I recently encountered Chris Wong, a fellow Toronto Shaper, at Seedy Saturday: a setting that brings together people who are enthusiastic about vegetable gardening workshops, seed exchange and simply playing in the dirt. Chris was sharing the Young Urban Farmers (YUF), his brilliant entity, which makes it easy to “grow fresh food in the city”.
A handful of us Global Shapers are expressing affection for the soil. I spent a great deal of my undergraduate years digging into the social context of healthy soil. In his article, “Solve hunger? Save soil”, Howard Buffett considers how “soil erosion happens over many generations”. He pushes us to realize that “the consequences of our actions” are unlikely to be felt by our generation and quotes Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The nation (who) destroys its soil, destroys itself.”
The word “culture” stems from the Latin cultura, “a tilling of the land, cultivating”. So how does the strength of a culture correlate to its soil quality? Soil quality is only one tool for measuring the strength of a culture. Since strong cultures exist where soil is poor, soil cannot be the sole predicator.
Consider Northern Canada’s permafrost. Because the ground is frozen, the soil produces nothing edible. In Iqaluit, situated in Nunavut, nearly 7,000 residents grapple with it, all year long. In 2007, the community built a greenhouse to challenge the notion they could not grow vegetables there. They are now harvesting vegetables where most pedologists (soil specialists) would declare: The quality of the soil is too weak. The Iqaluit community’s aptitude for problem-solving isn’t, however.
It takes a strong culture to rally together, to be experimental and devise solutions to daunting, unusual problems. As Global Shapers, many of us are chipping away at some of the world’s greatest problems. Our community is young, literally and figuratively. Shapers are all between the ages of 20 and 30 and as a community, we are yet to celebrate our first birthday. This youthful environment allows communities to experiment, take risks and sometimes fail, all integral to the process of problem-solving.
I hope that the Global Shaper community will focus on building up an ever stronger problem-solving culture. We can support those endeavours that aim to address the world’s most pressing issues.
Image Credit: Mike Derblich (Evergreen Blog)