Climate Impacts Altar

To teach empathy on climate impacts

Time: 5-60 minutes (depending on how deep you go) Group Size: 5-50+

Set the stage

Have everyone join a large group circle. In the center place three unlit candles on the altar. Put a few leaves and flowers around the candles. 

Groups may start with a song.


Meditation, Stories, and Lighting of the Candles (15)

Get into your body, feel your feet on the ground, breathe, listen to the wind/trees/birds, look around. Take it all in. 

Now close your eyes or let them soften. 

And I want you to think all the way back to when you first began gathering to this place. Where were you? Were you with anyone? Were your bags heavy? Did you take a car? A train? A plane? Just sit with that image for a moment. 

And now I want you to bring in the feeling of arriving here. Who welcomed you? How were you feeling? Were you nervous? Were you excited? Who did you sit with at dinner? 

Now let’s think back to this morning and breakfast. What else was on your mind? What concerns or stresses did you have?

Let’s take a deep breath together. And feel free to let all of that go. 

Because now, we are here. With our feet firmly planted on the ground. Together. Take just a second to check in with your body. Notice what’s going on there. And take just a few more breaths. 

Now let your eyes blink open. 


Story of Where we are and the Future we’re creating

We are going to build an altar together. It’s something that folks in this room may be familiar with, but it may also be something new for you. This is a way to honor the past, honor the present, and honor the future.

We are going to build this alter together to honor the reasons we come to this work. 


(light 1st candle)

So we light this first candle for the… Past …for the shoulders we stand on, the elders who come before us, whose hands are at our backs, who guide us each day.

(light 2nd candle)

We light this candle for the pain, the grief, and the suffering of the world, and for the connections and love between us and the choices we make everyday to choose change and hope over suffering and fear

(light 3rd candle)

As we light this candle we invite you to hold the choice you made to be here and for the Future … for the world we will build, for the people who will come after us, may this future be filled with light .

As we light this candle we invite you to think of someone or something that you are fighting for .


Thank you.

Honor the people in this room for showing up, for being here, and for joining us for this week and into the month and into the future.


Building the altar

Next: “We asked everyone to bring an object today that represents something that you love and could lose to climate change.” Have a facilitator model this, sharing their story and their object. 

Have people share their story and object in groups of 3. Each person will have a few minutes to share their object and story with that group. 

The prompt is: What is your object and what does it represent?

(If you have the time, this can be done in the large group.)

Bring people back into the large group.


Based on what you talked about, choose one word that represents what you are fighting for. We will go around the group and each person will say their object and what it represents using ONE word. So for example. “My object is a ______ . And I’m fighting for _______.” 


And the rest of the group will say in response: “And I’m fighting for that too.” 

Close with a poem, prayer, or song — and blow out the candles (or leave them burning through the remainder of the session).