All other methods will be supported if we begin by building familiarity with tools to support self-regulation, including mindful awareness of sensations in the body and associated feelings, and recognition of the physical sensations and emotional states that indicate a state outside your window of tolerance.

For some, this may be familiar terrain and for others, it may be a new place of awareness. As you build your own familiarity and comfort with these practices, it can also be helpful to share them with colleagues and consider incorporating simple grounding exercises into meetings and events. It’s important to note, as outlined in the resource below, that these do not have to be long or complicated. Simply and silently noting the feeling of ground beneath our feet or looking around the room and silently naming colours that we see (International Alliance of Healthcare Educators, n.d.), can bring us back into the window of tolerance. The Somatic Centering guided practice by Sumitra Rajkumar in the readings is one example of another resource that is available.

Safety can also be something we pay attention to when deciding where on the spectrum of engagement (from inform to empower) (International Association of Public Participation, 2018) we want to be as we develop communication and engagement strategies. In this context, consider when and if it is appropriate to inform, to explicitly describe the government or other organization’s plan to address the threat of climate change that is being described, along with the plan to support or care for those who are potentially impacted by or recovering from climate impacts. In other words, it supports experiences of safety to speak to the role that government or other organizations will play in upholding their responsibilities to care for people, infrastructure, etc.… Be mindful of when it is supportive to engage using more collaborative or co-creative methods (the empower end of the spectrum) on issues or topics where it is genuinely appropriate for community participation and where community members have an opportunity for meaningful experiences of efficacy. This is described in more detail in the section below on authentic action and in the Climate Communications and Community Engagement modules.

Finally, safety can be cultivated by making space for processes that allow grief and loss to be acknowledged, expressed and witnessed. This supports the nervous system to return to a state of regulation and co-regulation with others all while contributing to the need for connection and inclusion. It’s important to note that the role of grief and mourning in more formal adaptation planning or climate engagement is still a very new field of inquiry. As Cunsolo and Ellis (2018) write, “How to grieve ecological losses well — particularly when they are ambiguous, cumulative and ongoing — is a question currently without answer” (Cunsolo & Ellis, 2018, p. 278).

However, researchers such as Quinn Howard (2020) are taking on the task and have developed both a rationale and model for grieving as a component of adaption planning, which could be a foundation for further exploration. As Howard (2020) writes, “Climate adaptation planning becomes more ambitious by taking on the work of mourning; inclusive, by using multispecies ethical frameworks; fair, by capturing intangible values; relevant, by addressing emotions at hand; actionable, by including mourning actions; evidence-based, by responding to the ecological grief literature; and transparent, by communicating loss and its implications clearly” (p. 103).


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