2022 Forum Series - Health - with Claudia Miller, MD, MS and Kaipo Kekona

The purpose of the Forum Series is to work together to create a path for a livable future—starting with a focus on health on September 15, 2022

The 2022 National Forum Series, which will be taking place over the next several months, is intended to focus on both the existential problems associated with current public health and environmental crises and chart a path for a future that solves these urgent problems. We classify the existential crises into three challenging categories: public health threats, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency. In each category of our involvement, whether as professionals or lay people, whether local elected officials or concerned advocates, we play a critical role in enhancing public understanding of the science and the practical hands-on experience to inform the urgent steps that must be taken at the local, state, and national levels. In this context, our positions are informed by a recognition that with all the existential threats there is disproportionate risk to people of color communities and those with health vulnerabilities.

In Seminar 1—HEALTH, the discussion centers around:

The Problem: We start the Forum Series with a medical doctor who has both treated and studied the effects of toxic chemical exposure, with a focus on pesticides, throughout our daily lives. Claudia Miller, M.D., M.S. provides us with a framework for understanding the dire health implications of the current dependency on pesticides and toxic chemicals and the failure of the regulatory system to fully evaluate and control for the range of adverse effects and complexity of their interactions. Dr. Miller is professor emerita at the University of Texas San Antonio. Her work has documented what is called Toxicant Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT), which captures the disease process and range of nervous system symptoms that individuals develop as a result of low level chemical exposures, raising connections to a wide range of public health diseases. Dr. Miller is the coauthor of numerous peer-reviewed publications, and the professionally acclaimed book, Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes. Dr. Miller’s current research involves the relationship between synthetic chemical exposures and disruption of the gastrointestinal microbiome.

The Solution: The solution is found in a transition to management practices that are no longer dependent on toxic inputs and respect the value of nature and works in partnership with the diversity that it offers. This discussion will be led by an indigenous farmer, Kaipo Kekona, who is working in Hawai’i to regenerate and sustain traditional farming production on former sugarcane land. Mr. Kekona manages a 12.5 acre-farm site for the Ku'ia Agricultural Education Center in the ahupua'a of Ku'ia on Legacy Lands of Keli'i Kulani (foothills of the West Maui Mountains). Critical to the mission for the site is to not only reclaim space as a native historical food property, but also introduce to the community the practices that encourage a healthier food system and the soil health that forms the foundation of productive land management. Mr. Kepona brings the teachings from indigenous practices that have proven to be resilient, healthy, and respectful of life. He serves as the educational coordinator and project director at the Center.

Please see upcoming information on Seminar 2 - October 12th - Biodiversity and upcoming Seminar 3 - November (awaiting date) - Climate
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