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Toward Sustainability Foundation

2017 Gulf Of Maine Institute, 501(c)(3)

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Letter From The Editor

May 13, 2019

 

Here's a challenge for GOMI Journal readers and would-be submitters.  We  are looking for articles, essays, poems, and opinions that scrutinize conventional thinking about education and educational reform  – research, ideas, and practices that embrace a CBS framework and take us into the "tinkering at the edges" and beyond into full-scale rethinking of how to prepare our youth to be stewards of a democratic society and our bioregion. In the words of UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres climate change "…  is the defining issue of our time – and we are at a defining moment. We face a direct existential threat". The science is there to back Guterres, but our political leadership is in denial and our faith in government low.  So, simultaneously we face a political and an environmental crisis.

 

The duplexity is daunting.  It is a time for hope, not denial or despair. Both of the latter lead to hopelessness and depression and these to inaction. Hope, based on truth, brings with it the courage and focus for action.  The truth is that the Secretary-General is right. We need to courageously accept the truth and rally our intellectual, civic, and moral skills to renew our relationship to the environment and each other.  This is not a job for science, technology, and schools alone.  It is a job for all of us. Now is the time to ask: How do we educate our children, so they best acquire the skills needed to steward a sustainable democracy and planet and how do we provide them dual stewardship literacy?   

 

We believe the answer, in part, lies in educational reforms beginning at the local level. This is not a job for the schools alone.  Its job for all of us. That is why we support a CBS approach. GOMI Journal is committed to facilitating the conversation. We are calling for submissions, including research, opinions, examples, poems, and essays that provide insights, facts, and practical suggestions on why and how to educate for dual literacy

 

We aim to make GOMI Journal a compendium of your voices orchestrating conversations on a pathway to greater understanding.  Understanding about how research and practice inform one another, how seeking a fuller knowledge of our place in the planet may fully integrate us into a new way living on it – a non-exploitive, humanistic stewardship informed by the strengths and limits of science and the empathetic power of the humanities.  This begs inclusion of children and youth, the inheritors of the duplexity, and calls to the community to engage educating them from K-12 and beyond to co-steward our democracy and the environment. Somewhat of a version of "it takes a village to raise a child." This is the essence of community-based stewardship (CBS).  

 

Let me illustrate CBS by a more straightforward example.  Recently, I was invited to attend a meeting between a rare disease advocacy group, Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA)[1], and CRISPR Therapeutics[2], Cambridge MA. FARA's mission is "… the pursuit of scientific research leading to treatments and a cure for Friedreich's Ataxia." CRISPR has as its mission: "… developing transformative gene-based medicines for serious human diseases". The purpose of the meeting was to explore the possibilities of the two organizations partnering in a shared goal to cure FA. Researchers were seeking a deeper understanding of diagnostic procedures as well as social and emotional effects on those having FA and how these might affect the severity of symptoms.  Present were six FARA representatives, including five FA patients, one being FARAs founder, and Executive Director, along with CRISPR’s CEO and over half of its employees.  FARA participants were seeking a role in assisting the researchers to understand FA better and to be a partner in finding its cure.  Each FARA participant, in panel fashion, presented their story. Their telling weaved a compelling collage of courage and hope. 

 

The potential for symbiosis quickly emerged.  It became clear that CRISPR researchers, mainly bench scientists, have little contact with the people whose disease they seek to cure. The FARA group has the personal experience and an available data base extending over eighteen years, demographics and diagnostic procedures and a sizable bank of frozen blood and urine samples.    The sample bank and database are a virtual mother-load of resources for CRISPR scientists, and they have the intellectual, financial, and physical research capacity, to put it all to good use. Together, in their search for a cure, FARA and CRISPR envision a more informed, powerful, and compassionate, research community. Many researchers stressed, during and after the meeting, how "putting a face on the disease" made their "… work more urgent and meaningful". For FARA, by giving meaning to their voice and value to their knowledge, the possible partnership buoyed "hope" and a sense of efficacy. 

 

What's this have to do with CBS you might ask?  It struck me; the example of two groups from another sector of society forming a collaboration to reach a common goal is a simple way to both illustrate CBS and give it authenticity. FARA and CRISPR are working to better understand and cure a pernicious disease.  To do this, they are forming a learning community. Both understand that such a community will enhance their missions and further a humanistic process for understanding and curing FA.  At a more complex level this is what CBS is doing. Our developing trial sites (Kennebunk, Newburyport, Lowell, and Bethlehem) are forming learning communities. Our communities are more complex, as they are compound and not dualities. They do, however, have the common goal to enhance and invigorate a community approach to preparing youth to be hopeful, convincing, and proactive stewards.  That other progressive organizations, such as CRISPR, are deploying a similar model adds authenticity to CBS. 

 

 

 

 

  1. For more on FA and FARA go to www.curefa.org

  2. For more on CRISPER go to www.crisprtx.com

 

John P. Terry, founded the Gulf of Maine Institute in
1999. John was Editor-in-Chief, CYD (Community Youth Development) Journal from Aug. 1994 to Nov. 2002. John has broad teaching and administrative experience at the university level including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1969-1984, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, 1985-1992, and Union College, Schenectady, NY, 1964-1969. John received national recognition in 2006 when selected as Civic Ventures,’ Lead with Experience Program 2006 Purpose Prize Fellows. He is also a 2008 recipient of the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment Visionary Award.

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