How to Save the World: Step One

This week's blog entry was written by Client Support Services Representative Andrea Lovan.

Andrea LovanWhen I arrived in Seattle three years ago, I was determined to embark on a new career path. My career focus in my home state of Kentucky had been conservation, preservation, and environmental education. For years, I had been trudging through the political and bureaucratic minefield that lay before any advocate working for change in a state that is not ready for it. As supervisor of a nonprofit eco-tourism site, I watched the number of visitors grow by leaps and bounds—but those same visitors were reluctant to change personal habits that were destroying our Karstlands (cave country) and killing the Kentucky wildlife. Every year, waste from the area‘s homes and companies continued to end up in the caves, rivers, and valleys. We were polluting our own backyard.

I tried to fight the good fight by organizing cave clean-ups, designing educational programs for local schools, and talking to children about how to preserve the natural beauty of the Bluegrass State. However, it soon became clear that simply cleaning up the waste and chemicals in the cave would not result in long-term change. It was my work with children that could make a difference. By talking with those tiny humans, I began to understand that humanity’s abuses of the environment, animals, and each other are all connected. This concept was discussed in many of my anthropology and sociology classes during college, but it was never clear to me as a student how we could use those connections to better our world.

The children I worked with in Kentucky frequently wanted to come back to the caves and valleys we studied to participate in projects that would repair previous trespasses and educate other children and even adults about the importance of living in harmony with our surroundings. That was why, upon moving to Washington State, I joined Committee for Children. Working in the field of social and emotional learning allows me to help children grow into global citizens. Empathy and perspective-taking are key components in responsible action toward the environment. And when I say environment, I mean everything in the world around us, from the neighbor’s cat, to the pine tree in the local park, to the kid at school who doesn’t wear the newest sneakers. Because even though our program is known as 'Second Step,' I believe that providing children with social and emotional skills is the first step toward building a better world.