Notes on Ubuntu Day Discussion, July 25, 2015

The theme of the discussion was “What Moves Me?” and was hosted by the Catching the Spirit Youth Society (Executive Director Bob Gunn), with Facilitators Diana Ellis (Suzuki Elder) and Sadie DeCoste (Youth Leader, CTS).

About 60 youth, mostly 14-17 years old, all campers or leaders with CTS, attended.

Outline – discussion session for July 25/15 Catching the Spirit Ubuntu Day – with Suzuki Elders

What Moves Me?

Time Task What Who
5 mins Introduction -facilitators talk about why we are here, why connecting over the generations is important to us etc Suzuki ElderYouth leader
10 mins Brainstorming as a whole group Question: “What are some of our shared fears and hopes about sustainability and the environment?” Popcorn style brainstorming with everyone – write ideas on flip paper. Youth leaderSuzuki Elder
20 mins Small group discussion (max 5 people per group?) -break into small groups to further discuss the question “What are our shared hopes and fears about sustainability and the environment?” Facilitators rotate through the small groups
3 minutes (folks stay in small group format) 

10 minutes

Introduce Next Steps 




Next Steps – “Moving…”


Continue discussion in small groups – Participants discuss “What can I do with my hopes/fears – how do these move me forward/hold me back?” Ask participants to write down on two stickies “what holds me back, what moves me forward?”Participants write the above on two stickies to post on two flip charts titled “hold me back” and “move me forward” Suzuki Elder & youth leader
10-15 minutes What does what we have written tell us all? Have everyone return to the larger group – look at the two flip charts – what are the common threads on each? Any surprises here? Whole group review and dialogue
2-3 minutes Closing words The value of reflecting on our feelings about sustainability & environment. understanding how they move us back and forward. Youth and Elder

NOTE: Extension of this hour could occur easily with a continuing whole group discussion of:

(1) Elders could talk about how similar their own hopes/fears/motivations/holdbacks are to those of youth!

(2) Elders and youth could describe their own experiences (tell stories) about how any of us have already dealt with the ‘moving forward’ and ‘holding back’ elements in their lives.

(3) We could share ideas about the value of resilience, and what shape it takes in our leadership work.

Part One: Brainstorming – What are some of our fears and hopes about sustainability and the environment?

Environmental Hopes: Youth said—- Environmental Fears: Youth said—
-sustainable mining-free, accessible and clean water-I hope people can use less water-reforestation-a stable economy

-a ban on Styrofoam use

-renewed ocean life

-waste management in developing countries

-self-sustaining fish farms

-more fish hatcheries

-reduced C02 emissions

-population management -sustainable, renewable energy

-more tech innovation

-mass production of electric cars

-that government will spend more money on environmental things

-solve over-population

-use DNA to bring the extinct back

-technological advances will save us

-new technologies

-my generation is educated about the problems we are facing. The knowledge we have will help us solve the problems

-a cultural change towards valuing sustainability

-social change for a sustainable society

-young people learning more

-more creativity in our generation

-we will be smart enough to think of new ideas

-our fears will motivate us

-there should be more peace between people on earth

-that people believe in the change that is needed



-pipelines (will be built)-air pollution-overfishing-sea level change-watershed contamination

-water scarcity

-losing fresh water

-animal extinction

-global warming


-food waste

-that we will run out of food

-overabundant livestock

-bad waste management

-deforestation (2)

-human extinction through unsustainable actions

-there are too many oil spills that may make a lot of marine life species extinct

-inaccessibility to the necessary resources to find a solution

-I tell myself I can’t help there’s a lot of war and lots of people dying and I am scared people are going to soon ruin everything in this world

-I tell myself I can’t help because I don’t know how to

-lack of caring, denial

-denial of problem (climate change)

-know that I can’t do much to help with this





Part Two: How do my fears and hopes move me forward—–and/or hold me back?

What moves me forward? Youth said:
my desire to make a positive impact on the environment moves me forward-hope, being inspired, my own growing awareness (3)-the desire to make a change drives me forward, i.e. for renewable energy-my passion-my motivation to change something in the world

-my desire to make a positive impact on the environment moves me forward

my own fears move me forward, I don’t want extinction to happen, in order to do that I need to take action, make a change

anger and self consciousness moves me forward because you feel you need to make a change

The lack of change makes me want to do something because others are not

-the beauty of the natural landscape

-I want to be able to enjoy nature for the rest of my life and allow our following generations to also enjoy that privilege

pride about the environment and doing good

-I want the younger generation to see what we see in nature

-I want all animals to exist and extinction not to be a thing

-having animals for future generations!

-fear for animal extinction

-a desire to see humanity live on after I’m gone

-to try to save this earth for those to come

-wanting to make a difference for future generations

-to try to save this earth for those to come

motivational programming like Catching The Spirit that really emphasizes sustainability

environmental programming that educates me

-seeing youth doing things and getting involved

super peers!

seeing the problems for myself

seeing the effects of humans on the suffering ecosystems

seeing and hearing about food waste in china

seeing pollution!

-the concept of sustainable energy sources

-to create sustainable systems (recycling) before over population happens

-re pollution – take small steps that lead to bigger action, e.g. plastic bags to cloth bags, Styrofoam to bring your own containers

-new technologies

-that there might be a future in jobs in environmental work

-that there are many organizations trying to help the environment

-small successes!



What holds me back? Youth said:
-the realization that I’m the only one trying to change something in the world-fear that it is too late to make any changes (2)-where and how to start? Who to help?-technology not advanced enough-too daunting – what resources?

-we have already damaged the environment too much

too much bad things are happening to the environment that would take a long time to change

unwillingness of others to help out

a variety of values

not enough people care about the environment, don’t see a problem, denial (4)

-seeing other people not doing anything

-indifferent, passive citizens, quibbles

-they won’t care about our ideas because we are kids

age…not being taken seriously

no political power to take action

-the fear that I’m in no position to change things – if the experts can’t change things, what can I do?

-thinking I can’t do enough

-I doubt how much I can do as an individual. Even if I take action but everyone else doesn’t, then nothing is going to be changed

-The issue is sometimes too severe and hard to change that I feel useless

-if your hope is too big to come true, you will give up easily

government not doing their share

political disregard

-lack of environmental consciousness from the conservative government

-inaction by leaders

-seeing the government not doing anything to promote sustainability

-the fear of no one standing behind your movement, the fear of disappointment (2)

fear of no support and no results

-fear of failure

-personally? – school priorities, laziness, busy-ness

distractions – social media, sports etc

-laziness, lack of time (3)

-Do I have enough passion?

-today’s culture

social pressure to thrive in the economy and spend all my time making my material life better –cultural traditions hold me back—while some rituals are not the most ethical, they are a part of (my) heritage

-not a lot of money involved in environmental work

-the hope that someone will deal with the issue, some new technology will solve everything



Part Three: Youth identify themes they saw in the written comments re ‘moving forward/holding back”

Holds me back…

-the distractions of life get in the way of action

-we are held back by the big task and our expectations of success

-we are only young people

-that it is too late to make change

-a sense of apathy gets in our way

Moves me forward….

-we are motivated by hope for this generation and those in the future

-we are here to serve this planet

-there is power in numbers – a bundle of sticks is hard to break

-we have a great love of animals and nature!

-education is key

-the current state of drought (in lower mainland/BC) and wildfires opens our eyes – makes the issue tangible and visible



Notes written up by Diana Ellis, Suzuki Elders.

With thanks to Sadie DeCoste and Bob Gunn of Catching the Spirit Youth Society. For more information about the society, see www.catching the or contact Bob at