"Eco-fear-apy": Moving beyond the warnings of the eco-apocalypse towards a personal agenda for ecological change

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at gn.apc.org
Wed Sep 16 21:39:10 BST 2009

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The 26th Free Range Weekend,  Llandwrda, Carmarthenshire,
11.30pm to 5.30pm, Saturday 10th October 2009 --
with a 'social gathering' from Friday night to Sunday for those wanting to 
stop over and camp.

"Eco-fear-apy": Moving beyond the warnings of the eco-apocalypse towards a 
personal agenda for ecological change

Increasingly we see the practice of "ecotherapy", or "ecopsychology", being 
used to help treat depression and a number of other problems; but in 
reconnecting with the "natural world" the link is not publicly (by the media 
or campaign groups) made in the other direction between environmental harm, 
and the way modern society causes psychological harm, and how this damage 
manifests itself within society as a whole.

At the same time, with the Copenhagen Climate Summit looking like it's not 
going to deliver a significant enough cap on emissions to address climate 
change, the mainstream environmental movement has its own serious (both 
practical and representational) challenges as it's nearly two-decade old 
policy of "engagement" with governments and business is clearly not delivering 
a meaningful level of change. Both green politicians and campaign groups have 
nailed their credibility to the mast working "within the system", but if that 
approach fails what then? -- especially for their own supporters!

These problems are so big that it's very easy to feel boxed in, in which case 
how to we resolve our relationship to the world and to the actions we must all 
take to resolve our collective difficulties?

- From corporate consumer marketing/advertising, to Greenpeace's press releases, 
to Government law or justice policy, people are often encouraged to support 
initiatives by making them scared of some threat or another -- through the 
pressures of fashion and the cult of celebrity, or fear of "the enemy", or the 
fear of eco-destruction -- in order to support certain types of action, 
acceptance and the "consumption" of certain attitudes, ideas or products. The 
evidence shows that fear is an effective marketing tool, but it's also 
debilitating to people's self-worth and self-confidence... we need a better 
means of offering a new vision for the future than fear!

Over this weekend we'll be looking at another option -- building people's 
confidence in themselves, and their ability to act, to make change rather than 
waiting for change to be push onto them from outside. If Copenhagen fails, and 
even if it (hopefully?) doesn't, we still need new ideas for people to develop 
in their own lives; but if Copenhagen does fail to deliver a significant 
agreement, rather than despair and recrimination we need a way for people to 
identify their own potential to change and adapt their lifestyles rather than 
waiting for the "big plan" from above which might never arrive.

On Saturday (11.30am to 5.30pm) there'll be a workshop/discussion on these 
issues. This will examine the role of fear, and the creation of 'threats' as 
part of the modern media society, in order to explore the blocks that restrict 
people's options for personal change. Then we'll look at the ways in which, 
through building our own social/support/affinity networks we can move past these 
blocks to develop our own responses. Ultimately, through developing our own 
alternatives, the aim is to generate a greater level of skill and 
psychological ability to deal with the problems that lie ahead, and by 
creating this capacity locally we create the opportunity for others to learn 
and "join the lifeboat".

Last year the Free Range 'Great Outdoors' project looked at dealing with the 
peak oil/resource depletion issue through developing our personal skills in 
order to be more self reliant -- primarily through the activity of camping. 
This weekend extends that concept towards the social and political aspects of 
how we can move on beyond "centralised" and "representative" ways of 
addressing problems towards more "personal" and "direct" means of securing 
change in our own lives: Building our understanding of how the world is 
working around us to make sense of the seeming confusion; and through 
networking skills and resources with other like-minded people, developing our 
confidence to move beyond the knee-jerk response of fear through practical 
action in our lives; and through this whole process we learn to adapt to the 
unwelcome reality of the world as it is today, and some of the potential 
events that may happen in the future.

On Friday/Saturday evening people are welcome to camp and share a communal 
meal around the fire -- and if you play an instrument please bring it along!

We ask that people make a donation to cover the costs of the weekend if they 
can (guideline £10), and that they bring some food (no dead animals) to share 
for each day at the gathering.

For further details, and to reserve a (limited) place please contact:
Tim Shaw, 01558 685353 or timshaw at gn.apc.org 
Paul Mobbs, mobbsey at gn.apc.org (or 01295 261864, but I'm not around much at 
the moment -- email's better)

The Free Range Network will also be producing a special "educational pack" for 
this weekend that we'll distributed at the event. This will provide background 
information and references for people to follow-up the issues that we'll 
discuss over the weekend.

- -- 

"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burroughs, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

Paul's book, "Energy Beyond Oil", is out now!
For details see http://www.fraw.org.uk/ebo/

Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
tel./fax (+44/0)1295 261864
email - mobbsey at gn.apc.org
website - http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/index.shtml

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