‘Meetings for Nourishment in a Time of Climate Crisis’

Eva Koch Scholar Naomi Richards discusses her research on ‘meetings for nourishment’ and the accompanying booklet she created on the topic.

‘Meetings for Nourishment in a Time of Climate Crisis’ Woodbrooke Quaker learning and research

I began my research from the question: How do we centre community and relationship in times of crisis? Given the urgency of this issue, what does it mean to slow down and take time for nourishment?

As Quakers we are committed to creating spaces which are equitable and within which all voices are heard. When we sit and eat together, we might find different ways of being together that cultivate belonging: food is inherently welcoming. When we are in an experience of sharing, we can perhaps take better account of the ethics of mutuality (the recognition that we are all interconnected and the responsibilities that this carries). What does our testimony to sustainability demand of us? What are the spiritual and practical implications of this? What is our role; how are we in or out of ‘right relationship’ with ourselves, one another and the wider Earth? I wished to do something practical that would practise bringing people together to have conversations about the climate crisis.

Food is a personal passion as well as a powerful tool for creating community. During my research I hosted different kinds of meals: planned set menu and process to guide people through different questions and themes connected to the dishes they were eating as well as experimenting with using the already established context of a Quaker sharing lunch. In the latter, I could more ‘lightly’ facilitate conversations by placing small dishes and questions on different tables as an addition to an already existing event.

I found that both formats had their benefits and challenges. The more curated and hosted meal with a smaller group allowed for a deeper collective experience, whereas using a sharing lunch with a much larger group meant that most conversations happened in pairs or small groups rather than with everybody involved. It was harder to gain a sense of how the experience was landing overall but feedback suggested that people found meaningful conversations themselves without the necessity of a large amount of guidance and facilitation. I found that using a sharing lunch in some sense allowed for people to engage more quickly with the questions and topics as there was an already established community built around the practise of sharing food and that people were ready for a different kind of conversation.

‘Meetings for Nourishment in a Time of Climate Crisis’ Woodbrooke Quaker learning and research

Ultimately, these different experiments showed that there is not a specific formula and that the best invitations are highly contextual and designed with an understanding of the needs and expectations of a group. I created a booklet which comes out my own reflections and experience which I hope will be a useful prompt and offer tools for reflection and exploration. Ultimately sitting down to share food and begin a conversation will always build relationships. I perceive that building our connections and nourishing our communities forms a large part of cultivating and sustaining our individual and collective responses to the climate crisis.

View Naomi’s ‘A Meeting for Nourishment: In a time of Climate Crisis’ resource

Watch Naomi’s Eva Koch Presentation

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