Moments matter*

Opinion article BY MICHELLE ZUCKER @MICHELLE_ZUCKER

DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY ACTIVATION, EIT CLIMATE-KICWhen it comes to the climate crisis, we are rapidly approaching a tipping point. Not just ecologically, but socially and culturally. The world is taking notice. School children are on the streets marching for their future(s), companies are continuing to pay salaries to employees arrested during non-violent protests, countries are contemplating the end of their geographic existence and over seven million people joined the global strike for climate action.

Despite all of this, there is a recurring question: What exactly can I do?

There are millions who care, but don’t know how to help. Many others simply don’t have the ability to act due to inequality, misinformation, poverty and much more. There is a sense of disempowerment, a belief that one individual’s actions alone are too small to change the course of history. Especially when it comes to changing the climate—an issue we must solve together on a planetary scale.

But we have seen many versions of this agitation in our history, think apartheid, think the end of child labour, think the end of slavery, think women’s rights and suffrage. What if we looked back to these moments in history? What if we searched the lessons learnt and applied them to the climate crisis?

One learning and source of inspiration is that when it comes to social change, the impossible can become possible. For the people living at the times of above mentioned examples, and the many others that are far too voluminous to list, many of them would have told you that it was impossible to change the system. They could never have imagined a different reality. But, through the actions of some, then many, the system was changed.

How the system was changed can be deceptive. The impossible-to-possible looks like it happens in an instant. Often with a person in a powerful position signing a new law, but other times through large groups of people taking power back. Sometimes, like in the case of the Berlin Wall, people literally breaking through walls with small hammers and chisels.

In reality, the moment of transformation is preceded by thousands of small moments. Moments that build awareness, moments that create human-to-human connection across race, background, affiliations and religion, moments that are born from creativity and collective action, moments that ultimately culminate into a pressure so large that the system can no longer stay how it is.

It’s in the creation of these moments that every person can find a way to do something. It doesn’t then matter how small, it’s about the aggregation of moments that make a difference. Think Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat in the white only section of the bus. The actions of one young woman are remembered over 70 years later. Think about a young girl who sat alone on the steps of Swedish parliament refusing to go to school having now created a global climate movement. What if we began to ask ourselves: What action can I take? What small moment can I create?

We at EIT Climate-KIC are working to build a cascade of moments that matter, connected by a collective narrative of transformation. Built with people who, like us, want to act to change the system. We are using the principles of movement building, social innovation and community activation. Our approach is experimental, non-violent and about creating hope—not fear. We are the largest global public-private partnership focused on climate. We have always existed to empower and connect people to use their unique skills, expertise and passion to take action in a collective way. We work with hundreds of partners and thousands of community members and over the past 10 years we have an extensive portfolio of projects, initiatives, programmes and experiments all aimed at system change.

In those 10 years we have learnt a lot. We know about what works, and what doesn’t work, particularly when it comes to changing entire systems (key insights of this learning can be seen in our strategy, Transformation, in time).

Now, we want to use this experience as a global platform. And in collaboration with our community and every person who wants to take action, drive toward creating a transformational moment in history. We want to add to and amplify the energy already created by existing climate movements. Importantly, given our history, experience and breadth of community, we want to help channel this energy and toward major global events and key decision makers. Think Davos, think the World Economic Forum, think COP.

And we’re not alone. To kick this off, we are running a festival of events, interactive experiences and citizen engagement initiatives. For the past two months and leading into the end of 2019, we are working with a variety of people who want to create moments that will matter. We are using performance art and comedy to help people connect to the deeply emotional side of the climate crisis. We are working with a global collective of museums who see their role as the next frontier of citizen mobilisers. We are using science fiction to help us imagine new economic futures as well as deep listening techniques with everyday people so we can truly understand their narratives about climate change, what they need, want and how they want to take action. We are supporting a global collective of motivated youth who are convinced that open, action oriented, self organising communities are key to driving change. And they’re trialling new ways of having climate conversations.

This festival is our way of experimenting and learning ways we can best amplify and aggregate moments. From February 2020, we ask every person, organisation, company or institution who cares about the climate crisis to join us.

For us it’s a powerful, positive and generative answer to the question: “What can I do?” Simply, do what you do but keep connected with the movement. If you do theatre, do theatre. If you do comedy, an art form that reflects back the most awkward and confronting parts of life, think about using your art for climate. If you’re a person who doesn’t feel like there is much you can do, simply have a conversation about climate. Maybe at a dinner party, coffee shop, workplace or parent’s group.

And we will provide you with a place and space to make sure you’re able to tell people what you are doing and why. While we are experimenting, you can get more information about how to get involved by emailing movements@climate-kic.org.

*Working title — which we seriously hope will get an upgrade. That’s because we are bringing together a collective of people and organisations to work with and inspire us to design, create and disseminate this idea. We hope that this idea can spark other people to create their own ideas, approaches and narratives that reflect them, their culture and context. So stay tuned here—we will keep you updated!

 
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