Decolonization is an important part of the values that the Climate Science Alliance team holds and we strive to integrate it into our work to build capacity, community and resilience in the face of a changing climate. Decolonization is an intentional effort to center Indigenous voices in conversations about land and stewardship, and a recognition of the deeply embedded histories that we reenact every day. In practice, decolonization is a collage of many actions, voices, and values. It is a re-examination of language, of workplace hierarchy, and the act of embracing, rather than suppressing, interdependence.
In planning for the Southwestern Tribal Climate Change Summit, planners worked hard to decolonize the agenda for the gathering. Melodie Lopez (Hopi/Navajo/Pueblo/Mexican), of Indigenous Strategies LLC, took this to heart when designing the evaluation component. Rather than having participants fill out a survey, she and Tamara Wall, of Desert Research Institute, decided that the evaluation would be a multi-day artistic process that connected to the deeper roots of the Summit themes and created space for emotional expression. The result is this quilt.
The white squares were written in response to the question at the beginning of the Summit: "What do you bring with you today?"
Then, on Day 2, “How do you tend to your fire / what keeps you ignited?" was the prompt for the yellow squares.
The orange fabric was the space to reflect on "how can we burn stronger together?" after the session on collaboration.
Finally, in red, the question remained, "how can you maintain the fire at work?"
Summit attendees responded with drawing, writing, and talking. Some kept their fabric pieces as a token of the Summit, others read the responses but chose not to add their own. Children were encouraged to participate as well, and every single participant was invested in seeing the final project.
Reflections from the Summit became a tangible object, reminding us of interdependence, community, and decolonized ways of knowing and communicating. It is a way to see people's thoughts and feelings in relation to each other, in a beautiful system. The expressions of our community now keep us warm, safe, and comfortable. Beyond just an evaluation, creating this blanket was a process of love, trust, and hope.
Learn more here: https://www.climatesciencealliance.org/tribal-summit