Living Beyond Hope and Fear: Social Confidence and Climate Change

Last January, acknowledging the steady gathering of BSC’s salon on Climate Change & Society, it occurred to us that we had the basis for extending out into the greater Boulder community and engaging one of the most critical challenges of our time.

The title we chose for the resulting symposium, “Living Beyond Hope and Fear; Social Confidence and Climate Change,” presented an invitation for Shambhalians and others to relate not only with the irrefutable environmental change taking place all around us, but to learn how to properly engage change altogether – beyond panic or wishful thinking.

In a letter to participants, our main speakers for the event, Acharya Adam Lobel and author/activist Meg Wheatley, wrote: With a heart of confidence beyond hope and fear, our energy and action can be genuine, potent, and of true service. We are neither pessimistic nor optimistic about the possibility of change; rather, we are committed to discovering its truest source and our most trustworthy source of motivation.

In all, the symposium drew 175 participants, many of whom were not Shambhalians. In addition to Adam and Meg teaching on bravery, unconditional appreciation and the relationship between society, economy and the environment, the weekend included many other voices such as Boulder City’s Senior Environmental Planner, a climate scientist from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at CU, Faculty Director from the Joanna Macy Center, activists from a dozen local climate groups including 350 Colorado, as well as artists, naturalists, and faith leaders from the Christian, Jewish, Sufi, and Native American traditions.

A great challenge for us was how to include many voices in the planning and execution of the symposium and yet not diminish the power and clarity of the Shambhala view. Our approach was to create a large design team that included many from the greater community and then allow symposium leadership to make course corrections as needed to preserve an effective container. (We still have much to learn about this!)

Based on our success as measured by participant and leadership feedback (and positive cash flow), we are inspired to move forward with another event next year and in this way continue to broaden our engagement with Boulder’s extensive climate activist community as well as rousing both our courage in the face of global environmental degradation and our appreciation for this great world.

Friday Night

Boulder Shambhala Center director Melanie Klein welcomes everyone.

Plenary speakers Meg Wheatley, author and life-long activist, and Acharya Adam Lobel invite the dralas with a purifying lhasang...

...and encourage us to open to the full range of our experience as we face the enormity of climate change.

Prompted by the opening talk, we discuss how we might access bravery as the climate crisis intensifies.

When contemplating the uncertainty of climate change, do we come from a place of fear or can we see opportunity?

How do we access new narratives about climate change?

Saturday Morning

Starting fresh, we open further through a guided meditation on feeling.

After the plenary, we are introduced to the leaders of our breakout sessions.

In one session, NCAR climate scientist Paty Romero Lankao examines inequality and vulnerability to enhance resilience in cities...

...and Senior Environmental Planner Brett KenCairn presents the City of Boulder's vision for breaking free from dependence on fossil fuels.

Saturday Afternoon

Meg warns us about the perils of using hope as a defense against despair, and urges us to take climate change as a path to awakening warriorship.

Elizabeth Black explains soil sequestration of carbon in an afternoon breakout session...

...and in another, Curandera Eutimia Montoya leads an exploration of how caring for our own bodies helps us care for the earth.

In Saturday's concluding plenary, we reflect on the power of stillness and patience in relating to the enormous challenge of climate change.

A reception of locally sourced food awaits us...

...where we enjoy refreshment and conversation.

Saturday Evening

In the church across the street, Emily Takahashi plays a tribute concert in honor of her father, world renowned climate scientist Charles David Keeling.

Sunday Morning

We head outside with experienced nature guides...

...each leading us through a different exploration of this natural wonderment of water, trees, rock, sky and earth.

Sunday Afternoon

Rev. Fletcher Harper of Greenfaith introduces the interfaith panel.

Adam Lobel, Habiba Kabir, Vie Thorgren and Sara Bracha speak about the environmental work of their Buddhist, Sufi, Catholic and Jewish faith communities.

Our wishes for the world are shared during a final ribbon ceremony.

We celebrate our new connections and say goodbye.


A Symposium at Boulder Shambhala Center, August 2016


Meg Wheatley EdD. and Acharya Adam Lobel, Plenary Speakers

Reverend Fletcher Harper, Interfaith Panel Moderator

Melanie Klein, BSC Executive Director, Project Leader

Project Co-Chairs

Emily Takahashi

Christine Lincoln

Design Team Members

George Ramsey

RP Whitmore-Bard

Robin Eden

Elliot Kersgaard

Rachel Rambo

Bonnie Sundance

Kate Josephson

Mark Sweitzer

Contributor at Large

Laura Marshall

Lea Basch

Jody Gold

Sherry Ellms

Boulder Shambhala Center Staff

Jim Fladmark, Director of Practice and Education, event co-ordinator

RP Whitmore-Bard, project administrator

Eileen Malloy, event registrar

Karen Smith, project publicity

Noel Smith, event logistics

Mary Sweet, event program

Shelly Webb, Dorje Kasung, Regimental Commander for the event

BSC volunteers for the event including the awesome kitchen crew

Event Sponsors

The Joanna Macy Center at Naropa University

The Authentic Leadership in Action Center at Naropa University

Interactive Session Leaders

Robin Eden and Mike White

Sherry Ellms

Brett KenCairn

Eutemia Montoya

Dr. Paty Romero

David Abramson

Elizabeth Black

Wizipan Little Elk

Ruth Wallen

Micah Parkin.

Nature Guides

Katie Asmus

Allison Caw

Jessica Dallman

Sherry Ellms

Elliot James Kersgaard

Bonnie Sundance

Bud Wilson

Ted Thayer

Lynne Sullivan.

Interfaith Panel Members

Vie Thorgren

Rabbi Sara Bracha

Habiba Kabir

Adam Lobel

Other Contributors

Sensei Alexandra Shenpen - Ikebana

Emily Keeling Takahashi, Pianist and Composer - Tribute Concert

Irene Woodard - Shambhala Ecoforum Chairperson

Laura Marshall, Artist,- Event logo

Justin Veach - Photography

Laura Marshall – Photography

Jacob Richey – Digital record

Scholarships provided by

Contributor at Large

John Cobb

Bayard Cobb

Walter Taylor

Christopher Hormel



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