Love in Education and Beyond: Irene Greaves

by | Oct 29, 2021 | Heartivist Of The Week

When students need to learn how to add or subtract, we teach them Math. When they need to know how to write a paper, we teach them English but what do we do when they need to learn how to love? That is the question Irene Greaves is answering with a ground-breaking program she created that teaches skills on how to cultivate self-love and love for others aptly titled, Lovescaping®.

It was one of Irene’s sisters – a woman she affectionately refers to as “the embodiment of love” – who taught her the truest definition of it. When she was only a year old, her sister developed a high fever that left her with permanent motor damage. As a child, her sister would take longer to do everyday tasks, like dressing oneself, than most people. That was something others might take for granted but for Irene, those moments with her sister were often an invitation to slow down and notice things she might otherwise have missed. Humbled by these experiences, her gratitude grew.

Having seen the inequalities in her native Venezuela, Irene set out to experience more of the world and lived everywhere from Mozambique and Guatemala to China and the United States. In each and every place she settled, her passion for community building and education led to her working for change-making organizations and creating loving and equitable spaces for growth. Now, living in Houston, she is once again bringing those two things together as she builds a Lovescaping Village.

Upon receiving a seed grant from The Pollination Project, Irene took an idea for creating a more loving world and put it into action. She wrote an incredible book, “Lovescaping: Building the Humanity of Tomorrow by Practicing Love in Action,” and developed a program that she is now teaching in various schools – not as an after-school program but as part of the daily curriculum.

In looking at her connections with everyone from students to loved ones, she noticed that there was a series of components that made love possible, so she adapted those components, or pillars, to create a curriculum. For example, while exploring one of the pillars, such as vulnerability, children might decorate masks that symbolize putting up a brave face. When they remove it, they discuss the vulnerable feeling inside.

Sitting in a circle with her students is Irene’s way of illustrating that there is no hierarchy. Often in classrooms, there is an idea that the educator is the sole authority and thereby wields the most power. In those situations, students may worry that they will be punished if they do or do not do certain things; however, fear does not allow for love and growth. So Irene works with educators and parents to create more loving and expansive learning environments.

“We don’t flourish in fear, we are only compliant. I want everyone I work with to flourish and embrace one another for who we are. In addition, feeling safe is necessary for learning to happen, so if we want our students to flourish academically as well, Lovescaping is a prerequisite.”

Lovescaping® is love in action. As the creator of this work, Irene continues to learn how to be more compassionate and loving towards herself which in turn, feeds her work; it’s a loving cycle. Learning how to love oneself and others is not only a core component to a well-rounded education, it’s essential to a well-rounded life.

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Academic professionals Carla Forte Maiolino Molento and Rodrigo Morais-da-Silva founded Cell Ag Brazil at the end of 2023 with support received from The Pollination Project. The objective of the newly created association is to reflect, contribute, and promote the development of cellular agriculture in Brazil through proactive promotion and unifying actions among different audiences interested in the development, production, and commercialization of food through cell cultivation processes. 
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With a seed grant, they founded the organization and designed a logo that represents their mission. They are now inviting people and organizations to participate in the association so that it gains greater relevance. 
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Their members will be distributed across three chambers: 1) academia, 2) private sector, and 3) third sector and civil society. With this, they aim for diverse representation and to create a positive movement to act in different areas to promote and accelerate alternative proteins in Brazil and Latin America.
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Billions of animals involved in food production in Brazil will be impacted in the medium to long term from this work. Data from IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) indicates that approximately 6.1 billion chickens, 56.5 million pigs, and 30 million cattle were slaughtered in Brazil in 2022. 
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With this association, Carla and Rodrigo may help reduce the number of non-human individuals involved in food production as they help to speed up the replacement process with alternative proteins.
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In this World Day of Social Justice we celebrate the transformative impact of The Pollination Project and our dedication to seeding the essential change our world needs. Since its inception, The Pollination Project has been at the forefront of empowering grassroots initiatives, providing the crucial support needed for small-scale projects to blossom into powerful agents of social change.

Our unique model of micro-granting has enabled a diverse array of projects across the globe, touching upon various facets of social justice including environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, gender equality, and human rights. From providing clean water solutions in remote villages to empowering women through education and entrepreneurship, we always believed in the power of individual action to create a collective impact.

Each project funded is a testament to our faith in the inherent goodness and potential of every person to contribute meaningfully to the betterment of society. These initiatives not only address immediate community needs but also foster a culture of empathy, equity, and inclusiveness - essential pillars for achieving true social justice.

On this World Day of Social Justice, let's draw inspiration from the myriad projects The Pollination Project has nurtured. Their work reminds us that each small seed of kindness and action can indeed grow into a mighty force for good, paving the way for a more just and compassionate world.