Ways of thinking in an Earth crisis
Here are some ways of thinking that inspire our work in Climate Museum UK. We hope they inspire you, especially if you work with audiences, learners or communities to build an ecocentric, regenerative culture.
Putting an Eco Lens on Things
In CMUK, we aim to help people see the world more eco-centrically and holistically. Our contemporary life-ways have separated us from our environs and life itself. The dominant colonial-consumer culture is represented by media, curricula and discourses that reinforce ‘Everyday Ecocide’. We can grow capacities and agency in people to see through these mechanisms, and to tell stories of things that see what has been made worthless or invisible, such as: the whole operating system of Earth; the interspecies mesh of life; or the external impacts of our ordinary actions
We offer training workshops for museums and heritage sites, to put an Eco Lens on Things.
See our Everyday Ecocide collecting project
Once we can see the range of ways in which people are separated from nature, we can build a curriculum or learning programmes for reconnection. Learning is not about filling people with knowledge but creating opportunities for them to develop capacities. Eco-capacities are foundational for the learning that all people need in an Earth crisis, and should be at the roots of every subject or skill-set.
This framework for Eco-capacities is an alternative to Eco-literacy, going much further and embracing physical, emotional and spiritual not just cognitive aspects of learning.
The more we can see and live with eco lenses, and cultivate eco-capacities, the more able we are to prefigure and build a Regenerative Culture.
Our practices can help people open up to non-degenerative ways to live, to see that extractive ways of life are literally destroying conditions for life on a planetary scale and accelerating speed.
See my round up of learning from a Regenerative Culture training course.
Regenerative Culture also puts justice and inclusion at the heart of activism. See our Stories of Extraction enquiry that explored links between extractivism and injustice in cultural work.
See my Regenerative Flip model that shows all the ways we can lever change in the bid system.
Possitopian attitudes to the future
Being Possitopian is an approach to future thinking which greatly expands the cone of the possible future, drawing on geophysical realities and data. It applies maximum imagination to help us envisage future scenarios which are potentially worse or better than we might allow ourselves to think. Read more about it here, where I explain this founding principle of Climate Museum UK.
Possitopian thinking is non-binary, as it allows possible scenarios to be explored within an assumption that we ARE in a context of collapse, and also that the biosphere and its lifeforms hold potential of regenerative recovery. It’s moving from dystopia and utopia as black and white, towards an intertwining of decay and regrowth.
It can be a useful principle for practice with young people who dislike being lied to about the Earth crisis, and who can contribute their vibrant imaginations to future thinking.
Designing interactions and activations
We are a distributed collective of practitioners in Climate Museum UK, coming together to share our learning and explore best practice in engaging people with the Earth crisis.
Some approaches to design include:
Designing activations not shows: In the context of an Earth crisis, the purpose of creativity, art or collecting objects has to be less vague, superficial or performative, and much more about enabling people to feel motivated and supported to improve their lives and change the system.
Being dialogic: Conversations are at the heart of our practice, rather than educating or ‘speaking to’ people. See our guide with many ideas on Creative Climate Conversations.
Trauma-sensitive: supportive and compassionate; democratic and transparent; accepting of emotion; giving choices, no coercion; decoding and defusing beliefs and systems that cause trauma; not rushing, making time for voices.
Inviting voices of experience: See our collecting project Extreme Weather Stories
Culture Takes Action
We have played a founding role in the movement Culture Declares, practitioners and organisations in culture declaring a climate & ecological emergency. We’ve developed this framework and toolkit so that after a declaration, they can take effective action that goes beyond reducing the harm of their own operational footprint. There are eight pathways of possible action, that acknowledge the realities of the Earth crisis and how culture has potential to lever change. It puts culture at the heart of the Doughnut, to create a safe and just space for humanity within the limits of Earth’s operating system.
See more about Culture Takes Action here