Review: Inner sustainability series

Published on 7 May 2020 at 16:17

While we are continuing with more events, it is also nice to look back at what inner sustainability events already took place. In three Thursday evenings of inspiration and three Sunday afternoons of practice, we provided spaces in which we allowed for feelings about the world to be felt, reconnecting with each other on topics we care for and for the spark of active hope to become lit in us.

We started the series with a documentary screening of ‘The Work that Reconnects’ and gathered on zoom to discuss the film afterwards on the 2nd of April. It was an inspiring film that depicts the work of Joanna Macy, Buddhist scholar and environmental activist, and also other changemakers who follow her methods in daily practices. The documentary starts with looking at the amount of suffering on the planet and asking the question: ‘How do we get to hope from here?”. The film then continues to give real life examples of answers to this question. We saw bottom-up initiatives arise there were people opened their heart for pain, and moved into compassionate action. Lian Kasper guided the dialogue after the screening, where we answered questions such as ‘What do you worry about when you look at the world’ and ‘What do you hope for, for the world’? It was an opportunity to share what we truly care about, which makes way for feeling connected to others as well.

In the film of ‘The Work that Reconnects’, the documentary maker of ‘Albatross’ is also interviewed. Two weeks later on the 16th of April we watched exactly that documentary, that is about the influence of plastic pollution on an albatross population on an island in the pacific. It is a docu with a Buddhist philosophy, depicting both the beautiful aspects of this bird population, as well as the painful death many chicks suffer due to their stomachs being full of plastic. The film made a deep impression on many of the viewers, being taken aback with the suffering. We discussed the fact that it could move us so much, meaning that we have a great capacity to love and empathise with these birds. Despair, sadness and other emotions are signs of caring.

On the 30th of April, we dove into the topic of connecting with the non-human world, and specifically with animals. We hosted a talk with Clemens Driessen, associate professor at the WUR, who researches animal politics and ethics on farms, among others. Before starting the event, he invited everyone present on zoom to also show their non-human housemates and we had the joy to see many cats on the video screens of attendants. During this evening, we talked about how our societal and philosophical frameworks can cause us to disconnect from nature. And what is nature? Are humans separate or included in nature? We talked about Descartes and how his philosophy of seeing animals and also the human body as machines affected our current culture so much, making us able to ‘look at nature’ as something separate from us that can be used in terms of efficiency and productivity. The viewers also asked many questions related to the topic and we are sure that there was even more that was left undiscussed considering the amount of time that we had.

After every Thursday session, we facilitated a sitspot practice session on Sunday afternoon. In these sessions, we fostered a connection with our direct  surroundings, witnessing also the change in the season. With a group we shared our feelings and observations afterwards, also inspiring each other in our views on how to perceive and connect with nature.