E3 Washington: Ellensburg Conference

E3 Washington is a fantastic organization of educators for the environment, equity, and the economy. I attended their annual conference last weekend and it was an excellent experience. Their focus on climate science and environmental literacy, anti-racism, and equity in access to nature were clear. There were many great organizations, teachers, and other individuals sharing their amazing work in these and other areas of sustainability. Pangeo Education had a small space to show off some of our curriculum, lessons, and activities.

PanGeo Education’s display

There were three main strands of sessions: Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI), Educating for a Green Economy, and Environmental and Sustainability Education. As with many conferences, filled with topics one loves, it was a difficult choice. I chose multiple sessions about Green Economy as I know that besides needing more people actually doing sustainable work, we need teachers, students, parents, and just society in general, to know about current, and even more importantly, future green jobs.

PEI’s Kathryn Kurtz discussing green job data

The Pacific Education Institute (PEI) is a Washington non-profit focused on scientific literacy. They presented about green jobs, both the dearth of information about available jobs and the actual jobs themselves, and steps we can take to raise awareness about green careers.

There was also good connections made between environmental education and the arts. Both days’ sessions were started with music and environmental poetry by poet/musician/artist Kayla Carrington. Her “Environmental Studies” poetry combined with sax, expressed all of our environmental angst.

Kayla Carrington performing part of her “Environmental Studies”.

The final session I attended was called “Decolonizing Outdoor Spaces for People of Color” presented by awesome educator, Khavin Debbs. For me this was the best choice as it is a difficult and very needed topic of discussion. I also want people to see an older white guy comfortable being uncomfortable in these kinds of conversations. He quickly got the group thinking about the “whiteness” of nature and ideals about wilderness in the U.S. through the imagery that has been used to promote the American myth. E3 is adopting a strong anti-racist stance and is working hard to promote equity in society, out in nature, and in the traditionally “white” field of sustainable education. I look forward to the people out enjoying and protecting biodiversity representing the diversity of humanity.

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