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Innovation as a river: Reflecting on Day 3 of #CRinFlorida

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These next few days I’ll be sharing my personal reflection on a climate leadership conference I’m part of; this is the third and last installment. I do this to capture the raw emotion in my daily reflection in order to help me with my later writing. If these posts benefit you, too, in any small way, please let me know via a comment. Thank you.

This last day is perhaps the most uplifting of the three days because of the flood of emotion from leaving new friends, dreaming up new collaborations, and feeding on insight from others — like, Philippe Cousteau, Jr., John Kao, Chris Hayes, and Al Gore, to name a few climate leaders I’ve had the benefit to learn from this week.

The fatigue from the trip is real, but it is quickly overshadowed by the optimism I have about this work that moves me deeply. I’ve traveled far, literally and figuratively, in my anti-poverty work; that it led me here, at this conference, in the company of all these climate and sustainability leaders, is something I never imagined. — To Dr. Pauline Agbayani who found me a professional field, thank you. If you are reading this, please know that I am deeply thankful for knowing you.

This video I took of Miami River, which has been routinely overflowing recently, starts with a bend in the river that’s been cemented over, and beside it, a shot of the river moving calmly but steadily.

The imagery is a visual aid to a simple point: like bending a river’s flow with steel and concrete, we can change the direction of the body politic around climate action with innovation. We each define what ‘climate action innovation’ means by leveraging the things we are most passionate about in our life.

We, at CYPHER, for example, are passionate about sustainable development, tech-enabled climate resilience, and hip-hop. So climate action innovation is what we, at CYPHER, promote when we challenge inner-city and farmworker youth to use their direct experience with local human impacts of climate change (e.g., heat wave, drought, etc.) as inspiration for CleanTech and soft robotics. Climate action innovation is what we, at CYPHER, promote when we work with local independent hip-hop artists (shout-out to @JessicaKimble88 from California and @NaledgeEvans from Chicago) to mobilize the youth to action via the sound of their music.

Climate action innovation is not limited to the genius few. Or the smartest. Or even the most privileged. Climate action innovation can be taught and acquired because complex problem-solving is built into each of us; it is ‘baked in.’

Climate action innovation is both outcome and process, both idea and practice. Climate action innovation is a continuum of capability, all the way from ‘good enough’ competence to high-level mastery. And along this capability continuum, as with a river, we can either jump into innovation whenever we would like to be refreshed by our experience of it, or stand in the sidelines cheering those who dare to swim in it, admiring the joy its brings us and others as we all watch.

Both are responses that are human, and normal, and agreeable. One is not better than the other; both have value. Both show us how we ought to cultivate innovation, in general, and sustain climate action innovation, in particular, in our own communities.

Climate action innovation is a human potential inherent in everyone because we live in a closed system, called Earth. None of us can escape the human impacts of climate change in this closed system; those impacts touch us all. And because we each have a direct personal experience with its human impacts, we also each have a kernel of an idea for how to address it.

Climate action innovation is not limited to the genius few. Or the most gifted. Or the most educated. Climate action innovation can be taught and acquired because complex problem-solving is built into each of us; it is ‘baked in.’

Join us on Twitter @cypheryouth to find out more about the climate action innovation we are doing.

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Author: rbvergara

Born and raised in the Philippines. Moved to California on April 15, 1986 two months after Marcos was overthrown. Have been building a new life and stronger roots in Southern California since then.

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