Solutions to the climate crisis aren’t just about big changes to the hardware of how we get energy and food, use land and water, or design cities and towns. They are also about supporting the software: Us. It falls on us to bear the burdens and work of needed change, and to endure the consequences of ecological damage.
Most attention goes to the hardware. Billion Minds Institute aims to bring similar attention, innovation, and knowledge to support our software: the social cohesion and support, and emotional health and resilience, that comprise the ‘social climate’. Without a strong social climate, we will not manage and absorb the changes needed for a humane, sustainable, future.
Billion Minds Institute will work with others to marshal the knowledge and build the partnerships, policies, and methods, to bolster the social climate. We sit at the intersection of super-sizing and optimizing mass civic-led leadership of the work of climate adaptation and hardware transitions, with integral attention and care to humane and emotionally resilient “inner” software transitions.
Key to that is to update our mental health playbook. This means seeing mental health as a shared effort, with broad benefits, where the skills and tools for mental health, wellbeing, and emotional strength are in the hands of people and local groups, and help communities stretch their own civic muscle.
We have seen how much getting through the COVID-19 pandemic relies on how people emotionally cope and jointly act to adopt new behaviors and solutions in the face of fear and trauma, threatened livelihoods, failed systems, great uncertainty, stark—and especially racist—inequities. The even greater disruptions of ongoing climate change will have to rely on that people power even more.
Mental health innovators, civic organizations, environmental justice groups, and other grassroots and local “anchor institutions” can join in new alliances and purpose to safeguard the social climate. A healthy social climate will support people to be ready for and heal from the only growing toll of systemic traumas, distress, and escalated mental illness, and to take part to solve environmental problems that affect their communities.
Billion Minds has just recently formed and getting started with some US and international-based projects and affiliations under development, such as the formation of a national Social Climate Leadership Group, and efforts to develop capacity in grassroots non-profits as front-lines for the work of community emotional resilience with the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University.
Check in as this website develops over the next months as a guide to some of that work, and a forum for more.
To contact us for further inquiries please connect at firstname.lastname@example.org.