By NOW’s Florence Scialom, written as part of our Sharing Our World series
"The science is saying we must act, the engineers are saying we can act (through sustainable energy use), but how will we act, how will we achieve the changes needed? This is up to all of us..." These were the words of activist and author, Naomi Klein, speaking at Place to B in Paris during the ongoing COP21 climate change negotiations.
There seems to be a sense from many people that COP21 is a significant moment in history; not necessarily because of what is going on inside the negotiation walls, but because of the motivation shown by those in the growing movement outside of the official negotiations. Everyday citizens and grassroots projects are showing how change towards a more sustainable future is possible, and they’re inviting everyone to get involved!
A space for radical dreaming and action
Place to B in Paris is an open space for everyone – particularly artists, journalists, storytellers and makers – seeking to create new ways to communicate on climate change. It is a place to explore new viewpoints and make space for the actions and societal shifts that need to come through. And there is an impressively wide range of people involved: in total, 20,000 participants, from 50 nationalities.
I’d like to share a snap shot of the types of people and projects I've connected with while staying at Place to B; projects not instigated by politicians or corporations, but by everyday people motivated to take action on climate change. These people are helping to answer the call set out by Naomi Klein - showing how we can make the shift needed to tackle climate change.
Climate Heroes is a non-profit multimedia project and educational essay for the public, which gathers worldwide stories of men and women, citizens, scientists, media and entrepreneurs who have started acting to elevate consciousness about, mitigate, or understand climate change. Through the positive examples they provide, they can serve to motivate others to start mitigating climate change, through small daily acts or larger scale actions, as shown in one of the Climate Heroes videos below.
At Place to B, Climate Heroes Founder and Photographer Maxime Riché explained that his hope for the project was to celebrate the human stories of those acting on climate change, to create an emotional connection with others and inspire action. The stories shared via Climate Heroes encourage reflection on the true nature of happiness and wellbeing; there are many examples of people embodying a joyful life through (re-)connection with nature and respect for the environment, rather than through excessive consumption of material goods.
If Not Us, Then Who?
If Not Us, Then Who? communicates – through film and visual material – the firsthand, unique personal stories of traditional and indigenous people who live in the world's forests. Forests play a major role in stemming the effects of our rapidly changing climate by absorbing an estimated 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. If Not Us, Then Who? highlights the challenge of deforestation, as well as the opportunity of learning from indigenous wisdom, in order to adopt community-based solutions. After 14 months and 14 events in 4 countries, the If Not Us Then Who? global roadshow has culminated in Paris for a 7 day exhibition that started on Thursday 3rd December.
Sophia Cheng, Communications Manager at If Not Us, Then Who? explained to me that, "the exhibition in the centre of Paris has been created as an umbrella space for our indigenous partners to meet and share their stories. We hope to lift these stories out of the environmental movement, out of the charity sector and into the general public, to show the indigenous peoples around the world protecting the forests on which we all depend."
Sophia also added that, "a sense of belonging deeply affects our wellbeing and therefore our behaviours. The indigenous partners I have been working with have in many cases faced hardship and violence, but their strong sense of belonging helps them in the face of adversity. It is truly inspiring to witness."
This post shares just a few of the many projects that I've come across through staying at Place to B. Other inspiring projects I came across there included Projet Decroissance, The Grassroots Directory, Sustaina Claus, Ashvillage, The Witness Tree, and many more! To find out more about Place to B visit their website, and check out social media updates via #P2BCOP21.
You can also follow NOW on Facebook and Twitter to get further updates, and check out our photos from Place to B here. For further posts on the links between wellbeing, the environment and climate change check out NOW’s Sharing Our World series, timed to coincide with Buy Nothing Day and COP21.