When I was 18, I loaded up my backpack, bid farewell to friends and family, and pretty much just disappeared for four months.  It’s not that I was mad—it’s that I was in love.  The object of my affections?  New Zealand—known by its locals as Aotearoa–a country filled with people and places that, quite simply, blew my teenage mind.  I pried myself away from the country to go to University, and vowed to return sometime in the following 10 years.  Six years later, I made it—this time on “official 350 business”—as part of a mad-dash organizing trip with Bill McKibben. 

Since our trip, things in New Zealand have absolutely taken off.  They’ve just re-launched their site at 350.org.nz – and are debuting this video to push their government to get far more ambitious with their 2020 target:

Amazing—a true pleasure to watch how their movement is taking off from the other side of the world. 

Two more New Zealand-y things:

1)    take a couple seconds to vote for this picture here in Canon’s photo contest—it could well earn the 350 NZ crew a cool 25K.

2)    Aaron, one of the lead coordinators of 350.org.nz just wrote up this piece about “The Human Aspects of 350” to give his crew some food for thought about the underlying principles of 350— though it uses one term–aroha–from the Maori language, it seems pretty universal to us. Check it out below:

These principles have been developed in recognition that the challenge of dealing with climate change is much more than just setting a target and developing policy to get us there. We need to have a strategy that deals with the technical issues and logistics of climate change. And equally we need to have a strategy for the human aspect of dealing with climate change. Us humans can get nasty, complicated and self-interested. But we can also be caring, inspiring and committed. So what is our strategy for bringing out the best in humankind? Well read on…

The principles upon which we might genuinely deal with global warming: Truth, Aroha, Respect and Integrity

We create possibility and trust when we act in the name of truth, aroha, respect and integrity. As soon as we step out of those, we lose our power, trust and sense of possibility – and all that we stand for. So let us build our movement on truth, aroha, respect and integrity.

350 is about Truth. We do not indoctrinate people with what to think, but we encourage people to explore their own patterns of thinking in order to uncover the truth about how we are living on this planet.

This means that we address not just the systemic causes of global warming, but we also become aware of the mental models that define how we treat Earth. We become aware of how our mental models might limit our ability to recognise the truth and most importantly to take the necessary actions to deal with global warming.

We always test our own thinking and never claim to have the answers, but use the truth as a platform for conversation and dialogue. We adapt our thinking as the truth of our situation evolves. We remain open to how we can improve our thinking and what we can learn from others.

350 is about aroha. Aroha is the bond that unites us. Love is the fabric that must clothe us. We must share our aroha not just with those who join the movement, but also with those that despise the movement, for they are in fact part of the movement. They just claim otherwise. When we act in aroha, love, the movement ceases to be one of a minority, it becomes the movement of and for all of humanity and all beings that we share the planet with.

Sometimes we lock our aroha, love away, we hide it in the dampest corner of our hearts that is wet with our unshed tears of sadness, hurt and regret. When unshared, these emotions can limit the bonds of love that we create. They can limit the potential for us to create the impossible possible. So shed your tears, make your cheeks damp with tears – and let your heart only be damp with your tears of joy. We do not live in the past; we live for our future, by acting and being present to all of that around us. We can only have affect by acting in the present.

Respect & Integrity
350 is about respect. Do unto others as you would have done to you. Do unto Earth as you would have done to you. 350 is about integrity. Be people of our word: act as we speak and speak as we act.

We respect our brothers and sisters around the world, most of whom we have never met, but we know that they share the same desires to live a healthy and happy life. When we see the truth (or our version of it), we see that our daily actions here in Aotearoa rely so heavily on fossil fuels. We combust them at the eleventh highest rate per capita – well beyond our fair-share. We must recognise that such actions are already the cause for much suffering around the world, and according to the most recent science, our actions now are likely to be the cause for the melting of the polar ice caps, the rise in sea level that floods the islands upon which our brothers and sisters live, the rapid increase in desertification, and the massive damage caused by an increase in the frequency and severity of storm events. It is therefore our responsibility to act now, to act with respect and integrity. The greatest integrity is when one can recognise that they have committed an injustice to another, to Earth and they then take the steps to rectify it.

Recognising injustice and Inspiring Action
Our work is to speak out where we see injustice and to inspire action to address the injustice. And we need to go further than looking for injustice – we need to be looking to create possibility in the hearts of those around us, and we need to act on the possibility to make it a reality.

At times it will appear that the path is futile or seemingly impossible, but as long as we act and speak with truth, aroha, respect and integrity, we will get there. We will create a future that sees our planet return to a stable climate, and one in which those living on it act in truth, aroha, respect and integrity toward each other and our Earth.