The NJPN Conference saw Journey to 2030 launch new resources, "to help our church communities to be the hubs of transformational change that we want to see in the world." The Journey to 2030 is a project run by the charity The Ecological Conversion Group (ECG). John Paul De Quay from the group explains the reasons for concentrating on communities.
Journey to 2030 is about community and individual action, and how it can, will and must change the world. We need a healthy society not just a healthy environment. I want to explore how tackling the environmental crisis has to create and be solved by an entire societal revolution of care, and this is something I find incredibly exciting.
'Integral ecology', a key principle of the work, is the reality that everything is connected. Networks such as environment, ecosystems and society are themselves interconnected, so that, for example, a flourishing or dysfunctional human society will contribute to a flourishing or dysfunctional biological environment, and vice versa.
Stopping climate change is about monumentally more than reducing carbon. It is about a complete reimagining of the way we see and interact with the world. Because of the way our society operates we end up with isolated individuals unable to escape patterns of unethical consumerism. So, issues like modern slavery, climate change, biodiversity loss, and a lack of concern for working conditions, even loneliness and mental health are all symptoms of a wider crisis and are all interconnected. So too do we in some way personally contribute to them because of the way our society operates.
But what if our communities could help rebuild society? What effect would this have on people and our planet? How could our Church communities and institutions facilitate new norms and infrastructures that lead to behaviour consistent with our faith and a society that more closely resembles the Kingdom of God?
"The ecological conversion needed to bring about lasting change is also a community conversion." (Laudato Si') 'Ecological conversion', the key principle behind The ECG, is a commitment, inspired by faith, to change our lives so as to help heal the threefold rupture caused by sin, with God, with other human beings, and with the natural world. Communities are places of encounter, where we share beliefs, dreams, values, resources and shared interest in the places we inhabit, where we are not alone in our actions. They are places of a wealth of cultures, experience, skills and knowledge, where relationships are forged with civil society, business and government. Around these community actions, relationships develop or are recovered and a new social fabric emerges; thus, a community can break out of the indifference induced by consumerism.
What if civil society was formed of organised coalitions that, with shared values of concern for the poor and the planet at their core, keep consistency as business, technology and governments change?
To quote Rob Hopkins of the transition town movement: "If we wait for governments, it will be too late. If we act as individuals, it will be too little. But if we act as communities, it might just be enough, and it might just be in time."
Pack: Building a Caring Community
The 'Building a Caring Community' activity pack leads us to reflect on community mission through the lens of integral ecology, knowing that 'everything is connected'. The pack inspires and enables us to include concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace in an integrated community response.
This ready-made resource can be used by parishes, schools, religious and other communities to use in a way that best suits them. By encouraging dialogue, communities are able to engage with the Laudato Si' goals. The pack links to the national Journey to 2030 project, allowing communities to be part of a long-term communal journey of reimaging our society.
Resource pack at: https://journeyto2030.org/poster-activity/
Let Us Dream project
The second activity launched at the NJPN Conference was 'Let Us Dream'. It recognises the need for us to be able to collectively imagine the future we want and share this dream with others. Recognising where we want to go is the first step of any journey. Given the critical need for societal transformation in tackling our ecological and social crises, bringing hope in action, the key question is: "What would you like your community to look like by the year 2030?"
Armed with pens and paper, groups made up of activists, civil servants, horticulturalists, religious, accountants, mothers, discussed and designed what they would like to see in their own communities and how this could be achieved through building relationships, infrastructures to reframe and create new habits, influence policy and business.
'Let Us Dream' is an open invitation. Please run this activity and share your dreams with others via our website. https://journeyto2030.org/let-us-dream/