Monday, April 8, 2013

Staying Strong for the Journey (Part 4)

And for the final, and possibly most important, piece of our presentation (see parts I, II, and III for more details about our presentation on the Climate Crisis, if you're just coming on to the scene), how do we not lose hope when we choose to let reality in?

Staying Strong for the Journey
Written and delivered by Katherine Jesch

So, now we know:  There are strategies that seem to show potential for slowing, and even reversing some of the worst of the impacts of the impending climate disaster, but they’re not the easy ones any more.  And simply taking our own small steps individually, while necessary, isn’t enough.  We must, in addition, join the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who are working to change economic, social, and political systems that keep us stuck in the old ways.

To move forward, how do we bring our best selves to the effort and avoid the deepest despair and burnout?  What will keep us strong and motivated so our actions can be amplified to be most effective?

Fortunately, as UUs, we don’t come to this work empty handed.  Our Unitarian Universalist faith gives us the strength to sustain our commitments over the long haul.  I want to explore four of the gifts our faith teaches us that are critical to the work: commit to justice; practice gratitude; choose hope; nurture community.


Our religious ancestors had a history of demonstrating their faith through their work toward justice.  Our own congregation is a model for this way of being religious.  You know that the Alliance is the descendent of the Ladies Sewing Circle that started this church in 1862.  The original founders were activists in the Portland community with their eyes wide open.  They paid attention to what was going on around them and they took steps to improve conditions for education, public health, care of animals, among other issues.  I see that heritage in action today in our more than a dozen social justice groups, in the rich lifespan learning community for young and old and everyone in between.  And in our care for each other in so many beautiful ways.  

In more recent times, our environmental values have become a highly visible part of that faith.  We were the first denomination to adopt a theology and policy statement on climate change in 2006.  Now, as we approach the climate tipping point, we must step it up, taking our response to a whole new level.  The Community for Earth is providing some tools to help us do this.


Now while our faith calls us to action in a broken world, it also reminds us that this world is a beautiful place, and it is a gift to simply be alive in it.  To forget that fact, to separate ourselves from that beauty, is to open the floodgates of despair.  A critical antidote to this despair is the spiritual practice of gratitude.  I heard a Rabbi preach this message some years ago at a global warming conference.  He claimed that Americans suffer from “Gratitude Deficit Disorder” – We keep trying to make ourselves happy through more stuff, but of course it never works, so we have to grab for even more.  It’s a never ending escalation, this addiction to stuff.  We must break the cycle, remembering that happiness comes from relationships, community, and the satisfaction of worthwhile endeavors.  Gratitude allows us to let in that beauty.


One hundred years ago, Glacier Nat'l
Park in Montana had over
150 glaciers. 25 remain today...
It is true that facing a future on a much warmer planet is very scary.  Directly confronting the consequences takes more courage than most of us can muster except in very small doses.  The farmer-poet Wendell Berry is exactly right when he says, “It is the destruction of the world in our own lives that drives us half insane, and more than half.  To destroy that which we were given in trust: how will we bear it?”  It’s healthy to acknowledge the despair we feel, understanding that despair is a response “that arises from the depth of our caring, from the truth of our interconnectedness with all beings.  But despair without an alternative vision of where you want to be, and without companions to go there with you, is simply debilitating.

The great healer of despair is hope.  But hope can be tricky.  Many assume that hope is only possible if you’re really certain that in the end all will be well.  But this is a misinterpretation.

Frances Moore Lappe and her daughter Anna Lappe write this in their book Hope’s Edge:  “ . . . Hope does not come from convincing ourselves the good news is winning out over the bad.  Nor does it come from assessing what’s possible and going for that.  Since it’s not possible to know what’s possible . . . we find new energy in this very truth.  In the awareness of possibility itself – always unknowable – we are free to focus on creating the world we want.  Hope comes from a place deep within.  Hope is not what we find in evidence.  It is what we become in action.  We become hope because we are alive.  We become hope because our planet needs us to.  And our hope can spur us on to choose a healthy and sustainable future.”


So how do we move forward on that choice?  Tamara told us about what some activists are doing now, and what more we can do, so there are lots of ideas.  We could spend several hours on that topic alone.  But just as important is how we maintain momentum instead of giving up.

Campaigning for a carbon tax doesn’t give Tamara hope.  Her hope comes from the relationships and shared efforts they create in the Citizens Climate Lobby.  She then shares that hope with those of us here at First Church in the Community For Earth, and today, we share it with you.  As a community, we can help each other stay engaged and motivated, while together we find ways to celebrate the abundance of the earth.

Let us draw on our faith for sustenance.  With our passion for justice, gratitude for the beauty, hope for the future, and a community to share the journey, let us choose a healthy and sustainable future, today, and every day in this remaining window of opportunity – the 13 years Tamara told us is what remains for us to pull back from the brink of catastrophe.  Without a lamp, it’s awfully hard to find your way out of that place. Our faith is that lamp, and what keeps it burning are the precious and sustaining relationships nurtured in our congregations and the other communities of which we are a part.  Together, we must work toward that healthy and sustainable future as if our life depends on it.  Because, in fact, it does.


Thank you so much for being a part of our presentation, even if only from afar. I came away very inspired to share this message with as many people as possible, and am currently working to make that a reality--posting it here, being just a part of the journey. If you are aware of any audiences in the Portland Area that may be open to a presentation on Climate Change and how we might respond effectively, or perhaps with more detail on the Carbon Tax and or the science behind it all, please don't hesitate to let me know. And, of course, the more you can share and spread this information, the better off we all are, as a global community! We have quite a beautiful thing to protect for these children of ours, and theirs, not to mention for all those organisms who aren't able to protect it for themselves...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Momentum Brings us Hope

Geoff and I tried to go on a date tonight...we got as far as dinner when we got our first call, with a very sad Kaya on the other end of the line. "Ich wiw mit dir kuscheln...," [I wanna snuggle with you...] I barely understood her say, through her despairing sobs. Five phone calls later, it was becoming clear that we'd be unable to enjoy the the Timbers game--the ultimate destination of our date--knowing how upset Kaya was on our bed at home.

Osterhase, Kuschelaffe, Kaya & Marvin, Snug as a Bug in a Rug
Once we got home, I was surprised at how eager I was to comfort her. Such a welcome difference from feeling frustration or resent, as I might expect of myself after having my evening 'interrupted'. She, too, was clearly quite happy, as she giggled and smiled her whole way through bedtime. When we finally landed in her bed to snuggle, she was asleep within minutes, and when I got up to leave, I couldn't believe how cute she looked, nestled amongst her favorite snuggle-friends.

How can I not do everything in my power to protect this beautiful earth for her future?

As eager as I am to wax on about the connection that I feel with her, about how, in this moment and the past long while, in fact, I've felt no concern about any lack of connection with her in this 'non-native tongue', as I've expressed in the past, I'll save that for a future post, and will, as promised, share with you Part III of our presentation on our response to Climate Change. If you're just "joining us", I encourage you to read Part I and Part II of our presentation, which includes some of the science behind climate change as well as how we might respond from spiritual and moral perspective.


Evidence that momentum is gathering gives us hope
Written and delivered by Tamara Staton to the Alliance at the First Unitarian Church

...In response to Katherine's question of me regarding how things are working out, and how much we're really capable of, I share this...

Well, Katherine, there is a plethora of good news, actually.

First of all, there is a global recognition that a problem exists, which is causing momentum to build quickly. Australia, for example, which is one of the world’s leading exporters of coal, introduced a carbon tax just last year. And In the year that this carbon tax has been in effect, there has been a significant drop in carbon emissions, and their renewables are now cheaper than coal. China, in addition, has announced that they will be introducing a pilot cap and trade system, which is huge because they are now the world’s biggest source of carbon pollution and growing quickly. And in the United States, in terms of new energy generation capacity that was built last year, there was more energy produced from renewables, like wind and solar, than from fossil fuels. Similarly, the cost of renewables is going down while the cost of accessing fossil fuels is going up. 

All in all, the science of climate change is getting stronger and stronger and the denier arguments are getting debunked, to the extent that the deniers and the denier arguments are really on the fringe of serious discussion. This is in one of the only remaining countries—ours-- where there’s still any serious question that climate change is real and caused by human activity. All in all, this alone is great reason for hope.

As you may have noticed, all of these changes are systemic. While there are naturally individuals working in the mix, these momentous changes are on a grand scale, affecting the structures that regulate and ultimately determine how we live in community. Like the ability of our faith to enable us to look beyond ourselves, these systemic changes require the same, are exactly what is needed for us to halt the 13 year prediction. Over the past many years, society has been delivering messages that individual solutions, like planting gardens and taking the bus and flying less, are enough to solve the crisis. I believe that these messages have been aimed at keeping people from feeling too small, like their actions don’t matter and can’t make a difference. As important as this message is, we need to send a new one now: The individual solutions do make a difference, in the ripple effect that they cause, but we need bigger and faster. We need the speed and scale that systemic changes can offer to humanity and all life forms on the planet.

For me, I know that I tend to get overwhelmed pretty easily. As detail oriented as I am, I often find that, when the details are too many and too big, I shut down. And this climate change situation is naturally full of MANY details. At times, I’ve found myself wondering, how do we affect the system as just ONE individual. It’s huge. Once we’re past the point of shut down, what is our role in the framework of our national and global community?

As you heard me mention earlier, the momentous changes that are occurring around the world are because of thousands of individuals coming together in community to make a difference. While some of those changes may seem like a matter of one—one government, one law, one decision—they are actually changes that were inspired and taken on by community, in some manner. For example, many of the large scale projects and systemic changes that are occurring across the world are being taken on by one of the hundreds of organizations worldwide dedicated to climate action. As Emily mentioned when she introduced me, I have the most personal experience with number 32 on the list, Citizens Climate Lobby. In April of last year, I helped to start our Portland Chapter, and I wanted to share some of my experience with you not only because of how this group has empowered and inspired me to make a real difference, but because it is a solid example of how individuals can come together to work towards and make a systemic difference. To address climate change, we’re going to have to make big changes to get ourselves off fossil fuels, and one of the most powerful tools to do that is to put a price on carbon. 

 When I first heard about the national group, Citizens Climate Lobby, I was uninterested. Having no experience, nor interest, in politics, I didn’t think that any group with the word “Lobby” in it’s title would be anything for me. But when I began to think about what it’s really going to take to get more people on the bandwagon in this country, not to mention others around the globe, it hit me that most people act when they have to. When the storm hits their county, they take action. When the money comes out of their paycheck, their wallet, they start to listen. For this reason, an organization that has the power and capacity to affect change on a systemic level, at an inspiring and committed grassroots level, is worth being a part of. For this reason, a tax on carbon where the revenue is returned to every American household, could be the systemic change that we need to beat that 13 year prediction. And as an organization, CCL has that revenue-neutral carbon tax as its primary policy objective. “Political Will for a Livable World” is our mission, but there is an underlying message that comes through everything we do: 

Relationship comes first. 
Because it does.

If we have relationship with the person on the phone asking for money, we generally give at least some of what we have. And most of us will bend over backwards to help those we love. And so from this understanding, more than 1500 volunteers in nearly 90 chapters across the US and Canada take individual actions that contribute to a systemic change that can turn things around. As members of Citizens Climate Lobby, we build relationships by sending hand-written letters each month to members of congress, as well as writing Letters to the Editor of major newspapers. In 2011, for example, we were published 181 times in our Letters to the Editor, to be superceded in 2012 by 535 published letters. This year, we’re already averaging well-over 100 a month, including op-eds. 

We also build relationships by meeting in person with members of congress and the editorial boards of newspapers. In January, we had 16 meetings with editorial boards, and we had 537 meetings with members of congress last year. These actions give us hope, because over four years, we’ve gone from being laughed out of the office for our carbon tax proposal to being supported by congressman who are proposing legislation for the same. 

We are actively building and strengthening our group, both here and in many other cities in the US and Canada, so if you or anyone you know might be interested in joining forces, taking action, or signing on as a supporter (financial or otherwise), we’d love to hear from you, and I have an invitation for you here with more details.


As you can imagine, it would have been strange for me to download the audience with all sorts of details, like date and time (every Wednesday, 5pm!) for the introduction calls, should someone be interested in learning more. Similarly, for me to share the link for call registration would have been quite cumbersome and awkward. Thus, I share it here, and I thank you for making it all the way to the bottom of this lengthy post. If it's not clear already, Citizens Climate Lobby has changed my life, and I would highly recommend you listen in on an intro call if North America is your home and you want to be a part of the systemic solution that we need. And Dr. Hansen would agree:

"Most impressive is the work of Citizens Climate Lobby, a relatively new, fast-growing, nonpartisan, nonprofit group with 91 chapters across the United States and Canada. If you want to join the fight to save the planet, to save creation for your grandchildren, there is no more effective step you could take than becoming an active member of this group."  
- Dr. James Hansen, head of Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA

Stay tuned for the 4th and final part of our presentation, entitled, "Staying Strong for the Journey." Hope you can round out your online version of some hope and inspiration regarding what some consider the biggest issue of our lifetime...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Danger and Opportunity...Continues

To those of you who are following up specifically from my post yesterday, How do you say Climate Crisis in German, welcome back! I know that at least one of you out there felt like I left you hanging on a cliff, after not providing further information about how we might respond to this climate situation. Today, I'm going to share the second part of the presentation that Katherine and I gave to the Alliance, which is a group at the First Unitarian Church in Portland with "the purpose of  strengthening communication and support among members; nurturing spiritual growth; working for a society in which there is justice and equality for all; and discovering, preserving, and celebrating the history and contributions of Unitarian Universalists." So, while this second part of the presentation clearly wasn't written for all audiences, I share it because it provides a scaffolding, even for non-UUs I believe, to begin to respond to climate change in a way that can not only leave us with more hope, but can make a difference on a grander a scale--which is what we now need.

Before diving into the presentation, however, I thought I might briefly share the 7 Principles of the Unitarian faith, as Katherine uses those in her speech as somewhat of a backbone...

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
In addition, knowing the multiple sources of Unitarianism might give you a better reference point from which to process this part of the presentation...

Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:
  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

So, without further ado, I now present you with Part II of "Danger and Opportunity:  A UU Response to the Climate Crisis", written and delivered by Katherine Jesch, a Unitarian Minister for Earth.
A Faith Based Response

            The science explains what’s going on, what exactly is happening around us.  But I think it’s our faith, our belief system that helps us figure out what to do with that knowledge.  

            Albert Einstein once said “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.”  Most of you here today are already aware of the climate change problem at an intellectual level.  Maybe that’s why you came today.  But has that awareness sunk into your heart? Into your body?  

            Openness to that awareness begins with the type of reflection we started with here:  How do you respond to the feelings that arise from the mention of climate change?  I’m convinced that the need to move to this deeper awareness is precisely why we need to bring this conversation into our faith communities.  It isn’t enough to leave this business to secular organizations like, and the Citizens ClimateLobby, and the Sierra Club.  

            A different level of awareness – moral and spiritual awareness – is critical.  The necessary transformation in the way we live on this planet is not possible without it.  Our faith gives us the framework to think about the morality of the way we live.  This is about more than personal behaviors. It’s also about the social and economic structures we create to sustain our families and communities, providing justice  ---  or lack of justice, for all who live in the world.  Religions offer something beyond individualism and self-interest.  

            Our spiritual orientation shapes how we see ourselves in the world, how we relate to one another, and how we respond to the crises of our time. Our world view and moral values in turn, shape the way we participate in the social, economic, and political systems which we have helped to create. Our life-ways are embedded in those systems, defining where and how we live, what and how much we consume, and who controls distribution of benefits and costs.  

            For Unitarian Universalists, our seven principles serve as an ideal foundation for developing our unique, yet universal, perspective.  For example, our first principle calls us to honor and respect the worth and dignity of every person.  We’ve got that message when it relates to oppressed and marginalized people in our own communities, poor, people of color, gays and lesbians.  But we must also understand that so far, and in the near term, the worst impacts of climate disasters hit poor and marginalized people most seriously.  

            Sea level rise is already forcing mass migrations in the South Pacific and Bangladesh, among other coastal areas.  Native villages in Alaska are already in chaos from the melting permafrost that used to be their ground.  As agriculture is disrupted by drought and severe erosion, food scarcity will be a burden heaviest on the poor.  

            And with new awareness regarding our non-human neighbors, have you ever considered what it might mean to extend worth and dignity to every living being in creation, even to the micro-organisms in the ocean that make up the crucial base of ocean life systems?  We’re really going to have to stretch our thinking with that one.

            Our 3rd principle recognizes the importance of spiritual growth.  I know many UUs who find their spiritual path in a deep connection with nature.  We can explore the many traditions of human-Earth relationships through various spiritual practices, such as worship, study, and meditation, as well as through gardening, or hiking in the woods or on the beach.  Through these practices, we are nurtured in both our individual and communal spiritual lives.  

            Our 4th principle promotes a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, reminding us that truth unfolds only when we actively seek it – and let it in.  Our study of the science behind the changing climate certainly does involve a critical search for truth, and it calls us to a deeper reflection on what changes will be required in the way we live.  

            And finally, the 7th principle is the one that most of us think of as our environmental principle.  It reminds us that we’re part of something larger than ourselves, larger even, than just humanity.  It tells us that our religious life is not complete without acknowledging and celebrating the interconnected web of all existence, of which we are a part.  It gives us the basis for reflecting on our relationship with nature: how it nurtures and sustains us in our daily lives, and what our responsibility is for caring for it.  

            Our principles challenge us to learn to use our power and privilege in the service of liberation, not oppression.  If we take them seriously, this is no small task.  The natural response, the very human response to this challenge is to hold on to our comfortable lives, avoiding the truth of our predicament and resisting the necessary changes that would take away the privileges that make our lives worthwhile.  So of course we prefer to lull ourselves into believing that modest adjustments to the way we live are sufficient to the challenge, or that modest adjustments are all we are capable of achieving.  

            Well, I submit to you: we are capable of so much more!  Thank heavens the storms like Hurricane Sandy and the New England blizzard of 2013, didn’t bother us directly in the Northwest, at least not this year.  But there is a gathering storm of activists turning up the heat and light on the necessary changes before it’s too late.  Tell us, how is that working out, Tamara?  How much are we capable of?

And with that, I will return tomorrow, with Part III, to share some details on what's happening out there, and how that, in itself, can bring us hope...!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

How do you say "Climate Crisis" in German?!

There's something about Kaya going to spend the night at her grandparents that often leaves me feeling inspired to write. Granted, I'm one of the very lucky ones in the world with family who not only lives close, but family members who are completely enamored with and passionate about playing a big role in Kaya's life. Thus, she goes there weekly, as you may have heard me reference in the past, and I get one day (and night!) to play 'woman' vs. my usual role as Mama.

This week, however, I'm lucky enough to get TWO nights (I don't think my all caps THANK YOU can come through loud enough to my wonderful in-laws across the river)--so even though it's midnight-thirty right now, I know that I not only get time to sleep in tomorrow (did I say 'lucky'?!), but I also get time on top of that to catch up on work, on gardening, on cleaning, and even some time to run alone. Thus, I'm inspired to write without the pressure to get to bed. Seems like it should be my birthday, not Grahm's...!

So, this afternoon as I was riding this emotional high from a presentation I'd just given, I had this idea to try something a little different on my blog. Generally, I do my best to make my posts here as Kaya-related as possible, though I have certainly veered towards thoughts and feelings that surround us in our bilingual journey. The presentation I gave this afternoon, however, was a bit further removed from Kaya, and specifically from our bilingual adventure. When I thought about it more, however, I realized that it has everything to do with Kaya and her future, not to mention your future (and possible present!), as well as that of your children, grandchildren, and the children of your friends. Thus, my post tonight will include the first of four parts to the presentation we gave this afternoon entitled, "Danger and Opportunity: A UU Response to the Climate Crisis".

As you may be aware, UU stands for Unitarian Universalist, and according to the Unitarian Universalist Association, is a "liberal religion that embraces theological diversity; we welcome different beliefs and affirm the worth and dignity of every person." As a fellow Unitarian, and part of the Community for Earth group, I had the opportunity to do a presentation today with with Katherine Jesch, a Minister for the Earth and the minister that I happened to randomly choose 7 years ago to marry my husband and I (before even starting to attend the UU church). As hesitant as I am to bring 'religion' into my blog (as non-religious as I tend to identify), I was really happy with not only the presentation itself--and my excitement and overall calm in giving the presentation--but with the feedback we received by the audience afterwards.

Thus, as important as this topic is to me, and as important as it is to all life forms of this planet, I share Part I of "Danger and Opportunity: A UU Response to the Climate Crisis". (By the way, before diving into this part, we led an interactive paired-share for the group, where they shared their response to the term 'climate change', and then shared some of what they heard in the large-group.)


Evidence of the Impending Disaster
As evidenced by many of your responses, the term Climate Change brings up a number of reactions. I, too, have had a variety of reactions to the information that I've learned over the past many years, and until recently, did a pretty fine job of avoiding any input (which was most!) that left me feeling helpless and overwhelmed. After finally realizing over the past few years, however, that my actions CAN and DO make a difference, I am better able to truly look with open eyes, and let reality in--without the debilitating overwhelm that I used to feel. It is in this vein that I share some evidence of the gravity of what we're facing--with the hope that you, too, will be able to find inspiration in the truth.

There are five main points that serve as evidence of severe climate change and the drastic need for us to take immediate action to turn things around: an increase in CO2, temperature and extreme weather, as well as the rise in sea level and acidification of the world's oceans.

I'll briefly touch on each of these to give you a better idea of what we’re facing.

As you may know, 350ppm is the upper limit for safe levels of atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, or CO2, and we are now at 396. While there have been clear undulations in CO2 levels over the past 800,000 years, never in the record of human history, much less in the 200,000 years of human existence, have CO2 levels been as high as they are now.

Excessive CO2 and other greenhouse gases cause the earth to warm. During the prolonged heat wave last spring, 671 heat records were broken, including the hottest March since record-keeping began back in 1895.

Hurricane Sandy and the widespread fires in Colorado and Eastern Oregon are just two examples of the extreme weather caused by warmer temperatures. According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, 2011's severe weather events struck communities all over the US, breaking over 3200 monthly weather records.

The rising temperatures are also causing a rise in the global sealevel, mostly due to melting land ice from Antarctica and Greenland. According to the EPA, since 1870, global sea level has risen by about 8 inches, and over the next 100 years, is expected to rise at a greater rate than during the past 50. While this may seem negligible, the flooding of coastal areas as well as the ultimate overpopulation of cities which are currently more inland, will not be.

And lastly, while the acidification of the oceans may not seem like much of an issue, when you consider that the acid is dissolving the shells of the organisms at the bottom of the food chain, it puts it in better perspective. The acidification is actually occurring so quickly that it poses a serious threat to biodiversity and all marine life, and could destroy all our coral reefs by as early as 2050. As you can imagine, it has the potential to disrupt other ocean ecosystems, fisheries, habitats, and even entire oceanic food chains. 

Carbon Budget Story
What really matters from all of this, however, is this: There is a limit on the amount of carbon we can emit. When scientists calculate how much carbon the atmosphere can absorb before the impacts are intolerable, they estimate at the present rate of emissions, we’ll exceed that level in just 13 years. …  13 years is a very short amount of time to turn around our total lifestyle in order to minimize the risk of climate catastrophe.  My daughter will be 17 then, on the brink of her adult life. How do we turn things around on such a grand scale in such a short amount of time? 

That’s what I find myself wondering, anyway, and imagine that many of you might, as well. Assuming you’re still “here” that is. As I began to talk, I mentioned that I used to avoid any input that would leave me feeling helpless and overwhelmed. And when I consider all of the facts that I just shared with you, regarding the severity of the situation we face, I’m aware that each of you in this room similarly has your own personal reaction and way of processing, or not, the information you just heard. It’s an awareness of this response, coupled with a willingness to manage it, that is the true beginning to “tackling” this issue. So, if you would, take about 15 seconds to check in with yourself, with your body, to see how all this information is sitting? Did you check out at any one point and start thinking of something else? Do you feel a sadness in your heart or belly? See if you can become aware of the reaction without judging it, but just letting it be what it is. 

I hope you'll join me for Part II over the next few days...the power of our presentation, I believe, is in coupling the facts with gentle guidance for response, specifically focusing on the hope that is necessary to let it all in and ultimately take some action. To take in the facts and be left with despair, with no exit into hope, is debilitating, and the last thing I want for anyone to experience as a result of what I share. 
So, please, come back soon, and don't hesitate to share your comments below. Thanks!