There are myriad entry points into both the importance of and method for incorporating the principle of connection into our dialogue and engagement efforts.

While connection might seem to be an automatic outcome of an engagement effort, Lertzman (2019) points out that simply gathering together is not always enough. We need to support individuals to feel “understood [and] accepted for exactly where we are” without being “shamed or judged” (Lertzman, 2019). To practice connection with the kind of attunement that Lertzman describes often starts, again, with the role of the practitioner, who acknowledges their own connection with the work and those involved, naming that “I am scared as well, but here we are together, we can do this” (Lertzman, 2019).

There are no one-size-fits all approaches to building authentic connection and relationship. If done well, many of the skills and approaches for dialogue and engagement that we’ll cover in this course are also tools for the kind of community building and connection that support adaptive responses to the stressors of climate change. Some of these include focusing on relational rather than transactional partnerships; inquiring into and making space to listen deeply to the experience of others; developing your own authentic facilitation style; working consciously with power and privilege; building supportive narratives of change; and slowing down to understand the needs and worldviews of potential collaborators and audiences.

When we think of connection, we often look to human-to-human relationships. However, for both the wellbeing of our nervous systems as well as the wider world, nurturing inter-relationship with all of life is also an essential practice and much has been written on this generative exchange between the human and ‘natural’ or ‘more than human’ world. In her article Find your Pod, Jess Housty (2020) offers this expansive definition of connection, linking it to both processes of grieving and the responsibility for action, as she writes, “The planet needs us to be connected. The ocean needs us to be connected. The orcas need us to be connected. And through that sense of deep connection, we can build the trust that will help us bring the fullest of our capacity, creativity, and compassion to addressing the complex and systemic challenges our world faces today” (Housty, 2020).


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Strategic Dialogue and Engagement for Climate Adaptation Copyright © by Simon Fraser University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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