Friday 29 April 2016
“Our Common Home”, the inaugural Calare Eco-Summit (in Central-West NSW), designed to connect all organisations concerned about ecological issues in our electoral region, was recently held in Bathurst, hosted by Rahamim in conjunction with a number of other ecological organisations. This is the first in a series of summits of its kind.
Inspired by the 2015 encyclical letter on ecology and climate by Pope Francis “On care for our Common Home”, the summit sought to demonstrate how diverse organisations (such as community groups, ecologists, local government and faith/spiritual organisations) could better take up our shared responsibilities for the Earth community.
Rather than create another ‘umbrella’ organisation, the aim was to find synergy, responding to the question “What can we do together that we cannot do alone?”
The program, facilitated by Roz Townsend and Neil Davidson, enabled 18 organisations to get to know each other, to create confluence, coherence and smarter collaboration to better face our region’s climate, energy, biodiversity, water, waste and land management challenges.
World Café discussions generated deeper resonance, enabling conversations between diverse individuals and organisations, especially around the question “What conversation, if begun today, could ripple out in a way that creates new possibilities for the future of our region?” Some examples of topics that arose include:
- The power of conversations to shift awareness
- Creating a framework to create conversations of the future, spreading ideas and networks for a better outcome
- Changing approach to issues from “Challenges” to “Opportunities”
- Experiential education: the impact of hearing from practitioners on site in the field that can be applied in ‘real’ life
- Galvanising individual voices, who experienced disruption, into united groups
- Developing a regional vision for adaptation and building resilience for climate change, in spite of our political environment
- Controlling our destiny: getting Bathurst self-sufficient for food and off the national energy grid.
The group explored issues, exemplars, barriers and possible ways of advancing these topics. Some diagrams helped explore the dynamics of coming together across difference and getting past the often incomplete and sometimes stereotypical assumptions about where an individual or organisation might be ‘coming from’.
Through introductions to Neil Davidson’s systems thinking, participants recognised the need for a greater collective ‘systems understanding’ if we are to come together around common purpose/s – at any of many scales: project, city, bioregion – to regenerate environments and codesign viable futures.
There was a collective realisation that we each need to permit ourselves and others to ‘be complex’ – in order to bring our whole selves to be present in systems context – this needs safe spaces, trust-building toward trust-worthy relationships, and a bit of assistance to allow coherence to build in systems context.
The Eco-Summit was planned by a steering committee comprising members of Bathurst Climate Change Action Network, CENREC, Skillset, Bathurst Regional Council, Greening Bathurst, Bathurst Wholefood Co-operative, Bathurst Goldfields, Charles Sturt University and Rahamim Ecology Centre.