Starting the Conversation: A Powerful Way to Change the World

— by Deb Matlock, M.A. —

2017 Update: Join our growing community in our Conservation Conversations and share your own beauty and wisdom to enrich our tapestry of purpose and connection with Life.

Discussing challenging topics in a community meeting.  Sharing stories around a campfire.  Entering an online chat room with people from around the world.  These are all examples of ways to engage in conversation with one another.

Years ago, at the end of my time in graduate school, I found myself pacing the floor of my hotel room a couple of hours before the final presentation of my thesis work.  My topic, the rhythmic connection between people and the earth, had taken me on an extensive journey through many cultures, disciplines and time periods.  In presenting this material, I wanted to offer people a glimpse of my discoveries as well as make months of work accessible in a short time frame.  I had a very well-planned presentation ready to go, but it just did not feel right.  It felt too orderly; too contrived.  I really wanted people to experience this topic and explore it for themselves.  

As I paced the hotel, I asked for guidance…essentially begging the universe to help me figure out a new way to present this material…quickly!  I heard the message “just start the conversation.”  These words stopped me in my tracks.  They made so much sense.  Of course, I did not need to have the “answers.”  In fact, as is often true in life, there are no answers…only questions that lead us on journeys into new ways of thinking and being.  This concept of starting the conversation has  influenced my career as an environmental educator and presenter ever since..

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Earthfire Retreat – Photo by Earthfire

This is the same philosophy that underlies the Conservation Conversations at Earthfire Institute. Bringing together people of different backgrounds and various areas of expertise allows for some interesting, thought provoking, and potentially culture changing conversations.  There is an ancient power in our ability to discuss ideas with each other.  Of course, the natural following to a powerful conversation is action of some sort leading us to live differently.

We would love to have your input. In your own experience, when have you experienced a powerful conversation that inspired you to do something differently or make a change in your life?  Was this conversation small and intimate or did it occur in a larger group or more public setting?  In our current climate, where should we be having more conversations?  What should we be talking about?  How can we each start the conversation in our own communities?

Deb Matlock has spent twenty years working as a professional environmental educator and naturalist. Her work includes teaching indoors and out, offering trainings and presentations, and designing and evaluating EE programs. Deb’s research on the connection between spirituality and environmental education has been presented nationally and internationally. She is pursuing a PhD in Environmental Education at Antioch University and is Past Board President for the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education.


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