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October 7 or
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September 17-23

Creative Care of the Environment at Workshops

At Southern California (USA) RC workshops, care of the environment is one of the workshop jobs. It is also mentioned in the welcome letter. I am seeing more cloth handkerchiefs and less Kleenex at every workshop, as well as more of us bringing our own nametags from home. (Recycled nametags are often from our non-RC activities, and it’s great to get to know each other better as we ask about them.)

The care-of-the-environment job includes organizing people to conserve energy and water, recycle, compost, minimize use of disposable products, and so on. It includes helping them conform to the recycling protocols of the workshop site, or organizing recycling (and possibly composting) if the workshop site doesn’t do it. It also includes working with the final-cleanup committee to make sure that cleanup activities include recycling.

For me, a big part of the challenge and fun of doing the job has been figuring out signs to post around the workshop (in bathrooms, the dining room, and meeting rooms) that tie RC’s care-of-the-environment goal[1] to the reality of climate change, and doing this in ways that are approachable, memorable, and informative. I use big facts for context and small actions phrased as “tips” to encourage participation. (I figure that small actions prepare us to take bigger steps. That’s how my own wide-world leadership on climate change is progressing, while discharge keeps me from being overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge.) Here is the content of some of the signs I’ve made:

FACT: North Americans consume more paper per capita than anyone else on earth. The toxins from paper mills affect the water and health of some of the most economically strapped[2] communities. TIP: Use only one paper towel to dry your hands, and a minimum of toilet paper.

FACT: When threatened by scarce resources, people have a tendency to see neighbors and others as less than human—even dispensable. Environmental crises can lead to the creation of “out groups,” distinguished by their differences and assumed inferiority. TIP: Discharge on your fears about climate change. Stay mindful and help others remember that humans can choose to respond to crises with flexibility, empathy, and compassion.

FACT: Water wars are real. The historic drought across the western United States has drained the water table in California, devastated rivers and reservoirs in Arizona, and intensified a growing water dispute along the Texas border with Mexico. TIP: Turn off the water while soaping up.

FACT: Air pollution, water pollution, toxic landscapes, and climate change are human-rights issues. Low-income communities and people of the global majority, in the United States and around the world, get hit the hardest and by the most immediate damage. TIP: If we broaden our concerns about the environment to include concern for people, we can get more constituencies doing something about the serious environmental problems we face today.

Suvan Geer
Santa Ana, California, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list
for leaders in the care of the environment

[1] A goal adopted by the 2013 World Conference of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities:

That members of the RC Community work to become fully aware of the rapid and unceasing destruction of the living environment of the Earth. That we discharge on any distress that inhibits our becoming fully aware of this situation and taking all necessary actions to restore and preserve our environment.

Distresses have driven people to use oppression against each other and carry out destructive policies against all of the world. A full solution will require the ending of divisions between people and therefore the ending of all oppressions.

The restoration and preservation of the environment must take precedence over any group of humans having material advantage over others. We can and must recover from any distress that drives us to destroy the environment in our attempts to escape from never-ending feelings of needing more resource.
[2] “Strapped” means suffering.


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