A new Eco-Resiliency Circle in Port Adelaide

A new Eco-Resiliency Circle in Port Adelaide

It’s rough out there right now.

Between a resurgent pandemic, bushfire memories when the temperature rises, the perpetual march of ‘progress’ that often means loss of natural space, and a too slow pace in the evolution toward addressing climate change and creating sustainable systems. On good days, it’s easy to see the multitude of volunteers and groups active to improve the community and leave a legacy.  On bad days, there may be a background unease and worry for the future. Sometimes our thoughts many be accompanied by strong emotion such as helplessness, anger, guilt, shame, panic, a sense of failure or even just intense awareness.

Perhaps we all suffer occasionally from eco-grief. Defined by academics Cunsolo & Ellis as “...the sadness felt in relation to experienced or anticipated ecological losses, including the loss of species, ecosystems, and meaningful landscapes due to acute or chronic environmental change.”

There’s still no clarity on what to call these feelings common to modern life: eco-anxiety? eco-healing? climate grief?

A local group started in late 2021 to come together to share and wrestle with thoughts and feelings about the state of the natural world we live in. The Eco-resiliency Circle meets monthly under the auspices of the Port Environment Centre.

“We chose eco-resiliency in the name, recognizing the interplay between grief, joy and hope in the human experience, and to recognize that we can help each other to be resilient.”

You are welcome to join us for 90 minutes on a weeknight as we learn the balance of positivity and realism in meeting our Port Adelaide neighbours and concerned citizenry from across Adelaide.

PEC volunteer Barb Koth facilitated the first few small group meetings (free), drawn from an initial interest group of around 25 persons at present. Barb shared ideas on how the group might proceed after talking to eco-grief coordinators in Canada, the US and UK, with additional group input provided at the first meeting.   Port Adelaide creative artist Dan Havey and GP Dr. Eleanor Evans (Doctors for the Environment) round out the facilitator team, with lots of attention to duty of care in terms of wellbeing and mental health. We emphasise that these sessions do not offer therapeutic help and encourage people to access trained professional help if needed. A list of support organisations and information can be access here.

We’ve had 2 face-to-face meetings at the riverside Folklore Café (in October and November 2021), and 1 zoom session as covid resurfaced in December 2021. Each circle is different: in October we got to know each other and our expectations, in November we focused on “how are you doing?” with a sharing circle to speak to our emotions and concerns about the natural world, and in December we celebrated the summer solstice and focused on stress reduction for the holidays. One of the guiding principles we agreed on was that leadership responsibility and life/professional skills would be shared among participants when they were ready, meaning that future agendas are flexible.

Activities so far.

There is a wealth of expertise within group members and also externally. Already we have: 

  • Held an improv percussion circle as part of a ‘letting go’ ceremony on the deck over the river
  • Paired discussions about our meanings and rituals of summer
  • Learned hand dancing
  • Done a guided meditation from the book ‘Sand Talk’ about Aboriginal ways of viewing the world (Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Jason Yunkaporta)
  • Shared inspiring music (e.g. Appalachia Rising’s ‘I am Resilient,’ MaMuse’s ‘I am Wild,’ Judy Small’s ‘One Voice in the Crowd,’ Sam Buckingham’s ‘Something More’)
  • Practiced Nine Pacifying Breaths

Another intention is not just to sit, but to make body movement important. A member has offered to lead a future session on poetry, and another to run a reflective exercise on outdoor appreciation/noticing.

“We laughed that if a particular activity isn’t your vibe, in a half hour we’ll be doing something different, so we’re learning as we go.” 

Another assumption is that sharing feelings is separate from activism, so that while many of us are engaged in causes or planning our volunteerism, this is not the forum to discuss policy or strategy advocacy – but rather our emotional reactions to policy and strategy as it plays out.  We have an informal code of conduct about confidentiality and nonjudgement.

The only constant at each circle is time for a check-in about how people are feeling about environmental and social changes going on around us. 

“We have felt inspired, recharged, moved, validated and comforted at some point at every session so far.”

Join in.

Please join us for a session to see if this is something you would like to be part of more regularly.  We’re also happy to talk if you wish to find out more. Send any questions or a request to be included on the Eco-resiliency Circle email list to hello@portenvironmentcentre.org.au.

The Eco-Resiliency Circle is a volunteer led and community driven project, supported by the Port Environment Centre.

Learn more.

There’s a rich pool of resources available to the group going forward.  An Adelaide-specific publication has been prepared by Barb Koth about eco-grief and the local network, and is available online here.  That material has been summarized into a booklet availabe here via the PEC website. 

If this blog has sparked your interest in the topic, the excellent Facebook page Climate Grief and Anxiety – Resources is administered by an Adelaidean. 

Two fundamental resources in the emergent field are Active Hope author Joannna Macy’s ‘Work That Reconnects’ and the Good Grief Network 10 Steps to Personal Resilience and Empowerment in a Chaotic Climate’.

mandala3_Melissa Hellwig Naturehood Nurturehood

Curious about this striking image?

This image was taken by Melissa Hellwig from Naturehood Nurturehood of a beautiful mandala she created.

Naturehood Nurturehood, in Adelaide, seeks to restore our relationship with nature – and one another.

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