By Anne Carbert
If you are feeling overwhelmed or paralyzed by recent news and analysis about climate change, such as the Toronto Star’s “Undeniable Climate Change” series or the CBC’s “In Our Backyard” series, you’re not alone.
That was a clear and reassuring message to the 30 people attending the first session in a new “Living With Climate Momentum” workshop collaboration hosted by Climate Momentum and the Stratford Public Library on Saturday July 20th. The session was also streamed live on Facebook and a recording of the workshop is now available online.
Workshop facilitator Terran Shaver discussed the topic of “climate change paralysis” or “eco-anxiety” and explained that feelings of immobility in reaction to devastating reports and predictions of ecological collapse are a perfectly rational response. To “freeze” in the face of significant stress is a natural reaction like “fight” or “flight.”
Workshop Presentation Slide
Shaver studies psychophysiology, the mind-body connection, and assists people in creating sustainable relaxation practices to combat physical and mental symptoms of stress.
“Climate catastrophe seems to be the hot topic right now, and our media systems have really run with the most sensational story — that climate catastrophe could mean the end of human life — and offered nothing else, ” she said. “Sharing doomsday prophecies without offering any strategies or comfort creates paralyzing levels stress for most people, and that’s a dangerous thing.
“While it’s important for us to be informed on the science and projected outcomes of climate catastrophe, it is equally as important to be ruminating on solutions, to be cultivating sustainability and self-sufficiency skills for ourselves and our communities.
“As someone who studies stress and it’s antidotes, what’s really exciting is that all of those sustainability and self-sufficiency strategies are also the things that make our stress more bearable, our lives happier and our communities stronger.”
Shaver’s workshop emphasized action as the antidote to anxiety and offered four specific avenues for action: practicing gratitude, connecting with nature, picking a project for action, and fostering community. This was just the approach the Stratford Public Library was looking to offer in creating this new workshop series to respond to requests for programming on the topic of climate change.
“We wanted to approach this enormous topic from a perspective of hopefulness and encouragement, as well as balanced information,” said RobynGodfrey, Adult Collections and Outreach Librarian. “It made sense to start with tackling eco-anxiety to give people the sense that they really can make a difference by working together and focusing on the aspects that mean the most to them.”
Workshop Presentation Slide
Shaver is thrilled by community climate action initiatives, including the activities of Climate Momentum, and was grateful to be the first speaker in this new workshop series. “Yes, there is a lot of work to be done, but the first step is creating a dialogue where we feel like we can do that work!”
And that’s a primary goal of the Climate Momentum project: to get more people talking about climate change, its complexity and challenges, and also the potential solutions and opportunities for action that will help to create healthier communities for people and the planet.
A panel discussion in September on the topic of active transportation will be the next event in the “Living with Climate Momentum” series. Keep your eye on this website and the library’s event page for details.