The climate crisis feels to be constantly in the headlines and in many of our minds at the moment, as we struggle to find signs of hope in what looks to be a very frightening future. Leeds Methodist Mission and Leeds Church Institute wanted to create some space for people to learn, share and reflect on this. We organised an event about lowering our carbon footprint over the festive period. It involved vegetarian food, Ed Carlisle (the Green Party candidate for central/south Leeds) sharing some top tips and then a variety of crafty and reflective activities.
There is a lot of angry activism out there which is part of the change-making process, but we wanted to create a different space. A space where learning, reflection and prayer were encouraged and it was about our inner world as well as the actions we take externally.
Ed shared some of the terrifying science but followed it up with some fantastic tips, giving us the chance to play our small part. He shared tips about building community through low carbon homemade gifts: baking bread or making jam and giving it to your neighbours; or to reduce flying, buy wetsuits for your family so you can have a British seaside holiday. It was practical but also informative.
We created a space for prayerful reflection in a separate room where people could walk a prayer labyrinth. We made personal pledges about what each of us would do this festive period but also created Christmas cards to thank and encourage those reducing the carbon footprint of the city of Leeds, the systemic change we all know is required. Finally, there was the option to make a small felt Christmas tree as a festive decoration, the mindful act of sewing on buttons and stitching fabric together allowing space for quiet conversation and reflection on the topic. People were encouraged to use it to either decorate their own home or give as a gift to someone else. We hope each one will serve as a reminder this Christmas and many into the future of our role in the fight against climate change.
The role of spaces like these for contemplation and reflection are important and often overlooked in changing the world. To start changing the world we must first change and nurture ourselves. We see these events as a part of that story. For activists these events could be part of their journey, helping them to avoid burning out and keep reflecting on what is important.
Anna Bland is the Development Worker for Leeds Methodist Mission, who organise events and programmes around faith and social justice in Leeds city centre. You can follow their future events @LMMinthecity
Want to find out more about faith and caring for our planet? Why not come to our Loving the Earth event - find details here.