas development in Alaska so that he can help the people of Sudan to be better prepared for what is happening there. He briefly sums this up in the video.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Thursday - Donor Sector

Again, this is written on the fly for immediate posting. Spelling and names are not necessarily all they should be. It's bits and pieces, not a holistic view. I'll add some photos and videos later if I can.

Ken Wilson, Christensen Fund - Amount of money to indigenous peoples increased from $10 - $40 million from 2005 and 2007. About 80,000 foundations in the US and they give about $80 billion so this is a very tiny fraction. We look a little differently, because we want to see how much actually goes to indigenous people, not to organizations that operate in their name.
Environmnet - 80% plus - is the area that they coordinate with. Recognition of the leadership that indigenous people have in global warming. Fairly well balanced in Asia, Africa, and South America, less in Arctic.
Constraints - foundations are creatures of Western Society. Have difficulty being holistic. Divide the world up. Created why powerful wealthy people. Top down outlook. Staffs had very little experience with lives of indigenous peoples. Have difficulty creating mechanisms that are flexible.
We have lost large proportions of our investments. McArthur foundation not here because of travel restrictions. Two have joined the Obama administration - EPA - head of international affairs.

James Stauch, Gordon Foundation Canada - Connecting Northern peoples with the public policy process at all levels. Most grants go directly to first nations governments, inuit organizations. Culturally relevant policies, emerging generation of leaders, research that is community policy related. Storytelling is important. It moves people more than facts. Supporting non-state actors.
As the ice melts in the Arctic - bizarre consequences of nation states jockeying about their role in the open sea. Canada, for instance, is talking about sovereignty. Need to talk about who is really using the land.
We shouldn't be doing nuclear, biofuels, wind, all of these things have negative consequences on Indigenous people. Listing polar bears as endangered species affects programs already in place. We should be talking about who is creating the carbon.
If going to support only one thing - support youth working with elders.

Claire Greensfelder, The Lia Fund
Small foundation - founder left $5 million in her estate, mostly in real estate, and our job is to give away the money : arts, access to holistic health and healing, climate solutions. 50% of funding toward climate solutions - about $2.5 million. Interdisciplinary projects.
Concerns: social and economic justice , diversity, equity, non-violence

Hope that my talk here will inspire others to copy the Lia foundation in their organizations - founding small foundations.

Ann Henshaw, Oak Foundation, family foundation centered in Switzerland. Oak believes that indigenous people around the world have a unique understanding of climate change and has important things to tell the conference in Copenhagen.

David Secord, Wilburforce Foundation, Pacific Northwest, Our board has come to understand how to do our core mission
As place based funder, landscapes do not just have animals, also have people, it's obvious, but it's new
Lots of conversations on climate change - realizing how climate change impacts our interests
More and more recognition that creative and novel partnerships are essential to have outcome producing strategies.

Christensen Fund, 1957 Palo Alto,California, 2003 new mission around biocultural diversity, $50,000,000 in grants through 5 regional and 2 global programs.
Five regions with high cultural and biodiversity: Greater Southwest, Central Asia,

Kai Lee, Conservation and Science Program, Packard Foundation
$100 million in grants every year. Worked closely with indigenous people over the years.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

OK, I'll try to get some pictures and video up later. This panel is just closing down, there's no time for questions from the audience.

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Thursday - Neza Henry, Uganda

Neza's people were forcibly removed from their land that had been designated a national park. In the video recorded this morning, he briefly tells the story of his people.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Thursday - Panel Foundations and Donor Community

I'm finally getting into synch here and figuring out how to report this with both my fingers at the computer and the still and video pictures. I'll try to get a little of what people say up right away. This snippets do NOT represent all they say, just parts I could capture. I'll try to add pictures and possibly video later.

Kristen Walker Painemilla, Indigenous and Traditional Peoples, Program, Conservation International
Deborah Williams, President of Alaska Conservation Solutions
Jenny Springer, World Wildlife Foundation
Doug McGuire, Mountain Partnership

They were asked to talk about their organizations' goals, their work with indigenous peoples, and their recommendations for the declaration.

Kristen spoke about the goals of Conservation International and their interest is doing more with and for indigenous peoples.

Debora Williams, working on climate change for the last decade and working with indigenous people has been a great pleasure. Climate change is the biggest problem facing us today. Climate change represents a fundamental human rights violation for most indigenous peoples.

Jenny Springer,
  • Indigenous Peoples are disproportionately affected by climate change
  • Indigenous Peoples have critical roles to play in climate change solutions - traditional knowledge, practices, institutions
  • Actions to address climate change can have negative impacts on indigenous peoples - need to prevent these

Doug McGuire,

Mountains are home for some of the poorest people in the world. Of the 1 Billion hungry people in the world, one-third live in mountains, though they represent only 12% of the world's population. All our water comes from mountains.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Thursday - Q&A

Questions to the previous panelists.

1. In French: Many indigenous people especially people of the forest do not know that they are represented. Please help get the information out.

2. In Spanish: We need to understand and acknowledge indigenous peoples organizations and I would like to denounce that you have not provided the answers to the questions I've requested:

Please ask your question:

Are the policies about the forests legally binding?

Answers - Terrance

Charles: Who was being denounced? Not clear. I asked you many times to visit our discussions. Sincere apologies, if I've overlooked something I apologize. I wasn't aware of the problem. Question about Sudan with regard to China, China is a country we are dealing with. I appreciate youre alerting us if we do work with China.

About getting message to national governance about needs of indigenous people. In collaboration with World Bank, working with the bank. There was a joint mission with DRC (?) where we were able to bring local community voices right into the discussion between the government and local people. We think we can play such a role.

Joseph: Thank all the speakers. Comments.
1. Human rights - frustrations there. UN tendency to develop any problem, the UN declaration needed to have indigenous people at the beginning, not just at implementation. In Africa, but indigenous people not on board. Failure of UN. Need to find way to address it.
2. Serious conflict in Africa, due to resources. Implementation will be done on indigenous people's territories. What matters putting in place to insure local people will be direct beneficiaries? Indigenous people are the poorest of the poor. Minorities in most countries. We don't want to become victims of these programs.
3. Thank the UN Gen Assembly President. Yesterday shocking when agency said could not adopt. All most adopt. Appreciate person from Greenland.
4. When we talk about capacity building - UN, World Bank, and others need to be taught about indigenous people - they have no idea how we are coping.

Humble request - never hide behind governments. Never tell us you are a government institution. Bring government to the table and bring indigenous people to the table.

Nina (Indonesia): Many of seek long term change for the better in our countries. How do you support better change in policy and behavior in ten years.

Tanzania - Want to underscore the importance of including indigenous people at the grassroot level, at the beginning. I participated in Philippines, but when I went back home there was nothing.

Response: Greenland - we have contacted the government of Denmark that indigenous people need to be included. But I cannot guarantee. We need everyone's support.
Vicky- ask Danish government to ask Patricia to present. We will have an indigenous people's day.
Jackie - During the course of the meeting hard to find space, so we have offered them space in downtown Copenhagen and invite you to organize meetings there. We would be very happy to have you there. In a practical and political way, I will - Europe will play a critical role and in mu role as head of an agency I will make sure your concerns will be brought to their attention at the meetings. They would be horrified if they thought their solutions were causing more problems on the ground.
Charles: Thanks to reps from Tanzania about not being involved. Two leaders like yourselves not being involved is a huge oversight and I will check on why. I take your point that the UN needs capacity building. Point about not hiding behind governments - understood and need your help on the policy board. Ask for your engagement with the indigenous peoples guidelines.
Indonesia's questions - others can talk about various programs, but also possibility if governments engage in REDD pilot, that there will be benefits for local people.
REDD = Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries

OK, my fingers are dying here, but this should give a sense of the questions and responses.

Talking about translations into many languages now for projects. Not sure who is talking or what organizations he's talking about.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Thursday David Chinquehuanca

The Bolivian foreign minister's speech was in Spanish, so I got some earphones to hear the English and typed as fast as I could. I'll fix the typos later. This is a fast and somewhat loose transcription of what I heard. I'm assuming this was President Evos Morales' speech, being given by his foreign ministers, since Morales was unable to come today.

.....We're in unbalance and we have to get back to equilibrium. Unbalance will have fatal conseuqences for planet earth. It's the Western world that is in crisis, the model of West that looks to living better is in crisis. Made it so some people better than others. It allows some to be better than others. Some regions better than others. Some people better than others. Generated unbalance among people, among regions, among countries. But also this development model of the West has also created disequlibrium between man and nature. Mother earth has wound threatening life today.

So important that humanity and international organizations become aware so we have international day of Mother Earth. Not just humans, but everything. All of creation we live on the skirts of our mother. All living off the milk of our Mother which is water. The plants live off the milk of Mother earth - water - all creations of Mother Earth, we are all brothers and sisters. Not just brotherhood among humans, looking for life in harmony with ourselves, we want a harmonic life with our enivornment, because all nurtured by mild of Mother Earth are brothers and sisters - not just humans, animals and plants.

Indian cultures cannot easily attack a tree. Not capable of doing so because all life brothers and sisters. We have been living based on the laws of man, taught at Unitiversity, but do not take everyting into account. Unbalanced. Leave out Mother Earth. Just based on mankind. Not living under law of nature. Not taking into account the Natural University. Contribution of indigenous people could be important there, people who have maintained their balance.

Edge of precipice, we have this summit on climate change, thanks to the implementation of methods and policies that have taken us to where we are now. Two roads. One to capitalism. Most important thing is money, profit, life doesn't matter Two is socialism where mankind is most important. For us indigenous people most important thing is not just mankind, we have that common with socialism, but we also believe the most important thing is life.

Wehn talking about climate change, were talking about life at risk. As Father Iscoto said, not just risk for humans, but climate change threatens life. And for us as indigenous people the most important thing is life. Life of rivers, life of mountains. We had snow in La Paz. Now it is disappearing. Someone said we will have to paint snow ont he top of our mountains. Life of plants, animals, birds, fish is disappearing.

We need to find avenues of discussion to create proposals, have to listen to everyone, not exclusive, inclusive. I thought I'd be here with the indigenous people of Alaska and hear what they think about these issues. We have to know that life is at risk.

We in Bolivia have taken certain actions. First the Bolivian people decided to elect an indigenous president. Second, the recovery of natural resources is important, water, for all people, not just a few. I was in Trinidad and people were alarmed. In Mexico they are rationing water. Working to start to talk about rights of mother earth. First human rights, continue to advance beyond individual rights to collective rights, indigenous people's rights. Bolivia was the first country to implement the declarion on indigenous peoples rights. Today we continue to work at UN, but the rights of everything. Of plants of fish, rivers, animals, and surely on the rights of mother earth. In some countries, Ecuador for example, the constitution considers Mother Nature as a right holder. We are advancing and I hope at the UN will be working on these. UN had to include rights of indigenous people. In a few years we can have a declaration on the rights of mother earth.

Need to work on actions - not privatize water, because water is life. We have to defend life, we have to be pro-life.

Thank you for the invitation. Not a lot of time. Have to listen ttaro one another. Have to start to read the wrinkles of our grandparents. The codes that have existed for more than 500 years. Implementation of indigenous universities that bring in these principles, the codicles of that ancient knowledge, we call that our cosmo knowledge. Indigenous peoples can make a contribution to the saving of planet earth so we can recover life.

Thank you very much.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Wednesday Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann Speaking

[Picture of UN General Assembly President Father d'Iscoto with Bolivian Foreign Minister before the speech.]
Father d'Escoto Brockman is now speaking. He's reading a speech, so he sounds much less compelling than most of the other speakers. He began by announcing that the UN yesterday recognized the day as Mother Earth Day.

He has also noted the irony that indigenous peoples who have contributed the least - the lightest ecological footprint - have been impacted the most and have called out the first warnings years ago.

A summit of leaders from all 192 member states will meet 1-3 June to discuss the impact of climate change. Many others have met on this, UN is the appropriate forum where the needs and interests of all countries to be taken account. The 21st Century, inclusiveness is critical. The third world cannot continue to subsidize the first world. Those who are subsidized characterize themselves benefactors and the victims are like beggars. Time to call a spade a spade. Always with love, but love must not be interpreted as cover up.

In addition to reform, I hope this meeting will discuss global economy as it emerges from economic crisis. It's time for a change in how we think about mother earth. We need and most peoople want healthy societies not driven by consumerism and hyper emphasis on wealth. Need reorientation of society in direction of solidarity, our guiding star.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

Indigenous People's Global Summit - No Evos Morales in Anchorage

The President of Bolivia Evos Morales WILL NOT speak in Anchorage today. Critical issues in Bolivia prevented his coming here and the foreign minister of Bolivia
David Choquehuanca will speak in his place.

Wikipedia says about him:

David Choquehuanca Céspedes (born May 7, 1961) has served as the Foreign Minister of Bolivia since 23 January 2006.[1] Choquehuanca, who is an Aymara Indian, is an Aymara activist. He has worked with international agencies and has been an advisor to President Evo Morales, a fellow Aymara, since before Morales's election to the Presidency.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

Indigenous Peoples Summit Anchorage - Thursday -H.E. Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, M.M.H.EH.E. Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, M.M. President

I don't usually post entire articles, but this is from the official UN press kit so it is intended to be used. But, of course, read between the lines as well. As the official puff piece, it is intended to show him in his best light.

The President of the UN General Assembly is scheduled to speak after President Evo Morales today.

H.E. Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, M.M.H.EH.E. Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, M.M.
President of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly

H.E. Mr. Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann is President of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly since 16 September 2008.

A veteran statesman, politician, community leader and priest, Father d’Escoto served for over a decade as the Republic of Nicaragua’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, a post he held from July 1979 until April 1990. During his tenure, he played a key role in the Contadora and Esquipulas peace processes to end internal armed conflicts in Central America in the 1980s. Also at that time, he spearheaded his Government’s decision, in 1984, to bring to the International Court of Justice a claim against the United States for supporting military and paramilitary actions against his country, with the Court subsequently ruling in favour of Nicaragua.

Father d’Escoto is currently Senior Adviser on Foreign Affairs, with the rank of Minister, to President Daniel Ortega Saavedra, a post which he has held since 2007. He also chairs Nicaragua’s National Committee on Water, in which capacity he plays a leading role in efforts to conserve Lake Cocibolca, the largest source of water in Mesoamerica. He is a member of the Sandinista National Council and the Political Commission, the highest governing body of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN).

Ordained a priest of the Maryknoll Missionaries in the early 1960s, Father d’Escoto has travelled extensively, visiting most of the world’s capitals, as well as many remote and less accessible areas of the globe, and has dedicated much of his life to helping the poor. In 1963, he founded the National Institute of Research and Population Action (INAP) in Chile, aimed at empowering the disadvantaged populations of the callampas or slum neighbourhoods on the periphery of Santiago and other cities, through community action in defence of labour rights. Following the earthquake that devastated the capital city of Managua (Nicaragua) in December 1972, Father d’Escoto mobilized assistance for quake victims and, in 1973, established the Nicaraguan Foundation for Integral Community Development (FUNDECI), now one of the oldest and most prestigious non-governmental organizations in Nicaragua.

In 1970, Father d’Escoto assumed responsibility for Maryknoll’s Social Communications Department at its headquarters in New York, where he founded Orbis Books. The publishing arm of Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Orbis quickly became a leader in religious publishing, offering works on spirituality, theology and current affairs, often from a Third World perspective. Later, while living in New York, Father d’Escoto was one of the founders of the “Grupo de los Doce” (Group of 12), composed of progressive, democratic intellectuals and professionals who supported the FSLN in its struggle to overthrow the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua. He was appointed Foreign Minister of Nicaragua shortly after Somoza’s downfall.

Inspired by the lives and works of such personalities as Leo Tolstoy, M. K. Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dorothy Day, Father d’Escoto is an advocate of multilateralism and respect for international law, and is deeply committed to the principles of active nonviolence, solidarity and social justice, which, together with a deep sense of ethics, have formed the basis of his political life.

Father d’Escoto is the recipient of numerous awards, such as: the Order of Cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo (2007), the highest honour awarded by the Catholic University Redemptoris Mater (UNICA), for his work for peace; the Thomas Merton Award (1987), for his commitment to world peace; the Order of Carlos Fonseca Amador (1986), the FSLN’s highest honour, for his contributions to international law; the International Lenin Peace Prize (1985/86) awarded by the Soviet Union; the Julio Cortázar Prize for Peace and Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean (1985), awarded by Argentina’s Institute of International Relations; and the Alfonso Comín Peace Prize (first recipient, Barcelona, Spain, 1984), which he accepted on behalf of the Nicaraguan people. In June of this year, Father d’Escoto received the unanimous endorsement of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC) within the United Nations as its candidate for the Presidency of the sixty-third General Assembly of the United Nations.

Born in Los Angeles, California, in 1933, Miguel d’Escoto spent his childhood years in Nicaragua, but returned to the United States in 1947 to study. He entered the Catholic seminary at Maryknoll (New York) in 1953, and in 1961 was ordained a priest. In 1962, he obtained a Master’s of Science from Columbia University’s School of Journalism (Pulitzer Institute).

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)
Published by the United Nations Department of Public Information - DPI/2516A

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bolivian President Evo Morales To Speak Today In Anchorage

[UPDATE: President Morales did not come to Anchorage. His Foreign Ministers spoke in his place. That post is here.]

Bolivian President Evo Morales is scheduled to speak today at 10:45 am the Indigenous Peoples Summit on Climate Change here in Anchorage. The best known fact about Evo Morales around the world seems to be that he is the first indigenous President of Bolivia. Thus he brings to the office a perspective that is different from the past presidents. He sees the world through different eyes. And, of course, that is why he is due at this conference of indigenous peoples. He speaks today as both a national president AND a one of the people gathered here in Anchorage this week.

Here are a few glimpses of the way the world portrays President Morales:

From the Miami Herald, on Evo Morales in Trinidad the other day:

''Our government will not sign this document,'' he said at a midday Saturday news conference. ``Garbage is more important than human life. We should go for human life rather than the scraps of the United States.''

Morales' threat to reject the summit declaration followed a similar announcement by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez prior to Friday's opening ceremony. At a gathering in Venezuela, Chávez said he would ''veto'' the declaration because the written document appeared ``as if time had not passed.''

At the Morales press conference, the Bolivian leader used the opportunity not only to voice his concern over the summit document, but also to express his disappointment over the absence of Cuba. He said he could not understand how debates over human prosperity and the environment could take place at the summit without Cuba's presence. . .

Morales also railed against capitalism, blaming it for the global financial crisis, and he also accused Washington of previous meddling in his country's affairs. He said he wanted Obama to repudiate a recent alleged plot to assassinate him, otherwise, ``I might think it was organized through the embassy.''

Last year, Morales ejected the U.S. ambassador and Drug Enforcement Administration officials based in his country over accusations that American diplomats had supported the opposition. He said that while President Obama has promised changed, it has not reached U.S. officials in Bolivia.

''Those staff members continue to operate as if they were serving the Bush administration,'' he said. ``It's up to the U.S. government to improve our relations. If diplomatic relations have to do with investments ... and not meddling and conspiracies, they are welcomed.''

Morales said he came to the summit ``seeking a dialogue of cooperation, not relations built on conspiracies.''

''One hundred days have gone by and we in Boliva [sic] have yet to feel any changes,'' Morales said, referring to Obama's length in office. ``The policy of conspiracy continues.'' [Full article: the Miami Herald]

PBS' Wideangle has this overview of President Evo Morales. You can get the whole report at the link:
Evo Morales Speaks at Columbia

Jeff Seelbach

Juan Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia, spoke in New York on Tuesday as part of the Columbia University World Leaders Forum. Morales, the first indigenous president in Bolivian history, was elected in 2005. In September of this year, he kicked out the U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia, accusing him of conspiring against the Bolivian government, and America followed suit by expelling the Bolivian ambassador. Diplomatic relations deteriorated further this month when Morales suspended the Bolivian operations of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). (The complete article here.)

The Economist talks about his hunger strike:

Bolivia's Evo Morales

Fasting and dealing

Apr 16th 2009 | LA PAZ
From The Economist print edition

A presidential hunger strike

DURING his career as a cocaworkers’ leader, Evo Morales took part in hunger strikes on 18 occasions. Then he was elected as Bolivia’s president. So it came as a surprise when just before Easter he unrolled his mattress on the floor of an ornate state room in the presidential palace and began a five-day political fast, fortified by chewing coca leaves. This time the object of his gesture was not to change government policy but to implement it. In January Mr Morales won a referendum approving a new constitution inspired by his Movement to Socialism (MAS). This calls for a fresh election on December 6th, in which the president hopes to win a second term. But the opposition, which controls the Senate, was holding up the requisite electoral law, because the government refused to agree to a new electoral register.

And Wikipedia's bio of Morales begins like this:

Morales was born in the highlands of Orinoca, Oruro. He is of indigenous (Aymara) descent.[6] He was one of seven children born to Dionisio Morales Choque and Maria Mamani; only Morales and two of his siblings survived past childhood.[7] He grew up in an adobe house with a straw roof that was "no more than three by four meters."[7] At age six, he traveled with his father to Argentina to work in the sugar cane harvest.[7] As a result of his indigenous heritage, his parents made offerings of coca leaves and alcohol to mother earth, or Pachamama.[7] At the age of 12, he accompanied his father in herding llamas from Oruro to the province of Independencia in Cochabamba.[7]

When he was 14, Morales showed his organizational skills by forming a football team with other youths; he continued herding llamas to pay the bills.[8] Three ayllus (network of families) within the community elected him technical director of selection for the canton's team when he was only 16 years old.[8] That same year, in order to attend high school, he moved to Oruro. There he worked as a bricklayer, a baker, and a trumpet player for the Royal Imperial Band (which allowed him to travel across Bolivia).[8][2][9] He attended Beltrán Ávila High School but was not able to finish school,[10] and fulfilled his mandatory military service in La Paz.[8][11]

[Morales bio continues here.]

Indigenous People's Global Summit - Elaine Abraham

Tuesday a beautiful woman whom I haven't seen for several years sat next to me and we starting talking. We knew each other at the University of Alaska Anchorage. I was asking her impressions of the summit so far. Eventually I asked if I could video tape some of what she had to say. . .

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change(click link for all the posts on the summit)

Indigenous Peoples Summit Anchorage - Wednesday 2

Actually, this is from Tuesday night's film festival. Here is a taste of the second Australian film they should where people from the film then addressed the audience. They talked about how the rising ocean tides were going further inland and the salt water was killing the plants and fouling the fresh water there. This was eating into the habitat of traditional plants and animals use for food and medicine.

After watching about ten of these short films I was struck by a couple of things:

1. How similar the stories were. The weather changes affecting the environment where indigenous people live, threatening their ability to continue their own way of life. In the case of Carderets Islands, the sea water is literally destroying all arable land on the island forcing them to leave because there was nothing left to eat except fish and coconuts.

2. There was also concern about international corporations - timber, mining, energy particularly - reaching into their environment and adversely affecting the life in that environment on which they depend.

3. In some cases problems with other people - including indigenous peoples - who had been induced to 'sell' natural resources - animals they shot for food, timber to multinational companies, etc. And so their own neighbors were causing problems.

4. A high level of historic awareness of their natural environment which enables them to document changes that otherwise would go unnoticed.

A skeptic might argue the similarities are due to the film makers who have packaged these stories from different locations to all tell the same story. Certainly this plays probably a minor role and that is inevitable. But my experiences in Thailand last year and this was replete with similar stories that I wasn't packaging. This is a universal phenomenon. And those who still believe that global warming is a myth concocted by liberals, or that it is just a natural swing like the earth has experienced forever, well, there's a link on the right for global warming skeptics.

I'm sitting out in the lobby while people are meeting closed off to media. I'm not sure I mentioned that I got in here as press, covering this on my blog. I assumed that an organization that is made up of 'marginalized people' would be inclusive for marginalized media types. And I was right. So I'm taking advantage of the time to catch up a bit and I'm waiting for the video to upload to viddler so I can embed it here. OK, it's done. This is not great video, but it gives you a sense of things.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

Indigenous Peoples Summit Anchorage - Wednesday 1

I had a dental cleaning appointment this morning so I'm just getting to the summit this afternoon. People are reporting on their group work.

Speaker now:
"I've never before encountered a group characterized with so much honesty, righteous indignation, and a lot of commitment and determination. People shared their dreams, willingness to go to jail if necessary...I was moved... most poignant changes that have taken place in history have taken place in jail...Martin Luther King....Nelson Mandela..."

Larry Merculief just spoke with real emotion about how powerful his group prior this current speaker.

Theme Four - Energy Security

Summary of what we discussed so far. How have people been affected by traditional development in our territory.
Dams that have devasted and displaced communities
Oil development - including tar sands - displacing.
Bio fuels - devasting to some of our communities, people displaced for planting.
Nuclear power - continues to devastate people, not only in production, but extraction.
Clean coal - no such thing, no way to make it clean

In addtion to these projects being negative, also addressed carbon trading.

I'm not going to try to catch the recommendations because they are still tentative and I'm sure I won't capture them accurately. But this should give you an idea of what is going on. You can also check the podcasts which are live for many of the sessions.

Now they are going to break into regional caucuses. This is all leading up to a declaration the Summit wants to agree on by Friday.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

Seward Highway Road Closure this Weekend!

[UPDATE, Tuesday noon: The road work was NOT completed at 5am Monday as scheduled. People were told it could be 5pm or later. The following is now up on the State site, saying the road is now open:

Open To Traffic - Seward Highway
Seward Highway: at Falls Creek Bridge
road open to traffic, short delays -- look out for flaggers

last updated today [Tuesday, April 28] at 11:18 AM]

One of the visitors to the Indigenous Peoples Summit told me last night he wanted to go to Seward Saturday before he left for home. Wanted to see a bit of Alaska. But the tour agency said the road was closed. After I thought about that a while, I thought, "They can't close the road all day. They can't shut the people of Seward off from the world like that." So today I emailed a friend in Seward to check. After that I thought, "Why didn't you just google?" (Cause it was an excuse to say hi to my friend probably.) So I googled and got this:

Alert - Seward Highway
Seward Highway: from Milepost 22 to Falls Creek Bridge
delays, lane closed due to road construction work — until May 30
Comment: PLEASE NOTE: ROAD CLOSURE - The Seward Highway will be closed at Milepost 24.8 - Falls Creek this coming Friday, April 24th at 10:00 PM until Monday, April 27th at 5:00 AM. All construction is scheduled to be completed by Saturday, May 30th. For more information you may contact either DOT at 907-269-0450 or Tal Maxwell, the project engineer, at 907-632-2729 or the contractor at 907-288-6700.. Thank you.

last updated yesterday at 4:29 PM

Read that. What does that mean to you? I see "delays, lane closed..." But then it says "will be closed at Milepost 24.8...Friday...until Monday."

Then I got this back from my friend in Seward:

Crazy as it sounds, DOT is actually closing the road on Friday at 10 pm and not re-opening it until Monday morning at 5 am. It is unbelievable. They have three bridges that need major work, and the intent is to place temporary bridges on two of them. Sadly, DOT did not include the community in planning for the closure, so it took us all by surprise. We found out about 4 weeks ago and have been scrambling to address the issue. Lots of businesses have had to cancel bookings which had been booked a year or more in advance.
OK, I know there were some serious bridge problems, and making an extra lane over water in the narrow canyon could be tricky. And I'm sure they can get more work done if they don't have to let cars go by every hour or less. It's a trade off and probably it would cost a lot more to pick an option that lets people use the road. Or maybe it would cost a lot more in terms of imagination and creativity - how about a ferry on the lake? When I was on a bus in Nepal in another lifetime, we came to a huge rock slide. We were simply told to climb over the rocks and there was the bus coming the other way. The passengers just traded buses which gingerly turned around on the narrow mountain road. Isn't there a railroad bridge there? Why not work with the railroad for some extra trains that day, or at least a shuttle car over the railroad bridge. People could arrange to swap cars or there could be shuttle busses. There are lots of options if we put our heads together. It could even be fun. But cutting off a town of about 3000 plus everyone else that lives south of Moose Pass for a whole weekend seems pretty extreme.

Indigenous Peoples Summit Anchorage - Tuesday 2 PV Films

I've got a lot of video, but my computer is also full and I still don't trust my external hard drive, but I've been trashing old video so I can download new stuff. It's much easier to just write.

This evening I went back to the Denaina Center for the Summits film festival. I'm not sure what I expected, but I was really excited when I left. Basically, the films were all short films - up to about four or five minutes - made by the people in the films. There are some helpers. The UN has a whole program to help indigenous peoples make PVs (participatory videos) as a powerful way to tell their own stories. Two people who help people make such films - Citt (pronounced Kitt) Williams and Nick Lunch - were there to give some background. There were also some people who were in the films. (Nick's link goes to a video of Nick and his brother talking about making PVs.)

For this conference, the them was climate change, and most of the films showed us how climate change was affecting the lives of the people in the film. Films we saw covered a wide variety of locations:
Inuit Canada
Carterets Island - these people are being forced to move to the Papua New Guinea mainland by rising tides which is destroying their crops. The one hundred twenty families on the island are all preparing to leave their homes. Here's the video itself from Citt's blog on the site Media Studio. It's from her post yesterday from Anchorage.

Masai in Kenya - Drought is killing their livestock - you can see this film at Conversations with the Earth. Click on the video tab and the Masai.
Madagascar - drought is causing dunes to take over arable land. They are fighting back planting in the sand.
Borneo - A village where each family has ten plots. Each year they plant on one of those plots on a ten year rotation. They also protect the forests around them, while neighboring villages have had their forests cut by timber companies.
Camaroon - Looking at the loss of forest and the impacts that has on their culture. This film was their first film and made just last week!
Australia - Discusses the problems of fires.
Madagascar - Here an older woman teaches a younger woman about sorghum.
Peru - This film was different from the others. It is a more traditional documentary with a God-like narrator discussing how the glaciers are melting and other issues.
Australia - Two more Australian ones. People from both these films were in the audience and spoke to the group. Below is a bit of video I took of the first one and the woman from that movie. I'll try to add another one with the other guys who were here after the movie. But I'll do that later.

This was really good stuff. I realized that this is what I was starting to do in Thailand. But I was thinking that the videos were not really my job, just something I was doing on the side. But clearly next time I could focus on the sort of work that produced these videos of people telling their own stories. It was good to be able to talk to Nick and Citt afterward.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Indigenous Peoples Summit Anchorage - Tuesday

It's lunch break at the Denaina Center in Anchorage. I got here at the tail end of the morning sessions of the Indigenous Peoples Summit. This shot of the lobby shows a bit of the crowd from all over the world.
While I know something about these topics on a general level, I really have no indepth knowledge of what's going on in the world of indigenous people and climate change. So once I got into the room, I just pulled out the computer and started typing as people were talking and taking pictures. What you get here is my somewhat overwhelmed glimpses at the last panel of the morning. The afternoon sessions are closed to media so that delegates feel comfortable talking to each other without fear their words will show up somewhere for the whole world to see. That's certainly reasonable.

John Crump from the UN was discussing various UN activities related to climate change. That's him under the overhead on Objectives (of the UN in regard to climate change and indigenous peoples as I understood it.) Again, you're getting bits and pieces here out of context - think of it as sticking your head into a restaurant and catching some of the smells from the kitchen.

Now the UNESCO presentation - Peter Bates - He said there's general agreement about climate change and it's unlikely we'll be able to stop it so the focus is now on adapation to climate change. (I can't emphasize enough that you shouldn't take anything I write here as the gospel. It's possible that I've totally misinterpreted what I heard.)

Indigenous people are the first people already to experience with climate change and have a history of adapting to climate change. So they will get a larger role in UNESCO.

Discussion of UNESCO activities:
  • Internet Forum - French, English, and Spanish
  • Field Projects - Funded by Denmark - small projects, money available, proposals can be made by anybody = calls for proposals will be at info desk. Looking for coordinator for these projects.
  • Website -
  • Other Activities - Monaco Meeting - Climate Change and Arctic Sustainable Development - interdisciplinary dynamic - scientists as well as indigenous peoples had good interchange and there will be continuing work

  • has the report and presentations online.
  • Aug 2007, Canberra Australia Indigenous Knowledge and Changing Environments - publication coming soon and will be at the previous link.
Then we had Violet Ford, ICC (Inuit Circumpolar Council) Canada, The Convention on Biological Diversity and Climate Change

Parapharasing what I heard: Indigenous people were able to participate in this project. We were put on government delegations, where we try to influence the delegation, but are also forced to compromise. This forum has opened the door for indigenous peoples around the world to participate in BDCC process.

We hold traditional knowledge of these resources. The Convention recognizes the dependence of indigenous and local communities on biological diversities.

She discussed the relationships of various international conventions which require countries to conform with the agreements.
Decision iX/13 - alerts nations to keep the agreement. (All the pictures can be enlarged by double clicking them)

I don't know how the parties will take on the obligations to indigenous people. But the Inuits of N. Canada are already adapting - new travel and hunting routes as geese and caribou have shifted their migration routes. The significant role of indigenous people needs to be recognized by post Kyoto Convention. We can't wait though. What will happen to our traditional knowledge when we can no longer hunt, when there is no need to pass own our knowledge.

Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change (click link for all the posts on the summit)

I'm going to stop here and post. I've got one more speaker to go, but I'm putting the video together for her - Vicky Tauli-Corpuz - and some of the questions.