#6.2 Relationships With Community: Care-taking

This is an optional area of action, particularly for practitioners with appropriate skills or organisations with a relevant mission. It will be important to help more vulnerable, unwell or disadvantaged people cope and be well as the impacts of the crisis unfold.

A person tends to seedlings under a grow light
AlbinoMosquito Productions LTD / Photo: Tom Morley

Resilience through relationships with communities and audiences

 What you can offer might include:

  • supporting physical wellbeing such as providing food 
  • coping strategies for future anxiety and climate distress
  • active support for vulnerable people affected more directly by impacts such as displacement and homelessness, loss of work, food and energy shortages, and global pandemics.

Even if you lack capacities to extend your services or open spaces, you can express care for people, particularly when they are affected by multiple disadvantages and impacts.

  • If possible, extend cultural services to enable health, agency and emotional resilience, and acknowledge the impacts of the emergency in any existing therapeutic or community services.  
  • If you run social care or well-being services, there might be ways that using arts and heritage can make them more effective in response to environmental impacts. 
  • Taking action to tackle environmental issues can be a good coping strategy. However, if possible, aim to support people in stretching to take more sustained, or more effective actions and to work with others to benefit more people.  

This differs from the Longer-term and Bigger Picture step because it focuses on more immediate aid and for people with different challenges, for example, due to prejudice, trauma, disabilities or economic factors. 

women gather in a forest
Walking Forest, Rough Close Camp, May 2021. Photo by Adele Mary Reed.

TASK:

Reframing your audiences

Discuss with colleagues how you can reframe audiences. 

A possible reframe could be from seeing them as consumers to seeing them as fellow inhabitants of bioregions.

Put forward a proposal that the main purpose of human activities – now that most of the planet’s environmental boundaries are breached – is to restore planetary health so that humans and other species can survive.
 

  • What are we offering already that is relevant to that purpose?
  • What would we need to do to help more people fulfil that purpose? 
  • What is one activity or project we can do that enables that purpose while also increasing health and well-being for the participants?

RESOURCES FOR THIS TASK

Project ideas include: 

  • Working with neurodivergent young people to be eco-innovators. Create experiences where it’s acceptable for them to be ‘positively deviant’, to dream and build resilient careers and movements. Use these Eco-innovation inspirations collected by Climate Museum UK. 
  • Carry out a participatory research project to discover what different groups of people feel about a nature positive sense of purpose, and what support they need. 
  • Enable wellbeing and immunity in brains and bodies, through play, sport, dance, outdoor exploration, and work on diet and addiction. Access to biodiverse nature reduces stress and improves wellbeing.
  • Support activists: culture and creativity can hold people at the low point of despair when leaders have failed or we must rise to action and compassion.
  • Offer cultural therapy for people affected by eco-anxiety in anticipation of trauma. Create supportive frameworks where people can come together to listen to speak openly and share their fears, concerns and grief about the emergency.
  • Run sessions that use the Letters to the Earth resources to enable people to express feelings and connect with the living planet in trouble. 
  • Work with appropriate services to support traumatised people (e.g. displaced by climate impacts and conflict).
  • Consider ways to deal with a dominant culture that makes invisible the trauma that we all experience in a degenerative or nature-separated system, facing extreme uncertainty. For example, there are refusals to name this as trauma, seeing this as pathologising an ideological position (e.g. against consumerist capitalism).
  • Memorialise lost species, cultures and places; giving space to spiritual activities and support grief at loss.

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