At our most recent Climate Action Team meeting, one of our members started the group off with an inspirational reading from Paul Hawken’s Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation. The crux of this initiative? “Our concern is simple: most people in the world remain disengaged, and we need a way forward that engages the majority of humanity,” states the movement’s website. “Regeneration is an inclusive and effective strategy compared to combating, fighting, or mitigating climate change. Regeneration creates, builds, and heals. Regeneration is what life has always done. We are life, and that is our focus.”
Those who read this book and learn about its proven “cascade of solutions” generally find themselves hopeful about how we can use our technical ingenuity and emotional courage to reverse course on climate change. That was certainly the testimonial of our team member, who borrowed the book and later decided he needed to own his own copy. And, yes, this book is available in the CAT lending library for you to borrow and read!
Later in the meeting, as we discussed proposed mining in the Okefenokee and efforts to turn South Atlanta’s Weelaunee Forest into a police training facility, one of our newest members grew emotional. Another responded to him in the Zoom chat: “We share your frustration!” His reaction to the ecologically indefensible decisions being advanced reinforced for me that our work is grounded in a love for the planet, not a passion for politics and capitalism. Here he was, a young man and an expert in stormwater management, sharing his heartfelt pain and later thanking the group for providing the space for his expression.
Yes, many of us are struggling to manage our ecoanxiety, to grasp the complexities of the entrenched status quo, and to embrace ambitious solutions that may seem dead on arrival in the current political climate.
Gaia Vince wrote last month in the The Guardian: “There are radical, yet pragmatic, solutions to our crises. But fear of what will happen if we don’t act is imprisoning people in a mindset that makes alternatives seem unthinkable. … Today, looking at the state of, well, everything, it can seem as if we are stuck in a socioeconomic status quo, condemned to a scary future.”
She continues, “Eco-anxiety stems from a sense of hopelessness and the realization that there are limits to how much agency we have as individuals to affect global change. But we are not hopeless, far from it. The future is still unwritten; we cannot know what it holds, but we will make it first in our minds, in our imaginations.”
What does she suggest we do to keep our imaginations charged as well as our optimism? “First, we have to notice,” she writes. “We have to raise our heads from the all-consuming business of daily life and pay attention to what is wrong with today’s ‘normal’: notice who in our society is being failed and which of our human activities are damaging our communities and natural spaces. See the opportunities in what needs to be fixed. Understand not just intellectually, but emotionally what we face as our world heats. And then actively choose to imagine an alternative, a future that is livable. Be pragmatic: how do we get to this future from our current reality?”
She encourages us: “Choose to conjure that vision of a livable future.” The pragmatic solutions offered by Hawken’s Regeneration and the Project Drawdown efforts that arose from his previous book make conjuring that vision a bit easier. There’s more, she suggests, and this is where the Climate Action Team comes in.
“Find a tribe of like-minded people or make your own, and focus on achievable tasks: litter-picking to improve your local environment immediately; campaign for safer cycle routes; increase the plant-based meal options in your workplace or school; welcome migrants into your group,” Vince writes. “One person can generate an idea, but it takes a community to create a reality, to come together and shift policy. Take heart, as I do, from the many groups already striving around the world. Think more broadly, think longer-term. Refuse to limit your mind to the narrow realm of today’s political circus.”
This is about sensing possibility and claiming agency, something Paul Hawken discusses in the opening pages of Regeneration. “Thinking you are an individual is self-identity. Being an individual is an ongoing, functional, and intimate connection to the human and living world. When we look at our networks, each of us is multitudes.”
Our last meeting showcased just how much head, heart, and hope are alive within our team, and that feels really important right now. For those who find themselves choosing denial and diversion as a way of coping with increasingly frightening environmental news, our team is holding a space for you – to learn, to engage, and to feel “all the feels” with the rest of us.
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YOU’RE INVITED: The Climate Action Team extends a radical welcome to activists, contemplatives, readers, meditators, questioners, tree hugging hippies, scientists, policy wonks, radicals, pacifists, nature enthusiasts, and all who seek community as we navigate our changing times together. Learn all about the group here, and check out our lending library of over 100 titles and Carbon Offset Fund grant opportunity. Contact Nicole Haines to connect to the CAT and join us for our next monthly meeting!