11 October 2010

What I Learned on 10/10/10 - Real Life Compassion and Ladders of Engagement

Since we were in town anyway (granddog-sitting), we were able to accept the invitation of a fine new friend to his "Bring Your Own Laptop" work party to commemorate 10/10/10, an international day of action on climate change.

The original agenda for this work party included a widget campaign (see the widget at the top left of my blog as an example, which you can download at CO2 Now), but our strategic discussions and just plain connecting with like-minded and like-hearted souls here in town and in Seattle and the Maldive Islands took up our time. We left feeling recharged and revved up.

I'd like to share with you some stuff I learned and experienced on 10/10/10.

Never underestimate the importance of "preaching to the choir" because (a) it feeds the soul, and (b) you never know if there are new members of the choir there that day.

Connecting via Skype with a wonderful science teacher (who had just held a full day of activities for his students and their families) on the island of Gemanafushi in the Maldives meant that we were able to hear directly of the impacts that climate change is having on a more (or, shall I say, earlier?) vulnerable region. Because of stormier weather, it's becoming harder for people of the Maldives to go out fishing while at the same time, supply shipments by boat are hampered at times and residents sometimes have to go without. When was the last time a whole community in North America had to "go without"? The point is, we had the opportunity to feel compassion almost in person ... it wasn't a theoretical someone in a foreign country: it was a real man living in a real community in a real country that is under siege from the changing climate. Call it self-interested compassion, if you want ... what is happening to the Maldives (and Russia and China and Pakistan and Niger) now is going to happen to us in some way or another in the not-too-distant future.

Our host and CO2Now.org's founder, Michael McGee, presented a wonderful idea — not sure if it was his idea, another's idea, or a hybrid idea, but it's basically a set of metaphorical ladders (drawn on paper to make them more visual) where each rung represents a more advanced step on the way to the full solution to climate change.

Michael suggested and we talked about a Climate Literacy (and Numeracy) Ladder that would help people learn (through education, training, public awareness campaigns) the concepts and the "numbers" of global warming and climate change to help them understand why it's an emergency; a Local and Global Leadership Ladder (both grassroots and "grasstops" leadership) that would help people see what their next steps are; and a Zero Carbon Emissions Ladder that would start with personal/family emissions reductions and then move up to community-wide efforts, etc.

(Ah yes, I just remembered. Michael said that evangelical churches in the USA use engagement ladders, where a potential new congregation member might be invited to a potluck dinner at the first rung, but several rungs later they might be invited to fund a huge church campaign.)

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. I am grateful that I had the opportunity yesterday to meet some very committed climate activists. I am grateful for the luck and timing that have afforded me a life and a living so far unaffected by the ravages of climate change (though we're starting to see changes in our climate, for sure). I am grateful that my family still has abundant food on the table whenever we are hungry. I am especially grateful for the love, kindness and compassion of those working around the world (and right beside me) to help ensure a future for the children of all species.

p.s. Don't forget ... the most important number in 350 is that little ZERO at the end. And why not support the call for 300 pppm (since human civilization was built on 280 ppm) and zero carbon emissions in the Cochabamba People's Agreement — now included in the draft negotiating text for the Cancun climate conference! Woohoo!

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?