It was such a privilege to be with your group at Spirit United for our Community Climate Conversation. We so appreciate your openness and the heartfelt conversations that stemmed from the questions many of you asked of Muhammad and I. Included in this letter is a summary of our conversation with links to resources for your review and to share with others in your conversations and work on Climate Justice.
Please check out our MNIPL March Newsletter with updates and opportunities for action. We also just released our first “Firelight: Wisdom to Support and Inspire” a monthly email with poems, prayers, songs, and articles to nourish our souls and ground our climate justice work. We hope this will also serve as a resource for you to use in meetings and gatherings as invocations and reflections to ground the work you are doing with others in the heart and relationship. Sign-up to receive these emails here.
We are proud of all the work SU has been doing around Standing Rock and in hosting different speakers for your adult education to inform and inspire your community.
With Brad as our Community Connector (for SU), we hope to be more engaged in supporting Spirit United in the future.
Claire & Muhammad
Community Climate Conversation Summary
Heart-Led approaches to Climate Conversations
We discussed how Climate Conversations are a values and heart-based approach to talking about the realities of climate change, while also taking a step as a faith community towards sparking or sustaining action.
The approaches taken in MNIPL’s Climate Conversation model allows us to consider messaging, relationship building and a relational approach that we can apply to nurturing continued engagement in our own community. Read more about how we use Climate Conversations here.
Stories of Connection
Claire & Muhammad both shared a story of connection in their lives. One of
an intensely loving moment that broke with even more intense laughter. And the other about an experience with the gentleness of a panther. Everyone was asked to reflect on stories of connection from their own lives and then to break into pairs to share their stories. After everyone shared, we returned to the large group and shared 1. What they connected to, 2. The feelings that they had in their stories, and 3. The actions that were taken that allowed for or facilitated these experiences of connection.
Here are the notes from our sharing:
What were you connecting to?
- Dave/a person
- Willow tree
- The universe
What feelings did you have that let you know you were connected?
- Pleasure of connection
What action did you take that facilitated that connection?
- Conversation about Christianity & history
- Being informed by someone
- Asking questions
transitioned from this section by suggesting that we hold these stories and experiences in our awareness as we move into talking directly about climate change- as reminders about why we are doing this work and as a strategy for how connections can sustain and nurture us in the sometimes difficult work of addressing climate change.
What Do We Know About Climate Change?
The group was asked to throw out popcorn style what it is they know about climate change and how it impacts what we care most about (see notes below for group’s responses). Here are some links to resources/citations for some of the science
we didn’t necessarily cover, due to the course our conversation took. These resources may be helpful to you when talking to others, if you’d like to take a look at them.
Climate Change in Minnesota: 23 Signs
Nasa: Climate Change
Global Warmings Terrifying New Math
Take Part Article, IPCC report supports McKibben’s Article
From our conversation:
- Early thaws
- Mini wiconi
- Climate chaos – unpredictable/sever
- ‘Expendable’ populations – especially vulnerable
- Coral reef threat – bleaching, great die off
- Universe is self-regulating – created conditions for life – we have changed those dynamics are throwing things off balance
- Change is happening, but more people means more impact by burning fossil fuels
- Average temperatures are going up
- Crying and flailing earth (Gaia)
- Polar ice caps are melting
- Emotional crisis – humans lack the ability to handle emotions like grief, which translates into an emotional crisis that impacts the environmental crisis
- Biodiversity loss – wisdom/essence of those creatures is lost
- The environment, minus us, has moods, bi-directional flow of info and emotions
- People in power/authority who can’t accept and are willfully ignorant
- Grandmother would say that emotions need to be balanced with thinking
How does it make you feel?
We shared the feelings that come up as we consider the climate crisis.
- Choosing love
- Avoid burnout
- Sense of responsibility
- Opportunity – not dismay
- Pay attention to the calls
- Feeling of beloved community
- Our common home
- Choosing joy, awe, wonder, daring, courage, and on a good day – stillness
- Listening = responding (through a centered-self)
- Hearing = reacting (through self-centeredness)
- We are all related
- Mitakuye Oyasin
How does our faith inform our response? What religious teachings guide or sustain us?
Grounding our response and looking for support in our theology as people of faith orients us to the archetypal nature of the human struggle and that there are resources to support us as we respond with compassion, courage and love.
Here’s what you all shared:
- Teaching of oneness
- Reach out to others on the ‘other side’ with love
- Listen – open up/responsive
- Why are you giving those ____ the power?
- Be an example
- Spectrum of allies
- Barry Evelyn Tucker
- Journey of the Universe course
So, what did we do and why?
Climate Conversations might be something you choose to bring to a larger group within your community as you proceed in your action plan.
We began with the heart, sharing personal stories of connection and identifying common themes between them. This invites people to create a sense of trust with each other, and warmth at being together. It invites in the full presence and intelligence as when we are in the heart our neurology, physiology and brain functioning reflect that. It is in this state that creativity, new ideas and innovative solutions can emerge.
- What do we know? – We allowed the knowledge to come from the group, this is more empowering psychologically. People resist less and take more ownership when it comes from them. In the face of something overwhelming, supporting people’s sense of authority, knowledge and agency can be activating. Normalizing knowledge about climate change also makes it easier and more acceptable to talk about.
- What do we feel? – Many people posit that feelings of grief and despair in response to what we know is happening around us is a primary reason people do not engage in this issue (i.e. Mary Pipher, Joanna Macy). Creating spaces in which we name the feelings we usually carry alone and feel them together normalizes the experience and counters the feeling of isolation. It can allow someone’s emotional process to move forward. For more on the emotional and psychological response to climate change, check out Mary Pipher’s Article: We are All Climate Deniers
- What does faith bring? – Mary Pipher says that when we deliver or explore information about climate change and the current crises we face we must couple that with opportunities for action. Otherwise, it can cause trauma and paralysis. By exploring how faith calls us, and how we have something unique and needed to contribute, we are on the move towards action.
- For more info on this you can see the Psychological Factors Help Explain Slow Reaction To Global Warming and the short video on 3-legged stool approach to climate engagement.
Three-legged stool of Climate Organizing
While we didn’t get to this in our Climate Conversation, the Three-Legged Stool is one of the core tools that MNIPL uses when taking our approach to addressing climate change.
The legs of the stool are represented by:
2. Movement Building/Systemic
3. Spiritual and Relational
This is useful when considering how to balance the types of actions that are taken as well as how to make any action we take more comprehensive and engaging. An example of this is New City Church’s Fruit Tree Program (practical). Instead of simply having a few fruit tree team members do the work, they have a core team of people from the church who got involved by either previous receiving a fruit tree in their yard, or who attend church. They’ve connected it in with issues of food justice and food access within Phillips neighborhood, and use it as a platform to talk about providing more access to healthy food and supporting people in growing their own (movement building/systemic). They talk about how planting of fruit trees and donating 10% to your neighbors is the work of true Christianity, by building community and focusing on prioritizing fruit tree plantings for lower-income and underserved communities (relational/spiritual), and through much of Tyler’s work he shares their story (movement building/systemic).This way one action has the impact of building the community’s identity as being a community engaged in caring for creation, inviting people who would not otherwise have been involved, and adding to the larger story in the denomination.