Written by Rachel Korman The North Vancouver City Library A Democracy Sparks Grant Recipient
Like many organizations, COVID-19 posed a number of challenges to the North Vancouver City Library- in-person programming being one of them.
The library had prepared to host a 5-week workshop series on climate change mitigation based on the 2017 book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming edited by Paul Hawken. Once the library building closed due to the pandemic, we were suddenly tasked with figuring out how to offer any programming moving forward.
Sandi Goldie and Jim Bronson, the facilitators of our Drawdown workshop series, immediately pivoted and adapted the program into a 5-week interactive virtual workshop series.
It was so impressive how quickly they acted and learned the ins and outs of Zoom. They brought in an additional facilitator, Ross White, to guide the virtual workshops.
NVCL worked quickly to advertise the workshops on our social media channels and in the community. Many of the participants ended up hearing about the program through word of mouth.
Throughout the 5 weeks, participant attendance ranged from 20 – 33 people. Participants included individuals, couples, parents with their children, and we even had some cat cameos. Zoom allowed us to have some folks join us from the North Shore as well as far away locales, including both coasts of the USA.
Each workshop session started with a grounding exercise to connect participants with one another before the session begun. The content for each workshop built upon the previous session as participants worked towards the final goal of setting a personal climate mitigation plan into action. Sandi, Jim and Ross presented the group with Drawdown research in an accessible way, supplementing the information with other media and related resources. Facilitators would pose questions and ideas to the group for participants to discuss in smaller Zoom break-out rooms.
The break-out rooms were a true highlight. We were able to have more in-depth discussions with different participants and share ideas about climate solutions in a more tight-knit setting, relating issues directly to our personal lives. Participants could hear a variety of perspectives and make stronger connections while still feeling part of a larger group.
In addition to the Saturday workshop sessions, participants were invited to complete ‘research assignments’ in which we identified a Drawdown solution that interested us and sought to discover it’s impact on averting the climate crisis. The group considered how we could tackle these solutions in our own lives and created an ‘elevator speech’ and mini-presentation to discuss our individual plans with the group in the final session.
Participants were incredibly supportive of each other’s presentations and offered ideas and suggestions to one another. By presenting how we would incorporate climate mitigation action in our daily lives, it felt like we were making a commitment to one another to keep using what we learned through the program. Sandi, Jim and Ross proposed that the group check back in with one another in a couple of months to see what progress everyone has made in learning about and applying our climate solutions.
The feelings shared during the program were overwhelmingly positive. Participants felt that their eyes had been open to more possibilities for addressing the climate crisis in their own lives. ‘Inspired’, ‘enthusiastic’, ‘motivated’, ‘committed’, ‘fulfilled’, ‘empowered’- these are just some of the comments shared by participants at the end of the workshop series. Sandi, Jim and Ross reminded us of what we can achieve when we commit, support and work with one another.
Overall, the Drawdown: Getting into Action workshop series allowed participants to build intentional community among like-minded people, even if we aren’t literal neighbours- it was a good reminder that near or far, we’re all in this together.