4 – 6 pm, Sunday 10th March

If you’d like to come, let us know for catering purposes, or just risk it and turn up to:

9 Richmond Apartments, Redland Court RD, BS6 7BG.

(Karen Snodin’s house – it is next to Redland secondary school, up near Redland Green).

How do we make climate change feel like the personal business of people who aren’t activists? For some people, keeping alive and functioning is a major struggle against deprivation or oppression, and every day breaks down into a series of mini-defeats or triumphs, making it almost impossible to think long-term. And for loads of us who aren’t up against it in the same way, we feel as if we are. How can we think about what to do, when our relationships are cracking and creaking, we are so busy at work, the kids have ‘flu, and those beef ready-meals were on special offer?

Like the Transition movement that inspired us, the small Bristol group ‘Older Women for World Change (OWWCh!)’ believes that FEAR pushes people deeper into the addiction of thinking small and short term. But how do you get people to take frightening things on board without evoking fear? We don’t know, but we had a go. Make it local, we thought. Make it real and personal. Don’t preach.

We interviewed people who were not activists, asking them about their lives and relationships in a less energy-greedy, less emissions-heavy past. We asked them what they think and feel about the danger of climate change. We took down their words and Mark Simmons took their portraits. The resulting booklet and exhibition opened in the Create Centre in May and has been touring Bristol since then.

It’s not perfect and it’s hard to tell what, if any, impact it has. We do know that our interviewees have talked to their friends and families about it. That’s particularly valuable because they were mostly from communities which haven’t made the environment a central focus, including South Asians, Somalis, and white working class people. We managed to get most of our interviewees to the launch – you can see the video if you put ‘Living Memories, Future World’ into YouTube, and we had a feast and a speak out. Since then I’ve seen people thoroughly engaged with the exhibition when it was at the Central Library and at Easton Community Centre, but we don’t generally get feedback.

Is there anything to learn from this small attempt? How do we follow through and broaden the activist base?

We’ll be asking this at the discussion at our Tea Party. OWWCh collaborator Adam Nieman asks a different but related question: how can you get through other barriers (other than

fear, that is) to understanding the enormity of climate change? How can you make the figures personal, comprehensibile? How can the big be made small enough to take in? His work with Carbon Visuals, some of which is drawn on for the exhibition, attempts to do this, and Adam will talk and answer questions about this at the tea party.

The exhibition will be on show, and there will be tea-time refreshments available.

Caroline New, 0117 9256740, 0795 772 8477, carolinethenew@gmail.com

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