Meet the Presenter: Jeunesse Park

September 7, 2011 | 12:00 am | , Writer and Editor

With 24 Hours of Reality quickly approaching, it’s time you got to know the people who will give the presentations on September 14. These Presenters are regular folks who live with the impacts of climate change every day and are ready to share their stories with the world. Our next featured Presenter is Jeunesse Park, who will be leading the event in Durban, South Africa.

A resident of Johannesburg, Jeunesse Park is a lifelong conservationist and environmental activist. She began her work in 1989 as the founder of Progreen, a group that worked with local and international organizations on environmental projects and events. In 1990, she founded Food & Trees for Africa, a national social enterprise that addressed food security and solutions to climate change. Jeunesse also works as an advisory editor for the publication Simply Green. In 2009, she travelled to Japan to discuss climate change and food security, and her talks resulted in over 200 Japanese travelling to South Africa to plant trees and food gardens.

Jeunesse recently sat down to answer a few questions for us.

What is your favorite activity to do outside?
I love swimming in the ocean at the wild Cape Point, the southeastern tip of the African continent. Walking along the sea and anywhere we can find pockets of nature and reading in my garden are good. I also like harvesting fresh organic vegetables and herbs in my garden and cooking good food.

What sort of extreme weather have you seen in your hometown?
We get dramatic and fabulous electric storms during summer rainfall months. Last week, three provinces experienced blizzards and snowfall that caused huge delays on the roads. The rescue services battled to rescue drivers stuck in their vehicles, and people were snowed in at their homes. Also, early this year we experienced floods. But what is really scary is the predictions of severe droughts in southern Africa, as illustrated in Mr. Gore’s slide show, are coming true. This combined with poorly managed water infrastructure in an already water-scarce country requires immediate attention.

You’re taking time out of your busy life to give this presentation. What is your motivation?
I am driven by the passion to inspire change towards healthier, happier people on a healthier and more sustainable planet. I have seen the power of communication to effect change and know that we can achieve a more balanced and brighter future if individuals, policy and business act now to address the damage we have done on the earth. I like Derrick Jensen’s saying: “You can’t kill a planet and live on it too.”

What is your favorite book?
My children recently gave me a Kindle, and I find I now read several books simultaneously. Most recently, I have read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, The World Without Us by Alan Weissman, The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I enjoy the novels of Jim Harrison and Tom Robbins for relaxation.