A Regenerative Tree of Life Practice: Nurturing Climate Activists

Merle Conyer offered the collective narrative therapy practice outlined here to activists and community members in Australia who were taking action in response to the climate crisis.  The ‘Tree of Life’ methodology was adapted and infused with nature-rich themes, as well as principles of regenerative practice that nourish individual and collective wellbeing. Participants shared richly described stories about how their agency, actions, and activism were informed by commitments, hopes, lineages, and relationships, and some of the challenges that were overcome. The creation of collective trees and the use of outsider witnessing linked people’s lives through shared themes and fostered solidarity within each group and between the groups located in different locations.

Wider social contribution was facilitated through the exchange of letters between people in different cities who shared insider knowledges for sustaining wellbeing through acts of care for self, others and Earth. Whilst personal to the writer, these ‘Love Letters to Rebels’ additionally represent responses to broader social issues.

Feedback from participants indicated that the workshops contributed to new insights, nourished well-being, strengthened bonds of solidarity and intergenerational connection, and supported sustaining resilience. Gratitude to all the participants for their participation, generosity and contributions to this initiative.

The above video from one of the workshops was created to support sharing this practice. The below guidelines, resources and artefacts have been made available with the hope that narrative therapists will be inspired to offer a similar initiative within your own communities and to adapt the ideas to suit your local and cultural contexts.

This initiative was an Innovation Project for the Masters of Narrative Therapy and Community Work at the University of Melbourne. Here is the Masters paper by Merle Conyer, which describes the initiative in detail.

A Regenerative Tree of Life Practice: Nurturing Climate Activists


This handout guided participants during the workshop. It names the metaphoric parts of the Tree of Life, and provides guidelines for outsider witnessing and letter writing as an enabling contribution.

Workshop guidelines for participants 

Facilitation Questions

Here are examples of questions for each part of the Tree of Life that can be used to prompt conversations.

Tree of Life Questions

Trees Created by Workshop Participants

These are some of the Trees created by workshop participants.

Two groups created collective trees, in recognition that no tree stands alone.  One of the groups created a ‘Mother Tree’ which incorporated themes from all the individual trees in the group. The hope is that Mother Tree will be the start of creating a forest of Mother Trees.

“How trees secretly talk to each other” (BBC News) illustrates the concept of the Wood Wide Web. It was an ecologically-oriented metaphor referenced in the workshops.


Wider social contribution was facilitated through exchanging letters and poems between people in different locations and sharing insider knowledges.

Rosie’s letter deeply moved Annie, and so a reciprocal exchange was then facilitated.

Here are some more letters.

Additional Reauthoring Teaching Resources

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Earth's Environmental Crises and Opportunities for Growth

Considering ourselves ‘citizen therapists,’ part of a ‘global citizen’s movement,’ we are called to jump outside of the box of ‘business as usual’ practices, to invite awareness and engagement. In these changing, challenging times, how do we find ourselves responding? What frees us from immobilizing feelings or denial, what sparks generative action? We, our clients, and our communities can contribute to the kinds of transformation needed through our circles. As we awaken from ‘the disconnect,’ the trance of the eco-cidal, what does it mean to be eco-sourced instead? Let’s explore counter-stories, liberative narratives, visions of possibility and engagement.
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