Taj James, Executive Director, Movement Strategy Center, speaking with UCI students and North Carolina environmental justice convener Jodi Lasseter during Climate Action Dialogue
In this way, we are partnering both with the structural leadership of these communities and also their youth. What we find is that when the youth lead, the intersectionality of issues, otherwise so seemingly impenetrable, becomes clear. The places of intersection become the key areas in which real work for climate resilience can happen. It’s like the youth lay it bare, and the grown ups can see what they’ve been missing: that climate resilience takes everyone, everywhere, with no one left behind.
Our Community Action Picnic following the Dalai Lama’s public talk on climate today explores these themes. Our community partner SERES is offering a climate action training and dialogue. Play for Peace is offering drop in activities for adults and children to use cooperative play to create laughter, compassion, and peace. They are also offering a Play for Peace facilitators training. At the picnic, we’re hosting a Climate Ribbon, a public art project where ordinary people add their own reflections on what they love and hope never to lose to climate change, to be forwarded with other climate ribbons from around the world to the climate talks in Paris. And a dozen community groups are on hand to share what they do for climate resilience. To top it off, LA’s best food trucks will be on hand, serving up delicious, conscious, socially just food. A picnic doesn’t get us there, but it is our offering to our community to start to explore these themes together. Over the last month, our extended community has mobilized to enable over 500 people from low-income communities and communities of color to attend His Holiness’ talk on climate this morning. And we have worked together to enable this morning’s public talk to be preceded by a welcoming presentation to the Dalai Lama by members of the Acjachemen and Tongva tribal communities, upon whose traditional homelands these events take place. The picnic following allows us to connect across our many communities.
Compassion is often thought of as a combination of understanding and love. In Buddhist teachings, when both are truly present, action arises to end suffering. We understand more and more the effects of climate change on the earth system, on the living planet, and on its peoples. We’ve got understanding. And we are acknowledging more and more what we love on this earth and wish never to lose to climate change. We’ve got love. What is it then that enables action to arise? In our work, building the bigger “we” enables it. We build relationships, share stories, and stand where it is uncomfortable. We use access and privilege to open up space for people to be at the table who are not otherwise invited. We listen deeply to each other and the earth. These practices strengthen a sense of collective belonging. It’s from there that the “right action” of compassion becomes possible.