Community ecological grief workshops, run by Gail Davidson supporting the themes of adaptation and resilience.
Adaptation and resilience
The workshops will appeal to anyone who feels despair at the changing climate, those who find themselves overwhelmed, fluctuating between disengagement and pain, and want to learn to express what’s being labelled as ‘climate anxiety’ or ‘eco despair’. Releasing grief can renew us, leaving us with a sense of connection to each other, nature and the earth. We have to feel it to heal it, as Joanna Macy says. It will be a joyful celebration of life and the interconnectedness of the human and more than human world, as happens in a Celtic wake.
Tending to our ecological grief makes us more resilient as individuals and is an adaptive social technology. Coming together in community, many barriers that can separate us, like culture, race and language, disappear as we connect with a universal and inclusive story of grief. We’ll take our steer from nature and the trees who know the importance of letting go of their leaves, and the compost it can provide for the coming year.
I’m a digital communications consultant, a regenerative storyteller, environmental activist, community builder, and ritual maker who lives by the Celtic wheel of the year, and has been ‘apprenticing with sorrow’ since 2014.
I run community grief tending rituals in the UK, based out of the Centre for Ecotherapy in Stanmer Park, Brighton. Where a village of regular grief tenders is emerging to gather regularly to tend to their sorrows as a regenerative practice.
Dreaming with the land
While on retreat over winter solstice in December 2019, contemplating the fact that the next global conference of climate change would take 10 miles from where I was born, I asked the land what she was calling from for me, what could I do. Because quite frankly, I didn’t have much confidence in the output of COP26. I could see a tsunami of grief and frustration at the inability of the ‘suits’ attending to move from a model of dominion over the natural world, to cooperation and care.
The land I was born into, West Lothian, bore witness to mass ecocide in the 19th and 20th century, the people and landscape irrevocably changed by the oil and coal mining. And so I heard her – the land – whisper of a keening wake, a space for folk to declare their love for all that’s being lost.
I’m aware of the arguments for and against climate change, and the divisive nature of the conversations it can draw. Sometimes I find the battleground overwhelming. What I see is that in my lifetime, 50% of all known species have become extinct. I see humans, as a species, so disconnected from the non-human world, and the life-giving regenerative natural cycles that hold us. A view that we are masters of the ecological system, rather than a mere part of it. I long for a world of connection – to each other, to the land, the non-human world. Where we cooperate to stewarding the earth and all her inhabitants, for the next seven generations to come.
My intention for this program is to gather local communities of like-minded folk to celebrate their communion with each other and the non-human world. In the darkness of facing the catastrophic loss, together in community, as Martin Shaw says, I trust we can remember what we love the most. And that our love, grief and rage generate resilience and positive action – for ourselves, our communities and the world.
- Up to one million plant and animal species face extinction, many within decades, because of human activities. Nature.com 2019
- By 2050, species that may be extinct include orangutans, lemurs (who have been around for 70 million years and are the longest living mammal on the planet), rhinos, polar bears, chimpanzees and pangolins.
- By 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish – The New Plastics Economy report
- Britain’s biodiversity is dying out. Almost half the birds, half of the fungi and a quarter of the country’s mammals are at risk of extinction – State of Nature Report 2019
- In the UK, endangered species include hedgehogs, adders, red squirrels , water voles and stag beetles – People’s trust for endangered species
- Shocking state of English rivers revealed as all of them fail pollution tests – Guardian newspaper, 2020
- An interactive map by climate central shows what rising sea levels will look like in 2050, with Cambridge, Hull, Liverpool, Southport, Blackpool, Morecambe, Taunton, Tewkesbury, Cardiff, London, Southampton potentially under water.
- Sir James Bevan, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, says the climate emergency is already hitting “worst case scenario” levels that if left unchecked will lead to the collapse of ecosystems, with dire consequences for humanity – Guardian newspaper 2021
- Grieving could offer a pathway out of a destructive economic system. Guardian newspaper 2014
- Grief is deep activism – the gift of grief is the affirmation of life and of our intimacy with the world. Living Resilience, Francis Weller 2020
- Love and loss in the age of the anthropocene – Gail Davidson 2020
- Eco despair? The antidote in grief and gratitude – Gail Davidson 2020
Centre for Stewardship
The Centre for Stewardship at Falkland, Fife, is an enabling estate where people of all backgrounds can enjoy and contribute to a place of nature, nurture, culture and perspective. The centre’s vision is to collectively realise and release the potential of a place where people love the land that gives life to people. Their values are quality, thoughtfulness and integrity
Find out about the work of the Centre for Stewardship.