Spiritual Companionship at the Spiritual Directors International Annual Conference

Spiritual Companionship at the Spiritual Directors International Annual Conference

Report by Matt Whitney, Spiritual Directors International

With comments by Elizabeth Guss, volunteer

From Matt:

I was first inspired by the Climate Ribbon when I witnessed it at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto. I was there on behalf of Spiritual Directors International (SDI), to build relationships and partner with people and other organizations. Our work is to advocate for spiritual companions – people who listen to others on a deep level.

I was moved by the ritual space created by the Climate Ribbon Project. Most topic-oriented art objects I encounter tend to veer into polemics or offer didactic stances one way or another (“Climate change is bad! Stop driving your car! Etc, etc”). What I found resonant is how the Project creates space both for reflection and for companionship. The project invites the viewer in to participate with the work in two ways. It invites the viewer to contribute via writing on a ribbon, to share that which the viewer stands to lose to climate chaos. I took a ribbon and wrote “snow capped peaks” – the mountains I climb with my dad, in which their delicate ecosystems depend on winter snowpack. This was added to the Project, but this is only half of the equation. I am then invited to view someone else’s ribbon, and to hold their contribution as prayer, as remembering, and I would add, as spiritual companioning. Seeing all the ribbons together, in grief and in hope, unites us in our longing and in our action.

Upon returning home from Toronto, my focus shifted to planning for the SDI Annual Conference, which just took place in Bellevue, Washington this past March. As the Visual Media Coordinator, part of my work is to bring artistic expression and visual aesthetic to our conference spaces. The Climate Ribbon Project presents itself as an open-source DIY installation that takes on the shape of the locality and participants in which it is manifested. Between myself and Lizzie Salsich, our Community Outreach Coordinator, we collaborated with the Climate Ribbon Project Team and worked out a plan to bring the project to Bellevue for our conference.

For our local version of the project, I knew that I wanted to reinhabit the memories of my childhood, and build it from fallen tree branches. Together with Kristen Hobby, our Australia Coordinator who lives in Singapore, we went to Bridle Trails State Park, a 489-acre wooded sanctuary near where I grew up, and gathered fallen branches to create the “shelter” for our installation.

Kristen gathering tree branches for the project in Bridle Trails State Park

Kristen gathering tree branches for the project in Bridle Trails State Park

From there, I compiled materials to serve as the structure. Rae Abileah, Project Team Member, sent us a box of ribbons to use. We took our materials to the Meydenbauer Center where our conference was being held, and I entrusted two wonderful volunteers, Missy French and Elizabeth Guss, with the assembly. They did an amazing job, considering I gave them a pile of tree branches, some twine, and some 2x2s and told them to make something based on a very rough “back-of-a-napkin” sketch that I made that morning!

We assembled the structure from local Douglas Fir and Red Cedar branches, to which I have a deep spiritual connection. The finished installation took on the form of a shelter, in which one could stand within and be covered by its thick green branches and breathe in the sweet complexities of its comingled scents.

From Elizabeth:

The 2019 Spiritual Directors International Conference was in my backyard and I volunteered to help with setup and cleanup. Somehow, within the lovely order of the universe, I was given the assignment to assemble the Climate Ribbon project – Northwest Style. What a fun opportunity to reflect in action.

From a simple sketch of a U-shaped arbor, we worker bees assembled lumber to create a frame and draped it generously with freshly-cut evergreen boughs and branches. Putting fir branches on the frame, we enjoyed the clean fragrance reminding us of where we live. Putting up the ribbons from previous displays, we connected to people from other countries with their yearnings and love of nature. The ribbons became both a visual and a spiritual immersion into the beauty of our created world.

Photos by Lizzie Salsich


I reflected on what I would miss, what I loved and feared losing. My two ribbons spoke of my own experience of loving the created world, our common home.

Over the three days of the conference, the ribbons grew in number as others penned their own thoughts. From a sprinkling of ribbons from previous locations, the arbor grew almost opulent with its prayers for our earth. Inside connected to outside with simple materials through loving hearts.


The display provided ritual space for our conference participants – a contemplative shelter where one could find a bit of rest and oasis amidst our rich (and sometimes intense) plenary talks and workshops. It offered spiritual companionship – I saw many participants wearing on their wrists the ribbons they had taken that others had contributed, as shared grief and a walking prayer. It also offered us the space to contemplate action – something that our organization is exploring as we collectively move from our meditation cushions and out into the world in service to our communities and in hope to the world.


When the conference concluded, I helped take the display down. That was the opportunity for me to read more prayers and brief comments on ribbons. It was then that I took a ribbon for my continued prayer. Hana from Wisconsin, some 45 years younger than I, is now my prayer companion in love of Earth.


Our version of the Climate Ribbon Project embodied everything I had hoped for in bringing it to our conference. Its inherent flexibility and open-source nature allowed for us to bring to it our organizational focus on spiritual companionship and contemplative practice. The project inhabits both a ritual and a political space, and brings both together harmoniously – a language which we desperately need in these urgent times. And on a personal level, it allowed for me to create it using locally-sourced materials, as well as the “locally-sourced” content of my own memories of this place; it allowed for me to walk under these trees I so deeply cherish, and to offer gratitude for them. I was able to process the possibility that these things are not permanent, and renewed the vigor and responsibility I have to protect these things, for myself, my 10-year-old son, and to gather with all peoples who too walk under these trees, under these snow-capped peaks, and see that we are all one.

Photos by Lizzie Salsich and Paul Tonnes

Temple Beth Hatfiloh Celebrates Tu B'shvat

Temple Beth Hatfiloh Celebrates Tu B'shvat

It was very moving to hear that Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia, WA included a Climate Ribbon workshop while celebrating Tu B’Shvat ceremony.  (For more info on Tu B’Shvat, please see the next Story below).  According to Nomy Lamm, who organized the workshop:

“In connection with Tu B'Shvat, we held a day-long Shabbat service and workshop, dedicated to the element of Earth and the world of Assiyah. We read a Torah portion that told how frightened the people were when they felt G-d speaking to them through the shaking mountain and thundering clouds, and we drew parallels to the fear we feel when we let ourselves listen to the messages coming from the earth through climate chaos. We connected with the Tree of Life and set intentions, painted little terra cotta pots to make loving containers to grow in, and planted little rosemary seeds to nurture.

Toward the end of the day we brought out Climate Ribbons and asked everyone to think about one thing they don't want to lose to climate chaos, and what they are willing to do about it. It was sweet and deep to witness each other naming these things as we tied our ribbons to a tree outside the temple. Thank you for offering this powerful practice, it wove into our day so perfectly, it was just what we needed.”

Wilderness Torah's Tu B’shvat Tree Celebration

By Rabbi Jill Hammer and Rae Abileah

The Climate Ribbon was featured at Wilderness Torah's Tu B’shvat in the Redwoods near Berkeley, CA. Tu b’Shevat means “the fifteenth day of the month of Shevat”— this day in the Jewish calendar is the Festival of the Trees. This year it began on Sunday night, January 20 and continued until Monday, January 21. The Talmud describes the holiday as the date on which all trees should be counted a year older, so it is known as the birthday of the trees.  This day takes on added meaning now that we must wonder about the future for our oxygen-giving, life-supporting forests, which face rising global temperatures and increases in fires, floods, and other climate-related catastrophes. 

Tu b’Shevat is a day honoring God as a tree-like entity sending its vital energies throughout the universe. In the 16th century, kabbalist Isaac Luria created a festival to celebrate this day: a celebration of the Tree of Life, and he instituted the ritual of a Tu b’Shevat seder, a sacred meal based on the Passover seder in which participants ate fruit in a sacred way, with blessings, in order to release and uplift the sparks of holiness hidden in the fruit. Tu b’Shevat thus came to symbolize the healing of the whole earth. We contemporary Jews still celebrate the Tu b’Shevat seder, often using it as a time to reflect on our responsibility toward the environment. Today, in an age where the earth’s ecosystems are profoundly threatened by climate disruption, Tu b’Shevat is a call to action, summoning us to protect the trees, and the Tree of Life which is Mother Earth.

One way to ritually weave this call to action into our Tu b’Shevat seder is by creating the Climate Ribbon ritual, using a tree (or tree sculpture) in our community. The Climate Ribbon is a global participatory storytelling project that invites participants to share the beloved things they stand to lose to climate change, and commit to protecting all that we can. “Next year’s harvest.” “Clean air and water.” “The future of our children’s children.” The simple, heartfelt participatory project engages participants in thinking about what they love in their specific town, city, or community and about a tangible action step they can take to support a renewable energy-powered future; it’s a collaborative act of story-sharing and commitment-making across generations. Together, our stories and commitments weave a giant thread connecting all of us as we work for a healthy, sustainable planet.

The custom of typing ribbons to a tree, in order to ask for wishes, hopes, and healing, has resonance in cultures around the world — from Tibetan prayer flags to Armenian wish trees — so this simple ritual has a powerful cross-cultural resonance that helps us move through the pain of the climate crisis towards hope and action. Experts have described people’s perceptions of climate change as “depressing,” “overwhelming,” and “unstoppable.” Often it’s not a lack of information that leads to inaction, but emotional paralysis. The story-sharing approach of the ribbon project transcends these obstacles by offering people a way to make climate change personally meaningful, take a tangible action step, and stay accountable to their community.

A story in the Talmud tells of Honi, who observed an old man planting a carob tree.  “How long will it take for the tree to bear fruit?” Honi asked. “Seventy years,” was the answer. Honi asked him, “Are you certain you will live another seventy years?” The old man said, “I found carob trees in the world because my ancestors planted them for me. So too, I plant them for my children.” The story is a reminder that we are caretakers for a world that does not yet exist: the world of coming generations. It is upon us to tend the world so that they will find it healthy, abundant and beautiful. Through the ritual of the Climate Ribbon, we invite you to commit to climate action for the future of our children and their children to come.

This year on Tu b’Shevat, many Jewish communities are creating Climate Ribbons – from Wilderness Torah’s annual family-gathering celebration in Berkeley, to a Rosh Chodesh group in Los Angeles, to a Kohanot/Hebrew Priestess-let ritual event in Seattle. And, Tu b’Shevat this year falls on the same day – January 21 – as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so we have an opportunity through this ritual celebration of trees to truly take Dr. King’s words to heart: “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

Download the free DIY kit for making a ribbon tree in your community!

Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, is an author, teacher, midrashist, mystic, poet, essayist, and priestess.  She is committed to an earth-based and wildly mythic view of the world in which nature, ritual, and story connect us to the body of the cosmos and to ourselves. Rabbi Hammer is the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion, a pluralistic rabbinical and cantorial seminary in Yonkers, NY.  At AJR, she specializes in ancient and contemporary midrash, mysticism, ritual, and contemporary spirituality. She is also the co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, a program in spiritual leadership for Jewish women. Rabbi Hammer is the author of five books: Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women (2001), The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Season (2006), The Omer Calendar of Biblical Women (2012), The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership, and The Garden of Time.

Rae Abileah is a co-founder and co-creator of The Climate Ribbon project. Rae is a contributing author to numerous books including Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for RevolutionBeyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace ActivistsSisters Singing: Blessings, Prayers, Art, Songs, Poetry and Sacred Stories By Women; and Siddur HaKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook. Learn more about her creative projects at Create Well and @raeabileah.

Please see the beautiful photos below taken by Eli Zaturanski, www.elizphotography.com.

Holiday drinks with the Sustainable Finance Initiative in Hong Kong

Holiday drinks with the Sustainable Finance Initiative in Hong Kong

The Sustainable Finance initiative (SFi)’s network of investors gathered together to mingle over holiday drinks and reflect on the past year in Hong Kong.

During the event, they held a Climate Ribbon session in which investors shared what they love and hope never to lose to climate chaos. Key messages shared on the night can be seen in the word-cloud graphics below!

Food Shift anniversary party

Food Shift anniversary party

In addition to scrumptious locally-made vegetarian food and drinks, take-home products like pickles and jams, and a silent auction, attendees at Food Shift’s 7-year anniversary party in Oakland, CA witnessed a beautiful Climate Ribbon display.  Many of them filled out ribbons with their thoughts of what they love and hope not to lose to climate chaos, and these ribbons are now displayed at Food Shift’s office. 

It’s so nice to see Food Shift take interest in the Climate Ribbon, and with the aid of our DIY kit (available on our Participate page), take the initiative and include the Ribbon in their event!

Weaving a Sacred Space for Climate Grief and Hope at the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions

Weaving a Sacred Space for Climate Grief and Hope at the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions

The Ribbon returns to the Parliament with a new focus

In the first week of November 2018, over 7,000 people from all over the world converged in Toronto, Canada for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. The Climate Ribbon was there at the entryway to bring home the urgency of the climate crisis and to demonstrate a ritual pathway for faith leaders to engage congregants in making meaningful commitments to action.

This was not the first time the Climate Ribbon was woven into this conference.

We were at the previous Parliament (in Salt Lake City in 2015), where we set up a large Climate Ribbon installation at the entryway of the convention center. It was an instant hit, as participants were excited to make their ribbons immediately after registering. Led by clergy from many faiths, over a thousand people made ribbons and tied them onto a large story-sharing wall. We took these ribbons to Paris and gave them to UN negotiators at the historic COP21.

In 2018, our focus was different: to demonstrate the power of this simple ritual and encourage faith leaders to take it home to use in their congregations around the world.

A site-specific design

Every Climate Ribbon is customized for a location’s unique space and tone. So, our first challenge at the Metro Toronto Convention Center was how to transform this looming industrial entryway into a meaningful space for reflection and commitment. Using a combination of left-brain ritual technologies (floor plans, tape-measures, etc.) as well as right-brain skills (e.g. divination cards), our Climate Ribbon advance team, Rae Abileah, chose to build a womb-like grove of tree-sculptures with a ribboned doorway.

However, she was smack in the middle of Toronto’s concrete and steel downtown, so finding branches for the sculpture was no easy task. Luckily, a posse of Earth-centric Jewish priestesses, who just happened to have a giant orange cargo van, guided Rae to a nearby forest, along the way telling her the histories of all the green places in Toronto and their connections to indigenous peoples. This “great branch schlep” was completed in the dark of night of All Hallow’s Eve, and by the next morning the Climate Ribbon was ready to receive the faith-filled masses.

This sacred space drew in participants to not only make ribbons, but also to pray and make music together. Here’s a video of women drummers who uplifted the cavernous convention hall and brought people to make music and dance together!

The story-exchange

The Climate Ribbon greeted Parliament-goers with a grove of trees strung with brightly-colored ribbons, and a table on which a simple question appeared: What do you love and hope never to lose to Climate Chaos? Participants wrote down their personal answers to this question (alongside their name, age, and hometown), and tied their ribbon to the grove of trees. Then, looking through all the ribbons tied there, they found a stranger’s story that moved them, untied it from the Tree, and carried it with them throughout the Parliament. In the process of this sacred story-exchange, they became the guardian of what someone else most loves that’s under threat from Climate Chaos — and in order to protect it, they made a vow to take action for climate justice and a renewable energy future.

Typically, when we explain the last step of the ritual, people respond with a shocked, “You mean I can actually take one?! Oh, no, I couldn't possibly do that!” But at the Parliament, we found two differences in the way people responded. First, the written instructions were enough to communicate all the steps of the ritual, (including the last step in which people are asked to take a ribbon home with them). As faith healers, they understood immediately. After all, ritual is the water they swim in. For us, this was yet another proof-of-concept that the Climate Ribbon works really well within faith communities.

Second, attendees took the exchange very, very seriously. In many instances, people were physically struck, sometimes moved to tears, by the invitation to take home each others’ ribbons. They made heartfelt, emotional commitments to each other.

Canada woman.Cropped.jpg

One woman about the waters on the land she grew up on in northern Canada, and shared her story of struggle for her people’s indigenous sovereignty in Canada… After she tied her ribbon up, she palmed through the hanging ribbons and selected a blue one. “What does it say?” Rae asked her. “Oh! It’s about the waters in Canada! How amazing to find a ribbon like mine!” she exclaimed. As it turned out, the ribbon was written by Salim, one of the employees at the convention center. Rae was later able to tell each about the other, and they were both moved. This is why the Climate Ribbon describes the experience as an “intimate solidarity”; people discover their common ground and sacralize their shared commitments in a very specific and personal way.

Abby Mohaupt, Co-Director of the Green Seminary Initiative, shared how crucial a moment the ribbon-exchange was for her. She wore her ribbon on her wrist for the rest of the Parliament, and when she returned to her home on the California coast she was confronted with a question: what to do now with the ribbon? She decided to tie the ribbon around her grandmother’s lamp, a family heirloom symbolic of the light through the generations, as a daily reminder of her commitment to take prayerful and practical action for climate justice.

A new commitment, a new ritual technology  

On the fifth day of the Parliament, after thousands of people had already interacted with the Climate Ribbon, Rae and Greenfaith communications coordinator Brett Fleishman, co-facilitated our workshop. Our general question was, “How do we make climate change meaningful for our congregants?” And our specific question was, “How can we use the Ribbon to sacralize our commitments to action and integrate that ritual into our congregation back home?” After guiding participants through the basic ritual, they asked them to turn their ribbons over and write one concrete, tangible action-step they were committing to take towards a renewable energy future. After exchanging ribbons, everyone took turns reading aloud what the author loved too much to lose, after which everyone declared, “We are with you.” Then, after each individual shared the commitment they had made, the group responded, “Your commitment strengthens mine.”

After the ritual, Swami Dayananda, who is opposing a new pipeline in her Virginia backyard, relayed her thoughts: “I didn’t realize how meaningful it would be to hear people say that to me. I didn’t know how much I needed that kind of support.”


Greenfaith created a facebook live interview with the Climate Ribbon onsite which built the conversation beyond the conference.

Furthermore, the Climate Ribbon was the lead-off topic in the article “Catholics Play a Key Role in Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto.”

What do you love?

At another session, Margaret Atwood, renowned Canadian author, poet, and environmental activist, responded provocatively to the Ribbon’s central question: “It doesn’t matter what I love,” said Atwood. “It matters whether there will be a world for younger generations.”

Margaret Atwood.Cropped.jpg

We now have ribbons from Margaret Atwood, Vandana Shiva, and Al Gore to name just a few celebrities who’ve participated in the project. But the most poignant comments come from everyday climate heroes:

La belleza de la vida — Adriana, 40, Puerto Rico

The Gaspe (accent) Peninsula of Canada, home of my ancestors — Michelle Landry, 67, Thunder Bay, ON, Canada

The livelihood of the crabbing community that has lived for generations on the eastern seashore of Maryland — Chloe Lansdale, 26, Bethesda, MD

The swaying, the crashing, the humming, the cries of my Mother who delivered my ancestors here safely. May we never lose the embrace of her waves or miss the song she sings to us. — Des, 29, Toronto, ON, Canada

On the closing day of the Parliament, as the sacred fire was closed by indigenous elders outside, we untied the ropes of ribbons, and one more woman approached to make a ribbon. She wrote:

My beautiful island of Trinidad and Tobago ~ Future earth for my children’s children ~ Mata ganga in Rishikesh, India — Urmilla Devi Mahabirsingh, Toronto, ON, Canada, 45, and forever young in spirit

The Climate Ribbon @ the 2018 Parliament was created by Rae Abileah with help from many volunteers. The project would like to thank the Bronner family for their generous support, and Rae would especially like to thank the Kohanot, ordained Hebrew Priestesses. The Climate Ribbon could not have happened at the scale it did without their generosity of spirit, hard work, and ritual facilitation. The project is deeply grateful for the way that this group of earth-centered, feminist clergy came together to help create, facilitate, and then take down this offering!

Making an Impact on Impact Investors

Making an Impact on Impact Investors

“New Orleans. Gumbo. Shrimp!” artist and social entrepreneur Ashara Ekundayo proclaimed what she loves loud and clear. Ashara carried the central question of the Climate Ribbon onto the main stage with her as she MC’d SOCAP18, asking her panelists: “What do you love and hope to never lose to climate chaos?” For some, the question was startling. It isn’t every day at a large finance conference that someone is asked something so personal — and that’s exactly why we were there.

As attendees streamed into the festival pavilion at Fort Mason in San Francisco for the 11th annual Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) conference — one of the biggest of its kind in the nation — they were greeted by a grove of sculpted trees tied together with ropes filled with brightly-colored ribbons from around the world. Amidst a sea of corporate booths and sleek furniture, the Climate Ribbon offered something rarely seen at a finance conference: a sacred space for reflection on one of the biggest challenges of our time.  

SOCAP18 took place just days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their eye-opening report concluding that we have a 12-year window to take action to prevent climate change catastrophe. This was exactly why the Climate Ribbon was at SOCAP - to ask attendees: What does it mean to talk shop on “impact” investing, given the necessary impact needed to keep the planet habitable?

SOCAP18 took place in San Francisco, on the occupied lands of the Ohlone people, and included workshops on the rapid loss of land, rural villages and livelihood in Alaskan indigenous communities due to rising sea levels; as well as sessions on carbon drawdown strategies.

Several people who approached the tree shared their experiences with wishing trees in their own cultures, from Siberia to Mongolia.

One SOCAP attendee shared how scarce water was in the small village in northern India that he grew up in as a child. He now lives in a large city in India and has three daughters. He still fears for water scarcity in his daughters’ future, and understands the privilege of constant access to water in urban areas.  

Over and again, people told us how moving the space was and how important it was to have it at the conference. What did they love too much to lose? For one woman it was “beautiful island in Southeast Asia and local communities” (Yuni, Seoul, 33 - see photo below). Joelle, 24, from Colorado, wrote, “My beloved mountains.”

Yuni from Seoul displays her ribbon at SOCAP18

Yuni from Seoul displays her ribbon at SOCAP18

SOCAP365 director Liz Maxwell wrote, “I hope we don’t lose New Orleans,” her family’s home. Rachel, 29, from San Diego, wrote, “A fresh breeze on a warm day.” Adam from Santa Monica wrote, “The livelihoods of the tens of millions of global poor.” And finally, Maria Kim featured the Climate Ribbon prominently in a post-conference post on “Insights Gained.”

Attendees had many ideas of where the ribbon should go next. SOCAP founder Kevin Jones wrote a ribbon, exchanged one, and engaged us in a conversation about what would it look like to have a climate ribbon in every library? Or in the lobbies of global banks making financial decisions? This thought-provoking experience led him to later observe, “I thought how you did the interaction with the people and got them to think and really ponder what they wanted to say, right in the middle of a place where people rush, had a real effect on the social dynamic of the conference.”

At the close of the conference we gave out “seed packets” — DIY kits for folks who want to carry the ribbon back to their communities. As we write, new ribbon trees are being planted in Canada, Holland, India and beyond…

Where will you plant yours? You can go to our Participation webpage for ideas and instructions.

We wish to thank the staff and volunteer team of SOCAP who made it possible for the Climate Ribbon to be at SOCAP18, and the event staff who helped us in the planning, set up, and break down stages. We also wish to specially thank SOCAP365 coordinator Liz Maxwell (who was on the original Climate Ribbon team at the Peoples Climate March in NYC in 2014!).

This Climate Ribbon installation was a collaborative creation by core team artists Kate McNeely and Rae Abileah.

A space for reflection in a sea of marchers - Rise for Climate in San Francisco

A space for reflection in a sea of marchers - Rise for Climate in San Francisco

On September 8, 2018, the Climate Ribbon showed up in multi-colored force in San Francisco for the Rise for Climate mass mobilization. As 30,000 marchers poured through the streets, the Climate Ribbon was there to help remind people what they were marching for.

For one woman it was “Coastal Louisiana: My culture & people.” Patricia from Sacramento, CA, told us how her Unitarian Universalist church community had already woven the Ribbon into their congregation’s meditation labyrinth. As we were still setting up, local Californian Guido stopped by and shared his story of seeing the giant tree we built for the COP21 on display at an eco-village in Southern France.

The Climate Ribbon — this time installed in a striking 12-foot-high two-panel installation, adorned with eucalyptus branches and leaves — was a familiar sight to some marchers, and a novel discovery for others. It provided a space for everyone to ground themselves, go deeply inwards, and reckon in a personal way with what each of us has at stake.

(See our short time-lapse video of the creation and take-down of the Climate Ribbon.)

Some teared up when they realized they were being invited to become the guardian for what someone else most treasured in the world that was under threat by our changing climate — and caught their breath yet again, when they realized some sympathetic stranger would eventually be doing the same for them.

And that was just Day One of what was to be a long week of climate activities, inside the halls of power, on the streets, and in countless people-powered spaces around the Bay. The following day, the ribbon was woven beautifully into a human hummingbird mandala aerial action by the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge (see a 90-second video created by Spectral Q, Dancing Without Borders, and partners).

The Ribbon was also featured at the Multi-faith Service of Wondering and Commitment at Grace Cathedral with our partners at Greenfaith, who launched their new initiative, Living the Change, with commitments from all major faiths to sustainability and renewable energy.

Next up: We’re taking the Ribbon to SOCAP18 (a major socially responsible investment conference in SF) in October, and then the massive Parliament of World’s Religions in Toronto in November.

Love and solidarity,

—Andrew & Rae and the whole ribbon team

A Tree Grows in Boulder: SOCAP meets the Climate Ribbon

A Tree Grows in Boulder: SOCAP meets the Climate Ribbon

On June 20, 2018, SOCAP (Social Capital Markets) convened investors, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders at the Highland City Club in Boulder, Colorado to encourage the funding of climate solutions. As part of the proceedings, SOCAP invited the Climate Ribbon to install a Ribbon Tree and lead a ritual of climate grief and hope. Ribbon co-creator Rae Abileah brought a Ribbon Tree first created by residents of Estes Park, CO. At the SOCAP 365 Chasing Solutions event, over 70 participants had the opportunity to make ribbons and engage with the stories on the Tree. 

Climate Ribbon co-creator Rae Abileah first spoke about the importance of storytelling and art to create cultural change. She was followed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Coral, Chasing Ice) who shared what he has witnessed on the frontlines of climate change, and how his films have sparked conversation on climate chaos in faith communities, especially in the South. The presentations complemented each other in highlighting the importance of narrative and visuals in prompting action.

The Climate Ribbon Tree became a sacred space for people to share their climate griefs and hopes. Participants wrote on ribbons what they love and hope to never to lose to climate chaos (Matt from Denver, CO, wrote: “If temps continue to rise, the trout that I love to fish for cannot survive. You can only protect what you love.”). People then tied their ribbons onto the Tree, found another one that moved them deeply, and became the guardian of that person’s story. This last step helped to build an “intimate solidarity” that now — with thousands of people having shared ribbons at hundreds of rituals  — spans the globe. 

Since the Climate Ribbon was so well received, it may make an appearance at SOCAP 18 from October 23-26, 2018 in San Francisco, CA.  Stay tuned!

The experience at SOCAP 365 brought an interesting lesson home. While we often use the Climate Ribbon to engage communities who have not yet activated around climate change, time and again we see how important it is for people in the movement - from climate experts to seasoned activists - to reconnect with what’s personally at stake for them. The Climate Ribbon creates a meaningful space to do this, helping participants renew their commitments to action and forge relationships with strangers they may never meet again yet with whom they feel a common destiny. This is as true at the huge climate mobilizations (NY 2014, Paris 2015, etc.) where the Ribbon has been displayed, as it is at the many smaller funder and investor gatherings to which the Ribbon Tree has been invited, such as the Climate & Energy Funders Group Meeting, the Tides Foundation in San Francisco, and the Compton Foundation funders’ gathering in Paris

Invite the Climate Ribbon to your next event or conference! Be in touch with us at mailto:climateribbon@gmail.com.

Or, learn how to build your own Climate Ribbon Tree: here and here.

Download our DIY kit here.

A big thanks to SOCAP 365 event coordinator Liz Maxwell who made this installation in Boulder happen, and was an integral team member for the Climate Ribbon’s first-ever installation at the People’s Climate March in NYC in 2014! And thanks as well to volunteer help from Micha Kurz and Munq DeVoe. Finally, our gratitude to the Highland City Club for hosting this powerful evening in their beautiful garden amphitheater.

Elementary Kids Exchange Ribbons Across the Country

Elementary Kids Exchange Ribbons Across the Country

In April 2018, we had our first long-distance exchange of ribbons between elementary school classes. We received an email from teacher Jennifer Doolas, who made Climate Ribbons with her students at a school in Chicago and wanted to exchange them. This prompted us to get in touch with another teacher, Dena Maple, who teaches at a Jewish day school in Encino, California, and she was inspired to do a lesson plan with her students on climate change, and to have her kids make and exchange ribbons with Ms. Doolas’s class. 

Pictured above are some of Ms. Maple’s students holding up their ribbons. 

Would your school like to make Climate Ribbons and exchange them with other classes? Download our Climate Ribbon DIY kit to learn how to do it. And email us at climateribbon[at]gmail[dot]com if you have questions or want help finding a class to exchange with!

Junior Ranger Day at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Junior Ranger Day at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Over 150 children and their families added climate ribbons to a pop-up exhibit during Junior Ranger Day in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Participants were inspired by a baby sequoia tree from the park's native plant nursery to think about what they'd like to protect from climate chaos. They were invited to tie their ribbons to a trellis surrounding the sequoia. By mid-day the trellis was completely covered, the ribbons ran out, and rangers substituted pink flagging material--normally used as markers during resource management projects--for the rest of the event.

A big thank you to Emily Zivot, Subdistrict Interpreter at Sequoia's Foothills Visitor Center, for coordinating the Climate Ribbon activity!  We look forward to more Ribbon activities at future national park events.


The Climate Ribbon as an Activity for Art Teachers

The Climate Ribbon as an Activity for Art Teachers

On April 19, 2018, Megan Stevens led her class in the Climate Ribbon art ritual, and students tied their ribbons onto a living tree at Metro State University in Denver, CO. Megan led her fellow 14 classmates in Intro to Art Ed: History and Philosophy in the ribbon, as part of a presentation on how to use art in the classroom to talk about social justice themes. 

This is a text that one of her classmates sent her after the presentation: "Can I just tell you how much I appreciate you. I loved your presentation and thank you for including us in something so important. ️” 

We agree that the Climate Ribbon can be a meaningful project to do in art classes with students in the 4th - 12th grade. Download our Climate Ribbon DIY kit to learn how to do it. And emails us at climateribbon[at]gmail[dot]com if you have questions!




How to build a tree and facilitate a unifying ritual for a group of 50+ participants

How to build a tree and facilitate a unifying ritual for a group of 50+ participants

Here's the story of how the Estes Valley Indivisible group used the Climate RIbbon project to create a Tree of Unity in the Colorado Rockies... and how you can too. 

By: Rae Abileah and Jasmine Holan

On Sunday, April 8, the Climate Ribbon was invited to Estes Valley Indivisible (EVI), as a main feature at their one year anniversary special event. After an inaugural year of many success, a major challenge that could have split the group was overcome. To mark the anniversary and celebrate coming together, Jasmine Holan and Rae Abileah co-created the ritual presentation, and in the process dreamed up a new version of how to make and assemble a Climate Ribbon Tree, that you can use in your community. The ritual went beautifully and the group brainstormed ideas for how to use the Climate Ribbon in their local outreach, renewable energy campaigns, and community engagement moving forward. They formed a steering committee with eight people to put these ideas into action… stay tuned for more!

Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth invites participation with Climate Ribbon Chalice

Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth invites participation with Climate Ribbon Chalice

Following a successful Climate Ribbon event back in 2015 at the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly, featuring a 5-foot tall “Climate Ribbon Chalice” made from a discarded patio umbrella, in April 2018 the UU’s Ministry for Earth renovated the Chalice and invited members to create new ribbons.  They invited UU climate activists to use the Climate Ribbon to engage members of their congregations in climate justice ministry by creating an interactive community art installation that would stand throughout 2018 and beyond.

They recalled that the Climate Ribbon ritual at the 2015 assembly was particularly moving, with hundreds of participants weaving their ribbons into the chalice. Together, their ribbons created a collective testimony to Unitarian Universalists’ connection and commitment to climate justice, and were used in a worship service organized by the UU Young Adults for Climate Justice, as shown here:

Climate Ribbon Chalice -- Worship Service @ General Assembly 2015 (Portland)

We are so happy to hear that the UU has renovated their beautiful Chalice, into which they will continue to weave their heartfelt thoughts and emotions!

2017 Year in Review

The Climate Ribbon team hopes you’re having a wonderful holiday season. However, we understand if sometimes it’s hard to maintain a cheery face amid the onslaught of national and global crises.  And since you’re reading this, you surely understand perhaps the greatest crisis of all: ever-quickening climate chaos.

We at the Climate Ribbon believe the best way to approach this alarming new reality is head-on – and together.  Much like the AIDS Memorial Quilt galvanized its generation, the Climate Ribbon uses art and ritual and to help us witness our mounting losses, and turn our grief into action.

In 2017, people across the country — from the People’s Climate March in DC to Congregation Nevei Kodesh in Boulder to the Climate & Energy Funders Group Meeting in San Francisco — created climate ribbon installations and committed to using their life force in this unique moment in history to turn the tide on climate change.

In 2018, we’re taking the Climate Ribbon to the next level, with several exciting partnerships in the works, which we’ll tell you more about in the new year.

Here are some highlights from 2017:  

Climate & Energy Funders Group Meeting, San Francisco, CA, April 14

People's Climate March, Washington, DC, April 29

Native Plants & Prairies Day, Dallas, Texas, May 6

Get Organized BK, Brooklyn, NY, July 25

ARISE Music Festival, Loveland, CO, August 4-6

Rosh Hashanah prayer service, Congregation Nevei Kodesh, Boulder, CO, September 21

5 Years After Sandy: We Remember, We Resist, We Rise, New York, NY, October 28

The Climate Ribbon inspired the youth-led Sunrise Movement to launch a nationwide Climate Time Capsule campaign in fall ‘17.

And here are some of the beautiful thoughts people wrote at these events:

  • “Wildlife, birds, trees, flowers, my sanity, soil, recreation, walks by the lake, my joy.”
  • “I will miss the opportunity for my grandson to enjoy nature as I knew it.”
  • “Hope – I pray to never lose hope, no matter how dark it gets.  And, fresh peaches!”
  • “My state – Florida – and all of our unique flora and fauna. The Everglades!”

If you’re inspired to put together some ribbons yourself, you can do so with the help of our new 1-page DIY toolkit!  Let your imagination run wild. And if you do put a ribbon display together, please tell us about it at climateribbon@gmail.com!

And, if you’re inspired to contribute to keep this project going into the new year, please support the Climate Ribbon’s work towards environmental sanity and sustainability with a tax-deductible contribution. Only with your support can we continue our work into 2018 and beyond.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

If you'd prefer to donate by check, please make it payable to "Backbone Campaign” (our 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor). On the memo line, please indicate "Climate Ribbon." Mail your check to: Climate Ribbon, ℅ Backbone Campaign, PO Box 278, Vashon, WA 98070. Thank you. 

Thank you so much for your consideration!  Again, we wish you and your families all the best as our precious home Earth makes another trip around the sun.

For future generations,
Andy, Andrew, Gan, Kate and Rae