In her award winning book Rambunctious Garden (2011) about the paradigm shift roiling the environmental world, Emma Marris writes “The pristine wilderness notion is a historically created idea about what ought to count as nature, and there is no reason we can’t change it. And once we do change it, a heretofore unthinkable, exciting, and energizing thought occurs: we can make more nature. We can make things on Earth better, not just less bad.”
Do you know someone successfully changing what counts as nature? Or someone “making more nature” on land, in our oceans, or within our cities? Perhaps they are improving the health of a species. Or the health of an entire ecosystem. Perhaps they run a pioneering circular business or finance ecosystem restoration. Or perhaps they are using the arts to improve understanding of CRISPR-cas9.
We think you might.
We also think now is the time to help recognize and honor them. Now is the time because COVID-19 induced changes in funding, gathering, or travel now risk undoing years of progress with our study, research, and action. Now is the time because news sources we are dependent upon for our very own safety also use their platform to reinforce a tired, counterproductive myth that Earth does not want us. That change is unnatural. Creating an alternative to this mysteriously popular, doom and gloom story with a constructive conversation of hope and optimism is the mission of the #EarthOptimism movement of the Smithsonian Institution Conservation Commons.
In support of this initiative, we are launching the 2020 East-West Center #EarthOptimism Awards: Southeast Asia. This initiative, now accepting nominations, is an opportunity for you to nominate inspirational stories about conservation success on land, in your oceans, and within your city. Please nominate a champion of success today using this form. Deadline for submissions is June 5, 2020 World Environment Day.
Awardees will be announced at the East-West Center Virtual Summit (June 29-July 3, 2020) and receive an e-certificate of recognition from the East-West Center signed by Team #EarthOptimism 2020. While we unfortunately cannot recognize everyone we will work to connect nominees across communities, share how they can use the #EarthOptimism platforms to share constructive stories, and inspire others to run their own #EarthOptimism Sister Event with Smithsonian.