This past Spring the Yavapai County Climate Change Coalition sponsored its first Climate Dialogues within the Prescott community. Climate Dialogues is a facilitated, community-based, learning exercise centered on climate change impacts, designed to deepen engagement in the movement and develop sustainable leadership in ever-widening circles. Each of our 3 separate groups in our initial pilot round met in different settings, with participants ranging from 4-6. Each facilitator went through a 5+ hour training session. Sessions (2 groups did 3 sessions, one group did 4 sessions) were slated to be 90 minutes; most went well over.
In these sessions, participants:
- Examine the basics of the reality of climate change
- Delve deeper into relevant issues such as home energy, food, transportation and travel and consumption/waste and the relationship to climate change
- Explore personal connections to nature, the Earth and our environment
- Speak to individual feelings about climate change, including angst, grief and anger
- Explore solutions to the problems as well as individual commitments to action
In general, the participants and the facilitators had a very positive experience. Two of the groups continue to stay in touch (my group had a potluck last night, to catch up on each others’ lives as well as any climate change actions we had taken). Moreover, like any movement, we all need more active and engaged volunteers – two of the participants now serve on the Steering Committee of our Coalition. A number reported back on personal/life-style changes that have occurred; for example, one member gave up meat due to the in-depth discussion of the impact of our food practices on the environment. We have several participants waiting to step up for Earth Week 2019 (yes, not one day but a week’s worth of activities!) and this fall’s “Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona” ballot initiative.
They key to continued success is to scale up this Climate Dialogue in the future. We are looking for movement builders. More facilitators, more participants would lead to scores of folks being trained during each round. Due to the critical mid-term elections as well as the campaign for the Clean Energy ballot initiative, we chose not to have the second round this fall. So, next Spring we hope to implement round two of Climate Dialogues.
Climate Dialogues is an excellent community-building tool, one that creates a deeper understanding around the impacts of climate change but also can lead to leadership growth and development. Should you desire any further information on the Facilitator Workshop, resource materials we used, or the actual Climate Dialogues session framework, do not hesitate to contact Patrick Grady at firstname.lastname@example.org.