Urgency and the Pace of Relationship

In many cases, the methods outlined below may feel like a detour or a ‘nice to have’ that we can’t afford given the urgency of the climate crisis. However, it is particularly important, given the urgency of the climate crisis, to watch for the temptation to skip over good process in service to ‘getting things done.’

As Kyle Powys Whyte (2019), a climate scientist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma, points out, “When people feel something is really urgent, or crisis-oriented, they tend to forget about their relationships with others,” and this can lead to a reproduction of the kinds of colonial practices that shaped the destructive patterns of the past centuries. “In fact,” writes Whyte, “most phases of colonialism are ones where the colonizing society is freaked out about a crisis…” (Whyte, 2019; Gilpin, 2019).

And yet, strong relationships are essential not only for sustained partnerships of climate adaptation projects, but also for creating the kinds of solutions and problem solving that is so important at this time.

As Whyte (2019) describes, qualities of “consent, trust, accountability, and reciprocity” are essential to facing the climate crisis in a way that advances environmental justice for Indigenous peoples …   Indigenous traditions… view the very topic of climate change as connected to these qualities, which are sometimes referred to as kin relationships” (p. 1).


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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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