Responsibility Plus Relationship Equals Retention
The Virtual US Training Program wrapped up May 7th. That was the final day for participants to complete the requirements to become a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps and earn their green ring. I had the privilege of serving as a Mentor Lead again. I worked with the 16 Mentors from Texas. I was very pleased that six of our chapter members served as Mentors: Mark Dambro, Paula Day, Maureen Kellen-Taylor, Li-Ya Mar, Jim Notman, and Jayashree Prasad-Sinha. Also in the Mentors group was Courtney Cecale, who just wrapped up her first year on the faculty at UNT in Denton in the Department of Anthropology and who will be joining the chapter. Courtney trained in Los Angeles in 2018 and received her Ph. D. from UCLA last year. She is an Environmental Anthropologist whose research interests include “climate change, the cultural production of nature, environmental determinants of health, and the cultural politics of expertise in environmental management.” I am excited about what she brings to the chapter.
I am equally excited about the group of new chapter members who just trained. We had 26 individuals sign in for our Send-Off Event prior to the Training Program. Another 7 came to the Chapter MeetUp during the Program, and we had 7 more at our Welcome Event yesterday. Only a couple of individuals attended all 3 of those events. That adds up to over 35 “potential” new members. I say I am excited because of the energy and the ideas that came with so many of them. I add the word “potential” on purpose. We have enough experience now in our fourth year as a chapter to realize that not everyone who completes a training program will end up being active in the chapter. One of the things every current member can do is participate in our efforts to get these newly trained Climate Leaders connected with the chapter.
The new mantra from Chapter Support has been, “Responsibility Equals Retention.” I immediately recognize that as consistent with our efforts to develop local working groups. The groups have allowed far more members to take part in actions in an area they are passionate about and to begin to take responsibility for some part(s) of what the group is doing. At the same time, I think that responsibility is only part of the key to getting people connected to our community. The other mantra I would offer is “Relationship Equals Retention.” We have long talked a good game about creating a Buddy system that would pair a current member with a newly trained Leader, but we didn’t really do it systematically after Global Training 1 and 2 last summer. Now our new Membership Chair Karen Dyer is taking the lead on getting this off the ground. Please consider participating. You can pair up with newly trained “potential” members - as many as you have time for up to perhaps 5. The only real task is to make a personal connection and in that way invite the new Leader into our group.
We will also have another in-person event this month, led by the Self Care for Activists Group. It will begin with some time in nature, a walk in the woods, followed by a Listening Circle led by Marya Salman. I can say based on my experience in the first Listening Circle we had in March that this is a really engaging way to get to know others in the chapter. As always, in-person events require commutes of shorter or greater distance depending on where you live in our very large North Texas chapter territory; but I hope that many of you will make that drive on Saturday, May 22 to join us. One goal this year will be to hold these events in different parts of our chapter territory, and we will need all of you to help us find good venues for them in your part of the Metro area.
I got a bit choked up again in yesterday’s meeting when I announced that we had 249 members listed on Friday’s update to our membership list that comes weekly from Climate Reality. Having launched the chapter with 5 members in August of 2017, we are now just 1 short of 50 times as large! That is frankly unbelievable to me, and I do get emotional about it. Yes, I know, we don’t have anywhere close to 249 truly active chapter members; but that is the whole reason that those of us who are active need to join the effort to capture as much of the energy and enthusiasm coming in with our newly trained “potential” members as we can. Chapters are not static creatures, and the reality is that many chapters “go dormant,” as Chapter Support puts it euphemistically. That means in most cases that they went out of business altogether, because they failed to develop a community that could become self-sustaining for the long haul. We all come to climate activism out of a deep concern about the climate crisis and a desire to play a role in solving it. That will indeed require our best efforts for a long time to come. Let’s all do our part to make this chapter a thriving, self-sustaining “catalyst for urgent action at every level of society.”
Roger Knudson, Ph. D. Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, Miami University Chapter Chair, Climate Reality Project Dallas Fort Worth Chapter (859)866-3962 Pronouns: He/Him/His