Ecofeminist Action Cycle: A model of action developed by Dr Caresse Cranwell and Deb Collins from the Wicked Elephants Co-op
Author Dr Caresse Cranwell
How could an Ecofeminist Action Model support you and your work for the thriving of all life on Earth? What could it add to the way you’re in action in the world? Could it help you find the right collaborators, stay on purpose, be more focused in your efforts?
These were the questions we asked at Wicked Elephants and the questions that guided the evolution of this Model. One of the needs we connected to was our need for a way of doing that supports ‘rested action’. Yeah, a paradox right? But at the core of our inquiry was the question of how can we rest into action and not be driven by anxiety and despair? Is this a question that speaks to you?
There are many features of this Model but this one, of allowing us to rest into the inherent creativity of life, the ecosystem and the eco-social system, enables us to shift from driven doing to attentive rest - to rest into a community of actors all playing a part in a system of response-ability.
What is an Ecofeminist Action Model all about? And why is it important?
The Model begins with the inspiration that your action rests into and upon. What was that moment that catalysed your desire and commitment to act? How does it live in you? The paradox here is that it's the very thing that won't let you rest until you step fully into it. It gets you up every day and guides your actions.
We then take courage, which means at its root to take heart, to take our idea and our vulnerability out into the world to share it with others. It means risking critique and criticism and finding out about the robustness of ourselves and our idea. It’s about finding the support we need to root this seed in the ground and grow it into a sapling. We find others, cross-pollinate, compost some ideas, follow through on others.
When our idea has taken root we grow the social ecology. We can't all be mother trees but we can share in an ecosystem of growth, giving energy, feeding one another nutrients, supporting emergent life. We find our place in the forest of effort and ideas. We grow the relationships in the field. We see where we can give over to others. We respect and encourage the diversity of skills and responses. We accept, acknowledge, allow difference, all of which are feminist principles and ways of being. We allow that there will be multiple pathways of response, not all of which go our way.
We test and try our ideas. We value small steps, feedback, bringing in the Pause. It's important to pause, to allow the seasons of our ideas and initiatives, to touch back into our originating inspiration, to listen again to the field. It’s in this place that we hear feedback, learn what’s valuable in what we’re doing and how to compost ideas and evolve.
Small steps. What is the smallest step we can take now, the step you can most easily take to advance the action that has been brought alive in the broader field? The field is complex. We need to be acting and listening then acting again. Not all actions will generate the results we expect. Some will disappoint. Some will need to be composted. Some will take us down other unforeseen paths and open all sorts of possibilities.
That’s the map. We know it's not the territory. We also know that by sharing our territories, our life experience of navigating the action terrain, we deepen our understanding and perceptions of what the map might offer to us. As you reflect on your work can you find yourself on this map? Does it help you question what might be missing? Do you feel the possibility of being in ‘rested action’?
For me the map offers that specific invitation: to be in rested action, to move away from my driven, anxious self. I have learned to trust that there is a larger field of action of which I’m a small part. I start to perceive there is an evolutionary impulse at the heart of life, a longing for life to thrive that lives in the field of our connections. This gives me something to listen and lean into; it invites me to build relationships with others who are engaged, to build trust in others and in life and to trust my small steps matter.
How about you? We’d love to hear what it offers you?
If you would like to explore how you show up in the Ecofeminist Action Cycle, Wicked Elephants are running a workshop with the Women’s Climate Congress on Saturday 23 July 2022. Find out more and register here.
Alternatively if you’d like to talk about how this map and other creative methods could deepen your organisation’s engagement in climate change action, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.