Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you imagine it. ~George Lucas
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
About 20 years ago, they decided to do something.
The land was dead. Brown, used up, dusty and gray.
But it once had been a forest. Not so very long ago, it was lush and green and home to lots of animals and birds. It had been magnificent, once.
Sebastiao knew, because the land had once been owned by his parents. A photographer, he spent the mid-1990s documenting the genocide in Rwanda; more than a little emotionally battered by that experience, he came home to that land – hoping to restore his peace among the trees.
But instead of peace, he met a dried and deadened landscape.
And so, 20 years ago, surrounded by 17,000 acres of dusty, dry and dying land, he and his wife decided they should do something about it. And they did.
Little by little, bit by bit. They raised money. Created a foundation. Planted. First they planted beans to restore nitrogen to the soil. Then they planted trees. Most of them died. They cried. They didn’t give up.
They groomed. They fed. They tended and nurtured.
Now, 20 years later… They have a forest.
Their land is a lush, green oasis among the surrounding dusty landscape. Animals and birds have returned – dozens of species – some of them at critical risk of extinction.
Neighboring landowners have seen the benefits of restoring the forest. Their cows are producing milk. The springs have come back. And now they are planting trees on their own land, with the help of the nursery that Instituto Terra has created.
The Instituto has started teaching students how to re-forest. They’re spreading the word about what they’ve done and how they did it – sharing the knowledge borne of 20 years of hands-on experience re-creating natural magic.
Two people and ingenuity. Patience, persistence, and resolve.
Over 2 million trees.
Friends, I tell you this story because there is so much going on right now that it’s easy to look around and only see the destruction around us. It’s easy to just kick up the dust and say there’s no use.
But if you can’t see past the dusty earth before you, how can you ever imagine a forest?
If we can’t see past the anxiety and pain of today, how can we ever hope to restore what we once had – let alone strive to right our wrongs and make our society what it can and should be?
We can’t. Hope is that secret sauce that fuels our inspiration. Without hope, there’s no creativity – there’s no dreaming about what might come … what might be possible … what you might help to create.
I’m not advocating that you stop paying attention to the destruction that continues and the mountains of work ahead. Don’t stick your head in the sand.
But don’t let the despair of it all suck the hope out of you. We need you too much.
You are more important than you know.
So keep your eyes on the dream.
Keep moving forward – inch by inch, foot by foot.
I’m right there with you.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of December 3, 2019
Tuesday: Russia Does not belong in the g7. Period.
As you probably recall, Russia was excluded from the “Group of Eight” a few years ago because it invaded Ukraine. At the last G7 meeting, Trump called for Russia to be readmitted.
Just … no.
Today – like, in a few HOURS – the House will consider HR546, which is a resolution recognizing the sovereignty of Ukraine, condemning Russian aggression, and reaffirming support for keeping Russia out of the “Group of Eight” (which is now, obviously, the Group of Seven). (“Disapproving the Russian Federation’s inclusion in future Group of Seven summits until it respects the territorial integrity of its neighbors and adheres to the standards of democratic societies.”)
So go grab your phone and make a real simple call here, folks. This legislation is a no-brainer, so every Congress(wo)man should be voting in favor. Let’s keep our eyes peeled for Republican votes on this, shall we?
In keeping with our tree theme here, I wanted to bring your attention to an initiative that will plant 20 million trees by January 2020. #TeamTrees (at https://teamtrees.org) is only 4 million shy (correction – 3.5 million – it’s jumping fast!) from reaching their 20 million tree goal.
Some studies suggest that re-forestation could be the cheapest way to combat climate change. While folks quibble about how much of a carbon impact we can expect from drastic re-forestation, as Instituto Terra demonstrates, re-forestation has many benefits besides easing climate change.
Every dollar plants a tree. So, if you’re looking for a creative initiative that’s doing something concrete – check them out today!
Thursday: Open Enrollment – PLEASE spread the word!!
Open enrollment is … well … “open” until December 15. There’s not much advertising going into this year’s open enrollment, so it’s up to us to make sure people know they can STILL sign up. I am repeating this action because it is so important!!
PLEASE post on social media about the deadline, and provide the link to sign up: https://www.healthcare.gov It’s as simple as saying: “Hey, not sure if anyone needs this info, but open enrollment at Healthcare.gov is through December 15!
Friday: Climate Strike!
Every day there’s more (terrifying) news about the climate. Just last night a new report was released showing that glacial lakes are draining into the oceans at an alarming speed, raising even more concerns about the speed of sea level rise. Graphics and GIFs show how our climate has changed over the last 100 years. It’s jarring, to say the least.
This week, world leaders are meeting in Madrid to talk about climate change and what we need to do.
Trump did not send a cabinet-level official to that meeting, which is shameful. But Speaker Pelosi is leading a group of Democratic lawmakers to show our commitment to this issue.
This really is an all-hands-on-deck moment, guys. I know you’re already doing what you can personally to combat climate change, but consider getting out there to make your opinions visible. If you weren’t able to make the last climate strikes, you get another chance on Friday! Find one near you at www.strikewithus.org.
Extra credit: There’s a really great She Should Run quiz HERE that I thought some of you would absolutely love! Take it, and get ready to run!
WHEW! GO, TEAM! SUPER PROUD OF YOU!
P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.