by Veronica Gockenbach ‘14
Knox's fall EquiKnox lecture gave students the opportunity to learn from a renowned activist and author, who discussed the future of the global economy and encouraged students to play a more active role in protecting the environment.
Winona LaDuke, executive director of the national advocacy group Honor the Earth, gave the speech, "The Next Energy Economy: Green Jobs and the Future of Our Communities," sponsored by the Robison Lecture Fund.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear things like this," said Matthew Lichty, a junior from Mount Vernon, Iowa. "Hearing people from this movement speak is really important to feeling a strong connection to the movement."
A graduate in rural and economic development at Harvard and Antioch Universities, LaDuke has spent years studying alternative food and energy sources. She explained that the current need for non-renewable resources -- as well as their costs -- has grown exponentially, leading to a global system she terms "dysfunctional."
"If that's what our economy looks like, where we basically cut off the tops of mountains throughout this region and we put CO2 into the air so we can ship things to a global economy -- we might need to rethink that a little more," said LaDuke.
As part of the Native American Anishinaabe tribe from Minnesota, LaDuke shared parts of her culture with the audience, linking cultural beliefs to the importance of caring for the environment.
"If people do not control their land, they do not control their destiny," said LaDuke, who proposed local and environmentally friendly solutions to problems concerning global warming, fossil fuel dependency, and environmental degradation.
She encouraged students to look into alternative energy sources as a community, as well as to support public officials who are committed to green strategies.
Knox sophomore Jessica Robinson was inspired by LaDuke's efforts and appreciates having the opportunity to hear experts speak in her area of interest. "It changes the way you see things," said the Carbondale, Illinois, sophomore, who spent the summer interning in Yosemite National Park to find the impact of prescribed burning on seedling growth in three Giant Sequoia groves. "[Opportunities like this] are enlightening, and you come out of it feeling happier about what you're doing, or motivated to do something new."