Today, was invited to – and officially accepted – COP22 as a U.S. delegate. I don’t think it has completely set in yet. Honestly, receiving a cheery call from Morgan Curtis of SustainUs feels cheery in and of itself; realizing that’s she’s really saying, “See you in Morocco to push amazing global policy work on climate change and the environment!” is a whole other thing. To think, 10 years ago today I was stressing out over which shows my high school, Celtic Rock band would or would not choose to play in…Actually, 10 years ago this summer I was competing in my first Junior Olympics in Detroit. But that’s besides the point. The reality is, 10 years ago today I never imagined I would be more than a female violinist behind a male-dominated music ensemble, or more than a defenseman on a team I hardly made the cut for.
It’s exciting to see all of my work come together. What’s the most exciting is not a day goes by without me realizing how much of my work came from my grandmothers. My paternal grandmother, who just had her 87th birthday on Friday, taught me work ethic. She’s been independent for decades. In fact, she’s been independent her whole life. The only girl among many brother and half-brothers, she always held her own. She worked a whole slew of jobs, bought her own cars, and even worked to keep the farm afloat when her husband died and she was on the verge of poverty.
Then there’s my maternal grandmother, teaching more than maybe she realized. I’ve traced my lineage through a line of medicine people, the clan I’m enrolled in, and it seems fitting. The emphasis she placed on plants. The central part gardening played in our lives growing up. Making salads of Lovage from her Salad Bowl…It has all translated into my work today. It has taken me some time, but I finally realize how many people have lost this common sense. That’s why so much of my work is dedicated to food sovereignty, seed saving practices, and native seed banks.
One thing I love about engineering is how flexible it can be. I learn all of the tools to apply it to fancy technology, but there’s a whole other realm of possibilities too. That realm is where engineering overlaps with the most basic concepts. “Expounding on traditional knowledge” is probably my favorite way to describe it. It’s taking engineering to analyze why certain traditional farming and other techniques work, then looking at how to make them even more efficient or effective. Water use and resource management. Seed cleaning, saving, and distribution. Even traditional structures. (Did you know kivas utilize convection to function?)
It’s hard to imagine, based on how I grew up, that people don’t raise their own food, that they don’t know how to grow it or how to save seeds. But I’m realizing how much that is the reality. Through the local programs our AISES group has been collaborating with, I’ve been able to work with Working in Beauty, members from COPE, and a variety of other organizations to tackle food sovereignty topics on both the educational as well as policy levels. Outreach. Outreach. Outreach.
If you ever want me to speak at your function, be sure to contact my agent. Just kidding…my agent’s on vacation this month. 😉