24th Headwaters Conference

Home/Land Security in the Headwaters


Director's Welcome, John Hausdoerffer

Two weeks after last year's Headwaters Conference, I traveled to the foot-wide headwaters of the Ganges River above Gangotri Glacier in the Indian Himalayas.  Hindu legends tell of this spot as the cradle of creation, where the Milky Way (the Sky Ganges) fell to earth to sustain humanity.  Looking up at 21,467 foot Shivling Peak, shaped like Lord Shiva’s head, looking at the glacier descending from peak to river to fuel a civilization, I understood why the Hindu people see this place as sacred.  It is the basis of their cultural, economic, ecological, and spiritual security.

But how secure are the sacred ecological underpinnings of human civilization?  On this same trek, my guide showed me where the glacier was ten years ago—at least one hundred yards lower than its current location due to climate disruption.  I met scientists planning for "an India without a Ganges."  On my return (with a layover in New York one night before Hurricane Sandy flooded Manhattan and a Colorado return to snow-less November peaks) I wondered what it would mean to build a secure home here--in the Headwaters.

What kind of security can we build into the land, to sustain the homes and homelands of the Headwaters?  How can we find secure ways of feeding each other, of heating our homes?  How might a more secure home/land in the Headwaters support security in places like the Indian Himalayas, which emit fewer pollutants but suffer the worst consequences of global carbon pollution?  These are the questions of this year’s Headwaters Conference: Home/Land Security.

As always, the Headwaters Conference will look with hope to the solutions and partnerships necessary to building food, energy, cultural, economic, and ecological security in the face of environmental disturbance.  Our usual array of influential writers, community leaders, scientists, scholars, poets, builders, ranchers, cooks, farmers, musicians, teachers, activists, students, and citizens will lead this conversation.

We hope you can join us!



 Keynote Speaker Walter Echo Hawk

Walter Echo Hawk