Climate Change & Collective Trauma
Lab Cycle Oct 2020 - July 2021 Report
Louise Marra & Jens Riese
Hans-Ulrich Streit, Nancy Jane, Scott Ligertwood
We started out with a group of 60 participants and completed with 30 participants. We met for 10 group sessions between October 2020 – June 2021. This lab explored the collective trauma emerging from our disconnection from nature and the living planet – and from the resulting crisis of Climate Change. We sought to feel and ‘presence’ how trauma shapes our worldviews and institutions in ways that separate us from nature and keep us from being able to respond adequately. How is extinction in the outer world reflected within us? We explored the notion of ‘inter-being’ and how reconnection and restoration of our relationships to the living world is vital. What is required for us to heal together? We explored these and other questions through the specific perspectives and experiences that participants brought to the Lab.
We explored the following questions:
- What constitutes the historical background to our disconnect from the living planet and the current climate crisis?
- What helps us reconnect as earth to earth?
- How has our disconnection from the planet influenced the construction of identity for us as individuals and for humanity as a whole, and how does that, in turn, influence our ability to arrive at solutions together?
- How is the degradation of nature reflected around us and in us?
- How does our disconnection from the planet lead to the climate crisis, and to the cultural architecture and institutional barriers that influence our ability, as humanity, to find and implement appropriate solutions?
- Can we collectively create a coherent ‘we-space’ and a process of witnessing that enables a reconnection to the planet and a re-setting of how we approach and work with our climate emergency?
- What impulses for restoration can we feel in ourselves and our lives?
Moments of Challenge
- Impatience and urgency of participants and resistance to slowing down and to building the coherence inside themselves.
- Our topic is different to other traumas in that we are experiencing, repeatedly, the trauma of climate change in the present moment; it is not a past experience, it is current, but rooted in the past – as our time line showed – and it is increasing as we look into the future. Moreover, it is not only a human trauma for we are not the only species being directly affected by this. We need to feel into the earth as earth, and this is challenging and requires an approach that needs some adjustment given the above-mentioned characteristics of this topic.
- The modern industrialized lifestyle that is exacerbating climate change is still being lived and not fully owned as part of the problem. We are all in it, and our society is built in that way. The structural and systemic change required to shift this is beyond the capacity of the individual.
- Too few meetings and too many participants for this Lab.
- Not enough time amongst the Lab Team to build coherence in the team.
- Lab participants wanted less leadership and more trust in the group, which we did, whilst still holding safety and some structure. This became a nuanced dance which resulted partly in what felt like the trauma denial becoming expressed as anger at the facilitators.
MOMENTS OF GRACE
- A spontaneous act of restoration emerged from the process of trauma integration
- A collective connection to Mother Earth that we all experienced was full of grace
- Building the timeline and first landing it
- The earth connection practices that we all undertook
- Some of the meditations
- Allowing the wall of built up despair to have space and time in the first two meetings
- As facilitators we found a beautiful way to work together through the challenges
- The nature of this trauma requires a different approach due to the distinct features of this topic, as mentioned above.
- In the future, we would suggest providing for more experiences of reconnection, a focus on reconnection to earth as earth, expanded 3-synch to include the web of life, stronger focus on practices and sensing what we can relate to.
- The timeline is powerful and in this Lab it came too early. It also requires more sessions.
- In the future, some changes would be needed for the flow and structure of the Lab and the number of participants, which we would limit to maximum 20 people and biweekly meetings.