In 2020, humanity stands at a cross roads. Climate scientists warn that we have only one more decade to get our house in order before we suffer the consequences of Earth’s fury. Our children are calling for action to secure their future and our country is on fire. But our political system of government has resulted in deadlock. We have all enjoyed the wealth that the industrial revolution has brought to the developed world, and we must all work together to transition our economy and lifestyles to a sustainable and just future for all.
Chorus is hosting a new project led by women to break the deadlock and help the best thinking minds from all perspectives to come together to consider the issue of climate change. Such a national (and indeed world) ‘thinking organ’ could offer to the currently opposing political forces an opportunity to collaborate in finding a just and sustainable way to stabilise the climate and secure a safe future for our children without renouncing their overall convictions.
Our new-old initiative is up and running!
On Monday 20 January, 6.30-9.30 pm, after a day of horrendous hail damage across the city, 32 woment responded to a call sent out through our networks and joined together for a meeting to respond to Janet's paper and talk about the changes they long to see in response to our unfolding climate emergency. Some others who wanted to come were prevented from doing so becuase of the aftermath of the storm. The 3-hour session included a welcome by Glenda Cloughley (A Chorus of Women), an introduction to her paper by Janet Salisbury, information sharing on the issues we face (the 'wicked problem' of climate change) and the potential of women's leadership. In circle discussions and break out groups, the women explored some concepts in the paper, including the principle of 'no blame' and the next steps we might take to create a movement to carry these ideas forward.
See a report and photos of the meeting.
On Tuesday 11 February, 6.30-9.30 pm, we held the second meeting of this initiative. Once again, 31 women attended – some returning from the first meeting and some joining for the first time. The meeting followed a similar pattern to the first meeting but the breakout groups this time built on the ideas from the first meeting, especially in relation to our vision and organisation . As before, there was much energy in the room and the women appreciated the opportunity to discuss and plan together, Discussions centred around vision and purpose, organisation, extending the network of women and conversations, and deepening our understanding of the concepts from Janet's paper in relation to turning the political tide towards collaboration and climate safety. These threads will form the basis for ongoing activity. See the report of the 2nd meeting.
To take our ideas forward, we have formed a working group. We have adopted the name Women's Climate Congress and further developed our Vision and Purpose statements.
We have started an e-newsletter:
E-Update #1 — 20 March 2020
Janet and Jenny Robinson attended a women's breakfast networking event, Women in Climate and Health, hosted by Kate Auty (ACT Commissioner for Sustainbility and Environment).
Janet attended the ANU Climate Update 2020 on 12 Feb, and also the National Climate Emergency Summit (NCES) held in the Melbourne Town Hall on 14-15 Feb. At the NCES, there was a high level of interest in a greater leadership role for women, but this issue has not made its way into the otherwise excellent Safe Climate Declaration that has emerged from that summit.
On 20 Feb Janet also attended a ACT Rotary Club lunch with a talk about 'Climate Anxiety' and a networking event hosted by Women's Environmental Leadership Australia.
Some comments received on the paper so far
'Thankyou for sending me the interesting materials. They are a source of inspiration'
'It's a fantastic approach and one that is close to my heart!'
'Your paper … puts some difficult issues into kind and compassionate words - thank you for the gems in it'
'This sounds like a wonderful inspiring project'
'I was thrilled to read your paper.'
'Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful piece of work.'
'This is fantastic! It is well-considered and articulate, and gives a sense of hope …'
'Thank you so much for your wonderful paper - it has the story of the 1915 Congress of Women's gatherings running through it like a river of Iife'
Contact Janet if you want to join our next circle in Canberra or create your own circle elsewhere. (Janet's contact details are on the Contact page of this website.)This video shows a group of Chorus women singing at a community conversation we hosted in 2017. The songs are extracts from The Gifts of the Furies by Glenda Cloughley and they are quite relevant here ...
‘Regeneration’ is A Chorus of Women's main theme.
Our end-of-year concert in November 2016 ('Singing Regeneration') combined music and spoken reflections on the laws of regeneration, regenerating humanity, and regenerating the Earth.
In the current political climate, working towards political and cultural regeneration is more important than ever and we have been thinking about ways that Chorus can give voice more publicly to the underlying theme of regeneration that has been in the background of much of our previous work.
Please contact us if you are interested.
In 2017, we launched a new series of conversations, called ‘wisdom conversations’ to bring together people with different cultural, disciplinary and generational perspectives. We are seeking a broader, more open and deeper experience than is usually possible in public forums, or when people stay in siloes – whether they be sciences, the arts, social services, business, government, or religious, cultural and other perspectives.
Our first 1-day conversation was held in October 2017 and was cohosted by A Chorus of Women and the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, with 22 participants to share ideas about the great urgent ethical questions of our time. We explored the question of how civil society can ‘grow’ the sort of caring, regenerative wisdom that we know so well in our family lives but which is elusive among the noise and competing interests of politics, economics, business and organisational posturing that disastrously dominate too much day-to-day decision making.
To mark the 15th anniversary of the formation of A Chorus of Women on 18 March 2003, we held a wisdom conversation for women who had been part of the Chorus journey. Continuing the theme of ‘Where can the green songs grow?’, we explored how our Chorus voice can contribute to the transformational changes we long for.
Early in 2017, we were approached by Michael Rabey of Canberra Rotary Club to participate in the official launch of the Canberra World Peace Bell in Nara Peace Park. This launch represented several years of work by Michael and Canberra Rotary to bring a World Peace Bell to Canberra (at that time the 23rd such bell to be installed in the world and the 2nd in Australia).
Our Meg Rigby wrote a new song for this special occasion on 23 February, 10.30 - 12 noon.
Meg describes the song as a kind of meditation on peace, with a repeating chant-like refrain alternating with soaring cries for peace inspired by wording from the annual Peace Declarations, which have been read by the Mayor of Hiroshima each August since 1947.
Here are the words of the refrain:
Sound the bell for peace
Feel its pulse within
We sing peace with every breath
Different cries can be written/sung for different occasions. Here are the cries that we sang for the launch of the Canberra bell:
Hear the cry from Hiroshima
Let their suffering not be in vain
Let us cut the chains of fear and hate
May our love break the spell of war
Build true peace for our children’s sake
Unite the world in a call for peace
Hear the call here in Canberra
We greet this bell as a song of hope
More background about this project is on the Canberra Rotary Peace Bell website. A history of the origins of the bells is on the World Peace Bell Association website, and a history of the Hiroshima Peace Declarations is the City of Hiroshima website.
In 2016, we raised over $6000 for the Climate Council at our event Mission Climate!, which brought together Chorus and other musical artists with climate scientists and others to weave together music and personal reflections on our relationship with the Earth.
The scientists are now telling us that humanity’s mission to prevent disastrous global warming is becoming ‘mission critical’ and we are planning another, bigger, Mission Climate event for 2019.
We would love to hear ideas from any musical folk around Canberra who would like to be involved and make this an event that truly expresses citizen concerns and frustrations, and which cannot be ignored.
In the meantime, see ‘Give us this day’ — a moving musical expression of the beauty of our world that we are losing, with lyrics by UK poet Tony Vincent Isaacs and music by Ward Swingle.Also see ‘Wish’, a new original ballad performed by Canberra’s own Tim Hollo and his quartet FourPlay.