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In Resilience Reflections we ask some of our contributors what it is that inspires their work, and what keeps them going.
Read more Resilience Reflections here including Adrian Ayres Fisher and Robert Jensen.
Sandra Postel directs the independent Global Water Policy Project, and lectures, writes and consults on global water issues. In 2010 she was appointed Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society, where she serves as lead water expert for the Society’s freshwater efforts. Sandra is co-creator of Change the Course, the national freshwater conservation and restoration campaign being pioneered by National Geographic and its partners. We asked Sandra what inspires her and keeps her going.
Who/what has been your greatest inspiration? And why?
My greatest inspiration is the sheer beauty and magnificence of nature. Since I was a young girl, I felt a calling to do my part to protect the natural world. During the rough times in my life, I’ve looked to nature for solace and grounding. It always comes through.
In terms of a fellow human, my greatest inspiration is Rachel Carson. Her brilliant communication about the beauty of, and threats to, the Earth woke us up and got the environmental movement going. Her careful research combined with powerful prose set a high bar for those of us working to re-shape society’s relationship with the natural world. She’s my true north.
“Big change takes time. You’ll never feel like you’re doing enough. Don’t forget to enjoy the world, even as you’re trying to change it for the better.”
Knowing what you know now about sustainability and resilience building, what piece of advice would you give your younger self if you were starting out?
Have a vision, and work hard to realize that vision– but be patient. Big change takes time. You’ll never feel like you’re doing enough. Don’t forget to enjoy the world, even as you’re trying to change it for the better.
What gets you up in the morning or keeps you going?
That sense of calling – the feeling that I’m here to do my part to protect the natural world. Change the Course, the water stewardship movement I co-created in my role as freshwater fellow with National Geographic, is one of the most satisfying endeavors I’ve undertaken. On the personal front, hiking, tennis, gardening and my family and friends keep me going, too!
Sandra with wetlands ecologist Osvel Hinojosa Huerta in the delta last year. Photo by Cheryl Zook/National Geographic
For you resilience is…
…the ability to bounce back from unexpected change or adversity.
What one social/political/cultural/policy change would most assist your work/hopes/dreams?
Making sure rivers and wetlands get the water they need to sustain the diversity of aquatic life. Human actions are extinguishing freshwater animal species at 1,000 times the background rate.
“The adaptability of nature and its myriad life forms gives me hope.”
What gives you hope?
The adaptability of nature and its myriad life forms gives me hope. Human ingenuity does, too, but we need to apply it to building a resilient world and to living as if we depend on nature, because we do.