It’s Hard to Bring Up a Topic Like Climate Change

Last August, we showed you how “Listening Changes the Climate,” when climate activists and climate skeptics listen to each other using our Climate Change Conversation Guide. Well, just last month, about 40 new climate activists learned the Living Room Conversations model, led by Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteer Stephen Reichling.

“I want to continue learning skills to talk and listen across the aisle, with people of differing opinions,” said one participant.

According to Reichling:
The climate movement has spent decades citing facts and figures to get people to pay attention–and it hasn’t produced the change we want. Citizens’ Climate Lobby teaches its members to work on building relationships.

It’s hard to bring up a topic like climate change. Many of us are fearful of provoking an argument or damaging a relationship because of how divisive the topic can be. Living Room Conversations provides this wonderful space which enables people to have really deep and meaningful conversations that are so difficult to have spontaneously. And through having Living Room Conversations, I’ve personally built relationships with several more conservative-leaning people than I probably never would have gotten to know or thought I had anything in common with otherwise.

The Conversation Guide I used with the group was a modified version of Relationships First. We only had 55 minutes for the conversations so I cut out a few of the questions, then substituted a few more climate-related ones. The goal was to help participants learn techniques for managing disagreement with each other, in the hope that those new skills would be useful to them should they ever choose to host their own Living Room Conversation.

I see LRCs as a great tool for building relationships based in trust, empathy, and common ground and I hope the people who came to the workshop will find it useful in doing so through their work with Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

We love this use of Living Room Conversations–and we’d love to hear about yours! Please share this email and let us know what you’d like us to feature in future issues.

Beth G. Raps, PhD
Development Partner