On the following nine pages are thoughts from several International Liberation and Commonality Reference Persons about their constituencies and care of the environment.

Parents, and Care of the Environment

We parents have a close and intimate connection to the future generations of humans and to all generations throughout time. Watching our children grow from babies into adults helps us understand the continuum of life.

Harvey1 said that we as human beings should take responsibility for the entire universe, including the farthest star. He understood that there were limits to our resources and that to begin with we might only be able to be aware of the farthest star. He also said that taking charge of everything would require cooperation among many generations over time. I envision us parents and the generations that follow us partnering to transform our society, including caring for the environment.

As Tim2 has pointed out, sustaining all life and changing the direction of our society and its relationship to the environment will mean changing the way people relate to each other. We can raise the next generation in a way that will change everything about how people treat each other and other living things. And building communities around our families can change human cultures in a way that will help sustain the environment.

We want our children to have good and hopeful lives and futures. We want them, and their children, and their children’s children to have a sustainable environment to live in. Our love for our children and grandchildren makes it hard for us to numb out about the environment. This can be a lever for discharging on the goal of caring for the environment. It can help us decide to take it on3 in whatever way makes sense for us.

There is a continuum of leadership we can take depending on the priorities of our families at any given point. We can think about what is re-emergent for ourselves and our families. Leading on care of the environment will look different for each parent.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the work of being a parent. We do not have to put care of the environment in a box of shoulds. We can discharge on how much we love our children and want them to have a big future. We can discharge our discouragement, helplessness, and worry, so that we can think about the environment and not pass our related hurts on to the next generation.

We can support our children to think about the environment as they show an interest. We can listen to them about it. We should not communicate to them society’s fears about it. We get to give them attention, respect their thinking, and follow their lead.

Marya Axner
International Liberation

Reference Person for Parents
Somerville, Massachusetts, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list
for International Liberation and
Commonality Reference Persons


1 Harvey Jackins
2 Tim Jackins
3 “Take it on” means adopt it.



Unions, and Care of the Environment

A major part of what we unionized workers expect from our unions is better wages and job protection. This often sets us up against environmental initiatives in industries such as manufacturing, hotels, defense, coal, oil, and steel in which job security is tied to production that may not be sustainable for our planet.

Under capitalism, employers make a profit from production. Thus they generally do not accept initiatives that interfere with production. Such initiatives can be successful only through major campaigns carried out by organizations like unions, especially unions working together with environmental organizations.

In the United States, many unions have joined together to form the Blue Green Alliance, in which workers can share information, plan strategies, and be a political force for legislation for environmental justice.

As union activists, putting our attention on care of the environment has meant fighting through hopelessness and feeling overwhelmed by the way capitalism prioritizes greed over the environment. We need to keep discharging on where we have won against corporate greed and what it means to keep thinking about more solutions that work both for workers and for the environment.

Many of us workers sacrifice our bodies for our jobs. We need to look at how we are also sacrificing the environment for our jobs, and discharge on that in Co-Counseling sessions, so we can organize others to think about how to change it.

Taking on1 this work means taking ourselves seriously, which is a contradiction to internalized working-class oppression. It has been helpful to hear about unions that have succeeded in taking initiatives to care for the environment. We want to keep getting more information about that, particularly from outside the United States.

Here are some thoughts from other RC union activists about the relationship between unions and care of the environment:

• We workers need to notice that we have the power to change working conditions to protect our environment. And we need to get information about where that is not happening, and what we can do to change that.

• “Green Choice,” which allows hotel customers to choose not to have their linens changed daily, is good for the environment. However, employers have used it to cut housekeepers. We need to come up with2 solutions that work for both workers and the environment.

• We had a big win when we got Right to Know legislation,3 but we need to update it with more protections and for new jobs.

• In the United States, unions have fought hard to get rid of manufacturing jobs that are harmful, but then those jobs often go to developing countries.

• We need to take responsibility for how toxic waste, old computers, and so on, are being dumped in the Global South.

• Green production can help build the economy, if workers are in charge of making energy policy. Oil and coal unions are pushing to be a part of workable solutions.

I look forward to collecting more thinking from RC union activists who are discharging and thinking about how we can work for policies and workplace practices for care of the environment.

Joanie Parker
International Liberation Reference 
Person for Trade Unionists
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA
Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for International
Liberation and Commonality Reference Persons


1 “Taking on” means undertaking.
2 “Come up with” means think of.
3 Right to Know legislation has given workers the right to know what chemicals they are working with on the job.



Jews, and Care of the Environment

For the past year I have been on the board of a U.S. national Jewish organization that has made work on the environment, with Jews, its key issue. I am beginning to take what I am learning from my colleagues there into my work with Jewish RCers.

Here is some of what I am finding as I begin to discharge, and counsel other Jews, on taking on1 environmental work:

• As a result of our history of being expelled from country after country, and with installed recordings2 of always needing to be ready to pack a bag and go, many of us have trouble feeling like we belong to the land. We don’t always know that we belong on the earth or that we have a right to a deep connection to it.

• Because we have experienced attempted genocide and internalized that, we have a hard time not feeling terrified in the face of information about possible environmental destruction. Some Jews respond to the fear by engaging in urgent fear-fueled activity. Others try to escape feeling overwhelmed by avoiding, denying, or ignoring the information. Still others feel like environmental destruction, like the Holocaust, is too horrific to contemplate. Their fears of annihilation leave them feeling too powerless to act.

• When Jews have an opportunity to discharge on their feelings of not belonging on the earth and their fears of annihilation, and on the overwhelming nature of environmental issues, they are some of the fiercest and most passionate activists and organizers for care of the environment.

Cherie Brown
International Liberation 
Reference Person for Jews
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Reprinted from the e-mail discussion
list for RC Community members


1 “Taking on” means undertaking.
2 Distress recordings



Catholics, and Care of the Environment

Here are some things I’ve done with RC Catholics on care of the environment, and some of my thoughts:

I’ve listened to global-majority people about their daily lives. I’ve learned how their oppression shows itself in concrete ways and tried to understand its impact on their health and their staying alive on a day-to-day basis. I’ve backed1 them to first fight for themselves and stuck with them, understanding that the battles are long-term and require committed relationships.

Global-majority people should get to work—in Co-Counseling sessions, panels, and workshops—on all contradictions to genocide and racism. European-heritage people need to trace back and discharge on their people’s histories of violence, destruction, “ethnic cleansing,” and genocide. They need to work against the denial of their oppressor role and toward the reality of how precious life is.

At workshops I’ve had people share stories about the place in which we are meeting, contradicting the pull to make genocide go “invisible” or not exist. What is the story of the land? What is the story of the people who lived here? (Thanks to Marcie Rendon2 and other Native people for leading the way on this.) We’ve heard beautiful and inspiring stories about the land and Indigenous peoples.

I have had everyone at a workshop simply notice, discharge about, and appreciate being alive, encouraging every imaginable version of “I am alive,” such as, “I love being alive,” and “Why I am happy to be alive.” This challenges Catholic internalized oppression.

I’ve counseled Catholic activists on specific battles they are taking leadership on outside of RC, and those listening have been inspired to see where fellow Catholics are on the front lines. Activists—especially when they are on the front lines—need to challenge their fear and isolation. These Catholic activists have been grateful to have a home base of Catholics whom they know care about and are connected to them.

I’ve helped Catholics notice that our caring about and connection to care-of-the-environment work comes from our culture and people and is not in conflict with our heritage. Pride in our leaders!

I’ve provided Catholics with resources (DVDs, lists of Catholic environmental organizations and leaders), to back up sessions with broad information and inspirational leaders. I try to make sure to start with international leaders, global-majority leaders, women leaders.

I keep remembering that this work is enjoyable! We are enjoying and loving each other, loving life, laughing a lot together. 

Joanne Bray
International Liberation 
Reference Person for Catholics
Greenwich, Connecticut, USA
Reprinted from the e-mail discussion
list for RC Community members


1 “Backed” means supported.
2 Marcie Rendon is the International Liberation Reference Person for Native Americans.



Elders, and Care of the Environment

Dear elders,

I invite you to have Co-Counseling sessions and start a discussion about how care of the environment intersects with elders’ lives.

Here are a couple of questions to think about:

• What care-of-the-environment issues are related to the oppression of elders?

• What changes have you made to help heal the environment?

Here are some of my thoughts:

All people in every group are either affected by elders’ oppression or will be, if they live long enough. Elders can be poor, part of the global majority, working class, middle class, and so on.

In cities where smog is heavy, more people develop asthma and other chronic ailments. Depletion of the ozone layer makes it difficult for many people to be outside.

If people eat meat, antibiotics given to animals can end up in their bodies, increasing their chances of being resistant to antibiotics.

Elders are often prescribed numerous medications. The by-products of those medications in urine, or outdated medications disposed of in the toilet, can end up in the water supply.

Most of what I’ve done so far for the environment has been on a personal and local level, like being an avid recycler, working on consuming less, and attending city council meetings when issues of the environment are on the agenda.

Being raised poor, I’ve found it comforting to find good prices on things. Lately I’ve been able to look at what I actually need, not what I want or think I need.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Pam Geyer
International Liberation 
Reference Person for Elders
Bellaire, Texas, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for leaders of elders



Raised-Poor People, and Care of the Environment

Re-evaluation Counseling was started by Harvey Jackins, a raised-poor man, who from the beginning emphasized beauty and order, seeing that everything we are in contact with goes well, and thinking fully about one another and all the species on our magnificent planet. Along with the theory he wrote and taught that is related to our current environmental goal, he lived simply, saved things, and recycled all he could. He helped us be better stewards of our planet by holding out hope, raising our consciousness about the dangers of capitalism, giving us a tool that could help us think about all things, and encouraging us to give up thinking small. He asked us to discharge everything in the way of knowing that we could be “the one” who would lead the charge that made the difference for us all. With that beginning, and many years of work by all of us, we individually and as an organization are thinking about the environment in an even bigger way.

One of the strengths of raised-poor people is that we always try to make full use of anything we have or can find. We survive by using our good minds and natural creativity to recycle everything. For the most part1 we are generous and share what we have with one another. When we make soup, we try to make enough to give some to another family. We hand down our clothes for generations. We knock on our neighbor’s door to borrow the only ladder in the neighborhood. When we have a big job to do, we work together rather than hire someone from the outside. When we have money in our pocket, we share a bigger percentage of it with others than do people from other income groups. All this is good—not only for our own survival but for our relationships with one another and for the environment.

Historically, our people have stayed connected to the earth and other species and have been thoughtful in taking care of them. Native Americans, for instance, have always considered the earth their “mother,” to be treasured and cared for. They have valued the lives of animals and not taken them for anything short of survival purposes. They have long understood the interconnectedness of life. They have been and should continue to be leaders in the care of the environment.

Many of us raised-poor people have been able to hold on to our thinking about environmental issues. However, class oppression and the need to survive have limited our choices, damaged our bodies, created distress recordings, and interfered with our ability to think well about the larger picture. Large numbers of us, particularly those of the global majority, have been the targets of the most dangerous environmental practices. All over the world, factories and dumps of all sorts, including those that produce toxic gases, liquids, and other materials, are put in our neighborhoods, not in wealthy neighborhoods. Our children die at much higher rates because of this. Large numbers of low-income workers die early because of the dangerous working conditions and toxic chemicals they have to tolerate to make a living. The lands of poor people are stripped and left ruined, as a routine practice all over the world.

Prisons, “mental health” facilities, and other institutions that house “unwanted” and possibly “dangerous” people (in other words, people who have been heavily oppressed and then blamed for their patterns) are often placed near our homes, not in wealthy neighborhoods. Wealthy people, who hold the power, do not want “danger,” unsightliness, and reminders of human suffering anywhere near their children, beautiful homes, and beautiful neighborhoods. When people have access to lots of money, it is easy for them to maintain pristine beauty and order—by paying others, particularly poor people, to clean and garden and organize and care for their things. Poor people do not have that luxury. They need to use their time, energy, and money for survival. They cannot devote big blocks of time to their own environment or to larger environmental causes they care about. In our raised-poor workshops we have always worked on these injustices. We have done so with increasing frequency since the RC Community made care of the environment one of its four main goals.

When people are heavily discouraged by poverty, even if they have time, they may not be able to think well about their neighborhoods or the larger world. People who are starving or just getting by2 may be pulled to solve their difficulties in the only ways they have available. All too often this means resorting to environmentally damaging practices that threaten species and our planet as a whole. We raised-poor people who are discharging on these things know that for the environment to be right for us all, poverty must be eliminated. We see environmental degradation and human degradation as class issues, and in our new Raised-Poor Draft Policy Statement we say:

Today the “profit motive,” as the key determinant of decision making, threatens our world. Today global capitalism, in its search for ever-cheaper labor and its reliance on the profit motive as the key determinant of decision making, is the economic system that dominates our planet. While capitalism has had advantages over systems that dominated before it, it has become unworkable and increasingly oppressive to people throughout the world. Not only has it left most of the world’s people in poverty today, it threatens humanity as a whole—and thousands of other species, our air, and our water. Rampant poverty and worldwide economic struggles and insecurities make our efforts to create change for our planet, and humanity, ever more difficult. The mounting disadvantages of capitalism for everyone are becoming clear to more and more people.

We want change. In RC we are opposed to human beings hurting other human beings. Within that broad category of agreement, we are opposed to oppression and to any disrespectful and hurtful practices that have become institutionalized. We are opposed to anything that gets in the way of people being able to make a living wage, safely, and children having their emotional, physical, educational, and material needs met. We are opposed to dividing people and telling some groups that they are better than others. We are opposed to profits for a few prevailing over greater human dignity and life for all. We are opposed to relying on prisons and “mental health” facilities to house and treat those who have been mistreated, rather than getting it right for children from birth onward. We are opposed to anything that confuses people about reality and threatens the environment that humans and other species need to flourish. To the extent that global capitalism, or any economic system, promotes these things that we oppose, we want change.

We raised-poor people have never been confused about the fact that change is needed in our world. Many of the key leaders in RC were raised poor or raised by parents who were raised poor. They, as well as many other raised-poor Co-Counselors, have dedicated their lives to moving us all toward eliminating the class patterns that have kept us from being able to think about unity and caring for all people and living things. With the care-of-the-environment goal, we have been able to discharge on these issues in new ways and have taken ever-bigger steps toward leadership and effective action. The interrelatedness of everything has become more apparent. Most of all, we have seen clearly that to save our planet, and all the species on it, people of all class backgrounds need to discharge their class-based distress, move toward unity, and make eliminating poverty one of their key goals.

Gwen Brown
International Liberation Reference 
Person for Raised-Poor People
Wilmington, Delaware, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for leaders in
the care of the environment


1 “For the most part” means in general.
2 “Getting by” means surviving.



Young People, and Care of the Environment

Young people are usually very connected to the environment. They are curious about the world around them, particularly the natural world because it is so complex and interesting. Their lives are not separated from nature. Most of them would play outside all day if given the opportunity. They are also not as confused as older people about isolation in relation to the environment. They would prefer that everyone be together in nature rather than people spending time in nature as a solitary activity, as many do.

YOUNG PEOPLE'S OPPRESSION

Young people’s oppression is a tool of capitalism. It installs powerlessness and discouragement on us young people. It disconnects us from other people and the world around us. It keeps us obedient and prevents us from acting in the rational way that young people know how to act.

Most schools separate us from nature. More and more, young people around the world are being put in classrooms and made to learn inside. Schools also interfere with our curiosity. This, too, damages our relationship to the environment.

Schools have been a major tool of colonization. Around the world they are increasingly based on a white Westernized model, which is disconnected from the environment. Were it not for Westernized schools, many young people would be learning in traditional ways that are more connected to the environment.

NATURAL LEADERS

We young people have had less time than older people to accumulate hurts about connection, curiosity, and playfulness and to pile up discouragement. This means that we have a better understanding of what’s really important and are thus natural leaders and models—generally, and in care of the environment. There are many examples of young people taking action to protect species that are important to them. Many environmental movements and organizations have been started and led by young people and young adults.

CHALLENGING DISCOURAGEMENT

Discouragement makes adults feel hopeless. Because we young people don’t have as much accumulated discouragement, adults often pin their longings to feel hopeful on us. They may give up on making changes themselves and communicate that it’s up to us1 to solve the mess that’s been created, and to be hopeful for them. Along with figuring out how to support young people’s leadership in care of the environment, adults need to challenge their own discouragement and push themselves to lead and take stands. People of all ages can challenge early discouragement and take powerful stands to change the world.

YOUNG PEOPLE'S WORKSHOPS

In my time as International Liberation Reference Person for Young People, I have not done much formal work on care of the environment. However, young people’s workshops are filled with things that are crucial to care of the environment, such as work on connection, racism, classism, and leadership. At young people’s workshops, young people are able to play hard (often outside) and hang out2 and connect in ways that people struggle to do at most adult workshops. There is a hopefulness about young people’s liberation, our connections, and how we can change the world that is unique and powerful.

Young people’s workshops generally include a small number of experienced adult allies who have usually discharged enough to not pin their hopes on us (or at least not act on those feelings). This makes it possible for us to be hopeful just for ourselves and each other, not for the adults, and is a big contradiction to young people’s oppression—in particular, to the way that it intersects with care of the environment. 

Mari Piggott
International Liberation Reference
Person for Young People
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion
list for International Liberation and
Commonality Reference Persons


1 “Up to us” means our job.
2 “Hang out” means spend relaxed, unstructured time.



Young Adults, and Care of the Environment

Dear young adults,

I have been thinking about the relationship between young adults and care of the environment. Here are some of my initial thoughts:

Many of us young adults heard about global warming and climate change as young people. Discouragement, urgency, fear, and confusion about the environment, and disconnection from it, were part of the fabric of the distresses we grew up with. We heard the debates about whether or not climate change was real, and listened to adults be hopeless and discouraged about how far it had already progressed.

As young adults we are faced with young adult oppression. We are told that we have to compete with each other for limited resources—for example, a small number of spots in university programs and a limited number of jobs, good houses, and partners. We are in the last phase of the training to be “productive” members of a capitalist society. Young adult oppression tells us that we should choose material security for ourselves, no matter the cost, and leave people behind and step on top of whoever or whatever might get in our way. This is related to the distresses that have allowed humans to get disconnected from the environment.

Another part of young adult oppression is being pulled to take on1 “adult” jobs and hobbies in order to make our lives look more “grown-up.” This often means moving away from a connection to the environment. We (especially middle- and owning-class young adults) face a lot of pressure to settle down and have an office job. Young people and young adults who want to do non-traditional environmental work are put down2 for having “silly, trivial, stupid” dreams and ambitions. Part of standing up against young adult oppression is staying connected to the environment and holding on to our dreams.

Many of us are fighting hard against young adult oppression, to build big lives based on human connections and not on the capitalist notion of “getting ahead.” We are figuring out how to make a difference in the world, have deep relationships with people, and not give up on ourselves. This is related to care of the environment. The problems facing humans and the environment are big problems, and we need people who are going to push themselves to think in big ways about how to solve them.

Many young adults are care-of-the-environment activists. Young people and young adults have led and continue to lead many major social movements. This is partly because they have not had as many years to accumulate chronic patterns of discouragement and thus are able to make a decision to fight for the world they want. Everyone can make this same decision. Young people and young adults have simply had more space to do it. They get to lead older adults to not give up on having big lives and to fight for the environment they want.

As younger people we will likely see the effects of climate change over a longer period of time. It is unclear what kind of shape3 the environment of the future will be in. For some of us, this plays a role in the decisions we make about how to set up our lives—what kind of work to do, where to live, whether or not to have children.

To change how humans interact with the environment, we will have to change how we think about the world. We will have to shift from capitalism to prioritizing what will work for all humans, not just a small group of people. Young adults have an important role to play in this shift.

I would love to hear what you think about young adults and care of the environment. Feel free to answer any or all of these questions:

• What is the relationship between young adult liberation and care of the environment?

• What would you like the RC Community to know about young adults and care of the environment?

• What has been useful to you in working on care of the environment in Co-Counseling sessions?

• What steps have you taken to care for the environment?

Emily Bloch
International Liberation Reference 
Person for Young Adults
Brookline, Massachusetts,
and Seattle, Washington, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion
list for leaders of young adults


1 “Take on” means engage in.
2 “Put down” means criticized, belittled.
3 “Shape” means condition.



The Environment, and Allies to Young People

As always, I think our biggest job as adults is to follow young people. They have not lost where they care about all living things. They care about animals and flowers and trees. And they care about people—all people, no matter what they look like and whether or not they come from a background similar to theirs. The environment would be in a very different condition if we just followed young people around and tried to match their open caring.

 Another part of our job is to help young people think about what is possible. We can listen to their dreams and the way that they think, like about putting flyers up around the neighborhood or talking to their friends about things that are important to them; we can stop at the animal hospital when we are in a rush. If we follow them and help them make their ideas a reality, they will be left knowing their power and knowing that we will follow them in their idea that it’s possible to change things.

If we listen, we’ll find that young people have tons of great ideas. My son and his friends raised over a thousand dollars for endangered animals at our local zoo by selling hot chocolate outside our house during the winter. They talked to everybody about global warming. They made a two-page flyer and handed it out with each cup. It included lots of things people could do in their house and neighborhood to help the environment, like dry clothes on the clothesline, and phone numbers, like where to call to plant a tree. A story about it got in the local newspaper and was picked up by one of the two biggest newspapers in Boston (Massachusetts, USA) and then by the biggest news station. It caught everyone’s attention so quickly—a young person doing something as simple as selling hot chocolate. He showed that he cared. The word spread all over Boston. People are dying for1 somebody to stand up and openly say he or she cares. They are waiting for someone to be powerful, for some solutions, for hope. They are ready for this, and backing2 young people to take the lead is just the way to go. If we can help the next generation follow their dreams and their power, it will make a big difference.

Another part of our job is to talk to young people openly and thoughtfully and give them a clear picture that is not filled with our discouragement. They need to understand the capitalist system, how it promotes greed, and how greed turns people against each other. We need to talk with them openly about racism and how it is part of the way greed is perpetuated. They need to understand that people are good and that no one intends to be greedy or treat other people badly, that the mistreatment is part of what we need to work against, and that they are in a perfect position to do this.

Jenny Sazama
International Liberation Reference Person for Allies to Young People
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, USA
Reprinted from the e-mail discussion
list for RC Community members


1 “Dying for” means desperately longing for.
2 “Backing” means supporting.


Last modified: 2017-05-07 06:35:41+00