HER fight against climate change has today earned Solomons designer and social entrepreneur, Millicent Barty, an Emerson Collective Fellowship.
Emerson Collective (EC) is a for-profit corporation that work in pursuit of a world where every individual has access to opportunity, health and well-being by bringing together entrepreneurs and academics, artists, community leaders and more to build solutions that spur measurable, lasting change.
As an Emerson Collective Fellow Ms Barty, is joining others from across disciplines that are each pivoting to an environment-focused body of work that illuminates their collective pathway to a healthier planet.
“I am so humbled and thrilled to join the Climate Cohort of Emerson Collective.
“ ‘Major breakthroughs only come when new perspectives are applied to our toughest problems’ (EC) and I’m so incredibly blessed to be elevating the traditional perspectives of our home (Melanesia) in the climate action space whilst tackling loss and damage of culture through Kastom Keepers,” she said.
Ms Barty turned her attention to climate change in 2018 when she learned that her home island of Lilisiana has lost 66 feet to rising sea levels – and that her great-grandfather’s grave is now underwater.
After speaking to elders about climate change, Ms Barty decided to launch Kastom Keepers to promote climate action centered on indigenous Melanesian wisdom.
In a statement today following the announcement of her fellowship, Ms Barty said Kastom Keepers has been the ultimate dream for her.
“Kastom Keepers has been the ultimate dream for me to do and possibly my final destination — so this chapter won’t be easy but I’m grateful to EC and those who support me for believing in me.
“I’ve been Kastom Keeping for a very long time both personally and professionally.
“It’s a space I’ve always found my truest and most authentic self.
“With every kastom knowledge and stori shared/passed down to me, my connection strengthens, my roots deepen, my mind expands and my soul ignites,” Ms Barty said.
She said her spirit is always happy when she indulged in life-long learning and kastom storytelling.
“To be given a space to discover my own answers to life’s greatest questions: Where do I come from? Where am I going? Why am I here? What good do I bring to my society? and mostly, Who am I?, is honestly a blessing.
“These answers for me, can only be satisfied when I learn about Who I Am from the eyes of my ancestors, and not through the lens of my colonizers.
“It is here I am most liberated and my consciousness elevated.
“The dream to protect them and make this accessible to my generation and future generations to come, is now a reality.
“I have so many people to thank and more I’d like to share with you about this (soon I promise). But for now I must first and foremost give my biggest tagio tumas lo God/Source/Creator/Universe, my ancestors, my spirit guides/Anoatha’s who once walked this earth and paved ways for me.
“We’ve arrived. I know the top of this mountain is the bottom of the next one and we’ll keep climbing. But for now, I’m grateful. I’m grateful. I’m grateful,” Ms Barty stated.
Ms Barty’s focus as an Emerson Collective Fellow will be to;
- expand Kastom Keepers, creating a catalogue of indigenous wisdom about the environment to ensure knowledge from the Melanesia subregion of the Pacific Islands will have a central role in global conversations about climate action.
- build the Kastom Keepers Network and host gatherings to connect kastom stories, as well as other insights of indigenous elders and practitioners, to policy making.
- establish Kloud Islands, a digital oral-history platform that will preserve and protect kastom stories, and increase access to them.
- establish Kastom Guides, graphic guidebooks with community-contributed ideas about adaptation, resilience, and sustainability, to show how indigenous wisdom can work alongside scientific data to guide climate action.