D.A.N.C.E. Atlantic

Dear Buddhists and dharma practitioners. Time is running out. The recent IPCC report says emphatically that human beings have 12 years to reduce carbon emissions sufficient to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius, to prevent catastrophic climate change, “beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.” Moreover, the World Wildlife Foundation reports that in the last 40 years, there has been a 60% decline in the global population of animals: mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians.

The Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement ‘DANCE’ is a group of Sanghas in the UK that are already mobilized for climate action. DANCE has been organizing since 2013 on anti-fracking and fossil fuels, social justice and climate action. Rather than start a separate group in the US/Canada, the best course of action would be to sign on with a Network that’s already mobilized. So DANCE Atlantic will cover the Northeast of the US and the Maritimes Canada. For more information on DANCE, sign up at their website: http://www.thedancewebsite.org

As Bill McKibben put it, “we’re running out of options and we’re running out of decades”.  

 It’s time to take action to realign our lives, our Sanghas and our societies with the Earth as our Bio-Refuge. 

Rob Hopkins, founder of Transition Towns, responds to the recent IPCC report on climate change:

The IPCC report does not say that climate breakdown is inevitable. It tells us that climate breakdown is inevitable if we continue with growth-based neo-liberal economics…It’s at times like this I come back to Joanna Macy’s assertion that these times call for three equally important pillars to underpin our responses: 

  • Holding Actions: putting our bodies on the line to say “no” to the things that are driving us over the edge, always aware that this work is vital, but not enough on its own
  • Structural Change: where we build the new world within the shell of the old dying one, creating the structures, economy, connections and models that we will need in order to thrive
  • Shift in Consciousness: the inner work needed for the other two to succeed, changing our values and stories to enable the depth of change needed to become instinctive.

I’m working on a model of local community action that would empower  Buddhists and dharma practitioners to respond to this challenge modeled after the DANCE Network. I’ve been working with and studying the Transition Towns movement for ten years, to understand its successes and challenges. I believe the Transition Towns model could work for Buddhists and their Sanghas at the local level, even with very small groups of committed Buddhists. In particular, I have studied a Buddhist-led Transition group in Nova Scotia that is having a major impact on their region. Each local DANCE affinity group would be self-organizing and would decide for itself, in a democratic and autonomous way, how it will respond to the climate crisis and social justice challenges, what issues and projects it will focus on, what actions it will take. Each local DANCE group would then be networked together for a greater regional, national and international impact on climate change and social justice.

Resilience is a unifying concept that scales up from the personal/spiritual to the local/household/community to the global. Resilience involves both social justice issues and environmental and climate issues. Anti-racism, gender justice, disability, pro-democracy, cooperative economies, housing, food and energy, prisons and police brutality, wildlife and animal rights, immigration, labour and human rights are all facets of Resilience. Communities are not resilient unless they have the capacity and resources to address all these issues. No one and no issue is left out. Each affinity group would decide for itself what issues are of greatest need and concern in their area, realizing that they are contributing to the Network for the total Resilience of the Whole.

I am beginning to put this idea together, and I’m willing to work as the coordinator, and to share that role with anyone else who would like to co-organize with me.

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