Hosting Climate Cafés

Want to host a Climate Café?

  • It isn’t a mystery, it’s a very simple thing. Find a local café or community center that will give you a private or semi-private space, find someone to facilitate with you, advertise, hold the café, repeat. About an hour and a half in total for each café is good.
  • Don’t try to make money out of Climate Café.
  • Don’t put any pressure on people to come to more than one Climate Café. It’s great if they do, but this is a space where the usual pressures to join/conform/act are temporarily suspended
  • If you aren’t used to facilitating or you want a space to think about what it might be like hosting a Climate Café, come to one of the Climate Psychology Alliance‘s regular climate café training.

Guidelines for a good Climate Café

  • Try to get a diverse mix of people.
  • Plan on doing a series of Climate Cafés, or doing them regularly. The first time you might have a smaller crowd than you expected. Have a good time anyway, and stick with it.
  • Have two facilitators. One of you can be looking after the practicalities and hosting aspects while the other one pays attention to what is happening at the emotional level. And if one of you is ill on the day the café can still go ahead.
  • Let attendees break the ice for about 10 minutes as latecomers arrive.
  • Start with a round in which people say who they are and what motivated them to come to the Climate Café. Don’t make this too speedy – it’s a chance for people to say something meaningful, which can then be explored in the second phase.
  • Lead with one of the facilitators and your more experienced Climate Café people first to set the tone. End with the other facilitator.
  • Once everyone has had their turn, invite a conversation based on what feelings people noticed in themselves during the first round.
  • Between 4 and 12 people works well. If you have more than this, you can break into two groups (another reason to have two facilitators).
  • Aside from nonverbal noises and gestures of assent, during a given person’s turn everyone else listens.
  • The only exceptions are the facilitators, who can gently steer someone back to their emotions if they stray.
  • People may cry. Hold the space. Let it happen. It’s OK, and justified.
  • There are no “wrong answers.” Different people feel different things. If anyone tries to invalidate someone else’s feelings, gently put a stop to it by reminding the group that there are no wrong emotions.
  • You can’t “fix” what someone feels. Just acknowledge. People feel what they feel. The Climate Café itself is the healing.
  • You can have climate coffee, climate potluck, climate fondu, whatever floats your climate boat. For some groups, beer or wine might help (hello, scientists). But we recommend keeping it to one alcoholic drink. Consider this a kind of work.
  • If people feel energised by the Climate Café and they want to take action, use the suggestions below to offer them ideas.

What people can do

It’s very late. We need a massive climate mobilization. We can only get that if enough members of the public demand it. So we need to wake people up. We need to raise our voices and make them strong and compelling.

  • Talk climate every chance you get. Even in the supermarket checkout line.
  • Join climate action groups. There are many, with different (and complementary) tactics and goals. Ask around. This empowers you for many reasons. But it also helps you stay sane.
  • Walk the talk. This is the “traditional” stuff: you know, fly less, eat less meat, bike more. Once you start letting the reality of climate breakdown percolate down to your emotional core, it might not feel good to keep burning the stuff. More importantly, walking the talk will make your voice more authentic and powerful.
  • Engage politically. Vote, of course, but do much more than that. Go to city council meetings. Run for office. Climate strike. Engage in nonviolent civil disobedience.  Etc.
  • Self care. Get enough sleep, eat well, get exercise, meditate.
  • Get creative.