On Sunday, the Climate Change World Cafe held a discussion workshop at the Jones Library in Amherst on how to combat global warming. The event was sponsored by a local organization called Pioneer Valley Mothers Out Front, and it was attended by 13 people.
According to its Facebook page, the event encourages attendees to “explore the ‘wicked problem’ of climate change in a convivial World Cafe setting.”
The Climate Change World Cafe started with discussion based on a warm-up question about how attendees felt about climate change. Attendees shared their ideas on large pieces of paper in groups of four.
For one of the questions, “What are some skills and resources you could offer others in the event of a catastrophic weather event?” the attendees emphasized communication skills as community organizers in their responses.
They also predicted what kind of secondary disasters would occur and shared some communication skills which would be helpful, such as ways to contact each other without a phone.
In addition, they discussed people who they can lean on in a catastrophic weather event and how the Pioneer Valley can create diversity concerning gender, income levels and abilities.
Near the end of the event, the pieces of the paper that were used in discussion were put on a wall and all attendees looked into the patterns and ideas that emerged.
Madeleine Charney, a research services librarian at Dubois Library at the University of Massachusetts, helped organized the event. According to Charney, the main goal of the event is not to find solutions to climate change. Rather, she expects attendees to experience slower, more meaningful conversation and meet new people in the community.
“I first learned about World Café in a training offered by the American Library Association – a call for librarians to step up and lead community conversations,” Charney said.
“It struck me immediately how conducive this approach would be for opening people up to climate change conversations,” she added. “While enjoying snacks and drinks, the stage is set to explore our varying values, perspectives, concerns, questions and wisdom on the topic.”
Two high school students helped Charney arrange the event before it started. One of them was Fiona Bird, a 10th grade student at Four Rivers Charter Public School, who attended the event to talk to people about climate change.
Bird said, “I feel like it has the potential to bring out the part of ourselves we need to connect with in the event of a climate disaster.” She added, “I am sure I will have many takeaways, not only about the event, but also how to run a World Cafe so that I can run one in the future.”
Charney agreed, “that climate change profoundly hurts us and that we have to prepare for some trauma as we continue to experience the painful struggle of the next story we are all co-creating.”
The next Climate Change World Cafe will be held on Feb. 8 from 1 to 3 p.m.
Yurika Yamazaki can be reached at [email protected]