people + planet @ peace

 

My mission is to strengthen people and planet through philanthropy

 

Entries in Knowledge (17)

Saturday
Apr222017

Factivists: Factivate!

Today I particiapted in the March for Science - San Francisco as a demonstration of my commitment to protect and promote one of my highest civic values: science.

The event celebrates public discovery, understanding, and distribution of scientific knowledge as crucial to the freedom, success, health, and safety of life on this planet.  The organization is a nonpartisan group, marching in support of the following goals: Communication, Funding, Policy, Literacy, and Diversity.

Please join me in standing up for science.

 And please be aware that we can do more than march, we can: 

  • Vote to elect representatives who will advance scientific investments, fund scientific education and research, and promote science-based policies at all levels of government.
  • Support scientific institutions and organizations financially.
  • Volunteer as a naturalist, citizen scientist, or environmental steward.
  • Advocate for scientific research in the fight against HIV/AIDS!
  • Continue to march to give voice to this important civic value. 

Together, we can build a healthier, safer, and smarter nation and society.

Here are the highlights of today's programming:


Friday
Apr212017

Science Saves Lives

Tomorrow, I will be taking part in the March for Science San Francisco. I support this movement as a demonstration of my commitment to protect and promote one of my highest civic values: science.

It's no coincidence that this movement is taking place on Earth Day, and most years I appreciate and applaud the awareness that the day brings to our collective conscience, as nothing unites humanity more than our planetary dependence and existence. We all depend on nature's bounty and live within her boundaries.

However, this year is different. I am serving in a new role at the National AIDS Memorial Grove and on a daily basis, I'm exposed to the importance of our health care system, the innovative scientific solutions developed to our most pressing public health concerns, and the critical need to invest in scientific knowledge for public health, safety, and national security. AIDS and other infectious diseases will only disappear if we can bridge the scientific and societal solutions that emerge from our pursuit of new knowledge. We must advance!

This year is also different for me because of the political disreagrd, devalued role, and diminished investment in science. I will not call it a "war" on science, because I feel as though there are already too many casualties literally for this "war on science" metaphor to be sensitive. It is a life-and-death matter, not a tired metaphor.  But I will say this:

Science saves lives. If we are to find a cure for AIDS; if we are to alleviate the unbearable pain and suffering of the sick; and if we are to overcome the deadly viciousness of the virus: we need science and we must speak up for scientific research. Our destiny is in our hands.

In addition to marching, here's what I pledge to do:

  • I will vote to elect representatives who will advance scientific investments, fund scientific education and research, and promote science-based policies at all levels of government.
  • I will support scientific institutions and organizations financially.
  • I will continue to volunteer as a naturalist and citizen scientist.
  • I will advocate for scientific research in the fight against HIV/AIDS!
  • I will continue to march to give voice to this important civic value.

Together, we can build a healthier, safer, and smarter nation and society.

Monday
Mar062017

War metaphor, what is it good for?

Recent guest blog posts by Dr. Jon Foley (@GlobalEcoGuy) in Scientific American make no mistake: it is a time of war. There is a war on science.

Metaphorically speaking, right?

In “How to Defeat Those Who Are Waging War on Science,” (Feb. 27, 2017), Foley and Christina Arena write, “America has a choice to make. A choice between advancing civilization or bringing it down. A choice between knowledge and chaos. Now, everyone must choose which side they are on."

Dr. Foley seems to be fixated on the metaphor in “War on Science” (Feb. 20, 2017) and in another article, when he warns: “The War on Facts is a War on Democracy” (Jan. 25, 2017). It’s clear he’s armed for confrontation, if not combat.

YIKES!

Dr. Foley is Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences — a beloved institution in Golden Gate Park where my career in development began in 2010. I now stay involved via iNaturalist and volunteer with citizen science projects that monitor tide pools along the California coast.

I can appreciate what Dr. Foley is trying to say and that he thinks in bold terms. However, while the war metaphor might “rally the troops” in military terms, does it really help advance science in realistic ways? Do scientists really want to be viewed as combatants in a war? How does this advance a culture of "safe spaces?"

Personally, I am deeply troubled by headline emphasis on war and it makes me extremely uncomfortable.

Dr. Foley, I respectfully ask: Do we really need another war metaphor? Now? Aren’t we divided enough? Doesn’t this just perpetuate more “us versus them” thinking? Isn’t that dehumanizing?

It seems like certain generations of Americans love to talk in terms of war. They understand what that means and it speaks to them. OK, but I think a new generation is looking for better metaphors.

At best, it’s a basic metaphor that does what basic metaphors do: symbolize a concept by evoking imagery. However, at worst, the war metaphor implies indirect and direct violence as a proxy for opposing ideas and values. I highly doubt that Dr. Foley is advocating for violence in his war-on-science approach.

To be clear, I DO think there is a real war going on right now due to climate change, which has real victims and globally requires multi-national alliances and creative solutions fueled by innovations in science and technology, much in the same ways that surfaced globally in World War II — read “A World at War” by Bill McKibben.

But this literal war isn’t quite what Dr. Foley and others mean when they metaphorically talk about a war on science, which is another reason I think a better metaphor would suffice. By calling everything a war – war on drugs, war on poverty, war on (FILL IN THE BLANK) – we lose any effectiveness of the metaphor. It’s tired. I’m tired of it.

Further, conservationists in particular should be careful of "crying wolf” too many times. War as a metaphor is, in my opinion, overplayed and way too simple whereas the situation Dr. Foley is describing is incredibly complex. The war metaphor is also incredibly limiting and I implore life-loving scientists and theorists be more sophisticated than that, if less macho...

In looking for a basic critique of the limitations of the war metaphor, I came across a paper, “On revising conceptual metaphors for argument” (2016) by Erik Isaksson, a student at University of Gothenburg's Department of Philosophy, Linguistics, and Theory of Science. Isaksson argues that there are serious problems with using war as a conceptual metaphor for argument and discusses several limitations, including:

No Fallacies Argument: “Arguments based on the assumption that in war, anything goes. As long as the war metaphor reigns, nothing but winning matters — there are no fallacies in argument.”

Aggression Argument: “Certain types of people (perhaps those afraid of conflict) are driven away from serious philosophical discourse because of how aggressive it is. And " … it stands to reason that the loss of these people entails a loss in knowledge and competence.”

Blindness Argument: “… as we think of argument as war, we lose sight of some non-adversarial goals. We end up competing rather than cooperating."

Isaksson says, "... we would be well served by picking a metaphor which encourages cooperation rather than competition. Furthermore, the metaphor should aid us in accomplishing the primary goal of argument: arriving at the truth together. Testing one party’s idea against another’s in bloody war is certainly one way of doing this, but there might be other ways. Rather than finding the truth (and agreement) by attacking each other until one of us gives way, perhaps it is possible to cooperate towards finding the truth."

In summary, my reasons for opposing the war metaphor include:

  • It creates an “us versus them” dynamic that is dehumanizing.
  • It implies indirect and direct violence as a proxy for opposing ideas and values.
  • It is an overplayed and tired metaphor that is too limiting.
  • It emphasizes that nothing but winning matters.
  • Aggression alienates people and we lose their knowledge and competence as a result.
  • We end up competing instead of cooperating.

If recent marches have taught me anything, it’s that wit is more energetic and effective than the war metaphor. 

Make wit, not war!

At the San Francisco Women’s March in January, the wit levels were over the top! Thanks to the uplifting power of clever wit and humor, I was energized and inspired far more than any tired war metaphor could ever elicit. I’m excited for the upcoming March for Science – San Francisco, where I expect to see the best/worst placards my science-loving, creative community can come up with. I look forward to it!

Let's disarm the tired war metaphor and energize a new generation of FACTIVISTS!

“Out of our labs and into the streets!”

Let’s promote peace above all. Let’s talk. Let’s make our voices heard. And let’s find a better metaphor than war.

Will you join us?

Sunday
Apr202014

Biodiversity Academy

Two of my favorite academies—California Academy of Sciences and Khan Academy—have partnered to produce an online series that investigates the amazing diversity of life on this planet. In the short, informative videos, viewers learn what biodiversity is, why it is important, where it is found, how it comes into existence, how you study it, why it is threatened, and how it can be protected.

Why is Biodiversity Important?
Discover why a high diversity of species sustains ecosystems, which in turn provide important services to humans.

Topics:

  • Biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Ecological interactions
  • Ecological levels: from individuals to ecosystems
  • Ecosystem services
  • Ecosystems and ecological networks
  • Healthy ecosystems

Where is Biodiversity Found?
Explore how life is found almost everywhere on Earth, but is not distributed evenly. And learn why the clumped distributions of species are the result of a wide variety of both natural and human-driven factors.

Topics:

  • Biodiversity distribution patterns
  • Biodiversity Hotspots
  • Extreme life
  • How biodiversity is distributed globally
  • Tolerance ranges of species
  • Why biodiversity is distributed unevenly

How is Biodiversity Studied?
Delve into the history of humanity’s passion to document and display specimens from the natural world and learn how biodiversity expeditions are conducted today.

Topics:

  • Biodiversity analyses and uncertainties
  • Biodiversity analyses and unknowns exploration questions
  • Biodiversity Expeditions Past and Present
  • Biodiversity fieldwork
  • Field Methods for Documenting Biodiversity
  • How much biodiversity do we really know?
  • Studying biodiversity in the lab

The tutorial videos are narrated by Dr. Rich Mooi, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology and Geology, and the series includes a variety of supplementary educational materials, such as activities, case studies, community questions, glossaries, and quizzes.

According to the welcome site:

“We chose biodiversity as the focus of our first course with Khan Academy not only because it is so relevant to our institutional mission, but also because biodiversity is literally the stuff of life. It is the diversity of all the species on this planet, the genetic diversity represented by all the individuals, the ecosystem diversity, and the evolutionary lineages represented by all species, living and fossil. Biodiversity is all around us. It is crucial to the quality of our lives and the lives of all other living organisms, but we actually know very little about who all the players are in this pageantry of life, much less the roles they play and the benefits they can and do provide. We do know, however, that we are losing biodiversity at an alarming and unprecedented rate, driven by our own actions that result in habitat loss, pollution, climate change, overfishing and overhunting, to name a few. But it is not all bad news. We are learning more about biodiversity every day, and tremendous advances have been made in protecting and restoring biodiversity in many areas of the world. This course is designed to tell these exciting, amazing, crucial, and at times troubling stories of the diversity of life.

The course is designed for many audiences, including teachers, students, families, youth leaders, policy makers, and anyone interested in learning more about the diversity of life on our planet. We hope that you will not only learn things from the course, but will also be moved to become even more active stewards of the environment and its precious biodiversity.”

All of the video tutorials are wonderful and I especially enjoy the California Case Study, featuring Dr. Rebecca Johnson, my colleague and mentor who trained me as a Rocky Shore Naturalist.

Check it out!

Sunday
Mar302014

Become a Certified Naturalist

The University of California Naturalist Program is offering another Naturalist Certification Course in the San Francisco Bay area, in patnership with the Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SPAWN), a project of the Turtle Island Restoration Network.

Bay Area folks, now's your chance to become a certified naturalist! Two years ago, I was certified though this program and I highly recommend it for all those interested in learning more about volunteering as a naturalist, especially in advanced interpretation and citizen science research methods. 

The SPAWN California Naturalist Training Course will introduce you to the interwoven wonders of the unique ecology and natural history of the Lagunitas Creek Watershed and engage you in direct stewardship actions. The 40-hour course will utilize a combination of science curriculum, guest lecturers, field trips and project based learning to immerse you in the natural world of California. Expert instructors will uncover strategies to continue conservation of biodiversity, focusing on California watersheds. 

Summer 2014 Meeting Days & Times:

Ten weekly classroom lessons 
Wednesdays, 6:30pm - 9:00pm, May 21 - July 23
Three immersive field seminars 
Saturdays, 9:00am - 3:00pm, exact dates TBD

Expert Instructors:

Chris Pincetich, Ph.D., Lead California Naturalist Course Instructor
John Dell'Osso, Lead Interpreter, Point Reyes National Seashore 
Jules Evens, author of Natural History of the Point Reyes Peninsula
Emily Burns, Ph.D., Director of Science, Save the Redwoods League
Nat Seavey, Ph.D., Pacific Director, Point Blue Conservation Science
and more!

Learn more and register today!

Wednesday
Mar262014

BioBlitz and Biodiversity Festival

The three national park units that make up the Golden Gate National Parks encompass more than 80,000 acres and 91 miles of shoreline along the northern California coast. These parks are home to an amazing array of biodiversity, including over half of the bird species of North America and nearly one-third of California’s plant species!

To better understand, appreciate, and protect this natural treasure, the National Park ServiceNational GeographicGolden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and Presidio Trust are teaming up to host a 24-hour BioBlitz species count and two-day Biodiversity Festival, Friday-Saturday, March 28-29, 2014.

BioBlitz

BioBlitz 2014 will take place in several national parks, including Muir Woods National Monument, Fort Point National Historic Site, and locations in Golden Gate National Recreation Area including the Giacomini wetlands, Muir BeachMarin Headlands, Crissy Field, Presidio, Mori Point, and Rancho Corral de Tierra.

The event will take place Friday-Saturday, March 28-29, 2014 and will bring together more than 300 leading scientists and naturalists from around the country, thousands of local community members of all ages, and more than 2,000 students from across the Bay Area.

Throughout March, BioBlitz collaborating organizations such as the Institute at the Golden Gate, California Academy of Sciences, Aquarium of the Bay, the American Cetacean Society, Marine Mammal Center, and Slide Ranch are hosting several BioBlitz-related events

Biodiversity Festival

The FREE Biodiversity Festival will take place at Crissy Field’s East Beach in the San Francisco Presidio, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 28, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 29. The festival features science demonstrations and exhibits, live animals, hands-on activities provided by prominent science and environmental organizations, National Geographic-led photography workshops, food, entertainment, and art. Explorers of all ages can enjoy the festival and “graduate” from Biodiversity University by participating in a variety of activities.

All festival events are free and open to the public, and no registration is required.

Download the event schedule to learn more.

Update! I graduated with a Doctorate of Biodiversity from Biodiversity University! 

Saturday
Mar152014

Citizen Science at the Academy

The California Academy of Sciences is partnering with iNaturalist to enlist an army of citizen scientists working toward conservation efforts. This Science Today video features several of the Academy's citizen science programs, a few of which I've been able to join. 

Citizen science (also known as crowd science, crowd-sourced science, civic science, or networked science) is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or nonprofessional scientists, often by crowdsourcing crowdfunding. Formally, citizen science has been defined as "the systematic collection and analysis of data; development of technology; testing of natural phenomena; and the dissemination of these activities by researchers on a primarily avocational basis."[1] Citizen science is sometimes called "public participation in scientific research."[2]

I'm particularly delighted to see my Rocky Shore Naturalist, iNaturalist, and Naturalist Center colleagues profiled prominently in the video.

Keep up the good work!

Sunday
Dec302012

2012: Year of the American Indian Summer

In most years, an “Indian Summer” describes a heat wave that occurs in the autumn that occurs in the Northern Hemisphere between late September and mid-November. In 2012, however, it could be argued that “Indian Summer” now means something more similar to the “Arab Spring” uprisings that arose independently and spread across the Arab world in 2011.

The “American Indian Summer” wasn’t similar to the “Arab Spring” in that it involved expressions of violence within revolutionary conflicts, but it was similar in its effective use of new media technologies in a variety of coordinated social movements.

2012: the year the American Indian Movement effectively used digital, mobile, and social media technologies.

It’s about time.

Researchers have noted the “digital divide” – inequalities in access to information and communication technologies, as well as inequalities in the knowledge and skills needed to effectively use the information gained from connecting. No doubt, there are geographic and generational barriers to connectivity in American Indian communities, complicating social fragmentation and other disparities.

However, recent events suggest that the American Indian Movement is dramatically different in the 21st Century: it’s no longer institutional, protected by trademarks, or governed by a Grand Council.

Now, it's that and it's digital, mobile, and social. It's open source and open to all!

Take, for example, the creative mobilizing efforts of the “Save Pe’sla” movement. Artists, celebrities, tribes, and people from many other social spheres, came together to purchase the sacred site by using various digital media projects, such as this video, spread via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms, most of which centered around the "Last Real Indians" website by Chase Iron Eyes.   

Or, how artist Aaron Huey raised awareness of the Lakota fight to claim the Black Hills in South Dakota, demanding that the government start Honoring the Treaties. He did so though a book, documentary filmTed Talk, mural project, and website, to name a few of his strategies.

Or even more recently, the #IdleNoMore movement in Canada has rallied behind a collection of digital, mobile, and social strategies that include a tweeted hashtag meme, flash mobs, and website – all mixed with traditional protest methods of road blocks, marches, and even a very real, human hunger strike – inspired by assertion that if "Aboriginal people did not speak out it would mean they "comply with [their] silence" on the most important issues to indigenous communities. The movement has grown to broaden the conversation, calling for treaty recognition, tribal self-determination, and policy reformation, among other important areas.

I see these movements as the product of very real contributing factors, including:

  • Policy: The 2009 passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama early in his administration.  A portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act designated approximately $7.2 billion in investments to expand broadband access nationwide, improve high-speed connectivity in rural areas and public computer centers, and increase Internet capacity in schools, libraries, public safety offices, and other public buildings.
  • Philanthropy:  people today - particularly social entrepreneurs and innovators - see that the commons can be more creative and nimble than political change via government policies, or developing solutions based on markets and profit margins. The Save Pe’ Sla movement was ultimately a fundraiser, for example.
  • Technology: hardware and software have dramatically improved as our phones have become smarter, increasingly light and mobile, and easier to use. The above referenced examples provide evidence to suggest that websites and widgets are dramatically improving creative connectivity through devices that are increasingly common and relatively affordable.  For example, I learned about Aaron Huey’s Documentary Video and TedTalk from a friend at a barbecue, later watched both on YouTube on my iPad and then promptly downloaded the digital illustration he used on his mural as my new desktop wallpaper.
  • Society: it’s clear that people now see the adoption of digital, mobile, and social media technologies as standard tools in our mobilization kit. People can and do use a mix of basic mobile devices, such as Androids and iPhones, basic social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to produce basic  digital with content such as images and videos, all delivered through basic digital media platforms such as YouTube and  Flickr. We consider the insights of bloggers and “posters” of all kinds, from status updates to manifestos. You can follow the hunger strike in your news feed.

Welcome to 2013 – join me in watching what will come in the year ahead for the new American Indian Movement and the digitization, mobilization, socialization of media from indigenous communities across the globe.

I'm reminded that these recent events all began after the Return of Pté San Wi, the White Buffalo Calf Woman in July. Could these events be the dawning of the Age of Illumination, the age when mankind walks upright and once again remembers his true relationship with Creator? In the words of Black Elk, "...the yellow for the south, whencer come the summer and the power to grow.

Wednesday
Jul042012

Naturalist Certification

Summer 2012 University of California Naturalist Certification cohort. Photo credit: Dr. Christopher Pincetich.Many of my current professional and personal projects involve translating scientific research and STEM education programs into key deliverables, such as grant proposals, reports, and fundraising case statements. I communicate to diverse audiences, from established scientific research and government agencies, to philanthropic foundations and the general public.

To become better at communicating science, I’ve enrolled to become a Certified Naturalist from the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The program "utilizes a science curriculum, hands-on learning, communication training, and community service to engage adults in interactive learning and provides them with scientific literacy and critical thinking skills."

I'm also excited about becoming certified because I'll be able to participate in a wide variety of citizen science programs, including those at the Academy's Naturalist Center. This certification and these programs are part of a growing field of public participation in scientific research (PPSR), in which members of the public engage in the process of scientific investigations:  asking questions, collecting data, and/or interpreting results.

Watch the video below to learn more about the program and be sure to follow the "Green Blog" - it's highly informative and effectively uses stunning visual images.

Wednesday
Apr112012

Traditional Ecological Knowledge

I recently watched this video (below) from Bioneers about traditional ecological knowledge. The mission of Bioneers is to inspire a shift to live on Earth in ways that honor the web of life, each other and future generations.

The Bioneers Indigeneity Program works to promote indigenous leaders and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) as a critical path to support all people in learning to honor bio-cultural landscapes and reconnect to place-based ways.  Native peoples are keepers of the earth's "old growth" cultures, living in harmony with their Native environments for thousands of years.  This indigenous science offers a different way of knowing that provides a crucial complement to the tools of western science.

Over the last decade, Bioneers commitment to indigenous peoples' social and ecological issues has brought together some of the greatest indigenous leaders of our time in one place. 

I originally wanted to post a presentation by Melissa K. Nelson, Ph.D. (Anishinaabe/Métis [Turtle Mountain Chippewa]), a cultural ecologist, scholar-activist, writer and media-maker, is a Professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University and the President of the Cultural Conservancy, a Native American nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of indigenous cultures and their ancestral lands. She is the editor of the Bioneers anthology, Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings For A Sustainable Future and producer of the award-winning documentary film, The Salt Song Trail. She is the co-founder/co-producer of the Indigenous Forum at Bioneers and co-founder of the new Bioneers Indigeneity Program as well as serving on Bioneers’ board.

However, they password protected the video (why do they not want to share this?!?!), so I removed the link.  Hopefully, Bioneers will be more share-friendly in the future.