It is hard to always maintain an optimistic view of the world given how much is wrong with it. It is an important quality for peacebuilders to have, no doubt. The talk with Jeff Langholz was one of those sessions that really does restore your faith in humanity and the capacity for positive change. His enthusiasm, optimism and passion for environmental justice really did shine through and it was quite honestly a breath of fresh air. None of us students were science experts, but it is obvious there is a big need for creative, innovative solutions to address the issues of climate change, particularly on vulnerable populations across the world. I loved hearing about Jeff’s organization, Water City, and the process by which it came to be. The five ways of harvesting water which did not threaten to dry up natural reservoirs – (a) rainwater harvesting, (b) fog and dew collection, (c) atmospheric water generation, (d) gray water recycling and (e) black water recycling – seem simple but were incredibly effective. I am now looking at researching how these models can be adapted to different climates, urban spaces and particularly developing megacities.

His work was another striking example of the incredible work that members of local communities can do when we take the knowledge and experiences we have and really apply ourselves to making a difference in the world. Most of the sessions we had this week, including especially the ones by Sujata Moorti and Elizabeth Cole, were inspiring, radical and thought-provoking. I will keep these lessons in mind as I work towards building a career in human rights and social justice.