A new lecture series at the Sebastopol Grange takes on solutions to climate change

Sebastopol Carbon Conversations is a timely new series of talks and workshops dedicated to solutions for the reversal of global warming. Produced by The Rahus Institute, directed by Sebastopol residents Tor and Dena Allen and hosted at the Sebastopol Grange, the series brings leading-edge speakers and authors to discuss our roles in shaping the future.

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EYE TO THE FUTURE — Author and climate activist Mary DeMocker, a co-founder and former president of 350 Eugene, will speak on "Why We Can Still Build a Thriving Future" on Oct. 20.

A practical path

Carbon Conversations debuted on Sept. 4 with a presentation by Crystal Chissell, a vice president of Project Drawdown. One of the most comprehensive plans yet proposed to reverse global warming, Drawdown operates on the premise that dangerous levels of greenhouse gasses, including atmospheric carbon, can be reduced using existing methods and technologies.

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HOPEFUL — Tor Allen, a solar energy specialist and co-director of Sebastopol's Carbon Conversations, found the practicality of Project Drawdown hopeful and inspiring.

Project Drawdown seeks to change the climate discourse from one of fear, confusion and conflict to one that emphasizes solutions, possibility and opportunity.

Tor Allen, a solar energy specialist, was seeking a sensible way to personally assimilate the growing threats of climate change when he discovered Drawdown.

“I didn’t know what to do with the effects-and-disaster approach,” he said. “Drawdown and its solutions approach was really appealing to me. The list of solutions is broad and diverse. Through Drawdown, you realize there are a lot more people on your team working toward a shared goal.”

“Solutions,” Allen said, “are motivational and inspirational.”

Drawdown solutions range from wind turbines and reducing food waste to lesser known techniques such as afforestation (the process of planting trees in a previously barren landscape in order to create a forest) and silvopasture, an ancient practice that integrates trees and pasture into a single livestock-raising system.

Eighty existing solutions have been identified to reduce or “draw down” greenhouse gases, primarily by avoiding emissions and sequestering carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.

Mary DeMocker to speak on balancing civic action with an enjoyable life

On Sunday, Oct. 20, Sebastopol Carbon Conversations will host Oregon-based author and climate activist Mary DeMocker, a co-founder and former president of 350 Eugene and the mother of two children. Her talk will focus on “Why We Can Still Build a Thriving Future.”

DeMocker’s roadmap for renewal is the perfect sequel to Chissell’s outline of opportunity.

“Drawdown offers the big picture of possibilities and a wide range of existing solutions, but it’s not an action path,” said Tor Allen. “Mary DeMocker acknowledges that personal eco-living is no longer enough. We must also be civically engaged.”

“I’ll never forget the moment my optimism returned,” wrote DeMocker, who learned, while attending a presentation in her hometown in 2013, that atmospheric carbon could be drawn back into the earth. After living with a “near-constant lump in her throat” from climate-related distress, she found herself revitalized by the news that climate stability might be achievable.

“Not cheap or easy—but possible,” she wrote.

DeMocker offers direct actions while emphasizing that empowerment stems from deepening our connections to one another. Solving the climate crisis will demand more from us than simply changing our lightbulbs; it’s about changing our system, and we can’t do that alone. She believes that collaboration allows us to enact change while also taking necessary steps to enjoy our lives.

Collaboration is key to maintaining our personal health while striving for a healthy planet. 

DeMocker’s book, “The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways To Build A Fossil-Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get A Good Night’s Sleep,” will be available for purchase at this event.

A Climate Emergency Resolution

In addition to directing The Rahus Institute and its signature program, Solar Schoolhouse, Tor and Dena Allen are members of Sebastopol Climate Action, an advocacy group formed to develop and promote a City of Sebastopol Climate Emergency Resolution. That resolution will be brought for consideration to the Sebastopol City Council on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

“What follows, in terms of actions, will require citizens to be better informed,” said Tor. “Mary’s talk on October 20 will be a great primer.”

“You have to have a vision of what can be, to know what you are working towards,” said Dena.

Sebastopol Carbon Conversations presents Mary DeMocker on “Why We Can Still Build a Thriving Future.” Sunday, Oct. 20 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Sebastopol Grange, 6000 Sebastopol Ave, Hwy 12. Admission is free with advanced registration at: solarschoolhouse.org/sebastopolcarbonconversations

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