A GRAND STAND for the Environment VIC

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Since April 2006, a group of grandparents and seniors from churches in the Manningham municipality have met regularly to share concerns about climate change and its impact upon future generations. We are now an Incorporated body
known as A GRAND STAND for the environment.

We recognize that human beings are standing at an extraordinary moment in world history. Today’s grandparent/senior generation is the first to hand on to our children a planet worse off than we have enjoyed. We urgently need to re-think our values and the way we live. We recognize the deep and rising concern about the loss of biodiversity on the planet and the urgent need to protect and restore natural habitat. We recognize too the profound detrimental
effect that global warming has and will continue to have on vulnerable communities in poor countries. With a view to addressing these issues, the group has sponsored public fora in the Templestowe Uniting Church to raise awareness
and give opportunity for the voicing of grief, anger, fear and despair as well as striking a note of hope and empowerment. In each of the forums, use has been made of art, poetry, music and ritual, whilst drawing upon the knowledge of and taking inspiration from high quality speakers. We recognize that it is a spiritual/ cultural problem, not a lack of climate science that holds us back in courageously addressing the challenges of climate change.

In our fora, we have expressed the challenge of social problems and over-arching consumerism in spiritual/ cultural terms when exploring the roots of human involvement in this catastrophic crisis. It is our belief that the problem of harmful human impact on the earth results from an inadequate view of human identity as rulers of Earth, rather than dependent creatures of a Creator spirit. Intrinsic to our GRAND STAND philosophy is the importance and place of Indigenous Spirituality. We believe that the gift of Aboriginal relationship with the land is essential in raising our awareness and sensitivity to the suffering of Earth and its peoples. It too, enhances our understanding of the ‘sacred’ in exploring human identity and our sense of belonging/disconnection to Earth. Thus an Aboriginal speaker/didgeridoo player has been invited to every forum, and offered a special quality and insight to our presentation. An average of
around 100 people have been present each time.

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The titles of the forums have included:
• The Earth will survive. Will the human race?
• Saying Sorry to the Earth;
• Turning the Titanic; and
• Economic meltdown – threat or promise?

Poetry, music, art, drama, story-telling and ritual woven through the forums have inspired positive response, created awareness and affirmed the spiritual nature of the crisis we face.
“Table Talk,” a catalyst for the simplicity of conversation in homes and cafes has evolved from A GRAND STAND for the Environment. In these slowly emerging intimate groups, heart-felt stories of hopes and fears for our earth community are given an opportunity to be heard. In offering a ‘safe’ place of attentive listening and mutual vulnerability, we seek to generate new hope, creativity and encouragement for those around the table. A simple ritual of sharing a home-grown gift or piece of handcraft completes a precious gift of intimacy in a two hour ‘communion’ of a simple morning tea.
As GRAND STAND continues to explore future consciousness-raising events, we will network widely with local communities. Our aim will be to faithfully journey together to embrace a true understanding of our human identity and dependence upon Earth as a sacred and abundant source of life, and to enhance our collective relationship with Earth as a gift of sustaining grace.

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