David R. Brower, Ronald V. Dellums Institute for Sustainable Policy Studies
In 1969 the Berkeley Creators Association Educational Foundation (BCAEF) was formed to support independent artists, artisans, and the environment. BCAEF operated a Sierra Backpacking Camp which inspired a series of feature articles, “Conservation, a Matter of the Spirit”; and “Conversations About Peace”; in the Sierra Club Yodeler. These led to BCAEF initiating the Nobel Peace Prize nomination by Congressman Ron Dellums for the late environmental leader Dave Brower.
The Institute for Sustainable Policy Studies grew out of the 1980 Berkeley Lectures on the Concepts of Peace. The Berkeley Lectures were conceived at BCAEF and hosted by Vista College at the University of California. Prominent speakers from multiple social sectors were invited to speak about their fields and notions of peace. This led to a series of International Conferences on the Fate and Hope of the Earth, two films, and numerous articles which had some effect on the formation of the Green Parties in Europe and the lessening of the Cold War.
In 1987 BCAEF began to support the Environmental Program at Merritt College which combined with the Energy Technology Program from Vista College. The Merritt Environmental Program began in 1962 as an Interdisciplinary Field program. The Self Reliant House Environmental Center was begun in about 1984. In 1989, the Institute began as a series of informal lunch discussions which grew into a “Think Tub” about the theory of Sustainability. Concepts developed here were applied to the new Environmental Sciences Department at the Merritt Campus and regionally. In 1995 the Institute was dedicated to Dave Brower and to Ron Dellums, a graduate of Merritt. The current Infrastructure Project and the Multi-Cultural Environmental Leadership Intern programs were initiated.
A comprehensive curriculum on sustainability was developed and is being implemented in phases. In April 2000, Dave Brower asked what he and Ron Dellums could do at the Institute. This has initiated planning the Fifth Conference on the Fate and Hope for the Earth to be hosted by the Institute at Merritt. The theme will be building a sustainable infrastructure which can be measured biologically in the health of immune systems and socially in the well being of children. Currently the Environmental Program is partners in several funded projects involving watershed restoration and fire hazard reduction planning, homeless design in parks, environmental education in Alameda County, solar energy equipment and green building materials installation as well as the development of Green Building curriculum. A Permaculture class is making design suggestions for the Environmental Center site.
The Infrastructure Project is based first on the hypothesis that the confluence of human development and environmental crises some 5,000 years ago inadvertently created empires and ultimately the social and environmental problems caused by the modern Urban Military Industrial infrastructure.
Second, that we, as humans, have the evolutionary capacity to readapt our behavior to correct these problems and have, in fact, recognized many of them and have already developed a suite of solutions.
Third, these solutions are relatively isolated from one another and currently have only a small net effect on the total impact of global human behavior.
Fourth, the integration of these diverse solutions into an infrastructure of their own will allow their cumulative effects to become a full scale durable social compact which can sustain appropriate environmental and social human behaviors.
Fifth, the mechanisms for initiating this scale change are available, iterative, and developmental. (i.e. try it out, and if it doesn’t work, change it.)
These conditions suggest the strategy of:
a) Modeling and displaying multiple benefit whole systems in available venues; (i.e. trying it all out where you can and show it to whomever you can.)
b) Articulating the issues in diverse discussions (talk about it a lot) in order to
c) Support the efforts of individuals and groups to integrate and apply them in the manner and speed which is appropriate for their own character (we each learn and act at our own speed and in our own ways).
–Robin Freeman, Director, Brower Dellums Institute for Sustainable Policy Studies and Merritt College Environmental Program. Contact Robin Freeman at: firstname.lastname@example.org