The Community Education team in KWETB held a Community Resilience course as part of ALF21: the link to the final event, held on the 2nd of March, is Kildare Adult Learners’ Festival 2021 – Community Education KWETB.
Cecilia Ramondetta facilitated the course and shared more with us about it in this article.
The course was requested by Kilcullen 4 Climate Action and had representatives from Monasterevin SEC, Kilcock 4 Climate Action, Open Food Network, and participants that were interested in the topic. The main request was learning how to support and increase community participation in projects, as all the participants are actively involved in responding to the strong currents emerging in these times and very aware of the feelings of disconnection within communities. There is more information on their aims and purposes at the bottom of this article.
The overall structure of the course was grounded in the Work That Reconnects, created by Joanna Macy and her collaborators over the past 40 years. It offers a way of embodying deep ecology and system thinking, with the aim of restoring our connection to the planetary eco-system we live in. The practices are collected in a spiral path, based on four points: Grounding In Gratitude, Honouring Our Pain For The World, Seeing With New / Ancient Eyes, Moving Forth. These in turn make it possible to “face the mess we’re in without going crazy”, improving resilience and creativity.
These practices were the perfect way to support both the group’s requests and essential aspects of Community Education, as the participants could apply them both in their everyday lives and in their plans for their communities: they made it possible to acknowledge uncomfortable emotions and reframe them as valuable feedback and starting points for acting in the community. More information can be found here: www.workthatreconnects.org
The tutor openly modeled all the tools that were part of the learning process, to offer a real-life experience of their impact as the participants could experiment with them.
One of the main skills used was Deep Listening, the practice of listening without trying to reply immediately, to give the speaker the right quality of attention. This was modelled throughout the course, starting from agreeing on course content: the first session was dedicated to listening to the group’s deeper needs to adapt content to them. The same process was repeated at regular intervals. The participants were also asked to use Deep Listening as often as possible in their interactions.
We also used some parts of Theory U, based on Otto Sharmer’s work. This is a process to shift leadership from acting from the current ego-based paradigm to acting from an eco-based paradigm: it explores social blind spots, fosters connection with a deeper source of inspiration and will, and aims to bring this out in the community. More information can be found here: https:// www.presencing.org/aboutus/theory-u
The group decided to address two main areas:
– strategies to improve community involvement in projects they
were running or creating
– personal and leadership skills
For the first, we looked at aspects of community resilience and reviewed successful projects. We then analysed each of the participants’ projects: we worked on identifying key stakeholders, challenges and steps to meet them. The group developed strategies and connections for peer review and strategies to gain and use valuable feedback, including potential failure.
For the second, with the help of WTR, we looked at deep motivation, world views, attitudes towards others, working with uncomfortable emotions and uncertainty, letting go of outcomes. We also worked on language and quality of presence while presenting their projects.
Feedback from the participants has been very positive: together with learning new skills, the participants became a mutually supportive group and gained insights into how to stay motivated and centred while working to create significant change at community level. It is a mark of success that the projects already in place benefited from deeper feedback and planning; and two more, Community.com and Repair Café Sallins, have been planned and developed during the course.
Kilcullen and Kilcock 4 Climate Action work towards raising awareness about climate uncertainty, increasing community participation in their projects and empowering people to make a difference.
Monasterevin Sustainable Energy Community aims to support a community shift towards better energy use.
Open Food Network is a platform created to enable local and sustainable food supply chains.
Community.com was created to facilitate people’s participation in community groups projects.
Sallins Repair Café’ will promote reusing materials, minimising waste, learning new skills and saving money too.
Cecilia is a teacher, a tutor and a spiritual counsellor with a wide variety of experience and interests. She has been working and volunteering in the field of systemic, environmental, social and economic issues of our times since her 20s. She generously shares her learning and practices about low impact and regenerative life styles, following the principles of Deep Ecology. She is on an ongoing journey to deepen her knowledge of The Work That Reconnects / Active Hope and to bring it into the communities she is part of, as a facilitator. She believes all humans are an intrinsic part of the web of life and when they remember it all life is transformed.