Eco anxious? Do something!
In my work as a counsellor I suspect that eco anxiety is often present in clients – though it isn’t often explicitly referred to. I pick up hints of resistance and denial in not doing so. No doubt there are various reasons why it might be kept below the surface. Yet none of us can really avoid having this constantly disturbing continuum of anxiety. It is where we are. So, threatening, yes, but also what a relief when it can be named. Just bringing the anxiety into one’s frame of conscious awareness usually begins to help. It might not feel like that of course. Thinking more about the issues might make the anxiety start to feel quite overwhelming. What then to do? Practical positive action as a way of engaging with what is being worried about might be part of the answer. And it’s good to realise that this can take a wide range of forms.
For example, Professor Rupert Read helped to set up Extinction Rebellion. But I was very interested to read a letter from him in The Guardian on 27th July in which he made the case for also valuing more moderate forms of action. Indeed his point was that what has been achieved by the radical flank of environmental activism must now be built upon in other more consensual ways. He cites such approaches as Wild Card, who are campaigning for the rewilding of the UK, Purpose Disruptors, Lawyers for Net Zero – and then the emerging network of Climate Emergency Centres. But I’d never heard of that last one.
I’ve now learnt how the Climate Emergency Centres project grew out of thirty years of grassroots environmental community centre projects that began in 1992 after the Rio Earth Summit. Around the UK self-funding Climate Emergency Centres are now being set up to meet local needs in a sustainable way. These Centres aim to work to improve community resilience by focusing on solutions to social and environmental crises.
This made me search for my local centre and it turns out to be just up the road in Exeter. The Exeter Community Alliance have just been offered a building in which they plan to establish a hub with information about the many different local action groups. The hope is to run regular Climate Cafes and Cl!mate Fresk workshops. But the hub will also include a number of organisations whose main focus is not the climate crisis. This is because a founding principle of the ECA is that the climate crisis cannot be tackled as a stand-alone issue. A host of other social issues result from common fundamental problems, and those who are victims of social injustice are also likely to be the first to be harmed by climate change and environmental disaster. Climate change has to be seen as intricately bound up with a wide range of other issues.
This is so very encouraging. I wonder what you can find happening in your own locality?