Dr. Lynn Wilson – “Global Moment” Digital Print Interview

A “Global Moment” with our very good friend and global education partner…Dr. Lynn Wilson, the CEO/Executive Director of the renowned SeaTrust Institute, the environmental research and educational nonprofit organization.

“THE GLOBAL LEARNING SERIES” and “THE GLOBAL GIRLS AND WOMEN PROJECT”, John McGuire President and CEO/Executive Producer: Dr. Wilson, thank you very much for your time, please introduce yourself to our fans/followers/viewers and briefly describe your work and tell us about who/what inspires you…

Dr. Wilson: The people who inspire me are those individuals who care about one another, their communities, the environment and their world. Some of these are well known people like the former Irish President and United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Change, Mary Robinson. Others are much less well known like a young girl from a small island nation in the Pacific who is learning how to keep her community safe from the next cyclone by planting and nurturing mangrove forests.

It is the tireless effort of fellow NGO staff who work even when it is not “popular” politically or at the top of funders’ or constituents’ minds on the most important issues of our time. It is young people with special abilities who contribute their talents to an art competition on the global environment; it is volunteers who dedicate their time and professional expertise to ensuring that tomorrow is a preferable future for all.   And many of these are women and girls.

What inspires me is the natural world we are privileged to co-inhabit with other human cultures and with other species, all being interdependent. The “who” is not separate from the “what” as we are all part of that environment that sustains us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

“THE GLOBAL LEARNING SERIES” and “THE GLOBAL GIRLS AND WOMEN PROJECT”, John McGuire Executive Producer: What are some of the organizations and groups you work with?

Dr. Wilson: SeaTrust Institute works will many kinds of organizations.  We work with other local and global NGOs and nonprofit partners like Africa’s Nurses Across the Borders, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, Collaborative on Health and the Environment, a Spanish art curatorial service ArtPort Making Waves; youth organizations around the world and a host of scientists, private industry and academic partners ; we work with governmental and multilateral organizations like the African Union, WHO, ISDR, the Department of Women’s Affairs for Vanuatu, and the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency in Nigeria; we work with universities like Kansas State University, the University of Ohio, University of Washington, Missouri University of Science and Technology and have collaborative research and education partners from institutions all over the world; we work with schools and youth organizations like Jensen Beach High School, a multi-school inner city neighborhood youth group in Chicago, Local Mexico Scouts, the African youth group UNOY and Malaysian based global youth organization WAY.

We also work within communities in the US and abroad such as villages in the Chiawa region of the Lower Zambezi River in Zambia and the island of Uripiv, Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Local officials, program directors, businesses and community leaders are part of our community partnership network.

“THE GLOBAL LEARNING SERIES” and “THE GLOBAL GIRLS AND WOMEN PROJECT”, John McGuire Executive Producer: What are your plans for the future?  Feel free to also discuss some of the very important environmental and social responsibility messaging that is “near and dear to your heart”, that you and I will be working on together with our two organizations, in the months ahead.

Dr. Wilson: John, our plans for the future are largely determined by what happens today; what must we learn that will help us plan for and help others develop that preferable future? With whom do we need to work to make swift and efficient progress towards resilience at the local and global levels? One of SeaTrust Institute’s mottos is “Local to Global: and Back Again(SM)” and we believe it is by working at both the micro and macro scales that we can have real impact on local communities (micro) and on the policy that makes local projects possible and better targeted for effect (macro).

For many years I have mentored young women, sometimes more formally through science career advice and experiences, but often less formally through helping them navigate social systems to find their power and contributions. This year, in our partnership with you, John, and The Global Girls and Women Project, I am excited to be able to focus on that.

More specifically, 2015 global research and international projects include one in West Africa as part of a multinational climate change resilience and disaster risk reduction capacity building team for health workers and first responders; one in Vanuatu with the Uripiv Island Melakel to engage youth in driving local climate change adaptation strategies and implementation in their community; a research initiative on the linkages between ocean health and human health with local research conducted along the Pacific Northwest coast of the United States. With other partners through our policy work at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), we are currently developing an additional overseas project in 2015, likely in the Pacific Islands as well as a youth driven climate change adaptation project in Leon, Mexico in league with the World Scouts. These projects use SeaTrust Institute’s Halcyon Adaptation Scenario (SM) framework for designing and implementing community chosen, science and local knowledge informed methods that are culturally sensitive as well as globally relevant, using human health as a gauge of successful choices.

Working within the UNFCCC, we will be presenting at COP21 in Paris, France as well as participating in the negotiations preceding that important event during which many of the global climate change and environmental/social policy instruments will be reauthorized or launched as new initiatives in accordance with the newest science in the IPCC AR5 report. We are part of a number of policy groups and taskforces related to these new initiatives. In conjunction with the UN meetings in this and other regimes, we will be leveraging our expanding partnerships in new areas and across disciplines such as with art curatorial service in Spain to engage artists with climate change awareness and education at COP21, and the global launch of our successful 2014 show that highlights the contributions of an often overlooked vulnerable population –  people with special abilities –in the Second Annual SeaTrust Institute Juried Art Show for Students with Special Abilities. This year we also plan to launch an initiative in the United States that links education with domestic climate change policies in key states. More information on that will be released in the coming months.

Our education initiatives include internships (virtual research internships and onsite intern experiences) and our pre-university program, AWARE (Action Within a Resilient Environment (SM) ) for which high school students receive community service credits for graduation requirements in the US and globally. We engage students in many areas of our research and policy work, depending upon the student’s program, university program and support and contributions to our projects within any given year. 2015 continues this trend with special concentrations on the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), West Africa health, climate change and disaster preparedness, and the linkages between ocean health and human health.  We have interns from multiple universities taking part in our research projects. Both interns and AWARE students first take a 4-week online course we have developed to prepare them to undertake their community service project (high school students) or to meaningfully contribute to our research and policy projects as an intern.

Within each of these projects, SeaTrust Institute takes special pride in working with girls and women, and helping them to take their place in leading the creation of community resilience through knowledge, sharing and empowerment. We cannot wait to get started with the Global Girls and Women project.

So it is looking like a pretty busy year, and we aren’t even finished with this one yet! Every year at the UNFCCC meetings like the one we are going to in Peru Dec 1-12, 2014, new liaisons span new projects. With climate change effects now being felt and acknowledged by people in every sector and in every corner of the world, we will carefully choose those projects in 2015 and beyond where we feel our contributions can best be used by people in local communities.

“THE GLOBAL LEARNING SERIES” and “THE GLOBAL GIRLS AND WOMEN PROJECT”, John McGuire Executive Producer:  Please tell us about…local and global community involvement… boards, organizations, NGO’s, non-profits, etc., that you are involved with.

Dr. Wilson: (Some of this is referenced above – I can expand if you’d like later but on the more personal side…) I am a Board member for the Ancient World Institute, run by archaeologist Farland Stanley of the University of Oklahoma; I work with Bellevue College on a project funded by the US Department of Labor to create a veterans health information technology apprenticeship so that veterans can have a career pathway in Health IT; and I  a volunteer for coastal cleanup details and as an official Beach Naturalist to help interpret the creatures and features of our local beaches to residents and visitors. Occasionally I get to sing as part of a community choir for local events or for people who cannot get out due to age or illness.

“THE GLOBAL LEARNING SERIES” and “THE GLOBAL GIRLS AND WOMEN PROJECT”, John McGuire Executive Producer:  Please share your hobbies or personal interests, this information is very helpful in putting a “human touch” on your biography, for our audiences.

Dr. Wilson: The ocean and coasts are my hobby as well as my work (nice when one can mix the two!) I am out there every chance I get and/or messing about with boats.  I started out college as a voice major/piano minor and I enjoy making, listening to and sharing music of all sorts. I’ve done everything from classical concerts to community theater to pick-up bands.  I’m told I’m a pretty good and creative cook (my interns last summer took pictures every night of the meals and the daily saying from our Program Director Jennifer Mwangi was “fine dining with a million dollar view!”)

I love to garden, never met a dog I didn’t like and am untiringly fascinated by wildlife. So of course I love to get out in nature and hike but I’m never without my camera as photography is another of my passions.  Living on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, I have daily opportunities right outside my door.  My plan in 2015 is to study for my boat captain’s license and get more involved with the boating community for fun as well as for our research at SeaTrust Institute.  Work takes me interesting places and since I love to travel and engage with new cultures, this again is how I blend work as part of life!

“THE GLOBAL LEARNING SERIES” and “THE GLOBAL GIRLS AND WOMEN PROJECT”, John McGuire Executive Producer:  Dr. Wilson, thank you very much for your time today and for sharing your important work, with our global fans, followers and viewers!

Dr. Wilson: Thank you, John, for allowing me to share my passion for my work, this incredible life and all the wonderful people with whom I am privileged to associate.