Climate grief -- advice for activists for dealing with emotional fallout

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Image: Elisa Lee

Being an activist brings an emotional burden.

The issues we deal with are intense, difficult and sometimes without any immediate solution. And often, we try to deal with these issues through logically planning a strategy and communicating issues using words. It's an intellectual process, but with a lot of underlying emotional baggage.

Elisa Lee has some thoughts about how to get under the intellect to connect with ourselves and people in our communities on a deeper level. She, and many other people involved in grief work, think that it’s important to deal with the full range of emotions ranging from anger and fear to hope and joy.

Lee bases a lot of her work on the groundbreaking work of Joanna Macy. Macy turned 91 on May 2, and is still connecting with people on issues of environmental activism and grief. Throughout her life, she has been a spokesperson for the anti-nuclear movement, peace, justice and environmentalism. She has created a framework for both personal and social change and has created a workshop methodology to help people move work with social change in a way which helps them connect with their deeper selves. 

Lee's current activism focuses on community grief rituals and nature-based rites of passage for girls and adults. Both grief rituals and rites of passage profoundly changed her internal world, creating a strong foundation of embodied being that continues to guide and nourish her through life. A big part of that sense of being is getting beyond the intellectual processes which help us explain the world to ourselves and others, but does not get to the root of our reactions to the complex issues that we all face in these difficult times.

For the past 15 years, Lee has been promoting personal development in collaboration with nature as a specialist teacher in ecological education, a self-care facilitator, and a rite of passage guide. In addition to the teachings of Joanna Macy, Lee draws on teachings from Alan Wolfelt, Francis Weller, Martin Prechtel, Animas Valley Institute, The School of Lost Borders, The Haven, and her personal sacred experiences in the wild. She holds a masters degree in environmental education with a focus on women's rites of passage and is the founder of Fire & Flower, a rite of passage organization for girls.

On today's rabble radio, Elisa Lee talks to Victoria Fenner as part of's series on Climate Hope in the Time of the Pandemic.

Image: Elisa Lee

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