How are you feeling about climate change?
‘The more we can acknowledge openly and explicitly how we’re feeling about what’s going on, the more we can quickly free up a lot of that energy to be strategic, creative – all of the capacities we’re needing to unleash right now.’ — Renee Lertzman
We ran this activity at the Green Christian stall at Greenbelt this year and would like to encourage groups and churches to use this as a way to engage with the Extinction Rebellion in October.
The basic idea is that people write prayers about climate on coloured squares of material and peg them to a string you have secured around your church/room which will then be used to decorate the Faith Bridge in central London during the October rebellion.
Please bring your completed flags to the Faith Bridge in October, or if you can’t come yourself, please post to Operation Noah, The Neighbourhood Office, 40 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UD.
The question and instructions follow:
What you need:
- 20×20 cm squares of coloured material as above (preferably from a charity shop, no need to hem)
- String – strung up around the room/church
- Small pegs
- Pens that write on fabric
- A table
- 2 chairs
- Print-outs of the posters above, or higher resolution here
It is rare in our culture that people find permission to express emotional and spiritual responses to climate change, but in doing so they will be more able to drive change. The aim of this activity is to help people express responses which they may never have found words for, and so gain clarity and energy for action.
In Green Christian we also want to collect evidence of people’s emotional states and spiritual responses to inform a project called ‘Borrowed Time’ which is developing pastoral care in a context of climate breakdown.
Please invite people through a four-stage conversation: Ask – listen – record – resolve.
We hope that the flags will be the start of a conversation for many people, although some may wish to peg a flag and leave it without engaging further at that time.
Here are some questions that might prompt a conversation…
- Have you been thinking about climate change recently?
- Have you seen any talks or programmes about climate change? Did they change how you feel?
- Is this something you talk about at your church or with your friends? How do you think other people are feeling? How easy is it to talk about?
- Are you part of any groups taking action?
Please do what you can to help people choose the words which would write on their flag. Listen actively to what they say and perhaps offer single words which you think might encapsulate their thoughts and feelings. We can acknowledge that there’s a range of feelings among climate campaigners too, and that most of us probably feel differently at different times. Feel free to share your own responses, briefly, as a way of helping people find courage and permission to express theirs.
Before you start a conversation, please read the advice below on handling people’s responses.
Help the visitor commit what they have expressed to words, and ask them to write them on the flag to be hung up. Attach the flag to the string with a peg. Please tell them that the flags will be taken to the Faith Bridge at the XR rebellion in October, and used there as prompt for prayer and reflection. The testimonies will also help us develop pastoral care for people concerned about climate breakdown.
It is important to help people move on from the conversation into action. Towards the end of the encounter, explore with the visitor what action they might want to take to act on what they have expressed. Suggest they get involved with CCA or XR, particularly to come along to the Faith Bridge sometime in the two weeks starting 7th October.
Handling people’s responses
It’s not our job to ‘fix’ anyone’s negative feelings, but to provide a space where people can be honest and listened to, and be part of a community of people facing difficult issues together. If you meet someone who wishes to unburden, we suggest:
- take a couple of chairs a short distance from the stall and sit down with them. It doesn’t matter if the stall is unsupervised for a while.
- Let them know about the Climate Grief circles that are being developed. These will soon be up on GC’s website
If you are concerned about anyone and think professional help may be necessary, give contact details for the Climate Psychology Alliance’s therapeutic outreach: Caroline Hickman on CPAtherapeutics@yahoo.com