Active Hope elicits our best response to crisis

19 June 2023  By Alison Maitland

I’ve been facilitating “Active Hope” workshops for a wide range of groups over the past few months: diversity & inclusion professionals; climate campaigners; executive coaches, and more. I’ve experienced first hand how these sessions open up profound conversations about our concerns for the planet and our dreams for a better future, helping people to shift from anxiety, or overwhelm, or powerlessness into positive action.

I first encountered the book Active Hope while training as a climate coach with Climate Change Coaches. Inspired by what I read, I took the Foundations course and then completed the Active Hope Facilitator Training earlier this year.

In the words of the concept’s co-creators, Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, Active Hope is a way “to face the mess we’re in with unexpected resilience and creative power”. It helps us find our best response to the struggles in our lives, in our organisations and in the world – the interconnected crises facing people and planet.

There is a lot of fear around. By developing these facilitation skills in Active Hope, and bringing them to groups, I’ve learned how important it is for people to acknowledge and honour their fears and concerns as a way to allow their hopes to take wing. From there, it’s possible to access fresh perspectives and inspiration, finding answers to the questions “What part can I play?” and “What can we do collectively?”

Participants at the sessions I’ve facilitated and co-facilitated have spoken about leaving the events feeling enthused, empowered, optimistic, connected, uplifted, energised, inspired and invigorated. One recent participant, Gail, said: “I found a sense of belonging in Alison’s workshop, with the like-minded people who showed up, and because of the framework she led us through. Sharing my fears, and hearing those of others, created a community of compassion, and a relief from feelings of isolation and hopelessness. I left with a clear and simple action I can do.”

I’m grateful for the remarkable work that Macy and Johnstone have done, and eager to help spread its positive impact in our troubled world. On their website is this quote: “Active Hope is waking up to the beauty of life on whose behalf we can act. We belong to this world and we are here to play our part.”

Does this feel like something you want? How might it enable change to happen in your team? How could your organisation and your stakeholders benefit from conversations like these leading to positive collective action to address the problems of our time?

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more, or to discuss bringing Active Hope into your workplace.

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