North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange
Melissa Nelson, a professor of Native American Studies at San Francisco State University and Executive Director of the Cultural Conservancy, and Susannah McCandless, International Program Director of the Global Diversity Foundation, will plan and convene an event called the North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange. This event will focus on indigenous engagement in efforts to protect and restore biological and cultural resources of Native American lands and will begin with a four-day meeting leading in to the annual Bioneers conference in San Raphael, California, in October. This meeting will convene 15-20 mid-career North American indigenous environmental practitioners to share stories and strategies from their work, and to take part in peer-to-peer learning and skills building. Examples of some of the issues that will be discussed are positive solutions to conflicts (e.g., gaming on tribal lands), environmental and economic development challenges, and food systems issues (e.g., organic gardens on tribal lands). The workshop is designed to create a cohort of leaders who, by having had a shared working experience at this exchange, will more easily integrate and benefit from the Bioneers conference which this year features an Indigenous Forum. Selected participants in the workshop will present findings and key stories at the Bioneers conference. Stories will be documented through videography to showcase Native leadership examples across a wide range of sustainability issues for use in Native studies and environmental education programs. This workshop will expand the capacity of the Cultural Conservancy to leverage its deep local presence in California with national and international networks of indigenous people, while also expanding Global Diversity Foundation's constituents to include indigenous North American communities.