My Starter Culture

Jo Hamilton

6 June 2020

Living on a boat, I’m more familiar with portholes than portals, but we’re certainly in the latter. It’s a strange time to inhabit this planet, but also a wonderful time. It seems we’ve the world at our fingertips, yet sometimes are hanging on by our fingernails. And yet. There is such a wealth of experience and expertise about how we respond to these times, in the hourly and daily making of ourselves and our communities. 

I’m in a portal of emerging from doing PhD research into the role of emotions in engaging, and sustaining engagement, with climate change. It has been so evident during my research the urgency of action tends to trump the building of our agency to be able to be with uncertainty, to meet people how and where they are, to take time to process the many painful parts that accompany being open to seeing our world - its beauty and it's terror.

Drawing on my recent PhD research exploring emotions and climate change, it was increasingly evident to me that the inner dimensions of change  - our emotions, values, senses, embodied experiences - were marginalised or misunderstood. My focus on emotions and climate change action - or more specifically what we do with how we feel about climate change - I often came across the response of assuming that we should just act on our emotions, or pitted against the importance of structural global change - an all or nothing response. We know that polarised / all or nothing responses don't leave much room to explore the connections between which is what I'm interested in exploring, and what drew me to want to explore this through Starter Culture. In social change movements the urgency of action tends to trump the building of our agency to be able to be with uncertainty, to meet people how and where they are, to take time to process the many painful parts that accompany being open to seeing our world - its beauty and it's terror.

Evidence

So - I wanted a place where I could find 'evidence', or how participating in these various inner practices contributed to forms of social change. My PhD research is part of the building of the evidence base, and I hope it stimulates more connections, and I'm aware of how limiting some 'evidence' can be, but in a world where our embodied, intuitive and emotional selve are marginalised, sometimes a little evidence can go a long way. Alongside evidence of what happens in the absence of attention to emotions.

Visibility

During my research, and facilitation of The Work THat REconnects,  I was increasingly aware of the 'what next' question . What happens after attending a workshop? How to reflect on insights and learnings, things that have been experienced in workshops, and how to continue practices. How to find others locally or within a community of practice who you can continue the explorations with? What other workshops and approaches might people find beneficial - and how to find them?

Learning, reflection and collaboration

As a facilitator, and through interviewing other facilitators, I noticed a desire in myself, and others for opportunities to learn from and with different modalities or approaches to inner work. I'm yearning for a broad community of practice, to learn , reflect, and collaborate in ways that enrich all our offerings, be they workshops, courses or just links  on websites.

Diversity and liberation

In the past couple of years I've been exploring what it means to be racialized as white, to hold white privilege, in our day to day lives, but also within social change movements. Starting to dismantle my internalised racism has and continues to be a powerful, painful and insightful process, and has made me increasingly aware of the necessity of doing this through all social change movements. To prioritise this work both for my own liberation, and to mitigate and start to repair the harmful perpetuation of white privilege.

So for me it's an approach that's not just about joining the dots, but about recognising the strengthening the threads and connections within us, between us and beyond us. We're going to need to hold ourselves, each other and this world more strongly as the days, weeks and years go by. 

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