The American poet Mary Oliver reminded us that a walk in nature can change the way we think, can open our eyes and minds to the beauty around us, and put in perspective our sometimes chaotic and busy lives. Her poetry also makes me think about our connection with nature, people, animals, and how this connection affects our empathy and action.
On Friday the 20th of September, people across the world will be on strike to put pressure on governments and others to take decisive and immediate action. We have arrived here along different routes, each with our own narratives, and differing experiences of climate change. The call is for people to listen to those most affected by the warming climate, take collective responsibility for our past actions and act equitably and with urgency to support people across the world to move towards more sustainable living.
In my work a question I often ask is; how are people with lived experience included in decision making around issues that most affect them?
People with power are sometimes disconnected with the people who have lived experience of the issues they are trying to help solve. This disconnect can have a big effect; empathy becomes more difficult, information gets aggregated, stories and narratives can be lost or worse distorted with bias on their way to the top.
We all have a direct impact on the climate, and our fellow human beings. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have choices about how we impact the climate, are the people with power who must listen to those most affected by these choices.
Among those most affected by the climate crisis are young people, whose future is at stake. At Corra we are listening to their voices and supporting staff to respond to their call for adults to strike in solidarity with them today. Colleagues on the Corra ‘green team’ get together once a month and work to implement small changes such as recycling and reusing, as well as working to remove barriers to more environmentally friendly transport choices and support culture change.
The climate is of course an incredibly complex system, one which is affected by our social, political, and economic actions and I often feel overwhelmed by the size of the challenge. But then I remember Mary Oliver’s words, that sometimes the best thing to do, is to step away from my screen, my desk, and other distractions, to connect with other humans and our humble host.
Whenever you can, step outside, feel the earth between your toes, feel the fresh air in your lungs, feel the water against your skin and pause to appreciate how lucky we truly are.
Relationships are at the heart of change and so I invite you to do whatever you can; join your local strike, meet and talk with others about the climate, make connections and see how you can support change.