Crafting the Fate of Our Inheritance | Ian McNeel | TEDxBridgetown
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Crafting the Fate of Our Inheritance | Ian McNeel | TEDxBridgetown

Translator: Tanya Cushman
Reviewer: Elisabeth Buffard Inheritance. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “inheritance”? Money? A house? Jewelry? Maybe a family business? Or maybe Grandma’s
glass unicorn collection? Or Uncle Winston’s favorite recliner. Or maybe it’s a particular
trait or mannerism, or a way that we interact with particular people, places or things. The fact is that we inherit
all types of stuff: Some are just more obvious than others. So, when I inherited a sand quarry, (Laughter) my first thought was this quarry is one of the few sources
of silica sand on the island, which is used and is a main ingredient
for the construction industry. And how blessed am I to be able to assist in the continued business
that my father started? Immediately followed by this eco-warrior
inner voice yelling, “but wait … you’re an ecologist.” I’ve spent the majority of my life actively stewarding projects and investing in projects and practices that are directly responsible for increasing people’s
livelihood and lives. And now I might be directly responsible
for destroying natural habitats. Now, I didn’t make the choice
to open a sand quarry, but I do feel a deep sense
of responsibility to both the business
and the needs of Barbados and, at the same time, to steward the quarry
back to ecological health through regeneration. So, it was at that very moment that I realized what the opportunity is and not what the burden was. We can choose how we interact
with our inheritance, taking actions that evolve
beyond the obvious story. It’s kind of like inheriting
Uncle Winston’s recliner: it’s got history, it’s got great sentimental value, but given the choice you wouldn’t necessarily go out and purchase that same recliner and put it in your house and live with it day after day. So, living in the possibility
and not living in the same old story, it became clear to me that what we choose to do
with our inheritance is really what makes the difference. Most often, we don’t choose
the things that we inherit, and many times we’re not sure what to do with them
when we receive them, or maybe when we
recognize a particular trait. Once we’ve inherited something, it doesn’t mean that we must
hold on to it or have buy into it – its current status or structure – but that’s what we often do. We carry the same story forward, holding on to it as if it were
Grandma’s unicorn collection. Right? Feeling obligated to serve it
in the exact way that she gave it to us. So, instead of carrying
that story forward, I wanted to carry
a different story forward. So, a story that was filled
with possibilities and not limiting beliefs. First off, I can tell you all
I had no idea what I was doing. How do you regenerate 300 acres of land that’s been quarried
over the last 50 years? Well, about six years ago, I decided to go out and educate myself
on different methodologies, like permaculture, carbon farming. I immersed myself with a group of people who had dedicated their lives
to regenerative practices and impact investing. I engaged deeply in local community, which ultimately led
to a cooperative group that ranged from international
permaculture consultants to local food foragers and organic growers. And that’s how we’ve begun
to tell a new story. So, we set out the design plan
of restoring living systems beyond the richness that was found prior to the quarry being established. And over the past two years, we have added thousands
of tons of green waste and compost, countless loads of chicken,
sheep and horse manure, and we’ve planted over 13,000 trees and nitrogen-fixing plants. (Applause) Our test zones that we have now
include things such as aloe, banana, figs, arrowroot, plantain, lemon grass, watermelon and turmeric,
just to name a few. This is all in a sand quarry. (Applause) I believe that projects such as this
represent a new inheritance, a new economy emerging with core values around stewardship and not extraction. A new economy that recognizes
the wealth of our oceans, our soils, our fresh water resources – all while building
a more resilient community. Now, as Barbados celebrates
50 years of independence, and the quarry recognizes
its 50th year in operation, it’s time that we all looked
at what we’ve inherited; look at what Barbados
has provided for all of us, and how we can interact
with the inheritance to ensure that in the next 50 years we can be proud of what we leave
our next generations: crafting a new fate
of inheritance for Barbados and the future guardians of our heritage. So, I inherited a sand quarry, or did I inherit a nature reserve? Thank you. (Applause)

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