They may have been seen in Cambridge holding signs against climate change, and peacefully crossing their legs, with their eyes closed.
They call themselves Awakening for Earth, a group of approximately 20 “spiritual practitioners” who gather every Sunday, 4-5 p.m., for public outdoor meditations in an attempt to “bear witness” to the current climate emergency and awaken others to take action.
Vicky Ii, one of the initiators of the meditation, said the group first formed two years ago when Buddhist meditators in Cambridge decided to create an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, a nonviolent direct action group that challenges governments’“criminal inaction on climate change.”
Ii said there’s a time for action and a time for quiet.
“We create what we call a ‘meditative space’ because we feel that there’s room for that,” said Ii during a meditation outside the Central Square post office.
David DiRocco, the co-coordinator of the group, began meditating with it four months ago. He said he was drawn to the members’ peaceful and welcoming way.
DiRocco said in a telephone interview that “I like to offer a space for people who want to join without having their body at risk of arrest or attack or any other similar.”
“There’s no anger, and there’s no blame,” he added in a follow-up interview at an early December meditation while packing up his co-demonstrators’ signs.
Spreading the Awakening For Earth message
Passersby stop and ask questions. Sometimes they even take part in the meditation. George Tang, 22, joined the meditation last Sunday by signing up with a sign.
“Though I didn’t sit there for long, it really warmed my heart when people passing by showed their support,” said Tang.
The 20 or more meditators who meet each Sunday have their own Cambridge “pod.” And although the group was founded in Cambridge, pods have already popped up in Newburyport, as Awakening for Earth continues its outreach.
A newly joined member is trying to form an pod in Framingham. DiRocco stated that he is considering starting one in Northampton, as he will be moving there soon.
Meetings in virtual groups
The group meets every Sunday from 11 a.m. to noon. A volunteer will lead a prayer and then lead a half-hour-long meditation during the virtual meetings. Members who wish to have deeper conversations can break up into smaller groups following the meditation.
As the weather turns colder, the group switches to virtual-only. Members stated that this Sunday, December 12, will be the last in person meditation until spring.
In Cambridge, there’s an appreciation for these peaceful meditators. During the Dec. 5 event, a woman walking by, stopped to read the signs: “Facing the Climate Crisis,” “Join Us to Take Action.”
“Thank you for bearing witness,” she said.
“That’s what we’re doing,” said Ii. “We bear witness.”
Visit www.eventbrite.com for up-to-the-minute updates (e.g. cancellations due to the weather), reminders, and general information regarding the events. the group’s Facebook pageRegister for the mailing list at Awakening for Earth websiteOr Extinction Rebellion website.
Phoebe Chen is an undergraduate journalist who writes in collaboration with the Boston University and Cambridge Chronicle.