WHAT IS SHEP EARTH AWARE?
SHEP Earth Aware is a section of SHEP (The Social and Health Education Project). It was started in 2014, forty years after SHEP itself began. (For more detail on SHEP, see www.socialandhealth.com.)
Over the years, SHEP’s work, including the facilitation training it offers, has had a particular focus on awareness-based experiential learning, in order to help people deepen their connection with, and knowing, of themselves and the world they live in. It sees this as inspiring and bringing about capacities for positive change and growth in individuals and in communities, and as contributing to the renewal of the broader social systems that shape our world.
SHEP Earth Aware seeks to contribute to implementing that vision, but with a particular focus on “earth awareness”, including the awareness that we humans are part of the web of life on earth and are dependent on it. The need for “earth awareness” has come to the fore especially because of the realization that the web of life is being seriously damaged by human beings’ unsustainable lifestyle, and the related realization that while this will very soon affect us all, it is already causing enormous suffering for many of the poorest people on earth, people who have done least to bring about the problem.
SHEP Earth Aware’s understanding of promoting "earth awareness" is in line with SHEP’s general style of education. It involves helping people gain some knowledge about what is happening and some understanding of how and why it is happening. But it knows that knowledge alone is not always effective in helping people to face the reality, or to contribute to finding a constructive way forward. There is also needed a cultivation of a deep emotional response, of a willingness to face and express painful feelings such as fear and grief, and of an opening of the heart based on gratitude and love. SHEP Earth Aware seeks to foster and promote this fuller response of mind and heart. It also seeks to build community, so that people can support each other in doing this.
The aim of SHEP Earth Aware is to help to provide opportunities and encouragement for people
• to deepen their experience and appreciation of nature, and of themselves as part of it
• to deepen their understanding and appreciation of natural systems and of the web of life
• to explore some of the ways humans have seen their relationship to the rest of the natural world, and the different stories, symbols, values and taken-for-granted assumptions that shape and make sense of that relationship
• to face the reality of what is currently happening in the world, both to people and to the wider web of life, and the role that modern economic systems, and the cultural assumptions embedded in them, play in what is happening
• to explore their reaction to what is happening to the earth and its people, and find constructive ways of responding,
• to explore and support ways in which they, as individuals, as members of the SHEP community, as members of other communities of various kinds, and as citizens on a local, national, and international level, might deepen their cherishing of the earth and its people and contribute to constructive change
• to build partnerships and collaborations with other groups working to achieve any or all of these aims.
SHEP Earth Aware organises various earth-related events, including courses and workshops, talks, conferences, guided nature walks, and DVD showings. Where possible, it works in collaboration with other groups. As much as possible its activities are run on a voluntary basis.
To be included on THE SHEP Earth Aware e-mailing list, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org asking to be put on the list.