“Climate Cafe International”
Introduction: We believe that eco-anxiety, climate depression, hopelessness, and other responses to the climate crisis are greatly exacerbated by feelings of isolation, hopelessness, and confusion. Many people are concerned about climate issues, but because they feel alone, they don’t always talk about their concerns openly.
This is a template for a “Climate Cafe” discussion group, aimed at addressing this feeling of isolation, and increasing conversation in a safe, shame/guilt-free environment. It is modeled, loosely, off of the Death Cafe project. This template has not yet been tested, but will be soon. Please let us know if you have any feedback or suggestions. And especially let us know if you try it out yourself - we’d love to hear how it goes!
Addendum: Since developing and publishing this template, another, similar idea has been developed, and we are happy to link to it here: Climate Change Cafe offers a number of resources, conversation starters, and tips about starting a climate-related discussion group.
Foundational Principle: Climate Cafes are founded on the idea that action on climate change will increase as more and more people, from a range of backgrounds, geographic locales, levels of political/environmental involvement, and walks of life, start to talk about Climate Change and discuss their questions, concerns, and hopes. The focus is on accessibility and conversation first. Other groups do activism; protest; and advocacy, which is great. The Climate Cafe model fills an additional, unmet need by providing a space for discussion to emerge, especially among those who are not necessarily already involved in climate action.
Get more people together, in more places, talking about climate change in a supportive and welcoming space;
See what happens.
More specific Purpose: To bring together people within a local community who:
A) Share a concern about human-induced climate change and hope for a better future for our planet;
B) Share a desire to discuss these hopes and concerns with others, and in the process gain and provide encouragement; support; and solidarity;
C) Share an interest in exploring how to take personal, community or global action to address climate change;
The group does aim for a specific, pre-determined outcome, beyond bringing people together so that they feel less isolated in their concerns about climate change, and providing a safe and supportive space to discuss, brainstorm, and see what emerges when people come together with shared interests and a shared purpose.
Human-induced climate change is real, and it is a problem: We’re not going to debate the scientific consensus.
Welcoming and non-intimidating: Climate Cafes should be approachable to people newly concerned about the issue, with limited knowledge, as well as those with a lot of experience or background in climate science or climate activism. Newcomers should not be made to feel intimidated or turned away due to lack of knowledge, activist experience, or carbon footprints. No one should feel guilted or lectured.
Inclusivity: All are welcome, regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, immigration-status, carbon-footprint, experience/knowledge about activism or climate change.
Local-empowerment: While we all (as humans) share a one big challenge in slowing down climate change, local communities have different strengths, resources, capacities, and needs. We respect the distinct differences in communities, and want to empower communities to focus on topics and actions that the feel most passionate about.
Hope/Strength/Action-based: In these groups, people should feel comfortable sharing grief, fear, despair, and sadness about climate change, environmental destruction, and the future of our species. However, so as to keep things in balance, we strive to include equal doses of hope and action. If at all possible, participants should leave feeling empowered and energized, rather than hopeless and depressed.
Where to promote/advertise:
Twitter (especially local groups)
Student groups / community colleges
High schools if there’s a way to do so
Announcement Text: (Consider alternate-language version depending on community demographics)
Climate Cafe - [City/Community Name]
We would like to welcome you to a new, local discussion group for people concerned in human-induced climate change, and its impact on the global, local, and individual levels.
The purpose of this group is share experiences, resources, worries, hopes and ideas, and to see what emerges when people with shared interests come together to drink some tea or coffee!
Here are some possible reasons you might be interested in attending. If just one resonates with you, please drop by!
You are worried about climate change, and how it will impact our lives, or the lives of our children;
You are fearful of how climate change will impact the rest of the globe, including vulnerable populations;
You are experiencing feelings of depression, anxiety, or helplessness about the future of our planet;
You are not sure how to talk to talk about your concerns, or whom to talk to;
You are wondering action you can take - individually or collectively - to impact climate change, such as:
Decreasing your household’s carbon footprint;
Promoting discussion, awareness and action about these issues;
Advocating for action on climate change to local, state, on national politicians;
You are curious, or like talking about electric cars, heap pumps, solar panels, cycling, reducing meat/dairy consumption, or limiting air-travel;
You are wondering what (if anything) is happening in our community of [City Name] to make a difference around climate change;
Interested in discussing these or other climate-related topics, with other [City Name] residents;
This is a discussion group. It is not a lecture, or an informational meeting. It is not about guilt trips or judgement. It is also not a group for debating whether climate change is “real”, or whether it is human-induced - we take that as a given, based on overwhelming scientific evidence.*
Where the group goes will depend on the interests of those who attend, but possible future activities might include:
Continue regular meetings to debrief; vent; connect; brainstorm; or plan actions;
Begin a climate-related book club;
Organize a film screening or film series about climate change;
Brainstorm/plan how to promote discussion about climate change, such as in [School District] schools; community groups; religious institutions; or neighborhood groups;
Discuss how we as a community can promote greater climate action by the [local government, e.g., “City of _____”].
All are welcome, regardless of age, gender, race, orientation, immigration-status, experience, or knowledge, or carbon-footprint. Come and chat!
Where: Location, address - Look for [organizer’s name], or a sign that says, “Climate Cafe - [town name]”!
When: [day, date, start time and end time]
Contact: [organizer first name, email address, and phone number]
*(If you are uncertain or unconvinced of the importance of anthropogenic global warming, you might check out atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe’s Global Weirding YouTube series - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi6RkdaEqgRVKi3AzidF4ow )
While groups can decide on their own on specifics, here are some basic starting points to build off of (to be updated as we see what works):
Location: In order to emphasize the “cafe” aspect (laid back, welcoming, cozy; not like going to a staff training event in a bland room with a white board), we recommend starting off either at a local tea or coffeeshop (if there is one in your area). However, planning a meeting in someone’s home, or at a local community center, library, or religious institution may also work. Think about what makes sense, and is most inclusive, in your community.
Length of time: 90 minutes seems like a good place to start
Intro (15 min.) - Wait few people to trickle in; informal introductions, meet and greet; this should be informal, relaxing and non-intimidating for newcomers
Check in (30 min.) - Check in about what people have been thinking about, feeling, worried about, and excited about. Group can either stay together, or chat in smaller groups. If there are enough people, split off by topic of interest (e.g., electric cars; local advocacy; grief or depression) It might be good for one or two people float around and get a sense of what people are talking about.
Action steps (30 min.) - Focus on ideas for action. Again, can discuss as a group or break off.
Conclusion (10 min.) - Closing comments, welcoming ideas for future meetings. It is highly recommended that facilitators focus on what people in the group are interested, rather than imposing their own idea on the group.