Drawdown Learn: A Solutions-Based Approach to Climate Education

“Innovation. Creativity. Ingenuity. Genius. When you set bigger goals, everything opens up.” ~ Paul Hawken, Project Drawdown

Northwest Earth Institute had the pleasure of partnering and presenting with Project Drawdown, the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education, and the Omega Center for Sustainable Living at the sold-out Drawdown Learn October 18-20. Hosted at Omega’s beautiful Rhinebeck, NY, campus, Drawdown Learn gathering was geared toward integrating Drawdown solutions into three areas: community/cross-sector educational and organizing efforts, K-12 education, and higher education.

NWEI’s Executive Director, David Macek and Director of Learning, Lacy Cagle, represented NWEI at the event by presenting on Drawdown EcoChallenge, learning from dozens of other community and educational organizations about how they are incorporating Drawdown’s research into their work, and organizing attendees to develop a calendar of all planned future events related to Drawdown’s work.

David and Lacy had the pleasure of co-presenting with Sarah Duffer, the high school science teacher who organized her Asheville, North Carolina high school to participate in and win the 2018 Drawdown EcoChallenge. “People loved hearing about the impact of Drawdown EcoChallenge, but Sarah’s presentation blew them out of the water,” Lacy said. “Sarah has such energy and passion – I told her she’s a better promoter of EcoChallenge than any of us! Her story of her students getting engaged in Drawdown EcoChallenge and the lessons she created for her classes around it was so compelling that the entire audience gave her a standing ovation. It was an honor and privilege to hear her story and present with her.” 

Another highlight was the seven articulate and passionate young people who shared their stories, advice and requests during the Drawdown Learn youth panel on the last day of the event. They called for more encouragement, more resources, more listening, and more intersectionality from the older adults in the room. Columbia University sophomore, Silas Swanson, pointed out that every young person there was there for themselves and not because they “work for someone.” That allowed them to be more honest than if they had to represent another entity. “We are the leaders of today, and not just tomorrow,” Silas said.

David, Lacy, and other attendees were energized by the solutions focus and the big goals of the Drawdown team and the fruitful collaboration achieved from being in the same room with so many people who not only care, but are acting to make the world a better place.

NWEI looks forward to next year’s event, scheduled for October 18-20 at Omega.

And don’t forget about Drawdown EcoChallenge next year – April 3-24, 2019.


Photo credit: Omega Center for Sustainable Living, Asheville High School


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