The Hope in Action event series seeks to support hope during uncertain times and nurture positive actions for personal and planetary wellbeing. Run in partnership with Resurgence, we recently co-hosted the fifth event in this series, titled ‘Beyond Narratives of Us and Them’.
In this session we heard from Alex Evans from Larger Us, Ruth Ibegbuna from the Roots Programme, and George Marshall from Climate Outreach, and explored how to find a more inclusive approach to tackling the climate crisis together, and also how we can seek to bridge divides and celebrate difference – essential for creating lasting, positive and meaningful change for all.
In the post below we share the event recording and some key take-aways from each of the speakers. You are also invited to join us for the next event on 13 September: Practices to Help Us Change the World, which will be followed by the Hope in Action retreat in Devon during spring 2023 – keep an eye on social media and our newsletter for further details!
Alex Evans, Larger Us
Alex suggested that “right now we need to come together into a larger us, rather than fragmenting into a polarised ‘them’ and ‘us’”, and that this is “absolutely key to achieving breakthrough outcomes on issues in the scale of climate change”. He explained that this is about both psychology and politics, and that navigating the connection between the two is essential for 21st century changemakers.
Larger Us imagines a kind of change-making that sets out to bridge divides rather than deepen them. They recognise that this is often emotionally demanding work – and therefore highlight being mindful of the inner work this requires of us as changemakers. They explore five questions at the heart of their approach to change-making:
- How can we build belonging?
- How can we bridge divides rather than deepen them?
- How can we appeal to love, not fear, in our approach to change-making?
- How can changemakers help communities navigate crises?
- How can changemakers tell stories that bring people together rather than dividing them?
Hear more from Alex at 4:32 in the event recording above
Ruth Ibegbuna, Roots Programme
Ruth highlighted the value of sharing lived experience, and suggested that “storytelling is key”. For her, being brought up in the north of England by Nigerian parents, she necessarily had to take on dual identities in different situations. Ruth shared her story about finding peace with having multiple identities – from her upbringing and her work space – and how she has found hope in how the two can merge to avoid an ‘us’ and ‘them’.
The Roots Programme that Ruth founded is an example of this. It brings people together from different experiences, backgrounds, ideas, to have curious and compassionate conversations – to learn from one-another and to embrace, listen, learn and appreciate difference.
Some suggestions from Ruth include:
- Working hard to identify who’s not here, and how to invite those people in
- Making people feel loved and included, because “if it’s going to be progressive, then everyone needs to be taken along on the ride”.
- Appreciating difference, that that’s alright, and that other people’s lives are just as valid
- Being good at being different
- ‘Us’ and ‘them’ working together
Hear more from Ruth at 19:23 in the event recording above
George Marshall, Climate Outreach
George talked about the ways that polarisation has been “absolutely catastrophic” in the climate movement, making the goal of a sustainable future harder to reach. George explored the psychology of an innate desire to be with others who are like us, and the problems this can cause. Within climate change these issues have been amplified by a historic environmental movement not having paid attention to building bridges with other groups. George feels that change happens through creating consensus and shared views.
Some of the things George suggested as needed are:
- To recognise and respect true diversity
- To openly and deeply listen to other perspectives
- For everyone to feel valued, respected and that they have something to offer
- To allow space for two stories: One of togetherness; and each group having their own story
- Stories that start with pride and validation, rather than blame
- To talk about climate change – finding a way to have non-violent, listening disagreements and talk about things in an interactive way
Hear more from George at 32:53 in the event recording above
We hope you are enjoying the rich and topical discussions coming out of the Hope in Action event series. If you’d like to learn more, check out this recent article in Resurgence by Flo Scialom and Georgie Gilmore, the Hope in Action facilitators. Plus, as mentioned above, be sure to join us for the next event on 13 September: Practices to Help Us Change the World, which will be followed by the Hope in Action retreat in Devon during spring 2023 – keep an eye on social media and our newsletter for further details!