Psychology for a Safe Climate Monthly Newsletter, October 2020
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The weather is warming up and the flowers are blooming! We are feeling cautiously hopeful about the easing of restrictions in the coming months and hope that in these times you are able to be supported and connected to those who matter to you.

Day One - Nature Mandala from the Heart for Climate Action 10 days of creative care programAt the end of September we finished up our Heart for Climate Action fundraiser, all in all we managed to raise around $32,000! A huge milestone for us that will go some way in ensuring our ongoing financial sustainability as an organisation as we move toward hiring paid staff. This will enable us to keep up with the requests to support those working on climate change, and to begin to build a network of climate engaged psychotherapeutic professionals around Australia. Thank you to anyone who donated. We are so grateful and truly touched by the level of support out there in our extended community. We also had around 100 people sign up to participate in the 10 days of creative care program and you can see the results of some of their beautiful work in this gallery on our website.

Beth, who has been writing these newsletters over the last 18 months or so, is leaving us to go on maternity leave for the next little while. She will be handing over to our very capable and enthusiastic volunteer, Bianca. We hope to keep bringing you the latest writing, speaking and thinking on climate change, psychology and the complex terrain of action and emotion that we like to explore in these newsletters.

Beth, Bianca and the PSC team
 Some interesting reads
Acknowledging our fossil fuel addiction
  • This article highlights the myriad of psychological compartmentalisations we undertake to protect ourselves from acknowledging the ways we benefit from the fossil fuel addiction.
  • The author, Sian Sullivan critiques fetishised responses to the climate crisis, such as green economy initiatives which focus on making growth sustainable rather than radically altering our ways of living, and states that acknowledging our reliance on fossil fuels for basic comforts as a first step.
  • According to Sullivan, acknowledging our addiction to fossil fuels can help us act with the urgency required and to call governments to account from a place of compassion. If you have a solid chunk of time to dig in to this essay, you can read it here (it's worth it!). I like this honest statement: "of this personal living contradiction... the reality is that I am completely dependent on fossil fuels and the products they make possible. This dependence exists even as I simultaneously and publicly acknowledge the serious implications of pumping more climate-forcing gases into the atmosphere."
Feeling our way through the climate crisis
Gen Dread is a fabulous new Substack newsletter all about supporting mental health during the climate crisis. In this piece, Britt Wray reviews "All We Can Save", a collection of poems and essays from women about their raw and emotional experience of the climate crisis. Here's some of Wray's take-aways:
  • Grieving honestly, and being with the unequivocal enormity of the pain we have for the earth is necessary to keep climate activists from burning out. Hope is not a prerequisite for action but our grief and pain can be a pathway to hope if we learn how to work with them.
  • There's a shout-out for Mums. A mother's fierce love for her offspring and a fear for their future has the capacity to move mountains, and should be more celebrated as a guiding climate activism force.
  • Aligned with what we do at PSC, the psychological impact of confronting this climate crisis head-on needs to be known and given appropriate support. If we value the work of climate activists and professionals everywhere, we need to value their mental health, so they can keep doing this taxing but imperative work. Read the article in full here.
Radical hope
  • Sally Gillespie (author of Climate Crisis and Consciousness: Re-imagining our World and Ourselves) talks about how accepting the difficulty and the hugeness of the climate situation, and the subsequent despair we may feel around climate, is a necessary process for contacting radical hope.
  • Radical hope (a term coined by Jonathon Lear) is what happens when we see the destruction of what is as a necessary element to envisioning a better future. Gillespie states this requires action and commitment but, larger than this, a re-imagining of what matters and what we seek to create as the former systems we found safety in crumble.
  • In line with the blossoming of spring, Gillespie posits radical hope as adopting an ecological consciousness. The natural landscape endures destruction, and naturally finds ways to repair, renew and maintain resilience. An acknowledgement that we are of the natural world means an embodiment of this dance of ecosystems. Read it all here.
Worth a watch

Coping with the Climate Crisis
A six-part Youtube series by UK psychotherapist Rosemary Randall that explores the multitude of ways we try to emotionally deal with the climate emergency. Each video is about a 5-10 minute commitment and she covers the following topics: the ways we engage in disavowal to avoid our part in the climate crisis, normalising the experience of climate distress, climate grief as a road to action, tools for offering effective support to others, walking the path of hope and despair simultaneously, and the arc that climate activists are not alone in following on their climate journeys.

How to cope with  anxiety about climate change

Our very own Bronwyn Gresham was interviewed by 1 Million Women recently and they put together this nifty video summarising some of the key takeaways. You can watch it here.

Photo courtesy of Elena Zakharova on Unsplash
A supportive practice
Nature Mandala Practice: co-creating beauty in the world
This practice comes from day one of our our 10 days of creative care program (though of course we did not invent it!)
  1. Take a wander outside - your back garden, the street, your local park, it doesn't need to be anywhere special. Go slower than you might if you were exercising. 

  2. As you wander, allow your senses to come alive and take in the colours and textures around you, collect any natural materials that catch your eye or you feel drawn to - flowers, leaves, rocks, sticks, feathers, thorns. Make sure you’re not taking anything that should be left where it belongs. 

  3. When you feel you have gathered enough materials, find a spot you can sit down comfortably (either outside or back at home) and use these materials to build a mandala. Give yourself a generous amount of time to let the materials you have chosen guide you as to the best way to place and shape them in different concentric circles. You might even head back outside and look for more to add halfway through! 

  4. It can be lovely to build a mandala like this somewhere outside where others might encounter it on their daily walk - think of it as your co-creation with nature, a gift back to the natural world, and to your community. 

When you feel your mandala is complete we’d love you to take a photo and share it with us on our Facebook page or you can send it to us at

Upcoming events 
Presented by Adelaide Institute for Psychoanalysis and Sally Weintrobe. These are difficult times, the climate in crisis, the economic system in crisis....Things feel close to breakdown, but breakdowns can be breakthroughs. People find it hard to manage their feelings... Sally Weintrobe is Chair of the International Psychoanalytic Association’s Climate Committee. Sally’s new book "Some Like it Hot: Neoliberal Exceptionalism and the Psychological Roots of the Climate Crisis" is due out this year.
When: Wednesday 28 October 2020 at 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Where: Online via Zoom (link sent following registration).
Book tickets: here

FoE is hiring
Safety and Wellbeing Convenor
Friends of the Earth has a new role for someone with the skills to create deeper and stronger cultures of wellbeing. This role is about create safety and sustainability in the work that Friends of the Earth does, and will work predominately with youth members. If you or someone you know has a talent for this work and is seeking a new opportunity, you can find the position description here.
PSC volunteers are based on the lands of the Wurundjeri tribe of the Kulin nation. We acknowledge their elders past, present and future.
PSC acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are Australia’s First Peoples and the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we work.
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Psychology for a Safe Climate · PO Box 27 Fairfield · Alphington · Melbourne, Vic 3078 · Australia

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