I grew up on a farm in Ontario, viewing first-hand its metamorphosis to single crops, chemicals, and mechanization. My father worked two jobs, my mom at least that many. They worked tirelessly for the good of our family, but realizing their dream necessitated the kind of familial diaspora that is too often the story these days. I left for college hoping that I could find a different way to make a living; healing the Earth's wounds is a kind of personal transformation that keeps me in the past and the future. And if it could be said that I presently perform this trick, I wanted to show other people how to do it as well.
Formal schooling went on for a long time, eventually I learned that if we want people to live in harmony with each other and the earth, then we need to change how we educate people. We have to get outside the classroom and into the real world where the real problems are. But this required a radical departure from other aspects of normal classroom instruction and design.
Until recently, my ideas about the formal classroom were at odds with the higher ups, who proclaimed them as, at best, unfeasible if not an affront to the academy. Fortunately, I had confidence in my ideas as I did not learn them alone. Alongside me have always been some thoughtful and active people who inspired me to keep moving forward.
Our culture is changing. The higher-ups now agree with the parents, indigenous peoples, and researchers that all life on earth is important and that to preserve it we need to educate humans differently. And this is what Education for Sustainability is and how my own program was born.
For the last 2 years, I have been working shoulder-to-shoulder with graduate students who have stepped outside the classroom to get involved in sustainability projects with the city of Vancouver and different constituencies. It's been a roller coaster ride of real-world problems and solutions. If you're reading this and at a cross roads in your own life... if you are want to make positive change in your own community then I urge you to join us.