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  • Denise Marion

Rich Conversations



On March 30th twelve members of eight Whidbey environmental organizations practiced how to talk about climate at the Climate Change Salon. It was not as scary as one might think.


We took roles as either climate change skeptics or advocates for climate action. Then we split into opposing sides to bolster ourselves and justify our thinking among like-minded people. Just like we do in real life. We then paired up with a person from the other side to talk.


Believe it or not, we had rich conversations with curious, thoughtful people who listened respectfully to each other. Weird, right? No, it’s true.


Some of us were worried the conversations would be confrontational, but they were not. For example, one advocate simply maintained a friendly open tone with an assertive skeptic. She related relevant information in a short sentence or two, giving real life examples, and allowed plenty of space for a reply. The skeptic retained an open mind because she felt heard and was not talked down to. Being non-confrontational is a good way to have any conversation, but especially something as tricky as climate change.


Establishing a personal connection was another important part of talking about climate change. One advocate lead with facts and figures and noticed the skeptic’s eyes glaze over. The skeptic said she just tuned out. On the other hand, one pair of skeptic and advocate established a connection over EV Mustangs. Others made connections over wildfires and smoke, and fishing. Talking about local effects of climate change rather than big scary facts brought people into meaningful conversations.


All in all we learned a lot and felt it was time well spent. Of course much more needs to be done to address the challenges of climate change, but we are all in this together for the foreseeable future. Let’s at least talk with each other about it.


Next Salon:

Envisioning the Future We Want on Whidbey

Saturday April 27, 1:00-3:00 PM

Coupeville Library


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