Protecting the Sonoran Desert with Stories of Gratitude
Doug Bland believes it’s important to start conservation work from a place of gratitude and affirmation rather than fear and negativity. He shares that affirmation through storytelling – as a professor of storytelling at the South Mountain Community College, as Founder of Arizona Interfaith Power and Light (AZIPL), and as pastor at Community Christian Church, where he has been pastor for more than 18 years. He believes that stories have the power to engage people at the deepest level. The shortest distance between two people is a story.
For Doug’s Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship project, he wanted to dovetail his passion for storytelling and love for the environment through the Sonoran Desert Heritage Storytelling Project, a multi-media engagement strategy to preserve and protect 720,000 acres of land in western Maricopa County. Through eight concerts, Doug was able to deepen the connection that exists between faith-based institutions and environmental organizations. He found he was able to springboard off AZIPL’s mission to “mobilize people of faith in Arizona to reduce the causes of global climate change through education, advocacy, action, and prayer.”
Through the Sonoran Desert Heritage storytelling project, Doug reached an audience that doesn’t usually gather around the table when environmental concerns are being explored and reach beyond the usual political, social, cultural and theological dividing lines. He showed that storytelling can do much to promote the campaign to protect and preserve land in the Sonoran Desert.