When I first began leading workshops on climate change in 2007, I usually got two responses: horror and guilt, or sadness and despair. As an educator, I knew those emotions were anger-provoking and paralyzing, so I had to change my approach.

I started inviting people to join in a new and positive vision of what our lives together could be. I began to use the words of Bill McKibben when he asked us to strive for belonging instead of belongings. I invited people who wanted to change their carbon footprint to start small and personal, and then possibly join with others to make a difference. I emphasized what we can do – not what we cannot do.

My observations since that time tell me this invitational approach seems to be working, as it calls for the possible and not the perfect. We can live our conservation values, not because we feel guilty or despairing, but because we want to. There we find energy and companionship and a life well led.

John Deming

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