Tagged: climate change

Grief, Gender, and Ecology at Work

We were totally excited recently to come across Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, a performance group firmly grounded in the 2010s. Part social commentators and part Nina Simone-inspired musicians, AATJ was spotlit in the Village Voice on the eve of Swanlights, their MOMA-commissioned performance at Radio City Music Hall.

In the Voice interview, English-born and transgender Hegarty reflects on the world he inhabits, and touches us at our core. In one moment — among many — of poignance, he relates his experience as a transgender person with the ecological devastation he sees:

“I see them as parallel issues, as a tiny reflection of a greater problem,” he notes. “Even as a transgender person, I’m excruciatingly aware of my privilege as a white male, and the subjugation of women is critical to understanding the subjugation and destruction of the ecology.”

Brilliance! See him working the dual oppressor and oppressed within him?  He continues:

“America is less willing to consider a gay or transgender having a platform outside of gender identity,” he says. “But we are barely acknowledging that the weather is changing, either.”

Say it, Antony. Americans’ purported less-willingness to see the world broadly can lead to pigeonholing one another, and to misperceiving the continuing transformation of Earth’s geography. He’s grounded in his emotions when he says, “We need to start grieving, at the very least.”

And then he drops a profound mind-bender:

“People can more easily imagine the collapse of the world than they can imagine stepping away from capitalism or patriarchy.”

We’ve been thinking about this idea ever since we first read it. Do you think it’s true, that capitalism and preserving the world can’t coexist? While it pains our brain to ponder, it’s certainly worthwhile to consider.

Still, he seems hopeful when he thinks about his ethnicity and place in the world. “I am as American as it gets,” he shares.

And we remain hopeful, too. Not only about our ability to solve some of these worldly problems, but hopeful that revealing our whole selves at work, as Antony does, will help lead us there.

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Climate Change Will Change Your Workplace

In the last week, heavy rain caused rivers in Vermont to flood, and three cities needed to evacuate. A strong tornado leveled large swaths of Joplin, Missouri, killing 132 people.  The Earth’s climate is changing and we’re all being impacted, including our places of work. So how do we respond?

For an answer, we look to Bangladesh, whose citizens are featured in the May 2011 issue of National Geographic as they continue to persevere in a drastically changing landscape.

Numbering 164 million, Bangladeshis inhabit a country roughly the size of Louisiana, where in the decades ahead rising sea levels are expected to displace several million coastal dwellers — just as Miami, New York and other coastal cities may experience. From the National Georgraphic piece:

The one commodity that Bangladesh has in profusion: human resilience. Before this century is over, the world, rather than pitying Bangladesh, may wind up learning from her example.

Concrete examples of Bangladeshis adapting to the shifting world include:

  • Developing more salt-resistant strains of rice, and building dikes to keep low-lying farms from being flooded with seawater
  • Building housing in sections that can be dismantled, moved and reassembled in a matter of a few hours
  • Raising shrimps in ponds and growing vegetables on the embankments around them, because rivers are saltier than before, and water from the ground is too salty to grow rice.

If everybody emulates the resourcefulness demonstrated by Bangladeshis in these circumstances, we’ll likely weather the ravages of climate change less painfully.

What does it take to be more resourceful? Continue reading