I have been facilitating climate collage workshops since June 2020, and one word always comes back to describe the learning experience: eye-opening.

Climate change is a complex topic and the collage workshops make it more accessible and fun. For me, the day I played it changed everything. Who knew learning could be such a revolutionary act?

I remember discovering climate change in high school. Back then the first reports on the catastrophic consequences of its disruption by human activities had already been issued and yet science books weren’t talking about it this way. Like all of you probably reading this, I was taught that climate change is a normal phenomenon—and it is. But I was never taught clearly that humans were changing the course of action, accelerating the processes and therefore creating a problem that would threaten the livelihood of billions of humans down the line.

1990 is the year the first IPCC report came out, alarming governments and the business world that we needed to act.

Yet we are still here. 2021. No matter how much more we hear and see the word “climate crisis” in the news lately, the reality is still the same: nothing is being done to slow the process down. The measures governments and businesses talk about are outdated, naive, dangerously useless.

I truly believe the reason we aren’t all panicking and letting our creative minds run wild for solutions right now is because we have no fricking clue what the ecological and climate crisis mean for us in reality.

My first attempt at craftivism: Make climate education more accessible. 👁

This is why I am so eager to keep facilitating #ClimateCollageWorkshops now. We need to talk about it more. We need to know about it. We need to imagine a different way of life for us and our fellow humans.

And in between workshops, there is Craftivism. Craftivism is using arts & crafts for activism, raising awareness on topics we care about, be it the climate and ecological crisis we are facing right now, racism, sexism, ableism, and all those -isms that need more forces to join the ranks of fighters for system change. I first learned about it through Instagram thanks to Sarah Corbett’s project, the Craftivist Collective.

Craftivism is a gentle form of protest is perfect for those of us who don’t have the capacity to join marches, but it is for everyone who would like to resist any aspect of the system they don’t find fair, using a skill that is not fairly recognized by our modern world either. In itself, making things with our own hands, our wonderful minds, is an act of resistance. These days we assign value to ‘tangible’ things and ‘hard’ science, forgetting that a song, a painting, or a poem can have a truly healing and powerful impact on both the maker and the listener, viewer, reader.

The Craftivist Collective Manifesto

Craftivism isn’t only about bringing an issue to others’ attention, but it is also a time for the maker to process ideas and feelings that arise when we learn about heavy topics. Sitting with the feelings that come with learning facts, whether it’s about fires destroying houses across the world, seeing how the demands of the modern world takes away lives, or getting to grips with systemic racism, is not easy. Unless someone, something, pushes us to sit with our grief, our sadness, or our sense of betrayal, it is something we constantly keep for later. It’s uncomfortable and scary.

Embroidering my words and my eye over a weekend helped me stay present with those emotions. It is a time where I get to process ideas and thoughts, feelings and states of mind. I connect the dots, I understand. The more I sit with my emotions, the more I find a sense of clarity and urgency that allows me to take meaningful action. It’s not a coincidence that just as I start doodling and embroidering more of my feelings, questions, and facts about the climate, the more I feel ready — brave and almost hopeful — to talk about the issues, and to guide others on that path of awakening. Not awakening for the sake of it, but because our world, our planet, our people, desperately need us to wake up and act.

Will you join me?

About the Author

Ely Bakouche

I'm Ely, pronounced Ellie, or /eli/ if you speak phonetics. I'm the maker behind EB's Notebook, where I explore other ways to live and work as a creative, always keeping in mind the sedentary, competition-obsessed, productivity-centered world we live in. Click 'about' to learn more about this space, the people who help me bring it to life, and the other projects I'm involved in.

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