Our newest Facilitator of Learning reflects on their journey to this new role
November 2020 By Ascher Goodman, Sierra Club BC Facilitator of Learning
I am very excited to be joining Sierra Club BC’s Education team as the new Facilitator of Learning! Although we are in strange times, I am thrilled to be working with such an amazing organization that is working to combat climate change and build resilient ecosystems and communities in B.C. I am honoured to be working with the current Education team: Ciera, Kirsten, Amira, and Tealia who have already introduced me to some of their great work and welcomed me graciously to the organization.
My journey here started on the lands of the Kalapuya Nation, now known as the Willamette Valley in the state of Oregon, where I was born. The landscape of my childhood was populated by Douglas fir, black cottonwood, and a strong imagination. I spent most of my days exploring the small stream nearby and creating wild stories full of adventure and life.
The most formative aspects of my childhood were the summers, when I would visit my grandma in southern Oregon. She lives in a rural community where the main activity is going to the river. I spent my days swimming through rapids, jumping off the rocks, and searching the riverbed for crawdads (crayfish). I believe that the free play and access to water sources and big trees in my childhood set the stage for everything I have done since and consider these experiences a great privilege.
I was raised in a Jewish family in which the value of Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world, was the center of our faith practice. This manifested itself in all parts of my life but especially took root in terms of caring for the natural world. From a young age, I have felt a keen sense of responsibility for the world outside my doorstep.
In middle school, we organized a Green Club for our school that was able to set-up a composting system and help maintain a school garden. In high school, my connection to the natural world was furthered as I gained independence and was able to go on backpacking trips with my friends.
After high school, I lived and worked in Palestine/Israel for a year teaching English and engaging with a conflict both deeply personal and highly political.
In the following two summers, I worked as the Director of Outdoor Education at a summer camp on Gabriola Island. This is the space in which I first began to engage with the reality of colonialism on Turtle Island. This learning catapulted me into the world of activism, engaging with reparations, and how to be a more responsible settler and uninvited guest on this land.
After this, I attended UBC and obtained an honours B.Sc. in Forest Sciences through the Faculty of Forestry. Throughout my degree, I learned about local ecosystems, plant physiology, and climate change. I joined the UBC Social Justice Centre and became involved in climate organizing and Indigenous solidarity actions. I also had the opportunity to live in Taiwan for six months where I learned about the local ecosystems that thrive there as well as the incredible urban planning that allows for both density and access to green space.
After graduating from university, I worked in a variety of jobs all relating to outdoor education. Throughout this, I have been organizing with Our Time Vancouver, a local climate justice group that is working towards a provincial Green New Deal in B.C.
Throughout my time in social justice organizing, I have been able to stay engaged and mobilized by working with youth. I have found my passion in education and mentorship, and believe that people of all ages, especially folks from marginalized communities, deserve to have their voices heard.
I see my role in environmental education as a facilitator for engagement with oneself and the world they wish to see. I am so excited to incorporate self-expression and community care into climate change education. I want to help young people manage the weight of the problems given to them as well as find strength in themselves and their peers.
If you have any ideas or opinions on how we can support our youth through this climate crisis, please reach out to me via the email below. I look forward to hearing from you and learning from your unique life experiences.
I hope that you and your loved ones are safe. May your December be full of light and nourishment and may you find hope in the darkest months of the year.
Ascher Goodman is based in the Lower Mainland, on the lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. We are thrilled that they will be offering new and improved versions of our Climate and Place program for Grades 6-8 and a new high school engagement program focused on climate change and action.