Why is talking about the environment such a hot-button issue? Today we meet a new guide through this complexity: someone with a refreshing authenticity who is making these conversations much more fun and interesting!

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For many people, thinking about climate change is like contemplating the edge of the universe. You can get to a certain point, and then the vastness and complexity of it all becomes overwhelming.

With talking heads yelling and complexities brewing, it can be tough to get passionate about the environment, it can even get a little exhausting. Thankfully for us, we need not sit in confusion or despair any longer (we also need not feel guilty any more about being a “climate change idiot”) because, guess what, we are no longer alone.

Enter, one of our favorite comedians, Zach Anner. In his new series, Earth Your While, he brings his same brand of humor and sincerity to tackling the issues of climate change, conservation, and sustainable energy. Today we are going to share with you a few installments of the series to get you started, but if you want to see the full season, you can watch it over on SoulPancake’s YouTube channel.

Let’s dive in. In the first episode, Zach hits the streets talking to the average person about climate change and the environment, and it turns out their answers are not far from how you or I would probably respond!

Starting the conversation…

Now that we realize that we are all, to some extent, “climate change idiots” in one way or another, and we recognize that we need to at least be having these kinds of important conversations, what do we do? How do we even start having difficult conversations with people we may not agree with on the topic of climate change and the environment?

Well, that’s the tough part. Perhaps though, we are making things more complicated for ourselves, psyching ourselves up to begin talking. What if, instead of approaching difficult topics adversarily, we tried to find common ground first and then were able to talk from a place of love?

To give us some tips on where to start, Zach interviews a father-son duo that is grappling with exactly this issue.

We don’t have to agree with everything the other person has to say, nor do we have to convince them to adopt our point of view, but starting the conversation is important.

The team here at EWC really loved the nuances of having more productive conversations about the contentious topics in life. Let’s quickly recap those top five ways to have a respectful conversation (which we can certainly apply to conversations far beyond climate change).

  • Respect the person you’re having the conversation with.  Use “and” instead of “but” and find common ground.
  • Separate identity from beliefs. Remember, at the end of the conversation there are no winners and no losers. Everybody should walk away from the conversation with their head held high.
  • Have unconditional love. Start from a place of mutual respect.
  • Don’t lie. (In fact, it’s good to acknowledge the possible flaws in your conclusions, so they can do the same without feeling vulnerable.)
  • Be open-minded. At least try to understand where the other person is coming from and ask “Why do you think that way?”

These aren’t complicated rules, but they can be tough to apply. The second point, separating identity from beliefs, can be a particularly difficult thing to tackle and very often, this is where important conversations devolve as they stop being about the issues and start to become personal.

What would our political dialogues sound like if we all just remembered that one rule?

Time to talk money?

Alright, let’s get serious. Sure, it’s great to talk about the environmental reasons for turning to more sustainable sources of energy, but for some people, environmental arguments aren’t convincing. So, what are the financials?!

Georgetown, Texas, a town that prides itself on its conservative values, has defined their major claim to fame as being one of the first US cities to be entirely powered by renewable energy. This is a town in the middle of a conservative, “oil-rich” state. So, why did they decide to become a “greener” city? Well, in this case, it boiled down to a matter of economics.

Here’s Zach’s interview with Georgetown Mayor, Dale Ross, on a completely novel alternative approach to the renewable energy debate.

Is there really any problem with this approach to expanding our use of sustainable energy? We don’t all have to be evangelists for the environment, but if we make sound economic choices that also have a positive impact on the planet, aren’t we all heading in the same direction?

Perhaps, that’s a final insight we can take from this series. Sometimes the best way start hard conversations is by finding common ground. Beginning from where we agree allows us to find a rational place to start, and lets us begin a more civil dialogue.

That’s exactly what we are doing here at Ever Widening Circles! Every article we publish celebrates something people from any culture or walk of life can celebrate!

If you enjoy Zach’s quirky take on life, you will love something extra we will leave you with today.

Longtime readers will remember a piece we did on his great series for SoulPancake, Have a Little Faith, where he sat down with members of a wide number of faiths to dispel misconceptions and help us all find some common ground.

20 minutes

Have a Little Faith!

Zach Anner is a comedian with cerebral palsy who is a self-proclaimed "religious idiot." On his quest to learn more about the religions of the world, he takes us on an incredible journey that is as hilarious as it is enlightening! Check out our new favorite YouTube series here at EWC!

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Thank you, Zach! Keep pointing us to ways to preserve everyone’s dignity while moving dialogues in positive directions!

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

Find more places to start!

At EWC, we believe we are the perfect place to find catalysts for tough conversations. If we can start with the things we can agree prove it’s still an amazing world, we can change the running dialogue!

To get you going, try jumping into our innovation category!

Innovation on EWC!

Notes:

  1. “Hot Tub Confessional W/ Zach Anner & Hannah Cranston | Earth Your While.”YouTube. SoulPancake, 27 July 2017. Web. 04 Nov. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szw3VOm_ON0>.
  2. “How to Talk with LOVE Even If You Disagree | Earth Your While.” YouTube. SoulPancake, 28 Sept. 2017. Web. 04 Nov. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2U4j6JBdxc>.
  3. “Can You Get Rich Off Solar Power? 💰 | Earth Your While W/ Zach Anner.”YouTube. SoulPancake, 03 Aug. 2017. Web. 04 Nov. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7Oyql9Cg6E>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO Ever Widening Circles

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yoga lover. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV