The August 4th Meeting of the 17 Group

The next meeting of the 17 Group is on Wednesday the 4th of August at 7pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St in West End. The speaker is Richard Cassels. Hereunder is the title and an account of the content of the talk and of the distinguished speaker.
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“The Sustainability challenge: your genius needed”.

Richard Cassels, Director of Climate Leadership, will talk about the challenge of embedding sustainability into the political and community consciousness at the August 4 meeting of the 17 Group.

Richard trained as a Stone-Age archaeologist at Cambridge University and excavated in the Middle East. He was then a senior lecturer in Prehistory at Auckland University, with his research focussing on prehistoric environments and their people. His next career was in managing and directing museums in New Zealand and Australia, including holding the position of Director of Exhibitions and Publications at The Queensland Museum. He and his wife have built two “more sustainable” homes in Brisbane. Now he directs Climate Leadership, a group committed to community learning about sustainability.

About sustainability, he says that: “Sustainability itself is a rather soggy word, not one that is easy to raise a revolutionary flag for. The meaning of its opposite, unsustainability, is rather more obvious”.

“If my family was starving in the desert, and the last Arabian Oryx in the world walked past, I would kill it and eat it. Sustainability is about making sure you don’t end up in the desert, and that the oryx isn’t the last oryx in the world. It’s about having foresight”.

Richard’s view is that one of the problems is the view that people who fail to act sustainably are just plain stupid. “There is a dangerous myth that sustainability is easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it. Some things are easy, like turning off electrical appliances. But for other things it’s like trying to turn around the Titanic when it’s going at full speed for an iceberg. We genuinely need geniuses to help us achieve this. Even Alan Greenspan, former Governor of the U.S. Reserve Bank, admitted he did not understand the world’s financial system”.

Richard will talk about his own journey towards sustainability, including his experiences of man-made deserts of the Middle East, archaeological sites of the last Ice Age, animal extinction in prehistoric New Zealand, and museum collections around the world that tell stories of past historic battles for sustainability. He then will invite the 17 Group to share their stories and experiences of being more sustainable, and join him in his search for one “Golden Rule” and “The Ten Amendments”, guidelines that could pave the way for developing more sustainable communities and improving the future for our grandchildren.

Leon is definitely thinking of being at this one when he reads about the need for a genius. Climate is of interest too. Think Siberian exile, think Mexico. So we can hope, but even without him this one will be very interesting and highly relevant to someone like you. So come, and bring someone like you as well. Eat, drink, and be talkative. As usual.

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