Hope in a Time of Climate Crisis
This image is of the gift I received last week as an alumni of the Creative Climate Leadership Programme. It is a tree made out of recycled iron, the candle represents hope. It is easy for us to lose hope when the stories we hear are so full of hopelessness - let me counter that a little and share with you what I have been doing in the past couple of weeks. Let me light a candle here for you - see the light and sense the heat.
Last week I was at the summit of the Creative Climate Leadership Programme that I have been taking part in. Creative Climate Leadership (CCL) is an international training and transformation programme to empower artists and cultural professionals to take action on the climate and ecological crisis with impact, creativity, and resilience.
120 people, working in 26 countries, have taken part in CCL programmes so far. The alumni join an evolving international network of creatives taking action and mobilising others in their field, through events, workshops, artistic works, and projects. I met and witnessed so much power, vulnerability and imagination within the group that attended. All of them were involved in Arts & Culture within their countries, some were policy makers, some artists, some theatre directors but all, all of them were hopeful that they and the people they work with could make a difference to our shared future on this planet.
In many ways we exist in three places at once - we exist in our present moment, we exist in our experienced past, (that partly informs our present moment) and we exist in our dreamt future, (which also impacts on our present moment.) When we think of the traditional start of many fairy tales, this is represented - "In a time that once was, is now gone forever but will come again soon," or "In the time that was, the time that is and the time that is yet to come..." This provides me with such succour - the knowledge that it always was, always is and always will be a time of remembering, being and dreaming - an uncertain and in-between time. It is not new, but being aware of this present moment and of how we got here can help us make the right decisions for our dreamt futures.
The news is filled with stories of it all being too late but truly we are still able, by the decisions we take now, to alter that future and make it, if not fully healed with regards to climate, then at least not as damaged. The CCL group is not the only one making powerful changes regarding helping our planet and fighting for climate justice, it is truly happening everywhere, though we do not hear this story as much - perhaps the ones that hold the power over advertising and the 'news' are too invested in making us feel it is hopeless - for if we do have hope then we will act upon it and that is scary for the ones in power. Hope is a radical catalyst for change.
The other event that has provided me not just with hope but with overwhelming gratitude, is the group I am currently training and working with. Finally I have set up my first online training course and it started this week. I had hoped for it for a long time and then 'realised it' - strangely the first meeting for me was both a culmination of a 'future dream' I have had, as well as the start of that dream - a culmination and a beginning at the same moment. The group is formed of 12 women and all of them are so incredibly inspiring and humble and diverse and wise. The course focuses on working with our internal narrative in order to improve our external ability to create the narratives we want to live. We explore internally as well as build up external skills around presentation skills/storytelling skills/communication skills. It is truly an honour to spend time in their company and also to have the gift of spending an extended period with them. It is an international and diverse group and this enables us to become more mindful of cultural narratives and how they form behaviour. I believe that personal narratives form the skeleton of our identity and cultural narratives shape our behaviour - traditional narratives are the most powerful yet gentle tool we can use to explore both.
I anticipate repeating the training throughout the year and possibly having some residential training weekends too. What joy that will be - to connect in such a potent way. There is a certain alchemy that takes place when working in this way and we all become greater than our individual selves.
I still have the gentle thought hum of 'connection' vibrating in my everyday life, connection with self, with nature, with others ... I crave literacy in all these areas and this is a lifelong job of joy. So let me leave you with some words I put together around hope and grief, for are they not in relation to each other, opposite ends of the same thread...?
The sun shines
The birds sing
Weighted in your bed
You cannot contain
The pain within
You begin to peck your skin
Pick, peck and lick
Lick, peck and pick
Your skin is unbound
And within you is found
A fine down
You stretch out your wings
For hope is a thing with feathers.