One of our core values at MINDBODY is environmental consciousness: being aware that it is our responsibility to maintain a healthy planet, to minimize our footprint, and to promote technologies that can help us do so. But it’s about more than just consciousness; we also value taking action and creating real change. Since this is easier said than done, we decided to get some guidance on environmental activism and change from Marc Barasch, founder and director of the Green World Campaign. We figured he might have an idea of what it takes: his organization has restored degraded land through reforestation in six different countries on three different continents, planting more than half a million trees in Kenya alone—with an 80-90% survival rate.
A Holistic Approach
One step towards change, according to Barasch, is simply taking a closer look at how we approach the problem. Barasch cites environmentalist Wendell Berry’s concept of “solving for pattern”—the idea that you can’t just look at a single factor when addressing a problem, especially a global one. “If you don’t look at all of the inputs and outputs, if you don’t look upstream and downstream, people and planet, you can’t achieve long-term success,” Barasch says. Thus, the Green World Campaign not only focuses on planting trees, but also on poverty alleviation, education, food security and eco-agriculture. More recently, they’ve been working on rainwater catchment systems, as well as pressing seed oil from moringa trees to promote sustainable communities. This holistic approach is also something that Barasch, author of The Compassionate Life, believes would resonate with MINDBODY subscribers. “People who are interested in how the inner life connects to the outer world are attracted to the organization,” Barasch says, “And this informs the way that we do things. I call our work ‘green compassion.’”
Staying Optimistic and Finding Opportunities
When we do look at the whole picture, however, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and bogged down in pessimism. The Green World Campaign focuses its work in Kenya, where there’s been a rise in terrorist attacks, including a recent one earlier this month taking 147 lives at a university. In addition, the media often indulges in end-of-the-world rhetoric when discussing environmental issues, and while there is an urgency, Barasch says it’s important that we remain hopeful enough to see opportunity in moments of crisis. “It’s all doom and gloom, as if we can’t do anything about it,” he says. “We’re told that we’re causing it, but we’re not really told how we can work together to restore and regenerate.” The Green World Campaign aims to change this. Whether it’s through a Trees for Peace program in Kenya, a “Text TREE” campaign in Times Square, or a global children’s choir, the Green World Campaign strives to engage the public and make people aware of the plentiful opportunities to be active global citizens.
Another fundamental part of change is the desire to move beyond the status quo. Barasch is an advocate for sustainability, but he believes that the key to real change lies in something greater than this. “Sustainability is vital, but it can be just zero-sum,” he says. “Regeneration is about healing and growth and new potential. To make a real change, we must create a culture of generativity. We need an ethos of empathy.” In January, Barasch launched an initiative called the “Green World Charter to Renew the Tree of Life,” an interfaith effort to unite people of all religions behind a call to roll up our sleeves and, as the Green World Campaign’s slogan goes, “ReGreen the World in One Generation.” Another project started last year involves working with Kenyan elders to restore kaya, or sacred forests, which serve as places of conflict resolution as well as being biodiversity hotspots. Barasch emphasizes that when you’re trying to enact change, it’s imperative that you take culture into account. “We can’t ‘ReGreen the World’ without deep values and profound connection,” he says.
How To Help
The question we still ask ourselves at the end of the day is how can we help? How can we make sure we leave a healthy world for future generations? Or, as Barasch says,“When our kids or grandkids say, ‘You borrowed our world. Did you remember to give it back?’ We can say yes, we did.”
Here are two ways you can give the world something back and create change: