For those who are unfamiliar with the term ‘regenerative culture’ I would describe it, very briefly, as ensuring that our way of life is threaded through with caring – looking after ourselves, each other and the beautiful planet we are part of and so lucky to live on. Over the past month, I have had the great pleasure and privilege of being involved with regenerative culture workshops organised by and for XR (Extinction Rebellion), the organisation that is pressing for action to halt climate-change catastrophe. I have facilitated workshops in Liverpool, Sheffield, Hull, Bradford, York and Newcastle, and everyone I met was warm, welcoming and receptive to the notion that a regenerative culture should be an essential part of XR. After all, a lack of caring is one of the main reasons why our eco-system is set on a downward trajectory.
The workshop is three and a half hours long but, just to give you an idea of the sort of ground it covers, I’ll share with you here a couple of exercises that we use to great effect.
- Active listening. – Pair up and take it in turns to just speak about something that has happened in your life for three minutes. This isn’t a conversation – one person talks and the other one listens, then they swap roles. Afterwards reflect on how this felt. Perhaps it is a little awkward at first, but with practice you will see that being heard by others and then returning the compliment is a gift.
- Nourishing things. This time, on your own, think about (and write down) three memories, three activities and three people which/who always make you feel better (e.g. memory - riding a bike for the first time / activity - listening to music and people - my fab friend, Fran). Make time to weave these things and people into your life to feed you to help you decide on actions that are positive.
My last workshop, in Kendal, was held outside in the garden of one of XR’s crew. Again, the people were wonderful but the bonus was being outside with nature: truly regenerative!
If you’d like to know more about regenerative culture a great book to read is by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone – Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy.
And XR’s This is Not a Drill is an important read too.