MARIA RENéE JOHNSON
A monthly facilitated space to tend to climate grief together.
Many of us are now directly experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis as well as the anticipatory grief of what's to come. Many of us are grappling with how to live during times like these. Many of us lack connection to community, to the natural world, and to spaces where we can vulnerably share what we are going through.
Holding Earth is a virtual climate grief circle that provides a consistent space to collectively encounter our grief, co-create community, and to more deeply connect to the ecologies in which we are embedded. We will make space for difficult feelings while also celebrating joy, curiosity, and beauty. It is the underlying principle of this group that through this connection -- to the places we live and with each other -- that we can strengthen our resiliency, capacity, presence, and sense of belonging to the wider world.
"Grief is a recognition, it's not an affliction. Grief is
a wisdom. It's a willingness for things to register upon you as they are. And it you're willing to grieve... that's the cradle of your love of life."
-- Stephen Jenkinson, "Homecoming"
+ We meet virtually once per month on the first Wednesday beginning November 2nd, 2022 from 6:00pm - 7:15pm Pacific.
Subsequent meetings are December 7th 2022, January 4th, February 1st, March 1st, April 5th, May 3rd, June 7th, 2023...
+ Each meeting contains a practice (creative, somatic, or ecological) that will guide us in coming into contact with our grief. We will also have space to share among each other -- and, sharing is optional. There will also be some educational aspects to each meeting to explore different ways of approaching grief, but the focus is on the emotional experience through multiple lenses.
+ In an effort to keep this affordable, this is offered by sliding scale payment. The price is $10 - $25 per meeting. If this is inaccessible to you, please email me and we can discuss options; all are welcome regardless of financial means.
+ Once you've attended your first meeting you'll receive monthly notifications about subsequent meetings; you can opt out of this anytime. Fill out the form below and send payment to register. You'll receive further information and a meeting link.
+ This space is not therapy and I am not a licensed mental health professional. Please ensure you have any additional support you may need outside of this group.
Values + Principles
+ In speaking about the climate crisis, we recognize that this is not solely about the environment, but is ultimately, a social and relational topic. Our climate grief is tied to all grief and our grief is not solely about death, but all experiences of loss, change, transformation, and longing; all of this is welcome.
+ We find paths toward respectful relationship with other human beings and the more-than-human world. We assume one another's best intentions and approach others with curiosity and space to grow. Discrimination of any kind is not tolerated.
+ We all bring different perspectives, identities, experience, and access points while coming from varied backgrounds that will inform our understanding and relationship to both the climate crisis and to grieving. We recognize that time and space to grieve is not a given in our society. We respect our differences and learn from one another; our variation creates a rich and strong ecosystem.
+ We bear witness to one another's grief while not attempting to fix or change it. What comes up is welcome. Witnessing is powerful.
+ Emotional, social, and spiritual health are essential to dealing with the climate crisis. These matter just as much as political action. While we can touch on other dimensions of the crisis, this space makes prominent and specific room for our grief.
Where I'm Coming From
Hi, I'm Maria (she/they). My background is highly interdisciplinary spanning from science, conservation, social justice, environmental education, and the arts. Much of what I've done throughout the years has had an underlying or direct connection with environmental grief including my work with Bycatch and Mother Earth and the accompanying Climate Ribbon Project as well as facilitating a Dark Mountain Project reading group since early 2020. My perspective is informed by my educational and professional background, though I experience the world through an animist understanding.
In 2020, I reached a turning point in my life. I had recently completed a Master's degree in marine science while recognizing that I felt more suited to work with people and the environment in a relational, emotional, and somatic way while working toward a cultural shift. All the while, I was facing what felt like insurmountable loss and grief in my personal life as well as from what was occurring globally. I was struck by the lack of resources, support, and even basic acknowledgement of what we all were (and are) going through. The times we are living in are calling us to reexamine how we do everything -- including how we support one another.
So, I dedicated a lot of time and energy towards creating what I wish existed more readily. In addition to the experience stated above, I've taken a Grief Immersion for Death Workers certification course with Inviting Abundance, a certification course to be trauma-informed and practiced with body-based regulation tools through a Somatic Embodiment and Nervous System Regulation Strategies course with Linda Thai, Coming Back to Ourselves: Embodiment and Culture in Grieving and a Mentoring Circle with Shauna Janz as well as Francis Weller's series, Facing the World with Soul. I've learned significantly about grief from the teachings of Martín Prechtel and Stephen Jenkinson, particularly in his series Grief/Dirt and Homecoming. All of this being said, much of griefwork is about unlearning dominant culture and the interlinked systems of oppression in order to reclaim the practice of grief and hold space for others to grieve with care. Much of my learning in this regard has been a substantial part of my formal education experience as well as additional trainings.
Perhaps more importantly, I have been a griever with particular attention to the living world since I was a child. Some of my first memories are connected to this grief and the questions it stirred, all of which has informed my work to this day. I've long felt to be a student of death, in a sense, having had multiple near death experiences in my early life. I've been privileged to have had significant access to the natural world and talented teachers of art, ecology, and the social spheres, who have challenged me to see and connect in different and deeper ways. The more-than-human inhabitants of the deserts, marine environments, and forests where I've lived have taught me about connection, relationship, grief, and how to be human more than any other teacher. It has often been a lonely experience to feel such grief in an over-culture that diminishes, pathologizes, and lacks space for it. What has made the difference for me is to have community with others who grieve collectively -- this process has the ability to open us into incredible joy, gratitude, and a rich multi-dimensional experience of life. It illuminates our common humanity in a time where that is so, so needed.
I would describe my approach to griefwork as "ecological griefwork", meaning it is both informed by ecology as well as is, in it's own right, a process of reconnection and recognizing our inherent belonging. Grieving is the work of the heart and is based in practices of connection. Having access to our hearts is one of the most valuable things we can do -- and, is often one of the most challenging things to do when living during difficult times that seek to systematically rupture this connection. Griefwork guides a reclamation.
If you have any questions before registering, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
"To truly and freely grieve as an entire people can revive an entire culture just as much as it can bring back to life an individual."
-- Martín Prechtel