Ours is the Peconic Bioregion

by Mary Morgan

What Can I Do? 

That is what both climate recovery optimists Damon Gamau and Paul Hawken told us was the question they get asked the most when they spoke at Drawdown East End’s Drawdown Conference in late January.  

Damon Gameau (filmmaker, website whatsyour2040.com) smiled, offering us his answer: Start From Your Place.  

Know your bioregion, he went on. His is Australia, with 40,000 farms. In the last few years, since the launch of his block-buster award-winning film 2040, where he went around the world showing us Drawdown solutions-in-action, Australians have embraced regenerative farming techniques and there are now 10,000 regenerative farms. That deserves applause, and we did.

Do What Lights You Up

“Do what you love,” Damon continued, ”what lights you up.” The conversation between the two of them took place Opening Night of the Drawdown Festival 2022, where Damon was a festival partner along with Carbon CREW Project, Southampton Arts Center, and of course, Drawdown East End, a grassroots group formed four years ago to inspire our local communities to actively engage in climate solutions to reach drawdown, the point at which the carbon levels in the atmosphere begin to decline. 

I took that to mean “Pick a climate solution you love and run with it.” For me it’s local food, and when I realized reducing food waste was Drawdown’s number one solution to climate change for U.S. households, I asked Santa for a composter and now no food waste goes to the landfill. Zero. I use everything I buy, save money and feel great.

Paul Hawken was chatting with Damon and made this point: It’s most important to find out where you live. 

“By that I mean the native trees, the pollinators.  Know what is being destroyed (by pollution) to see what can be regenerated,” he said. 

Paul has just published his ninth book, the best-seller: “Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation.” 

“My earlier book, Drawdown, is what. What to do,” he told us. “This book is the how. How to do it.” 

As he talked, I was thinking that how-to-do-it is also vividly illustrated in Damon’s own book, 2040, based on his film. Both are fabulous guides on how to reverse global warming — take steps in your own life, with your family, your community and yes, in your bioregion.

Our Place – the Peconic Bioregion

Some say we are bound by a shared heritage, some by our means of livelihood, some by our combined cultures, but at the core of all of this is our sense of Place — the Peconic Bioregion. 

The combined systems of air, land and water make our region unique and valuable in so many respects. But just as eating strawberries as soon as they are picked — fresh, juicy, sweet and nutritious, functioning at their fullest potential — the most value from our bioregion is derived when it is functioning as it has for some 15,000 years of our human history on Long Island.

The Peconic Estuary is the heart of the East End: our lifeblood is not just in the water itself but the way it flows—unhindered, unpolluted…respected. As good stewards, we take good care of the plants on our property, which in turn provide food, nesting, cover and water for the animals who depend on them. 

By stepping up our awareness, we in turn provide those animals with even more nutritious and beneficial food when we plant native species of grasses, flowers, bushes and trees. True regeneration does not have to be difficult. As Project Drawdown has shown, we have all the methods we need already.

Awareness, Values, Opportunity

Just because all our trash and garbage ‘goes away’ twice a week in the big truck does not mean that we are not filling our bioregion with our wastes, and, as a result of having no awareness of the conditions that we create, we cannot be mindful of our consumption in a way that is meaningful. 

The disappearance of the values of millions of people who lived through the Depression Era and World War II is easy to trace: The discovery of cheap fossil carbons (fuels), mechanized mass production and cheap consumer goods. But do we really value things that don’t last, which cost more for having to be replaced twice and break after one use and can’t even be fixed if we tried?

Let’s not fall prey to the Blame Game, to the ‘they did it’ or the ‘not my fault, not my problem’ mindset. We have a great opportunity to make even small changes that will benefit every aspect of our lives, and the lives of others, right now. It’s up to us.

You can watch the Drawdown Festival at SAC online here.

Former Locavore now a Climatarian, sailor, beachcomber Mary Morgan lives in Orient with her husband Tom, naturalist and mushroom forager, early founders of the East End chapter of Slow Food in 2004. Two years ago Mary co-founded a grassroots effort, Drawdown East End, to inspire local solutions to draw down and sequester carbon. 

Climate Local Now is a partnership between the East End Beacon and Drawdown East End, whose mission is to inspire local solutions to reverse global warming. |  DrawdownEastEnd.org

East End Beacon
The East End Beacon is your guide to social and environmental issues, arts & culture on the East End of Long Island.

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