Poetry has a unique power to say so much with so few words, artfully placed. Using the same linguistic elements we find in a scientific treatise or a piece of legislation (or a blog post!), poems somehow carry us beyond head-thinking into heart-thinking, beyond the rational mind into truths of human experience. Brevity, it seems, can hold the greatest depth and expansiveness.
April 18th marked the one-year anniversary of the publication of Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, and pull for the book’s message only continues to grow. It is a great joy to be something of an itinerant preacher these days—roaming from town to town, conference to campus to company, sharing this blueprint of possibility. (I write, on Earth Day, from Waterloo, Ontario, where young leaders from across Canada are gathered.)
Many see in Drawdown a catalogue of technologies and practices that, deployed together, can reach “drawdown”—that point in time when the quantity of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere peaks and then declines year over year. Drawdown certainly is that: 100 means to avoid the release of emissions and to bring carbon back home. But by collecting those solutions in a single mosaic, it is also much more. The book begins to envision the world we might create in the process of reversing global warming. The solutions to reach drawdown are also means of building a more vibrant, equitable, and beautiful world—a world of greater health, wellbeing, and happiness.
The most important solution to reverse global warming, I believe, is one that isn’t explicitly catalogued in Drawdown. It is our human capacity to have and continually renew a vision of possibility. For me, real vulnerability and courage are involved in holding space for “Maybe” against long odds, yet that is what I do every time I speak about Drawdown. The great teacher and thinker Parker Palmer calls this “the work before the work,” or the work to stay in the work, of social transformation. It’s deeply necessary and deeply human work. Humans, after all—our heads, hearts, and hands—will be the ones to move the drawdown solutions forward. May we support one another, as we take threads of possibility, one by one by one, and weave the reality of our future, together.
© Katharine K. Wilkinson