“How do you make the circle wider?” was the question Peter Seligmann, CI's Chairman and CEO, posed to a group of more than 100 who gathered at The Ruins in Seattle on January 9 to celebrate and support Conservation International’s work.
Peter cited conversations he had recently held with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Pastor Ted Haggard of New Life Church, and Wal-Mart executives to demonstrate that everyone has a stake in the future of the planet, and that no one should be excluded from CI’s mission of environmental stewardship.
The evening’s keynote speaker, Wade Davis, world-renowned ethnobotanist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence, explained how the loss of biodiversity parallels the loss of cultural diversity.
Of the 6,000 languages still spoken, more than half are not being taught to children and will be dead within a generation. As each of these languages represents a worldview, not just grammar or vocabulary is being lost, but the collective wisdom of ancient civilizations, Wade explained. Accompanied by photos taken on his travels in Haiti, the Amazon, Tibet, Autonomous Region of China, and the Arctic, Wade illustrated the ways in which indigenous cultures are threatened by the same forces jeopardizing the earth’s environment.
CI intern Lizzy Auld, who is the third generation of her family to be involved with CI, opened the evening. The future of the conservation movement rests with young people like Lizzy, so her remarks about how CI had influenced her struck a special chord with the audience. The event, which was co-chaired by Lizzy’s mother Patrice Auld, Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, and former Starbucks CEO Orin Smith, highlighted the philosophy of partnership and inclusion that inform CI’s mission.