We feel things are changing faster than usual, both outside in the beautiful world, and inside ourselves and our communities. What a year ago would have looked impossible is happening right now. Awareness of the impact of plastic and fossil fuels is no longer a well kept secret. We have the information; we have the power to take action.
So with winds of change and hope we brought climate change and climate justice conversations to everyday communities, where people think locally, just about day to day basic needs, or at least, that is what we thought.
After setting aside my what if’s, I took a deep breath and began to explain “Future Conversations,” a programme developed to look at our hopes and fears for the future, for our lives and our planet and to learn tools to help us to become more resilient and to be more connected as a community. We talked through the current situation of our planet and the evidence of impacts we see caused by climate change, and right at that moment I began to see how engaged the participants were. Not only were they engaged, but they had lots to say about it! One mentioned “this big business is what is causing a lot of the problems.” And “back home there is not enough water to grow the crops, or there is flooding.” I realised that my assumptions were just that, and this group was being offered something they felt was important to them.
Facilitators from the Future Conversations core team supported three pilots: HighTrees Community Development Trust in London, Sneinton Community in Nottingham and Belville Community Garden Development Trust in Greenock.
In the first few sessions, we aimed at creating a safe container for the group to merge, for people to build trust and explore what it means to be part of a group, to be part of something bigger than yourself. Later on, we brought in the resilience tools, using nature as our collaborator and inviting people to sense our relationship to our planet, the connections and the dependency that we have with all that is around us. Then, with the group having built their resilience, we brought in the hard scientific data about the state of the world, shook things up but held the group with nature connection tools. We finished with sessions oriented to acknowledge our power and creativity to bring projects forward to create a more beautiful community.
“It is good to hear people care. I am used to people rolling their eyes everytime I open my mouth. The conversation needs to be had, no matter how hard it is.”
We have created a conversation that threads through people and their stories, a link that brings hope to communities and makes people realise their potential. We have built groups and activated community spaces, with all of this energy and enthusiasm of a few local people. These are some of the projects that people were passionate about:
- A community growing and cooking project which welcomes everyone, no matter their capabilities, and finds a role suited to each.
- A project to help young people understand why destroying things, especially in parks and wild spaces, is harmful
- The group committing to helping one member with a personal difficulty
- Community cafe
- Market ability stall to support people with diverse functionalities
The outcomes for the pilot groups clearly show the value of this process as a way to surface awareness about people’s power, their capacity to act together and the potential that such organised action has on local communities. Another outcome is a clearer understanding on hopes and concerns for the future, enabling further self-awareness and community awareness. In addition, we have seen participants build individual and group-work skills to cope with impacts, adding an element of resilience.Our absolute joy is to see people empowered for positive change, and this programme does exactly that, about real issues that will inevitably affect us all. I was grateful to have been on that journey with them, and anticipated out “what’s next?”
Watch video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ytnSopjFfw&t=14s