Estève Gaelle Giraud

My name is Estève, I am a white woman Ph.D. candidate, born and raised in France, married to an African-American man and mother of a 2 year old. Her laughter is one of my biggest sources of daily joy. In my early twenties, I left my country and spent a decade living and traveling on the five continents before settling in Arizona for my doctorate. These travels and encounters helped me (and still do) realize and identify the boundaries of the Eurocentric mindset that permeated most of my education. Before my parents’ generations, my ancestors were all farmers as far as our family genealogical efforts can tell. This gave me a strong respect for farmers and people who work the land, but also sympathy for all people whose daily hard work – although critical for our society – is not being fairly recognized and valued. To me, happiness is taking the time to count all the beautiful things in my life and being filled with a sense of profound gratitude. I also think that doing this exercise is an immense source of power. 

To me, the lab is first a huge source of support for its members, and my intention is to support others at least as much as they do support me through the doctoral journey, and through life in general. My doctoral research connects care and food systems: how we can integrate care in our understanding of food systems and in policies to enhance well-being. In this context, I am leading one of the Lab’s projects: creating a permaculture garden in a senior care home in Glendale, AZ (Apollo Assisted Living) to create a nourishing space for both the residents and the caregivers. 

Eating food is both a necessity and a joy of life. However, the journey to bring food into our plates is not always a happy one. To me, supporting existing care practices in this journey and integrating “care” to the food system conversation is a way to promote well-being. Care practices enhance health and a sense of connection, which are both elements of well-being and of a “happy life.”

To you reading this, I’d like to offer you gratitude. Thank you for taking the time in the middle of your busy life to read these lines. Thank you for connecting with me through these words and read my bio. And if you have just a few more seconds, I’d like to invite you to name and feel 10 things that you are grateful for in your life right now. Know that I am grateful for you. 

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Sarra Tekola

I am a Black Queer nonbinary decolonial climate & racial justice activist, the child of an Ethiopian climate refugee, and a biracial foster kid. Happiness to me is a world free of oppression from race, gender, capitalism, colonialism, homophobia, and other systems of injustice.

I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the lab, my research is on climate change and colonialism and how western society’s inability to address the climate crisis is related to our outdated colonial enlightenment ideas of progress that is now hurting humanity. I am also a climate justice practitioner, currently working on three projects. I started the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition which won a multicultural center at ASU. Since 2018 I have been doing solidarity and mutual aid work with land defenders in Black Mesa, Navajo Nation, taking lead from Diné elders. I am also a co-founder and co-director of Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro, currently working on a participatory research project on rearranging the City’s priorities from police to sustainability, health, and wellbeing.  

Western society is seen as the most developed and yet we suffer at the highest rates of depression and suicide. Despite all our wealth and high standards of living, we are not happy. My work is about exploring decolonial ways of being that are life-affirming and happiness-centered, an alternative to our current way of being that puts the economy over everything.

Sarra Tekola (they/them) is a PhD candidate in the School of Sustainability. Their dissertation research focuses on the connections between climate change and colonialism and Western society’s inability to address the climate crisis which they termed “the pathology of modernity”. Their undergraduate research was on the physical elements of climate change, where they interned and researched for EPA, NOAA and the Washington State Department of Ecology. They also have worked as a legislative aide in the Seattle city council working on sustainability and justice policy.  Tekola is both an academic and decolonial climate activist & Black Lives Matter organizer. They are a co-founder, co-director and minister of activism for Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro. They were a lead organizer in Divest University of Washington, where after a 3-year struggle they divested from coal. They helped to start a “Block the Bunker” campaign in Seattle that blocked another police station from being built in a community of color. They started a campaign at Arizona State University that won a multicultural center. Their activism has been featured in Democracy Now, CNN, Rolling Stone and was named by Outside Magazine as one of the “30 under 30” in 2016 and was a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow from 2018-2021.

Sarah Bathe

Hi, friend! I am Sarah Bathe. I am a community member of Maricopa County, as well as local to St. Louis, MO. I am a white, cis-woman who’s goal is to use my privilege to amplify the voices of those who are oppressed in our society, and ensure that I share love, care and create safety for all those around me. I am a Master’s student at ASU, exploring how intersecting identities influence a human’s relationship to the natural world through storytelling. I am happiest when I am surrounded by those I love, in the place I love most, nature. I would like to share this experience with the world, and my hope is that others will share and we can make a community through our collective experience. 

Happiness to me looks like community support, taking time to show love to a stranger and being able to give and receive love to oneself. I feel that we can only truly prosper when our neighbors prosper as well. Community happiness is my main interest working within the Happy Lab. As for specific projects, I am working on two that coincide with the lab. I am working on my own personal thesis–the storytelling project in which my goal is to foster empathy with community members by sharing our personal connections with nature, as well as working directly with Scott on research, interviews and talks with shamanic practitioners on Regenerative Happiness and Sustainability.

If you are reading this, know that you matter, your story matters, and there is connection within everyone you meet… work towards finding that. I promise it will be worth it.

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