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Deep Dive: West Kootenay EcoSociety’s deep engagement campaign finds common ground for climate solutions

Climate change is drastically affecting the way we live our lives. This year alone, parts of Canada have seen devastating floods, wildfires, mudslides, droughts, heatwaves and more. These trends aren’t expected to disappear any time soon: we have an urgent need for bold climate solutions that can mitigate future destruction to our livelihoods and communities. 

And yet, people in Canada feel divided about climate change. There’s disagreement about which solutions we should be pursuing, if any, and how to create lasting change that sufficiently responds to the scale of the challenge we’re facing.

West Kootenay EcoSociety’s deep engagement campaign is searching for common ground among people who disagree with them about climate change by listening closely and identifying ways to move forward together.

The deep engagement campaign stages “vulnerable, emotional and non judgemental” conversations with people in the West Kootenay region that aim to find points of connection with people who have different views on climate change and Canada’s response to it.

The practice of deep engagement, or deep canvassing, uses deep listening to the concerns of people who have complex or conflicted views on a given issue. The canvasser focuses on making connections and building a relationship with the person being canvassed by sharing from their life experiences and getting to the emotional heart of the dividing issue. Through honest and vulnerable conversation, the person being canvassed is encouraged to shift their views on climate in lasting, meaningful ways that cut through polarization.

The West Kootenay EcoSociety is using deep engagement to build a populist climate movement focused on support for Canada’s clean energy transition. Since 2020, they’ve knocked on hundreds of doors and made thousands of calls to connect with people in their community whom they normally wouldn’t get the chance to speak with.

One of the outcomes of their deep canvassing work is Living Here, an independent journalism project that shares stories of people who are building sustainable communities in rural areas and small towns and addressing some of the environmental and social challenges facing people in British Columbia. You can read some of their recent stories here.

Since October, the West Kootenay EcoSociety has been integrating some of the key questions of the Green Resilience Project into their deep canvassing work. These questions include:

  • How are changes to the local environment and economy affecting you, your family or your community as a whole?
  • How are these environmental and economic changes connected to each other?
  • What are some possible solutions, and how do you think they can be achieved to build, maintain or strengthen community resilience?

Over the course of the Green Resilience Project, they’ll speak to over 100 individuals and families about the links between climate change, income insecurity and community resilience. We’re looking forward to hearing about and sharing insights from these conversations when they conclude in the new year.For now, if you’re in the West Kootenay Region you can sign up to be a deep engagement canvassing volunteer.