So, you might have heard that we had three PLANT delegates, Helena, Kaska and Kathleen, at the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) Gathering in early November at Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth. Scottish Government’s CCF has been funding PLANT and other grassroots projects tackling climate change for a while now. They get everyone together once a year for a day of talks and workshops where we can all share experiences and inspirations. This year was no diffierent and we all had lots of, quite serious, fun, interrupted only very briefly for the silly selfie with the resident Dynamic Earth’s dino!
Below we share our biggest inspirations from the day – hoping they may also inpire you in turn. For the full video record of the event, see Keep Scotland Beautiful website.
Kaska: Taking time to unleash creative memories of a better future
The Gathering always brings in inspiring keynotes and this year was no disappointment. Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement, provided a particularly imaginative and memorable opening act with an extended poem to a “what if” question, based on his recent book “From What Is To What If”.
He wrote the book as a response to an oft heard assertion that “lack of action on climate emergency is a failure of imagination”. The experts tell us that we we only have around 10 years to radically transform human society to stop the worst of the climate catastrophy. Rob asks how we can best put our imaginations to work to “create delicious visions of the low carbon future so irresistible that people would be disappointed if we did not get there”.
He presents his argument in the form of 9 “what if?” questions. It is worth listening to the full talk (unfortunately, the recording from the Gathering had technical issues so a similar talk from earlier this year was shared by the organisers instead).
The “what if?” that struck home the strongest for me, as someone working in climate communication, was:
What If…We became better storytellers?
Despite all its rewarding aspects, work in climate change can be a bit of a dark place. My social media newsfeeds are full of depressing climate facts, and when I talk about the future I tend to give people a taste of what damage climate change will do to our planet and society if we fail to take action. Not a pleasant picture at all. Listening to Rob, I realised that I almost never took time try to imagine the many positives of the low carbon future we’ve been working so hard to bring about! That’s why Rob’s simple idea of creating positive memories of the future as a daily exercise in our climate work feels like such a breakthrough to me.
His idea of future memories is not as coocoo as it sounds, and it has roots in functional imagery training for succesful behaviour change – a technique developed by Jackie Andrade and Jon May. In his blog, Rob gives a couple of nice examples how how we can come together as a community to make such future memories too. One is work by James MacKay who created enchanting paintings of the “future Leeds” with input from the passing onlookers as he worked at his easel. Another is a community “pop up tomorrow” event where people are invited to construct a cardboard future version of their town – incorporating all the improvements they would like to see. I don’t know about you, but I would simply love to see a pop up tomorrow for Tayport! And as far as my climate work goes, it will be 5 minutes of positive future memories a day to keep the pesky climate doom and gloom away!
We will be buying Rob’s book for our little Carbon Conversation library so please get in touch if you’d like to borrow it to find your own ispirations.
Helena: Breaking the silence on one of the last taboos in tackling waste
When I was thinking about attending the CCF gathering in Edinburgh I was expecting to meet up with lots of like-minded souls, all working towards the common goal of reducing carbon footprints in the community, helping create resilient communities and walking a little more gently on the planet.
I wasn’t expecting the Gathering to lead me to have quite so many conversations about a topic still considered a little embarrassing for general conversation, if not also with a hint of the Taboo. I’m talking about periods. More specifically, what we use when we are having our periods.
The CCF Gathering happened at about the same time as the launch of Trial Period campaign by Zero Waste Scotland. The environmental impact of the disposal of single use period products is big, it’s 427.5 MILLION items per year. And some do end up being washed up on beaches -a quick beach clean I did on West Sands St Andrews the other weekend included both plastic applicators and the plastic backing of disposable pads.
The Trial period campaign is trying to give people the push to try reusable options, whether that is a washable pad, a cup or period pants, there are enough options that hopefully everyone can find one they are comfortable with. I have been using a cup and reusable pads for a few years, and I’ve got to say I wouldn’t go back. Not only is there less in my bin, my body seems to like the reusable options better too. Plus, while I had an initial cost outlay, I don’t have to buy new pads every month, just rinse, wash and dry and I can use them again.
The nice lady at the Zero Waste stall give me a couple of demo items, a cup and a washable pad, I’ve already been showing them to friends and letting them know what their options are. Apparently, I have no embarrassment about this and was handing the washable pad around the parents at Scout hut last night while waiting for our kids to finish the Judo session.
Kathleen: arts is essential for transformational change
Wow! What a day for me. It was such a pleasure to be able to attend the Climate Challenge Fund Gathering this November. I saw some extraordinary projects, met some truly inspiring folk and came away with a sense of hope that a sustainable and happy future is possible – despite some of the current gloom and doom surrounding the notion of climate change.
It was difficult to chose just one speaker but if pressed I would say I found the session with Ben Twist from Creative Carbon Scotland really exciting.
It’s difficult, in one paragraph to compress the idea behind this organisation, but basically, having an artist – and this can mean a musician, video maker, painter, puppeteer, story teller etc. – in your local project can enhance the experience for everyone. Ben showed us a couple of examples of previous “green” projects which were artist-led. The first was a great video of a cycling project in Govanhill (see the video above) and another was a project on the West coast of Scotland about rising sea levels. The artists managed to inject imagination and energy into areas that might otherwise have been quite tedious to communicate. The artist-led projects were also brilliant at bringing everyone in the community together.
We believe the arts and culture have an essential role to play in achieving the transformational change to a sustainable future.
Hear, hear! Let’s hope we can get something creative going in Tayport with Ben and his team!