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Telling Better Stories...

christensen editJulian Manley and Sarah Deco who organised the day write:

We had a gathering of 26 people for Members Day.
During Andrew Simms' talk on Telling Better Stories, he told us of his journey from involvement in climate change policy and dealing with facts and figures to a realisation that it was the stories told and that we tell ourselves that have the power to change attitudes.
Andrew had included mention of coming to speak to The CPA in an article for The Guardian on June 9th. He said our invitation had triggered an idea about exposing ‘everyday climate denial’ and starting a campaign similar to the campaign against everyday sexism which has so successfully exposed discriminatory actions in daily life. He invited us to contribute by tweeting examples of climate denial under the hashtag #DailyClimateDenial to Twitter account @EverydayDenial.
See a link to more information on this here
He also invited us to experience the power of story by creating them in 6 words giving as an example of flash-fiction "For sale, babies shoes, never worn."
A number of stories emerged and were shared and clearly showed the power of narrative to engage people deeply, even when the story is only six words long.

In the afternoon we had five presentations from CPA members
Tony Cartwright brought our attention to the story of 'The Blind Men and the Elephant' which was discussed in the context of integrative thinking and action. Caroline Hickman initiated a discussion of her research 'Conversations with children about climate change'. Nicole Manley asked the question ‘how can scientists communicate hard scientific facts in a way that resonates with non-scientists?’ Laurie Michaelis shared his thoughts on 15 years working with Quakers on sustainability, and Colin Shaw explored the way in which visual images are used to produce an idealised view of rural Britain.
Member presentations made clear how much important thinking and work is being done in this area and what rich resources for collaboration are there amongst CPA’s membership.
We were also able for the first time to include some members who couldn't attend via Skype. Kate Power who works for the KR Foundation, an organisation committed to addressing the root causes of climate change and environmental degradation, spoke to us from Denmark and invited CPA members to take part in the Hot or Cool project: a collaboration for 1.5 degC living run jointly by the KR Foundation and the Institute for Global Environmental Studies. (Laurie Michaelis, one of our speakers on the day, is also involved in this)




Andrew Simms our Guest Speaker is the author of several books including ‘Cancel the Apocalypse’ and is a regular contributor to the Guardian.

Tony Cartwright

My story is from the Buddhist canon and is the parable of 'The Blind Men and the Elephant', which I will read and discuss in the context of integrative thinking and action. Although we need to keep up with the ever-threatening facts of climate change, we need to think about the meaning of it and the possibility of new understandings it brings about ourselves and our relationship to the world.

Caroline Hickman

Conversations with children about climate change

Conversations about climate change bring us into relationship with our own vulnerability, fragility and resilience as well as that of the planet. I have been researching relationship with nature and climate change with groups of primary school children using art & creative reflective research methods framed within psychosocial theories of defences, unconscious communication and narratives.

Nicole Manley

‘Smooth spaces’ for thinking about climate change.

As an artist (Glasgow School of Art) and a scientist (British Geological Survey), my concern is to find the nexus between these two ways of viewing the world. In particular, I ask ‘how can scientists communicate hard scientific facts in a way that resonates with non-scientists?’ Using the Deleuzian idea of ‘smooth space’ as a way of thinking that is

different to rational, reductionist thought, I ask if this space can be found in the creative arts; if so, I suggest that this might be a way of encouraging new thinking in science.

Laurie Michaelis

Quakers in Britain made a commitment in 2011 to become a "low carbon, sustainable community". I will share what I think I have learned from 15 years working with Quakers on sustainability. I'll also introduce a new opportunity for CPA members to get involved in an international collaboration of experts, practitioners and leaders committed to working for sustainable living, consistent with the Paris Agreement's 1.5°C ambition.

Colin Shaw

For many years I have explored the way in which visual images are used to produce an idealised view of rural Britain. This mythicised view is often at conflict with the actual experience of the visitor. The question is – how do visitors react when they find their preconceptions of a rural idyll dashed by reality, by the less attractive elements of the tourism infrastructure? And are these reactions part of a resistance to understanding the inevitable threats posed by climate change? Do we retreat to the countryside or coast seeking escape and then bury our heads in the sand about issues like sea level rise because it isn’t what we want to hear?