On March 15, 2017, we welcomed women to our Environmental Issues Discussion focusing on Ecofeminism. We were joined by Ronnie Joy Leah, an expert in gender and women’s studies and an instructor with the University of Calgary and Athabasca University. Ronnie Joy provided us with a uniquely interactive and informative workshop on ecofeminism and the importance of incorporating ecofeminist values in our daily lives.
We began the workshop with a bonding circle song and dance, “Tread Gently on the Earth,” where we acknowledged the four elements: earth, air, water and fire. Ronnie Joy encouraged us to reframe our way of thinking to acknowledge the Earth as our common mother. This way of thinking inspires protection of the Earth as we are encouraged to treat it like a loved and cherished family member who you want to protect and who, at the same time, protects you. Once we had a foundation of understanding the power of women and the Earth and our interconnection, we were invited to share our own tales of power. A common theme was women’s ability to form connection and community to mobilize positive change.
Ronnie Joy then introduced us to the work of Vandana Shiva, an Indian scholar, environmentalist and global advocate for ecofeminism and female empowerment. We learned about the importance of respecting the Earth as well as the value of women. We broke into groups to discuss our concerns about the environment and then worked together to use an ecofeminist lens to understand and encourage action on our concerns.
The last portion of the workshop was centered on the concept of Deep Ecology and Joanna Macy’s “great turning” theory, which talks about the transition of an industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization. We spoke together as a group to brainstorm ideas on how to achieve this ideal scenario. Again, many of the ideas that came up were centered around community, equality and understanding. We were left with the task to establish one change we could make in our lives to move us towards our communal goal of respect for women and for the Earth.
We thank Ronnie Joy for facilitating such a grounding and connecting experience for everyone present. We were able to see first-hand the power of women and community, and the importance of fostering this energy for positive global change.
This post was written by, Annaliese, a member of the Environmental Issues Committee.