Molly Gordon and Cassie Belden are about to embark on Project Discover, the journey of a lifetime. These recent UC Santa Barbara Environmental Studies graduates are inspired to research the ways that communities use to build resilience against a difficult future. Their goal is to share what they learn to inspire change in others.
For four years they have learned about complex problems facing our world, like climate change, and they are ready to take action. Increased carbon levels, as one example, have have locked us to what is sure to be an interesting and difficult future, even if we implement creative solutions immediately. Our communities will need to be stronger in order to respond to the droughts, heat waves, and other extreme weather events that are sure to come. For these reasons, the grads are setting off to learn about what it takes to build a “resilient community.”
Gordon and Belden define community resilience as the ability for a group of people with common ideals to remain united and functional in times of extreme hardship. This fall, they will embark on a journey traversing the country, visiting and volunteering with various communities that display such resilience. They will visit co-ops in Portland, Oregon, urban gardens in Detroit, Michigan, and communities rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy on the New Jersey shore. Their goal is to discover the full spectrum of community responses, from places that have always honored the planet to those that are just beginning to live sustainably.
The grads are inspired by their own experiences living in cooperative houses in Isla Vista, Ca. and believe there is a lot to learn from people living differently than mainstream America. Consequently, they will interview changemakers in these unique places, asking about what makes their community special and resilient. These interviews will be available, along with their blog, videos, and photos, at www.projectdiscover.weebly.com. Ultimately, the young activists will create a Resilient Communities Guidebook featuring the communities they visit to serve as a resource for other people who want to strengthen their own communities.
In order to succeed on this trip, Gordon and Belden need a vehicle. “It is our dream to have a vehicle that we can live in and run on biodiesel, so that our impact is less than a conventional vehicle. We also will eat as locally as possible to support American farmers.” says Belden.
This is where YOU come in. Until August 21st, the two have a crowdsource fundraiser at www.indiegogo.com/projects/project-discover. They will use the funds to secure a vehicle, and for biodiesel fuel and food. They are considering renting or borrowing a vehicle for the duration of the trip to minimize costs. In fact, they are open to all kinds of sponsorship opportunities. Regardless, community support is a valuable and necessary entity if this project is to succeed. Gordon and Belden are young adults with a vision for a brighter future, and the knowledge and passion to accomplish their goals. Please consider helping these two Gaucho Grads on their way by supporting Project Discover.
Good luck, ladies!!