How to hold a simple climate conversation

Judy has gained a lot of experience in community education in her working life. She also is deeply concerned by what she sees going on around the world right now. Together with her friend Sue, she’s starting holding Climate Conversations and is excited to see this develop. They’re both trained and experienced facilitators, and have worked in education, care, the arts and community development, on the ground and in leadership roles.

We wanted to find out about the why, what and how of holding a climate conversation from Judy herself.

What inspired you to hold a climate conversation?
I was sat in a car with a friend and we were having a rant about how we truly felt about climate breakdown. We discovered we’d both been in a limbo world of “can’t talk about it for fear of spoiling someone’s day”. Now we’d given ourselves permission to do it, we realised how much we’d been bottling up and what a relief it was to let it out – and if we felt that way, surely there must be others like us!

Why are climate conversations important at this time?
What’s going to happen if we don’t have climate conversations? No one can be unaware of what’s happening and once you’re aware, the knowledge doesn’t go away. Dealing with that on your own is heavy on your mental health. In so many ways, climate and environmental breakdown is due to a lack of care, and if we want to change the paradigm, we have to care better for each other and making it permissible to talk about it is a start.

What did you hope this conversation would achieve?
Our biggest hope was just that it would happen – that people would actually turn up. And after that, that they would find it of value.

How did you go about organising it?
It took us over a year! We both have a background in education so in spite of being very clear that wasn’t a road we were going down…we did. We wrote a number of scenarios for different conversations. We read volumes, listened to podcasts did paintings and talked. We looked for others doing similar work and looked for opportunities to make ourselves useful. We didn’t find any! And then we said ‘What about just inviting some people we think might be interested to come round to my house? – and I could make some soup and a cake…’

How did it go?
It was lovely. We’ve had feedback from one of the group that she’s now ‘a bit hopeful’!

What are the next steps?
To meet again. We’re thinking about our agenda right now – most probably we’ll go deeper into two or three of the areas we already homed in on. We might also look at response-ability – what can we do and what can’t we do?

What would you say to anyone thinking about having a climate conversation?
It needn’t take a year to plan! Setting the scene by asking a question something like ‘What do you need to be your best person in this group?’ worked well for us – it tuned us in to each other and established a caring atmosphere. There’s so many different ways to go about it – ah…that’d be a good conversation too…!

It sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? As Judy says, it needn’t take a year to plan, just a date, a venue, some tea and cake, some friends and maybe a question to kick off the discussion.

What are you waiting for?