ROD WALKER (Elected in 1997)

Lessons in Sustainable Rural Development and Alternative Health Care

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>1 CAÑE GUIDE GROUP (Pucón, Chile)
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(Villarrica, Chile – Kathmandu, Nepal – Durham, England)
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Two related areas of work ... Environmental Education and Alternative Health Care ...

>1 Education for sustainable rural development by means of ecotourism
>2 Alternative health care based on the vital energy inherent in nature

>1 Original model ...
Broaden environmental awareness by generating work opportunities in ecotourism, adding to it a dimension of sensitisation based on deeper, indigenous understanding of nature.

>2 Present model ...
Apply this indigenous wisdom to training Reiki (natural energy) healers, especially among patients (people who have experienced healing). This balances the person's relationship with the inner self, which is the same as that of earth, and so the health of each of them is enhanced.

¿What are the main challenges in these areas of work in Chile?

>1 Ecotourism is already expanding as an economic activity with no major difficulties.
>2 The greatest challenges to alternative health are prejudice and lack of understanding. This is evident in the resistence offered by religion and medicine. It's necessary to generate spaces in hich to demonstrate that humans have an innate capacity for physical and spiritual healing when they are connected with their true essence in the earth, whose very nature is by definition healthy.

¿What actions is the State taking, or should be taking?

>1 The state recognises and fully supports the economic potential of ecotourism.
>2 Alternative therapies should be fully incorporated into both the health and education systems, and be widely recognised as essential tools for generating personal, social and environmental well-being.

¿How do you evaluate the development of the second area in 5 years' time?

From now to 2014 I see a critical period, in which the larger changes will be driven more by increasing environmental, social and economic crises than by government initiatives. In times of confusion and anxiety, I consider it becomes increasingly more useful and urgent to train Reiki or similar healers, capable of healing both themselves and other people. Such solutions will become more common, together with the crises that cause them to be necessary. The more pristine natural spaces and indigenous cultures of South America constitute a spiritual resource with a tremendous potential for healing.

22-05-2007 16:41:37 ('Diario Austral' Newspaper, Punta Arenas)

Rod Walker, educator: “We’re now consuming more and more , but in future we’ll be consuming less and living better”.

Last week Punta Arenas was visited by fRod Walker, who is trying to increase environmental and social awareness in schools in the Municipal educational system.of the community, through experiential methods of environmental learning.

Rod Walker has decades of experience in the field of outdoor education. He created a program in for training local guides in ecotourism in the Cañi area, IX Region, and promotes experiential outdoor education practices in both formal and non-formal areas of the education system.

Talking with this newspaper, Walker outlined the main aspects of his work with the schools, where he prepared workshops for groups of teachers, parents and children Father Aberto Hurtado and Villa Las Nieves. His experience with the Manuel Bulnes School was different, including a special workshop with the elected members of the student’s Municipal Council there.

This visit forms part of a project called ‘EarthTouch – Increasing Impacts in Social and Environmental Awareness in the Community’, supported by the Ashoka Association for Social Innovation. It is the result of a collaborative effort between two Ashoka leaders, Helena Todd and Rod Walker.

“Environmental education should be education in environmental values,” declared Walker, recalling that the most recent panel on climate change has identified industrial civilization as a major factor in the disastrous climate changes taking place around the globe. In this context, he added, “It’s a problem of spiritual education. Our materialistic culture has shown itself to be fatally flawed,” because whenever the sustainability of a project is evaluated only economic sustainability is considered, and we forget the simple fact that we live on a planet with limited resources.

The idea, then is to transmit to present generations of educational communities – teachers, parents and students – universal values that make possible a coherent way of living for the future, by receiving the messages and learning offered by the earth.

The present tendency is to impel us to consume more and more, but in future we will be consuming less and living better”, explained Walker. For that to happen, we need to open spaces where children can recognize and practise values like consistency. The schools’s real job is to identify those values that the earth is projecting to us naturally. For example, nature teaches us to respect balance, rather than to idealize excesses.”

On this point, he made and appeal to examine what values we are really teaching – experientially, as opposed to simply theoretically. For example, “What is the value being absorbed by children parading in bands playing war marches inside the schools? Concepts such as nationalism and patriotism,” he added, “are being eroded, as our vision expands towards a global dimension.” In this respect, he cited the respected Catholic University professor, Juan Carlos Castilla, who predicts that by 2020 a new world culture will have developed, on the basis of the global nature of present processes of change.

Beyond and above these aspects of a system designed to maintain the status quo of “business as usual”, Walker made an appeal to “experience personal simplicity”. In the end, he said, “An education that negates or neglects the spiritual, cannot make much progress. We need to value more the language being spoken by the heart.”

23 Mayo 2007 -'Radio Polar' de Punta Arenas
By Guillermina Teneb

Environmental educator Rod Walker, who has decades of experience in the field of outdoor education (having created an ecotourism program to train and employ guides in the IX Region, quien cuenta con décadas de experiencia en el campo de la educación al aire libre, visited schools here with the idea of expanding what he calls 'socio-environmental awareness'.

Walker talked about the main aspects of his work with Padre Alberto Hurtado and Villa Las Nieves schools, where he prepared workshp´s for teachers, parents and students. He was particularly impressed wirh the Student Municipal Council at the Manuel Bulnes school, where he did a workshop.

"Environmental education must be oriented towards values", declared Rod Walker, reflecting that the latest report from the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) has established that our industrtialised civilization has played a (decisive) role in the (potentially) disastrous changes we are now observing in world climate.