A Listening Project and a Four-Week
Class on Climate Change

Last Sunday I led my second large listening project1 on climate change in Watsonville, California, USA, at an Earth Day and Day of the Child Festival. I did it with friends, and we did not identify ourselves with RC. (Some of us are getting ready to do an RC listening project sometime this year, but we want to be sure we have thought through what we’ll need in order to handle the potential interest in RC.)

Watsonville is a city of about fifty-five thousand people in an agricultural area along the coast of central California. A majority of the residents are immigrants, or descendants of immigrants, from Mexico.

Most of the people we talked to at the listening project ended up thanking us for being there. People working for the city of Watsonville were especially appreciative. More extreme weather events have happened in the last year, and people were eager to talk about them. Still, many people we spoke with either weren’t at all aware of the concept of climate change or couldn’t put anything about it into words. That reinforced for me how important it is to simply find ways to bring climate change into the conversation. Having an information booth at a festival is a great way to reach the general population.

A middle-aged white woman, who was well informed, said after a few minutes, “You know, sometimes I think that all the little things we’re doing (to fight climate change) just won’t make any difference. I’ve never said that out loud to anyone. I’m really an optimist, but I’m starting to think that they just won’t make a difference.” It struck me how significant it is to listen to someone. I’m hopeful that by sharing her thoughts she won’t continue to harbor the same feeling of hopelessness.

Some people at first appeared to not know much but later turned out2 to know a great deal. I encouraged them to share their perspective with their friends, family, neighbors, and so on.

I recorded the names, e-mails, and phone numbers of people interested in receiving more information and made a few notes to myself so that I could remember names and faces.

I am planning an experiment. I’m going to invite some people—people who work for the city of Watsonville, people attending a Climate Action Plan public workshop for our city next week, all the people who signed up for our e-mail list, and some friends—to a four-week class this summer. I’m envisioning it as a naturalized RC class, led by me, with assistance from a friend who is in RC. I’m going to ask if it can be an official part of the city’s Climate Action Plan so that we can get free use of a centrally located room.

I see it as a way to get people started using listening tools. I’ll encourage them to choose someone in their life to keep exchanging time3 with. I’m also envisioning it as a stepping stone to an RC class. I hope that people will get “hooked” with the process and then be interested in hearing about an organization that offers more and requires more of a commitment. People who seem especially sharp4 will be invited to an RC class.

Here is draft of a flier for the class. You are welcome to use it, or adapt it for your use. I’d love feedback.


Climate change is one of the most critical issues facing humanity. We need to engage people everywhere in thinking about how to preserve life on Earth.

Are you interested in talking with others concerned about climate change? Not sure how to start the conversation with your friends? Feeling worried or hopeless? Feeling angry about the disproportionate impact of climate change and environmental destruction on low-income communities and people of color? Inspired and energized but unsure what to do?

Come to our four-meeting series in July! We’ll teach the art of listening as we give each person the opportunity to speak freely—without debate, argument, judgment, or discussion. This type of listening helps people clarify their thoughts, gain confidence in expressing their ideas, and move toward action in the world.

Exact time and place to be arranged. Sign here to receive more information!

Nancy Faulstich
Watsonville, California, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for leaders in
the care of the environment

1 In an RC listening project, several Co-Counselors go to a public place and offer to listen to passersby about some important issue, such as racism or a current war. They may hold signs that invite people to share their thinking about that issue.
2 “Turned out” means were revealed.
3 “Exchanging time” means taking turns listening.
4 In this context, “seem especially sharp” means seem to have a lot of free attention.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00