Our role in addressing climate change begs for complex corporate discernment: experiences of truth diverge, Unity evades, facts overwhelm, yet inaction is wrong. We seek a mix of those interested in climate change and those interested in using Friends process and testimonies to improve discernment.
Expectations and objectives for the week:
Climate change, both what it might mean for the future of people and places we love, and the emotional challenges—guilt over our contributions, and fear of what changes are asked of us—can be overwhelming. We seek to jointly explore discernment paths that at once challenge us to recognize our “blind spots”, and yet also support our hearts to hear and act upon what is difficult to embrace but which is true.
The workshop has several goals. One is to provide a week of experience with individual and corporate discernment on hard issues, and a safe space for our own process. Another is to provide discernment tools that may support this work within ourselves, Monthly Meetings, other groups, and communities. Finally, another is to provide resources participants can take back on one of the most challenging concerns of our time: responding to climate change. (Bring your flash drive, or we’ll provide a CD.) This workshop will focus on one concrete example where conflict exists, among Friends and in society; the tools can be used generally where there is conflict about social issues.
We expect a group diverse both in climate change interest and knowledge, and in process experience, as well as one committed to seeking faithful and loving discernment. We want to honor both what feels real and knowable first hand and what is scientifically knowable, and make room to consider them together.
Specific topics we expect to cover:
The workshop will focus on fundamentals of Friends individual and corporate processes, as well as discernment of actions needed in the broader society.
Scientific content informs the discussion—what Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is relevant to the conversation. While presenting scientific data will not be the focus of our work together, questions will arise and seem important to address, and when that happens, we will look at what the major scientific bodies say in relation to these questions.
We will use Quaker process and conflict resolution techniques on conflicts related to climate change brought to the workshop, along with some of the theory behind the approaches.
We will spend about 30-40 minutes daily in worship/worship-sharing. There will be a couple of short presentations; most of the time will be interactive exercises and small and large group discussion.
Before the workshop:
Those who sign up for the workshop will be emailed a list of possible queries and some readings on climate change; we would like to hear back from you by June 17. Some may want to read and reflect only an hour or two before the workshop, while others may want to spend more time preparing for our time together.
About the leaders :
Gretchen is a facilitator, building skills and teaching theory in problem-solving, conflict resolution, and group decision-making for over 20 years, from working with students to transportation planning around light rail. With a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and an undergraduate degree in Politics, she has taught a community college practicum and led conflict resolution/transformation trainings. She currently works with elementary school students with disruptive or violent behaviors. As a lifelong Quaker, she acknowledges the potential for peacemaking within conflict, and affirms spirituality and faith as resources. She enjoys raising two children with her botanist husband.
Karen has been offering interest groups, workshops, and presentations on climate change and its solutions for almost 2 decades, at Friends' Yearly Meetings, Pendle Hill, Foulkeways, FGC, and other gatherings, as well as for local schools and organizations like Rotary Club. She began by sharing what major science groups say about climate change, including solutions. Her presentations now include analyses of what we can do to help rescue the public discussion from stalemate, clearing the way for intelligent action in the face of growing threats to health of both the planet and the beings who depend on it. Her writings on current dangers of climate change, and what is being done, appear in her blog (A Musing Environment), Friends Journal, and elsewhere.