We are living in deeply polarised times, both politically and socially. These rifts carry over into our lives, families, communities, workplaces. Often, polarisation is accompanied by strong feelings and unshakable conviction, which makes dialogue challenging. How can we connect with each other despite these rifts and tension? How do we communicate in times of polarity?
3rd NOVEMBER 2020: 4.00-6.00pm GMT / 11.00am-1.00pm New York time
As part of our GEN In Conversation Series, we organised a session titled ‘Communicating in times of polarity’. Led by Irina Feygina and Sandhya Dave, we explored the psychology behind polarisation, and the deep identity processes that lead us to take strong positions and defend them vehemently. We shared personal stories and invited participants, in small groups, to explore their experiences of polarisation and belonging. We then explored ways to create dialogue across the divide, and to ease the tension, including open listening, body-based listening, role switching, and exploring the energy behind what disturbs us.
Video recording of the full event:
Following the main event, Irina led an interactive workshop on 17th November: Can conflict and polarisation be a doorway into growth and connection? A hands-on training for transforming inner and outer challenges into empowerment and discovery.
On 1st December, Sandhya Dave led an interactive, deep-dive workshop: Deeper Listening to Polarities Within the Body, giving participants the opportunity to explore further the topic of polarities from a deeper body-heart-mind perspective.
Irina Feygina, Ph.D., is a social psychologist who specialises in the behavioural aspects of policy and program development and implementation for climate change mitigation and adaptation, clean technology adoption, energy efficiency, sustainability, environmental design and communication. As a process-oriented facilitator, Irina supports individuals and organisations to deepen self awareness, strengthen relationships and communication, and embrace conflict as a doorway to discovery and transformation. These tools are helpful for working on conflict and cooperation, overcoming skepticism and supporting engagement, moving from hopelessness to empowerment, and holding space for complex personal and community processes around this vast challenge.
Irina has worked in non-profit settings, including as Director of Behavioral Science and Assessment at Climate Central, in the federal government as a Fellow on the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team and as an AAAS /APA Congressional Fellow in the U.S. Senate, and in academia. Her doctorate work at New York University was devoted to trying to understand the systemic and psychological roots of why people deny climate change and to fostering engagement. Irina writes about people’s relationship with climate change, and the many things it reveals about our inner lives and the systems we live in. Her articles have been published in social science journals and featured in New York Magazine, Psychology Today, Scientific American, and others.
Irina lives in New York City, where she arrived as a refugee from the former Soviet Union. She comes from a mixed Jewish and Armenian family that has faced a great deal of struggle and mistreatment which has inspired Irina’s commitment to social justice, integrity, and her work to address climate change and transform systems. Irina feels the climate crisis opens an important opportunity to witness, acknowledge, and work on the deeply-seated social and racial struggles and systemic inequalities that lie at the root of climate injustice and our inability to take action on climate change.
Sandhya Dave’s background is in Shiatsu Bodywork and Gestalt Psychotherapy. She has over twenty years experience as a body psychotherapist and meditation practitioner. In her private practice Sandhya specialises in birth work with babies, children and adults. Sandhya has recently begun working for Devon Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Services as a specialist trauma-informed therapist. In addition she has run clinics on mental health wards, offers workshops in communities and takes Shiatsu into schools.
Alongside this, Sandhya works as a Diversity Consultant and Educator with Devon Development Education. She offers training to explore systemic racism and the decolonising of our minds and institutions. With The Global Centre, Sandhya delivers on their Cultural Champions programme, taking cultural diversity and anti-racism work into schools and the community. Sandhya is about to embark on a resilience-building project called Growing Resilient Communities in Exeter.
Sandhya is a shape-shifting mischievous goddess who likes to play! She believes in the power of stories for personal and planetary change and how sharing stories can help us to build connections, change the narratives we hold and let go of rigid beliefs held via the body. She is passionate about her offerings to create a more harmonious planet through our human connection and emotional needs being met, so that we all have a sense of belonging, guardianship and ease of being. Her ancestral roots are Indian having grown up with the ecological religion of Hinduism and the discovering of this for herself in its truest essence. Sandhya lives her life being guided by her strong principles of justice for all beings, not just humans.
GEN In Conversation Series is an ongoing online programme of talks and interactive workshops designed for the curious mind. Beginning in June 2020, we are bringing together activists, academics, community practitioners, artists, writers, dancers and researchers to share their insights and lived experiences on a range of topics, including regenerative justice, land rights and colonisation, food sovereignty and agroecology, alternative economics and the conservation revolution, and much more in between!