Recently, I spent time with some people who in many ways seemed just like me – we were similar ages, had grown up not far from each other, and had followed similar educational, career and personal paths. With all these similarities, you would have expected us to be likeminded. We weren’t. In fact, as we continued talking, it became clear we were quite opposed on a number of issues, one of which was climate change.
I must have been living in a bubble because I thought we were long past the squabbling and nay saying about human intervention on climate change and past the notion that we don’t need to take some personal responsibility. It appears not. It was very deflating, and it affected my mood for days.
It made me realise that I do, in fact, live in a bubble of sorts, though it is truer to say that I am part of a community – a community of likeminded, and environmentally and socially conscious individuals. I wasn’t aware just how important, and motivating, that community is.
When we think of community and the environment, we are more likely to think about the ability to foster group action, to harness the concept of groundswell, and to use ‘people power’. All that is true, but the role of my community in providing likeminded support is something I hadn’t really grasped.
For me, there are a multitude of benefits from being in a likeminded community (in this case, with the focus being the environment), including sharing knowledge, exchanging ideas, and motivating and encouraging each other. A community also has practical benefits at the individual level, for example pay it forward groups, food sharing groups, and just connections to lend/borrow tools, clothes, etc.
Having a support network can help manage anxiety about the environment that can otherwise get in the way of proactive behaviours. Knowing we aren’t alone in this can help keep us mindful about our behaviours as individuals and as consumers. It can remove the ‘what’s the point’ type intrusive thoughts that are such an impediment to individual action.
If you are already in such a community, you’re lucky and I encourage you to nurture it by engaging and contributing.
Tips on building a supportive environmentally focused community
Check Facebook to find like-minded groups and people.
Consult a community noticeboard at your local library or supermarket – that’s how I found out about a community gardening initiative near me.
Seek out programs, activities and community resources through your local council – for example, my local council has a sustainability hub that has lots of activities to get involved with – or through organisations like Conservation Volunteers.
Once you find your people, cultivate those relationships, be open minded, communicative, interactive, and always respectful. Encourage collaboration and the sharing of resources and ideas. This is how a community thrives and when it thrives, we can all share the benefits.
Get involved in community events that align with your values. National Tree Day (July 30) is just around the corner and is a great opportunity to meet other local green thumbs!
Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.