Our September Climate Mama comes to us from Quebec, Canada. Educator, adventurer, polar explorer and mom, Lisa “Diz” Glithero helps us “make the connections” between our actions and our changing natural world. With her positive, charismatic and optimistic attitude, Diz has inspired thousands of young people and educators to learn more about the urgency of bringing a sustainability imperative into our teaching and into our lives. “Diz” motivates and re-energizes all of us to see the glass “half full” and this moment in the history of our planet as one of incredible opportunity and great possibilities! We are thrilled and truly honored to introduce you to:
Lisa (Diz) Glithero
Current project/position/adventure: Founder and Director of EYES Project, Part-Time Professor Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa; Full-time Doctoral Student; Mother of a 2 year old son (and another en route!)
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, the steps you took, life events, decisions you made, that helped you arrive at where you are at today? Where I find myself today is a culmination of all the left and right turns, conversations and moments I’ve experienced over the past 36 years; A few pivotal or transformative ones along the way include the 13 years spent on Big Hawk Lake at Camp Kawabi both as a camper and staff; a conversation with a Nepalese Sherpa one evening during a three month trek in the Himalayas about life direction; teaching in the Heiltsuk community of Bella Bella; working as Education Director for Students on Ice leading expeditions for high-school students to the Polar Regions; and growing into adulthood with 3 grandparents active in my life and a family who valued family.
What inspires you to keep going, to keep fighting this challenging battle against climate change? I am inspired daily by young people who recognize their own agency to enact positive societal change; young critical thinkers who are asking big questions and who are collaborating with others to find solutions. The idealism and energy inherent to youth is profound, contagious and needed in addressing today’s complex challenges, climate change being one. It is such a privilege to be an educator.
What are the three greatest challenges and/or opportunities you feel the world faces with climate change? In choosing to see the cup half full, I believe this is a time of incredible opportunity—a time of great possibility out of an urgent need to rethink and redo. Such opportunities include a call to move away from the intense individualism that has dominated the past century towards a generation of collaboration and a revitalization of community.
Secondly, new career opportunities, social innovation and entrepreneurship (both local and global) are emerging. Finally a shift in values is enabling us to (re)connect with the natural world, be it urban ecology or wilderness, and to (re)awaken to the notion that we are a part of something so much bigger (than ourselves, than humanity).
Scientific predictions seem to be pointing to dire scenarios, a shorter time frame for a warmer planet and all of the negative ramifications that this will cause. What will it take for us to avert these consequences? Through my work I have learned that people often do not act, or change their ways, until an issue becomes personal, part of the living fabric of the everyday. The degree to which people around the planet are experiencing climate change and the related ramifications varies immensely. Collectively we need to work together to highlight the relevancy and pertinence of taking action on climate change. It is not simply an ecological issue but also an economic, socio-cultural and political one. It is our (collective) problem. We are all in this together.
Do you see any hopeful signs that people are waking up to the dangers of climate change? There are hopeful signs all around: personal acts of responsible citizenship; corporate models of sustainability; (some) governments at all levels—municipal, provincial and national—providing legislation and incentives to do things differently; as well as NGO’s and public sector leading the charge on consciousness-raising, policy-making, behavior changing and ‘hands in the mud’ societal change. I am mindful as an educator of the language so often associated with climate change (e.g. “dire scenarios,” “avert catastrophe,” “fighting the dangers of climate change”). It is a fine balance between engendering a sense of urgency in all of us to act while at the same time avoiding a culture of fear and/or hopelessness.
What advice would you give to other Climate Mama’s and Papa’s, steps they can take both as individuals and collectively to help change the course we currently find ourselves on with climate change. Change takes time and requires a long-term commitment. You need to align yourself with a positive, dynamic, and intergenerational community of passionate folk to engender change. Draw inspiration from the inherent optimism, curiosity, and pursuit of possibilities found within your children. Learn from elders the narratives of the places we each call home. We are a small part of a living history of places. Understanding a place and how, what, why things have changed over time aids us in collectively re/authoring new narratives that are more sustainable and just.
Contact information, website, or related story you would like us to link to this article?
Favorite book or movie? Jonathon Livingston Seagull