Staying healthy amongst the urgency

As anyone working for environmental or social justice knows, it can feel that there is never enough time to do everything that needs to be done.  

Staying healthy amongst the urgency is so often a challenge for activists, our own health seeming tangential when in fact the effectiveness of our work in the world depends on it.

In the spring of 2012 I had the opportunity to attend the Inner Activist’s, Building Personal Mastery course. It was a transformative experience that is already benefiting my work. 

One 'aha' moment for me was the realization of the consequences of trying to take everything on: I exhaust myself and expect too much from those around me. Looking inward to gain a better understanding of my motivations, and recognizing the consequences of my behaviours, has helped me on a day-to-day basis choose to modify my actions, in an attempt to be more gentle and compassionate with myself and with those around me.  

Cultivating this awareness will assist me in tackling the urgent environmental issues of our time, in a way that can be more personally sustained and more effective in helping to build a larger movement of change makers.  

Six months later, I’m excited to have registered for the Inner Activist’s, Building Conscious Use of Power course. This program appeals to me on many levels. Whether it is the dynamics within my organization, with my colleagues in the environmental community, or tackling the root causes of the issues we are working on - the concept of power is ever-present. 

Building power, leveraging power, speaking truth to power, challenging our own complicities in perpetuating unjust power structures that lead to environmental injustices... How can we avoid wielding power in unproductive and hurtful ways as we pursue the goals of environmental sustainability? 

I am looking forward to this Inner Activist course; there is much to reflect on.

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Caitlyn Vernon is the Coastal Campaigner with Sierra Club BC. Since 2007 she has been working to protect the Great Bear Rainforest, support community-based First Nations’ monitoring initiatives, and keep the B.C. coast free from tar sands pipelines and tankers. Caitlyn has a BSc in Biology and a Masters in Environmental Studies. She recently wrote an award-winning non-fiction book for young readers called Nowhere Else on Earth: Standing Tall for the Great Bear Rainforest.