Next Up just finished it’s second full weekend session of its’ new Alberta-based Climate Leadership Program. The program began in March and will run for another three full weekends, ending in June 2016. We have 26 participants from 7 communities, reaching from Pincher Creek in the south to Saddle Lake in the North. Thus far we’ve met in Kananaskis Country and the Edmonton Federal Building, and will continue to gather at three more locations in central Alberta. Our participants come from a wide cross section of Albertan society that includes folks from First Nations, labour, education, policy, municipalities, the energy industry and regulators.
We built this pilot program (with the support of the Alberta EcoTrust Foundation and the Sisu Institute) to expand the leadership opportunities for climate action in Alberta. It’s also our first program with a weekend residence format, and the first with a peer accountability partnership as a core component. The program will conclude with a fall conference to review and support progress on the participant's action projects and plans.
Using our tried and true core sessions on topics that include theory of change, social movements, political discourse, critical thought and story telling we are working to build the leadership capacity of our participants as they each develop a strategy for bringing climate action to their areas of work and community involvement. The CLP also uses expert guests and instructors who are part of the climate change dialogue in Alberta, or have the experience and understanding of their areas of practice as they relate to climate action, policy or public engagement. Guests from the Pembina Institute, Universities of Calgary, Toronto and Alberta have lead sessions over the first two weekends. We will continue to have presenters from diverse sectors and backgrounds for the remaining sessions, all of whom will support participants in developing their skills, strategic plans and networks.
So far we’ve looked at the last 20 years of climate policy at the provincial, national and global level. We’ve studied social movement theories and skills, spent time trying out dialogue and critical thought skills and studied the economics behind Alberta’s Carbon Tax. We’ve also worked on how behaviors relate to climate action and public engagement.
As a program team we had some anxiety when we started out planning and delivering our first weekends. We didn’t know the dynamics of the group or where the conversations would go. Now, we are feeling both relieved and excited. Relieved that we our combination of regular and new programming is working and excited about the dynamic people in the group. It’s inspiring to see although we are all from different communities and different industries; we are allies in the fight against climate change. It’s comforting to know that despite the fear and urgency, we are working towards stronger climate policies as we move through the program together and as the participants develop their action plans.
Now as we head into the remaining 3 weekends, we’re looking forward to developing the projects, mapping opportunities for climate action and continuing to learn and develop new skills and ideas.
The CLP program team
Kevin, Tracey, Aisha and Mike