Do you ever struggle to show up authentically within a space, or struggle with sustaining that authenticity depending on where you are? Showing up true to who you are consistently takes a lot of work for you to know: 1. what your values are, and 2. how you can engage a level of vulnerability in order to simply be YOU, without compromise.
Leander Lacy, a trained environmental social scientist and host of the Green Mind Podcast, joins Katie Kurpanek, Eco-Living Coach and Podcast Host, to talk about the intersectionality between our relationships with people and with nature. Leander shares the 4 different kinds of trust and what the implications are for building meaningful relationships within your life that will allow you to show up authentically, and hopefully, provide us all more opportunities to bring everyone together as we work toward the common goal of caring for the earth, each other, and ourselves. (full bio below)
NOTE: post-editing, I realized that a few times I used the words "America" and "United States" interchangeably, even though "America" encompasses both North and South America, more than just the U.S.A. My intentions with the word "America" were only in reference to the United States throughout this episode, and I will continue to work toward utilizing a more mindful and inclusive choice of words as we move forward. Thanks for learning with me!
This show is brought to you by listener support, and I'm sending a huge shout-out to these patrons for making it happen: Elizabeth R, Nancy K, Sarah W, Jodi S, Julia B, Liliana S, Karyn W, Linda M, Detlef K, and Kelly K!
To become a patron and receive all the perks of this community, visit www.patreon.com/allthingssustainable and join for as low as $3/month!
To learn more with your host and Eco-Living Coach, Katie Kurpanek, visit www.thatminimallife.com for blog posts and personalized coaching info!
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More about Leander Lacy:
Follow him on LinkedIn
Check out Lacy Consulting Services
And learn more about the Green Mind Podcast here, as well as on Instagram @greenmindpodcast
"The Green Mind explores the intersection of social and environmental advocacy. We take a journey to uncover the actions people are taking around the world to showcase the symbiotic, yet sometimes tumultuous, relationship between people and nature. Your host, Leander Lacy, is a trained environmental social scientist and is a consultant for environmental organizations that are trying to meet both social and ecological outcomes. He has worked on projects around the world exploring the relationship between people and nature. Now he wants to bring his love for this work to you! He will interview experts that are doing work now to build and sustain this critical connection between communities and the Earth."
You're listening to all things sustainable, where we unpack topics related to sustainable living, as well as how to apply specific actions to your own life. I'm your eco living coach and podcast host Katie Kurpanek. Let's jump in. Hey everybody, welcome to this episode of The all things sustainable Podcast. Today we have the absolute honor and privilege of being able to have Leander Lacy as our guest speaker. Leander is the host of his own podcast called the Green mind. And I originally found his podcast just through Instagram. And as soon as I listened to the first episode, I was completely hooked. I binged all of his episodes within like a week or two. And I have been waiting ever since for the next season, which is his third season, and that is coming out this month. So February 22 - 2.22.22. Pretty easy to remember. So mark your calendars for that and definitely go check out his podcast. As soon as this episode is over. Before I even got a chance to talk with Leander at a personal level just listening to his episodes. I was amazed at Leanders ability to share so authentically about himself, and to be able to ask the most engaging thoughtful questions of his guests, leading to the most brilliant conversations. Leander has such an interesting backstory into how he got into the field of what he does. And you'll hear more about that soon, but I'll just give you kind of like his brief official bio. So Leander Lacy with he him pronouns is a trained environmental social scientist, and is a consultant with Lacy consulting services. He works with environmental organizations that are trying to meet both social and ecological outcomes. He has worked on projects around the world exploring the relationship between people in nature. And now he wants to bring his love of this work to you. Through his podcast, he interviews experts that are doing work now to build and sustain this critical connection between communities and the earth. Basically, Leander works right in the intersectionality, between social and environmental advocacy. And a really important element of his work is being trained in what he calls JEDI practices, which is justice, equity, diversity and inclusion so that he can support communities in their utmost growth, working together toward a common goal of caring for our Earth and caring for each other. Our conversation really beautifully puts a cap on this pilot series on my podcast so far, where we've been looking at the whole big picture of living sustainably, and we talk about how to just show up as you your authentic, full self, and then how to sustain, See what we did there, sustain this ability to show up as your authentic self, no matter if it's in your relationships, your work, your personal life, within the environment, and so on. This conversation is totally applicable in and out of simply environmental focuses. I loved every single word of this conversation with Leander. And he's also super engaging as a storyteller. I've already listened to this episode like five times just in the editing process, and I'm still hanging on to each word. It's definitely a favorite that I will come back to again for my own growth, and I really hope that you enjoy it. Speaking of growth, our Patreon community is really growing. Patreon is just where you can join as a listener supporter, help me to make these podcasts happen. One of the perks that you get as a patron is being able to join these podcast interviews live with me via zoom, and you can just listen in on the conversation. And then you have a chance to have your own exclusive q&a session with the guest speaker at the very end today. My mom happened to be the only Patron on the call. And so she had the privilege of being able to have a totally private q&a session with Leander all to herself which was so much fun. So if you would like to join that community, there's more information in the episode description. And we'll come back to that a little later in the episode. But that's enough from me. I cannot wait for you all to hear this conversation. So let's just dive in. Hello, everybody, we are going to have a fantastic episode today. I can already tell. I've got Leander here. I've got my mom on the call just as a patron supporter in the background. So we're gonna have a whole lot of fun today.Leander Lacy:
Yes, I'm excited. I can't wait. Mom, I can't wait to talk to you and bring you in. It's gonna be so much fun.Katie Kurpanek:
Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into?Leander Lacy:
I don't know. You should not be asking me. i And I call everyone's Mom, mom. So if you all know me in the future, if you ever see me on the streets and you're with your mom, I'm just going to call your mom Mom. So just be prepared for that.Katie Kurpanek:
Well, Leander, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm really, really happy to have you on the call. And I've been I had binged all of your podcast episodes like at the end of last year. 2021. So, once I heard just, I don't know the first one. The first two I was like, oh, I need to talk to this person.Leander Lacy:
I love it. Yeah. Now the Green Mind Podcast, the podcast I do. It's been such a fun endeavor and just be ability to connect with people. Fantastic. It's been. It was selfish reasons I building the community, but it turned into something very beautiful.Katie Kurpanek:
That's so wonderful. Yeah, I love every episode. It's definitely creating like a beautiful community just within itself. So season three is coming out soon. That's exciting.Leander Lacy:
Yeah, February 22, Tuesday, February 22. And then we air episodes every other Tuesday from there. So you do the math, you look at the calendars, I'm just letting you know, it starts on February 22. I think you can figure it out from there.Katie Kurpanek:
Perfect. Oh, my gosh, I cannot wait. So you are the host of the green mind podcast. And you own and run lacy consulting services. And I've given my listeners just a little bit of a background about you. But I would love if you could just kind of start us off by like, sharing your story sharing one of my favorite questions from one of my other favorite podcasters Jen Hatmaker. She always asks like, who are your people? So who are you? Who are your people? Tell us a little bit about that.Leander Lacy:
Ah, love it. Love it. Love it. Yeah. So my background, I come from a traditional background in conservation of wildlife ecology and conservation was not my intention to do whatsoever, I was actually going for veterinary medicine. And I went to community college first to kind of reduce the burden of off my parents for paying for college. And before I transfer to University of Florida, that my counselor said, Well, you can do cows and chickens, which is animal sciences. Or you can do bears and tigers, which are bears and tigers. And she said, which is a wildlife track. And you know, neither one of those were cats and dogs all I cared about. And so I was like, I'll do the coolest thing with sounds like bears and tigers. And so I did that, that one decision changed the trajectory of my entire life. So I was taking my wildlife courses, as well as taking like organic and inorganic chemistry and preparation for vet school. And ultimately, it came down to my senior year when I made the decision to switch over to wildlife conservation. And when I did two things, one, I asked the question in class, I said, you know, after we do all these really cool studies and learn about the habitat in the landscape, like who goes into the hood and talk to those people about all these great studies. And they're like, We don't know what the hood is, first of all, and second of all, beyond that. Beyond that, you know, people go into conservation to not talk to people. And I was like, Oh, that's so interesting. That's not why I would go into conservation, I would go into conservation to talk to people, I think people are awesome and interesting. And they have so much to benefit from conservation. And so I switched over to my career after one more thing, which was that I took a class called Human Dimensions of natural resources, which is basically social science theory apply to conservation problems. And it really opened my eyes about how much I love working with people and understanding people. Even when I was going for veterinarian school. I remember I was working in I was a pathologist doing blood work and the veterinary so why do you want to be a veterinarian? Like I don't know, I just want to talk to people and like help them like have better quality of life because they have pets in their lives, and they want to take care of their pets. And so I really want to help people like Okay, so you want to go eight years of schools to help animals to help people. Oh, yeah, that's what it is. And so I just realized that my passion really as people and so anyways, I got out of that. I was a Florida black bear biologist for two and a half years. Most of you don't know that there's bears in Florida, but there are definitely bears in Florida. And then I got my master's here in Colorado, at Colorado State University in human dimensions of natural resources. And I did my thesis in Mexico looking at how to improve the quality of life of the urban poor through environmental action. So you can see a theme here of me wanting to help people.Katie Kurpanek:
Yeah, and that that last piece, really, I did not hear anything about animals. Yeah.Leander Lacy:
No, no. Now I realized that yeah, animals are cool. And I love animals, but also their nature. I think that was my entry that was like my gateway drug right up into nature is animals. But then once you realize that there's to love the animal, you have to love the surrounding landscape. You have to love what they eat, you have to love what impacts them. You have to like understand all these different things. And so while animals was my starting point, I've grown to the point where I can see on a global scale, everything globally impacts even like the caterpillar on a blade of grass, you know, like, everything impacts it and so now I'm more open to what I think to be the impacts on the ecology and the impacts of on communities.Katie Kurpanek:
Hmm, that is really cool. I love that entire process and how those dots were connected for you. And it's definitely unlike any story that I have been able to hear before. It's so fun,Leander Lacy:
I really appreciate that. Yeah. And I took basically, eight years working for the big green organizations out there, just kind of exploring what that looks like for me. And that kind of pushed me to start my own consulting business. Because you know, as much as I love the conservation movement in the work I do in the conservation world, and in focus, it is still a very white-led movement. And what that comes with, unfortunately, is a culture that doesn't match my culture. And so because of that, it tends to be a little bit more oppressive. And I have a lot of microaggressions that happen on daily basis, because my thinking like it, let's go way back to what I said before about the students and the teacher, when they said, well, Leander, we get into conservation to not talk to people, right? If that's what the people who go into conservation feel and think, clearly, that's opposite to what I said and what I feel. And so my ethos never really matched the ethos of these conservation organizations.Katie Kurpanek:
Right, exactly. And that so you are a trained social scientist, you're working within this environmentalism, conservation world. So how did that expand for you? Could you talk a little bit more about like, those experiences that you had facing a lot of these microaggressions within this conservation world? And what ended up being like some pivotal examples of that intersection between social advocacy and environmental advoca-? I cannot say that, I know, advocacy?Leander Lacy:
Yeah, you know, what's so interesting is that my, my, of course, I did my, my, my graduate study on the intersection of urban poverty and environmental action, and that really just felt like the right thing to do. I did that in Chiapas, Mexico. And that was I lived there for a year, and the environmental organization said, you know, what do you want if you graduate project, and I like, well give me a list of all the social issues happening in the city, right? And I'm like, alright, well, here are all the ones Oh, then that's what I want to work on. I want to work on urban poverty. And they're like, they're like, no one really cares about urban poverty in the city. And I'm like, Well, then let's make them care. And I think you all should care, as well as a conservation organization about the social impacts of your conservation work. And so I interviewed organizations that helped the urban poor in this particular city in Chiapas, called San Cristobal de las cosas. That's the name of the city. And what was unique about the city is that urban poverty, there is not like anything you would imagine, here in the United States, urban poverty, there are indigenous people who had to flee their communities, because they had a different religious belief than their communities. And so maybe about 12 different indigenous groups fled to the city to live. Whereas here in the United States, when we think of even homeless people, we don't even really think too much about indigenous people being homeless, right. But in this city, the majority of the homeless people were or sorry, not homeless, but urban poor, and also people who are houseless is a better term to use. Or are experiencing homelessness. And in the city, it was just difficult to like, bring together these two different groups, because the urban poverty groups may or may not like religious groups of government groups of, you know, institutions, religion, all sorts of different types of groups working with them.Katie Kurpanek:
And I love that you shared that that term that's more appropriate as well to us, because it's just people first language, right? Like we're taking the people and, you know, identifying them as such, and then what they're experiencing. So yeah, I appreciate you just breaking that down, first of all, and then also sharing that intersection, what, what types of things did you see coming from that project in that study that you did that was tying like the environmental effects of conservation within that area on the urban poor that you were working with?Leander Lacy:
Yeah, I love it. So what we figured out is that the urban poor live in three different areas within the city. So this city is basically surrounded by mountains. And what the urban poor did is that they would come in and they would clear cut on the side of the mountains to create homes. They also mostly if they were in the city, they lived alongside the river, as well. And then the third place they lived was on top of or just slightly inside of an abandoned mine. And the abandoned mine, the name of that neighborhood is called Salir si Puedes, which is leave if you can, that's like how bad it is in that community, because that's the name of the community. And so what we found is that oh, well, you know, conservation groups are actually really good at stabilizing soil, right. And so, if we could re forest were they clear cut, what we would find is that the not number one factor for in for social health or social advocacy was literally people's lives. If there was a mudslide, they would be the first to be taken out or die. If there was flooding, their homes would be washed away first. And, of course, the massive impacts of air quality issues on the mind. And so what we realized is that these conservation groups like over, we were already going to reforest that area, or we were already going to stabilize the riverbank. Oh, cool. By doing that, you're also saving lives, you're actually reducing risk to people's lives, you just never put two and two together. And so the work that you're already doing, you can now capitalize on that, and report back to your funder, both the social and environmental impact that you're having. Because if you weren't aware of those groups, and how you were impacting them, you can't really create metrics on success for social advocacy in that space.Katie Kurpanek:
Amazing. I'm really glad that you just expanded on that. Because this whole podcast so far, my podcast, these like first pilot episodes of the first season, we've been really, really honing in on the fact that this is all intersectional Yes. And when you're living sustainably, even if it's just for yourself, you're not only taking better care of this planet, and there's that entire nature side that goes with it. But now, you know, we've had episodes about like the financial savings that can benefit you. But then it goes beyond that to like, this type of living can benefit your physical health, your mental health, your sense of community, recognizing your place in this world, and the entire, like social sector that goes with that. And our environmental choices always have a direct impact on our social communities. And that could be like where you live, or it could be around the world. So this is definitely a topic that is really close to my heart. And I wanted to have you especially in this episode to just kind of like, cap off this pilot season. Because after this, we'll be transitioning and talking a whole lot more about like, what does sustainable living actually look like for the person. But um, but this pilot season has been very, like broad. So if we, if you're willing, if we could dig a little bit deeper into this idea of like, intersecting the human relationship with our relationship within nature. I feel like within your podcast episodes, and I hope that everybody will go take a listen like right after this, because you just have this, this natural ability combined with your training as a social scientist to bring out the most like authentic and meaningful conversations with people. And I mean, you talk about everything from like conservation in nature to healing from trauma to like privilege and inclusion within your work. So I'm curious if we could dive deeper into the work that you do with people in nature, and your podcast specifically ends every episode with this phrase, like, go enjoy nature in a way that's uniquely you. And I love that and I wonder if you could start by speaking to that phrase, like, what does that mean for you? What might that mean for your listeners?Leander Lacy:
Oh, that's so good. I love that. So, um, you know what I try and tell people that you know, recreation and being outdoors is different for every single person. And what I'm trying to break is the narrative of what it means to be an outdoors person or conservation person, like people have been doing conservation for a lot of people their entire lives, but they've never been allowed to call themselves that because it's not good enough for the conservation movement, like okay, if you don't eat bird seeds and climb Mount Everest once a year, you're not a conservationist you you can't be an outdoors person. You're not good enough for you know, this world and I'm like, that's not true. Like you could literally go on your back porch for five minutes you're a conservationist, no you went outside in nature, you're not a conservationist you're, you've enjoyed nature, right, being outside for five minutes on your back porch, breathing in air, that is you being in nature, and I remember having this conversation recently with a Lakota person who, I love telling the story, that there is no word for nature, there's no such thing. And to have a word for nature, it means that we're trying to describe something separate from ourselves. But because nature is not separate from ourselves, we're in nature 24/7. Right now, you and I in our room here with our podcast gear and everything. We're in nature, right this very second, everything is made from nature, you can touch it and feel it at all times. It doesn't have to be this thing where you have to go on a 20 mile hike and then like you know, go through this cave and then okay, now I'm finally in nature, like no nature is ever present all the time. And it's good to remember that and sent to yourself around that and that is not this some kind of elitist Country Club of like, you can't be in nature unless you do it this way. And so I want people to go out and be a native Whether it be you know, having a little time with your mom on like by the river having a conversation about family life, or you know, catching fireflies, or lightning bugs or whatever your regional term is for it, you know, whatever that looks like for you go do it. And that's good enough, and you don't need to do any more, and you have nothing to prove to anyone by how you interact with nature.Katie Kurpanek:
Hmm. I love that. And you touched on this earlier, when you were talking about how a lot of this like conservation work and eco movement, that's more I would say the more mainstream like trendy movement right now is often very white-led. And I think that from what I can see, there is there are a lot of people who are working really hard to amplify black voices, people of color or like trying to figure out if you are a white person, how can we step back and be more of a listener and somebody who can participate together as a team and not be trying to lead this movement. So I was curious, if you have the bandwidth, would you be willing to expand on maybe some challenges that like you've experienced, showing up within sustainable spaces and trying to do this work as authentically as you can? Or as you want to? And enjoying nature as your unique self? Would you be able to share a little bit about that?Leander Lacy:
Yeah, I think I first would have to say like, why even why would even a white led or white people step back to let those other voices come into the room? Right? And one of the things I my philosophies are is that one of my philosophies is that conservation has a limitation on what it can accomplish currently, right? It was born out of Western civilization. It was born primarily from white straight men who were in the room when they determine what is conservation today, right. So what we see as conservation today is based on like 10, white straight guys getting in a room saying we need to go protect and buy that piece of land, right, which first of all, is like a foreign concept if you're not a white straight, man, and those time? And so like, what would conservation look like today if there was women in the room, if there was a, you know, Asian, transgendered men in the room, if there were, you know, just general diversity in that room, what we have as contribution today would just be one tool of the many, many, many tools that we would have been using and conservation, the approach. And so when we expand and allow for diverse voices to be in the room, it's not because it's a nice like, oh, cool, we were cool. And we had some diverse voices in the room. It's not that at all, it's that we don't know what's going to save this planet, right? We are in crisis mode. And what we've been doing to date has led to where we are today, right? Climate change didn't just happen to show up today, we're like, oh, we should start doing conservation. It was born alongside traditional conservation. So when we talk about who's at fault is not those people out there. It's also the conservation movement, who allowed and limited its ability to be solutions oriented by having diverse perspectives. And so that's the reason why we talk about giving space for other people to join the conversation. Because, you know, no matter who it is, it could be that janitor who like is always mixing different chemicals together and like mopping the floor, who might have like the most amazing idea of how we're going to stop climate change. But we're never going to hear that voice if we always think that it has to be an upper class, you know, certain type of people, conversation, no, everyone should be involved in the conversation about conservation, because it's so important. And so as far as for me showing up in this space and trying to accomplish what I'm trying to accomplish, I think the biggest pushback, and you'll notice this actually just in jobs, at environmental organizations, there aren't many social scientists at environmental organizations aren't people with that title. There are certainly these environmental social scientists that work at organizations, but they're not doing social science work, right. And so they kind of want to have a foot in the door, but they're actually doing the work. And so what I found first and foremost, I spent the first three, four or five years in the big green organizations, just trying to convince them that social science was important. And so then matter of time and energy, I wasted, convincing people that people were important. That's probably the biggest kind of glaring aspect of me being able to recognize, okay, we've got a lot of work to do, and they're not in any sort of position to change very quickly. They're still focused on just that animal, or just that landscape where that animal exists, right, or even maybe they are in a global view, but they're not incorporating people at all, which leaves that kind of more even furthering of disproportionately affecting people or that elitist feel about the conservation or eco movement.Katie Kurpanek:
Right, exactly. And I wanted to distinguish between conservation and living sustainably and then that like mainstream, trendy, kind of zero waste lifestyle that we're seeing a lot on, especially social media right now, I wanted to make that distinction in the beginning of this question, because I think that by us thinking that this is like, almost like that white savior complex that we need to take on that, like we need to come in, and do this work, we need to like, be the ones that are saving this planet. I think it's also completely ignoring and dismissing the fact that conservation efforts taking care of the planet living sustainably, this is already being done in cultures across the earth right now. And it's historically been done in cultures throughout time. And so there are people of all different cultures and backgrounds and races and languages and everything that have been a part of this work. It's just not always been recognized or amplified. So and like you talked about with the work that you were doing in the town that was named leave, if you can, yeah, if you were wanting to replant those forests, and you were saying that the indigenous people are already very well versed in this practice. So why not bring them in? Like yes, why not be asking them about this right, and get involved within the community that lives there.Leander Lacy:
Yes, I love that. I love everything about what you're saying right there. 100%. And it kind of reminds me of two things came to mind when you said that one is regenerative agriculture, which is a term that we throw around a lot, which is just indigenous agriculture, which is just the way that indigenous people have been doing agriculture the entire time, but it's been co opted, stolen. And now organizations are making money off of this idea, like, Oh, we're doing regenerative agriculture, let me teach you what that means. Then we show you what that looks like. And people are giving them grants and money and blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, these indigenous people who've been doing that the entire time aren't receiving any money, any grants to continue it further that work. So it's really interesting on that aspect of it. And then secondly, you talked about, you know, kind of like, the sustainability kind of zero waste what that looks like, and kind of like the the impacts on people when they see it as potentially a white savior situation like, Oh, this is I Maybe I can't do this, because this is something that white people do right? Really great story I tell, I went to Airbnb. This is like, Wait, like, maybe like 10 years ago, I remember now. And it was in Seattle. And I remember like, going in and looking at the list of things like you know, the rules of Airbnb, they have a notebook, and they're like, so there can be zero waste here, like the city will find us if we have more garbage than recycles, and composting. I'm like, Oh, okay. So first, I freaked out. I'm like, Alright, I've never done this. I don't know what composting is. I don't even know how to recycle. I don't know what goes where. And I'll tell you what really honestly happened to me is when I when that was kind of forced on me. I was concerned because my understanding my impression, my limited view of the world was that recycling and sustainable living was for rich people. Only rich people did that, who could afford to do that type of thing. But when I actually did the whole process and went step by step on how they did, I'm like, Oh, this is so easy. Like, composting is easy. Recycling is easy. Making sure everything's in the right bin all this is so easy. Why was no one in my family or my culture taught or told that this is actually a part of what anyone can do, whether you're poor, whether you're white, whether you're black, whether you're gay, whether you're straight? It doesn't matter. Anyone can do that. But I had a perception in my head that I couldn't do it because it was only for certain types of people.Katie Kurpanek:
Hmm. That's so interesting. Yeah, I was talking with Shiela DeForest, on the episode, well, I think by the time this airs, this will be like two episodes back. But she's Filipino. She talks about her experiences growing up there. And she's like, I grew up, you know, my dad would just dig a hole in the backyard. We throw our food scraps in it covered up. And it's like, well, it's going back to the earth. This was just normal, like, this is just what you did. But that was part of her culture. So then to think that like coming here, living within America, living within Colorado, and she was like, I mean, first of all, I have to pay to compost. And second of all, it's not even available to all of the communities like it's only available in certain cities right now, which is just really sad to me, but hopefully this will be changing at some point.Leander Lacy:
Yeah, yeah, no, absolutely. I think it's, again, something that anyone and everyone can do and everyone should have access to. But there's a bit of culture that we need to like get past as well. And it's so interesting as well, kind of tying it really quickly back to culture. Culture, indigenous cultures, right? We're all indigenous, by the way, like all of us, at one point were indigenous to somewhere. And we were doing indigenous practices at that place. But that's part of also kind of a trauma of, you know, people of color, especially in the United States, African Americans here as well, or black people here, who, in order to oppress and suppress, the first thing you do is you disconnect them from nature, you stop their connection from nature, you stop their connection to their spirituality. And that's a great way to break them and to get them to abide by your way of doing things. And so a lot of black African Americans here have been stripped from their traditional knowledge of farming and interacting with the land. And that was intentional. And so, like you said, having, you know, someone who grew up in their original community, coming here tonight stays like, oh, okay, I can still bring that with me cuz I still have connection to where I'm from. But for other people who have been here and been like, cut off from their original countries of origin, they're grappling and trying to understand or relearn things that maybe they've lost, and that was intentionally not lost, but taken from them as well.Katie Kurpanek:
Is that something that you find yourself working a lot within to any degree with Lacy consulting services, like any of the projects that you've worked on before or that you're working on now kind of like restoring a lot of what has been done, and then figuring out how to move forward from here?Leander Lacy:
Yeah, so one of the big projects I worked on is looking at Black indigenous people of color farming and ranching across the United States, because environmental organizations have been working with farmers and ranchers for a very long time, or the way that they propose that they work with ranchers, farmers, that we work with the largest landowners that are gonna have the largest impact on nature, right? That automatically blocks out a lot of people of color, who only owned small land. Now, even though farming was a much bigger deal for in the past, a lot of land has been stripped and taken away from the USDA and others, specifically, so they can be turned over to large landowners and those who just tend to be white. And because of that we're exploring kind of the traumatic history of the farmlands that have been taken from black indigenous people of color, and how do we start to restore that process? These farmers, so conservation groups are having a really hard time getting these larger farmers or managers to take on and adopt conservation practices, right? They're just not interested, for whatever reason X, Y or Z. Meanwhile, all of the like a lot of the black indigenous people of color farmers or ranchers, they're like, Yeah, let's do it. Like I've been doing this anyways. So give me money. Let's keep doing it. And so if they conservation groups, chains are way of thinking to say, why don't we instead invest in all of these smaller farmers or ranching communities and make an ecosystem that's not one big large, but minimum of a lot of different pockets of small farmers and ranchers, we can actually have the same type of impact, it just is going to be more work because it's not just one person, one large land owner. But the amount of time you wasted may either be 1-5, 10-20 years trying to convince this one farmer or rancher to do that work, you could have gotten hundreds and hundreds of smaller farmers or ranchers to do the work instead.Katie Kurpanek:
Hey, just wanted to jump in real quick to talk about Patreon. Patreon is an online platform that allows you to become a patron of the arts, so to speak, a financial supporter of the creators who enrich your life with their content. Thanks to the generous support of my patrons. starting as low as just $3 a month, I'm able to continue empowering individuals like yourself through these educational chats with various experts across the spectrum of sustainable living. As a patron of this podcast, you will have the privilege of joining the discussions with guest speakers via zoom and taking part in the exclusive q&a As with them, too. If you can't make the actual interview live, that's okay. You'll have access to the full recorded episode early before anybody else gets a chance to hear it. You also receive the added bonus of personal shout outs in podcast episodes, and other behind the scenes content sent your way. Plus, you'll receive unique discounts to more than a dozen sustainable businesses that have partnered with me so that you can save money and the earth while you shop. If any of the content that I create adds value to your life, or the perks alone have piqued your interest, check out patreon.com/allthingssustainable to join our community and become a patron today. Thank you so much for your support of this journey to minimize our carbon footprint while maximizing our positive impact on this planet we call home. Okay, let's get back to our show. So, thinking about this, this work that you do and anybody listening wherever they're tuning in. I mean this can be applied to our history with you know, race but then also beyond that you can think about different religious affiliations or even political affiliations, people of different genders and identities. And working together trying to accomplish this to get to that greater goal of just taking care of our Earth and living more sustainably. That involves a whole lot of trust within that relationship. And I know that in a couple of your episodes, at least you've talked about this. I think you called it that trust ecology. And it's like the ability to trust and the layers that go within that. So I'm curious if you could share a little bit about that with our listeners, and what does that look like within the sustainable spaces?Leander Lacy:
Yeah, absolutely. So such a great question. So there's a term called trust ecology created by Professor Mark Stern, who's currently at Yale, and his students who have explored the social science of trust and breaking down what is it? What are the different layers? What are the characteristics and so what we've what I've done is I've taken that research paper and turned it into a series of workshops to really help conservation organizations build and sustain trust with diverse communities, whatever that means for you, and your state, your location, your region. And so what it does is it breaks down trust into four different components. So the first is dispositional trust. So this is like a trust that you have before you ever meet the person, right. And it kind of what has been said about that person, what has your mother told you about this group of people, your father told you about the group of people, your elementary school teacher, what you've read in the newspaper recently, what your political affiliation says about those people, all of that comes into play, when you actually, before you even meet someone, you have a level of trust with that person just on your knowledge and thoughts and feelings about that particular person, then once you actually meet them, then you go into three different types of buckets of trust. First, is rational trust is the kind of trust that we use on a daily basis. It's like, it's all based on performance, right? So if you give someone a task, like I needed done by, you know, X day, and they're three days late and given it to you, right, and then they do it again, okay, well, now I trust you less because of your performance, you've shown that you're not trustworthy to get this done on time, right? Versus someone else who you give a timeline or deadline, they always give it to you like three days early, then you get to a point where like, here's an assignment, I'll talk to you later, I trust you, I know you'll get it done. Because I trust what you can accomplish. So that's kind of like on a day to day to day basis, what we tend to use a lot is rational trust. The next is dis, no, not dysfunctional. What is it? Okay, got it. Next one is affinitive trust. So affinitive trust is basically how much you trust someone because you're in the same group of group of type of people, right? Like you and I might have more trust for each other, because we're both podcasters. That's an example of that, right? An example of that also is if you're in the environmental field, sustainability field, let's say there's three people in the room. One person is a conservationist, the other person has zero sustainability person. And then third person is an oil and gas person, right? Who's probably going to trust each other in that situation, right? Even though the oil and gas person like I'm here to actually to do some massive conservation impact work. The other two are like, Yeah, I don't trust you. But I trust the zero sustainability person or the conservation person more, because we're in the same group, right? This happens with racial identities, with gender identities, when you're in the same type of group, you tend to have more trust with each other. Another example I gave was like parents, right? If you're a parent, and you're looking for parental advice, you're probably gonna go to other parents versus like, that young single person who just got to the club the other day, right? Even though that one single person may have the most important like advice for parenting, you're going to trust the other parents first. And then the last one is systems based trust, which is basically, if there's a system in place, they're going to trust that system, which is going to override their need for the other types of trust, right? So for instance, when you get hired into a brand new job, you probably don't ask them, Can you guarantee that you'll pay me every two weeks? Right? Even though that's how you feed yourself as you clothe yourself or take care of your family members? You don't ask them that question. Because at least in the United States, we have a system in place where if they don't pay you, you can take action, right? So they trust in the system, the legal system, whatever the case may be, maybe that contract that you signed, whatever it is, we trust that system. And so we're willing to willingly walk into a high risk situation, because we have a piece of paper or we have legal systems in place to protect us. So those are the four different types of trust. And then as far as how it works in the conservation space, so much. And so the first So I got to really apply that is actually in an rural town in Northwest New Jersey. And what it looked like was organizations or people there really didn't have a lot of connection to conservation organizations. So their dispositional trust was pretty low. They've had, they didn't either didn't have interactions, or they had bad intent, or they heard of bad interaction. So for me coming into that space, it was like, we already have a low level of trust with you, because you're part of the conservation organizations, right, or the political movement around conservation. Second, in this particular rural area, there weren't that many people of color, right. And so I don't know what their baseline of trust, you're probably changed person to person, because I was a black man going into the space, I don't know what the level of trust was, with me going into that space. What we did have going for us, however, is that the organization I worked for had a lot of rational trust, they've shown to be really good at finishing complex projects on time. They had a pretty good history, in in really walking through a community engagement process. So that was really good. But no one we didn't have any, oh what was, I don't know why that's the one that's hard for me to get. We didn't have any affinitive trust, because no one lived in that neighborhood or in that watershed. We didn't really have people that understood the local politics. And so we weren't really fitting in with them in regards to our affinitive trust. But the thing that also was really good for us is the system's based trust, we are really, they were really good at creating memorandums of understanding. And here's a contract, here's the timeline, here's what we're going to accomplish. And you can see it all laid out. And so they they trusted that system, because it had worked in the past. And so I think a lot of the elements of the different types of trust come into play in multiple different kinds of ways. But what I bring to this process is an intentionality behind trust building. So when I do workshops with these organizations, we start talking about what are the actions and strategies to build and sustain trust before you ever even meet with a community. Now you're being intentional, like we all say, we want to build trust, but we all build trust in different ways. So it needs to be institutionalized, that this is the way that we're going to do trust with every community that we engage with. And then it becomes a normal pattern and communities begin to see that.Katie Kurpanek:
Hmm, I love it. That makes so much sense to me. And I think that it reminds me of something else that you had said on a different one of your podcast episodes, talking about how you work really hard to create a safe and welcoming space for yourself. So that whatever setting you walk into, you can help to cultivate that, no matter who you're working with. And I'm curious with the the listeners tuning in, they may be curious about showing up as authentically as possible within a sustainable space. Or they may just be curious, how do I show up as authentically as possible anyway? Like, I mean, my my word for the year, I've never done this before, but this year, I chose like a word instead of you know, like a New Year's resolution. And it's just authenticity. So showing up as authentically as possible, can be so hard to do. Because it it engages a level of vulnerability that doesn't always obviously feel comfortable. And depending on the setting that you're walking into, and the people that you're around, and those layers of trust, like you talked about, you know, some of them might be missing. So anyway, I wonder if you could talk about like, what do you work on personally, creating that safe and welcoming space for yourself so that you can bring that to the table with others? And make sure that you're part of cultivating that wherever you are?Leander Lacy:
Yeah, such a, so that's such a powerful question. And so what, what I do for myself, and that, you know, you gotta be tired of like, being not authentic to want to be authentic, right? When you're tired of inauthenticity and like being fake all the time. And like having to like code switch and stuff like that. You're like, I'm so tired. You just stop doing it. Right? That's like, why we love like, you know, you're talking about sometimes we talk about oh my god, like, Grandma says whatever she wants to say she doesn't care. I'm like, yeah, she shouldn't care. She should say whatever she wants to say. And that comes a level of maturity I think as well as like experience of like, you're just tired of trying to accommodate and please everyone, right? And so when I go into spaces now like what's on the podcast, as well, I talk about all of my identities, you know, I am black. I am Panamanian. I am gay. I grew up religious. I grew up Southern Baptist, and I still have a spirituality to me as well. I you know, love to travel like I taught. I try and tell everyone everything about me. And the reason I do that is because if you don't like me, go away. Like there's so many other people that like me instead, I don't need you to like me, I'm not in the business of you liking me and or disliking my identities. And so I, I really bring that up in every single conversation with partners that I go into, and I tell them all of my identities and who I am, because I want them to feel uncomfortable. And be like, Ah, you I can I can, I've read the room so much in my entire life, I know when when someone feels uncomfortable, when they don't understand or appreciate my identities, I can see it in your facial expression immediately. And so when I see that I can be like, you know, I don't think this is gonna be a good fit for us, I really feel like there's some other consultants I can refer you to. And that just gives me so much joy on a daily basis that I don't have to work with anyone who doesn't fully accept me. And that is something that really makes me happy. And it took me a long time to get there. But I'm tired of code switching or being fake, or I have to act straight, or I gotta act white, or I gotta act like I don't care about religion or spirituality, like no, I care about all those things, all those things matter to me. And I think, again, that just comes with time and age. And so what I say is to people, and I've just had a conversation with this to students about this, at the University of Florida, my alma mater, and I said, you got to know your values and what you stand for. It's great that you care about the environment. That's, that's beautiful. I love that about you. But you're more than that you are individual person who has values, and you need to figure out what your values are. And if someone breaks those values, you need to learn how to leave and walk away, you know, you should not be in a situation where you're experiencing any type of abuse, you don't deserve it. No one deserves that in any way, shape, or form. And so if your values are being stomped all over, you need to know when to walk away. And that's a really tough thing for us in the conservation sustainability field. Because we're so passionate, and we care so much. But that is not excuse, having abuse thrust upon us and not being able to recognize it and not being able to walk away from it. And sometimes we don't walk away, because we don't even know our own values. We've, we've kind of let the conservation movement, tell us what our values are. But we're more than the conservation movement. We're all individual people who grew up in different cities and towns and family types. And two brothers, I'm the youngest, I'm the oldest, I'm the middle, all those things matter. And you should really hold on to those values in whatever career that you're in.Katie Kurpanek:
Yeah, absolutely. It's so applicable to, like you said, any career that you're in any type of like personal relationship that you have. And then within the sustainability field, it's like if if we are going to turn this ship around, get, you know, get to work and start taking care of our planet, the way that we need to be that is only going to happen by people working with people. And so we need to be able to work together. Like you said, in some cases, that's not going to be possible if if there's a level of abuse there, and those lines need to be drawn. But knowing when to recognize that first of all, is huge. And then that means that you need to know yourself and your values. And and then you need to know like when to look elsewhere and find your other people that you can connect with and get this work done.Leander Lacy:
Yeah. So you know, you you brought up something that makes me think about this, which is we're trying to get everyone at the table, right. And that means people at the table that you don't agree with, it can't all be people that you like or that look like you, right, that's the problem to begin with, right. And so a really strong example of this, it's kind of extreme, but I'll just I'll talk about this example where we have a group of individuals where, you know, we have evangelical Christian individuals, and we have LGBTQ individuals trying to be at the same table to work together. And you know, one does not exclude the other right, there could be LGBTQ people who are also evangelical Christian, and there could be evangelical Christians who may not agree with LGBTQ lifestyle, and some that do. And so what we try to explain what I try to the philosophy I bring to those kind of conflict situations is that you're in this room, not because of who you do, and don't like I don't care about who you do and don't like, this is about trying to find solutions to the planet's biggest problems. And we're inviting these two different groups to be here, not just because of their identities, but because they bring perspectives and knowledge and experience that could be very, very helpful to solving some of the greatest problems that we've ever experienced. And so I need each of you to set aside your anger and frustration if you have it for each other. And know that when we're in this space, it's about the planet and the nature and us trying to all survive on this planet together. And so let's figure out solutions that we would have never figured out if we didn't have the two of you in the room. Instead, let's find some innovative ways to really crack this case. Because we're all suffering because of The impacts of climate change and everything else. So we're really trying to bring people together to focus on that it's not easy. And some people will still say, I'm not going in that room, it just is too toxic, I don't like it. But that also comes a level of trust of the facilitator who is facilitating that space. And who's creating that safe space and brave space for these various sometimes viewed as different people to be in the same area and be in the same space is similar to. A lot of it's so made up. That's the part I don't like the most. So much of its so made up, right. So like this Republican Democrat situation, right that we have, I don't know, if I'm Democrat, I can't talk to Republicans, around Republican, I can't talk to Democrats, lies, it's all lies, it's not real. We can all talk to each other. We're just regular people, we all have moms, and we all have dads, and we all have like, we all are struggling to like live in this life, we all went through a global pandemic, like, we are actually just people's, like, the label does not create your values, right. But sometimes we do allow the label to be imposed their values onto us. So you know, like I said, whatever, if you joined the Republican Party, like, oh, whatever the Republican Party values are now my values, that's not true. Like you, you were a person and before you were a Republican, same thing for Democrats, same thing for conservation, as you were a person before you join that, whatever it is. And so when we try to bring diverse people to the table, we actually try our best to like eliminate those labels. And I want to find out about your experiences, how you grew up, how you address challenges, because that might be the solution to how we address things like climate change, and sustainability.Katie Kurpanek:
Yes, 110%. Yes to all of that. It is so important to find commonalities, and to start there, rather than just focusing on all of what is dividing us. And those differences are things that we, you know, can't stand about the other person or party or whatever it is. So I, I wish that we had more time and that we could talk about this so long, I have so many more questions for you. But I feel like this transitions really well into the last question that I have, which is just like a routine standard question I ask to all my podcast guests. And I change up the wording a little bit, of course, depending on who I'm speaking with, but if you could sum up either what you've already shared or present, maybe entirely new ideas, considering listeners various levels of privilege, accessibility to resources, wherever they're coming from, what would your top one to three actionable steps be, that they could take so that they can show up authentically within their relationships with people in nature? And especially if thinking about that facilitator role, like you talked about, you know, a lot of people tuning in aren't gonna have a specific facilitator, helping them navigate these things. And so maybe they have to step up into that role themselves. But what would you suggest be like their starting points?Leander Lacy:
I love that. First of all, go to start going to places where you're the minority, that's probably the first thing that you can do to really help. And it's going to be awkward, and you're not going to know how to ask that group if you can join and be a part of it. But just try, just ask and see what happens. We had a situation recently where someone said, you know, I want to go to this event for a group called outdoor afro. Right. And and they were actually they were Indian American. And so not even that much of a jump, really, right? But they were like, I'm afraid to ask, I can't go to outdoor Afro events, because I'm not, you know, African or African descent. And so they end up asking, actually, you'll hear it live on podcast, No, actually, that wasn't on the podcast. That was after the podcast. Well, to two commissioners here in Colorado were having a conversation, Commissioner Adams and Commissioner, non Java and then Commissioner nonjava asked, very genuine question like, can I come to your outdoor Afro events? And Commissioner Adams like, yeah, absolutely. We accept, we accept all people. Of course, we want to make sure that the black community is the majority in that space, but we welcome all people. And so find ways to get to make yourself the minority. And that will really be a huge help and getting you there. Second, is, when you're trying to explain things about sustainability, zero waste, right, we sometimes forget that we're using jargon, or that these people don't really come from our background. And so we got to take it slow, we got to meet people where they are. And that literally might mean that you have to go to their homes and help them like literally sort things and literally show them what composting composting looks like. Literally given the phone number or not even given the phone number, call the number for them, and say, Hey, I'm gonna put them on speakerphone. Let's talk about it together as we figure it out. Those are some very important things to do. And then lastly, as you're trying to uncover this, oh my gosh, read just read there. You're spending more time avoiding understanding diversity, equity and inclusion, then you could have been just doing a quick Google search and one minute you could have been reading a ton of really cool articles. So you spend more more time and energy, avoiding the topic than you would have been, if you just said, You know what, let me just do a little exploration and find out what's going on. So really dig into the literature, I really find digging into history to be huge, and really your understanding of how to better engage with diverse communities.Katie Kurpanek:
Those are fantastic options. And every listener from everywhere could utilize at least one of those things that is totally accessible. So I really appreciate those ideas and your entire conversation today. Thank you for taking time out of your day to just chat with us and present these ideas. Maybe there'll be some listeners who are tuning in that would want to contact you for Lacy consulting services for projects that they might think you would be a good fit for. But if people obviously just want to find your podcast, I'll link that in the description, the green mind podcast, but how else would you either recommend people find you or follow you or other resources that you would point them towards?Leander Lacy:
Yeah, so LinkedIn is probably my biggest source of where I post things and comments and posts. And so if you go on LinkedIn, just find me Leander Lacy, I don't think, you're probably only gonna find me, my dad, I don't even think is on it, who's also named Leander Lacy, and I'm pretty sure I'm the only one that you're going to find. There. Actually, no, there is a stunt double, who does some work, whose name is Leander Lacy. And besides, you'll find me pretty quickly. So LinkedIn is one. We do have an Instagram at Green mind podcast, but I don't use it too, too often. And then if you want to email me about potential projects, I'm lucky enough to have an executive assistant who handles all of that stuff for me. So though, she'll filter all that out for me, so I would recommend reaching out to Nicole Murphy, it's just Nicole@lacyconsultingservices.com. And she'll help you with scheduling and get to figure out, get on my calendar, stuff like that,Katie Kurpanek:
okay, and I'll be sure to like, go back and kind of, you know, pile all those things together, and then put them in the episode description and make that easy for people. But I really, really enjoyed this conversation and your time today. And I feel like we need to have so many other conversations like I could talk to you forever about religion and spirituality and people groups and like all those things, but unfortunately, it does not fit just this podcast episode.Leander Lacy:
No well, I do have an episode called religion and conservation, youth religion and conservation. So you can go listen to that one.Katie Kurpanek:
Yeah, I listened to that one, because that was one of your older ones. I like that a lot. Yeah,Leander Lacy:
well, awesome. This is super cool. I kind of want to hear what your mom has to say. ButKatie Kurpanek:
well, since my mom is a patron, and she has the perk of being able to join these, like exclusive q&a's we'll go ahead and end our portion of the interview here. But any listeners who will be tuning into this, if you want to join our Patreon community, I've got that link in the bio, and then you can join these conversations live and be part of our q&a sessions. But with that, I think we'll transition so thank you so much for your time.Leander Lacy:
Yeah see yaKatie Kurpanek:
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