As the fifth day of COP26 dawns, PGR in Theatre Natalie Quatermass reflects on the gap between the conference and what communities are doing at grassroots level.
When it comes to the Climate Justice movement do you ever get the feeling we’re all in a film? Like, The Truman Show apart from I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be the unsuspecting Jim Carrey character or one of the actors.
With the COP26 smouldering on the horizon like Mount Doom, we know what this story entails. The Protesters will polish up their wittiest placards and most satirical costumes. They will chant and wail and pray that maybe this time the message will get through. The Suits will shake hands and dutifully receive their 40 lashings from Greta for their sins. They will clap, perhaps shed a tear, and then make promises they have no intention of keeping.
Do I sound cynical? That happens more often these days, I must be getting older. And it suits me more to be an optimist. So when I catch myself getting lost in this epic, doom-filled, completely overwhelming movie, I ground myself and get some dirt beneath my fingernails… literally.
For the last twelve months, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of Climate Action Seacroft: A newly formed, resident led group that have come together to connect around environmental issues and realise action that we can take in our local area. The priorities of the group are to focus on creating a community allotment, growing our own forest garden and connecting with schools and young people. It’s about relationship building, sharing a passion
for nature and community development. Will we stop the seas from rising? No. Will it transform some people’s lives, yes. Unlike many of the environmental activist groups I have been apart of there is not a dreadlock, mohawk or even sniff of ‘alternative culture’, just the ‘…everyday embodied repetitions and practices of care that make modest, yet purposeful contributions to progressive social and environmental goals’ (Pottinger, L. 2016).
When I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the climate crisis, I return to this ‘quiet activism.’ Putting my megaphone and poster paint under the stairs and embracing small, practical changes that can develop into long-lasting, structural change.
At the beginning of his book, ‘Environmental Justice: The Key Issues’ Brendan Coolsaet writes, ‘If histories are stories, they must continuously be told, added to, and retold. Dear reader, I hope you are and may become part of the telling.’
Even in the Truman Show, the extras influence the main narrative. I think it’s ok, necessary even, to step back and reflect upon your role within the climate crisis blockbuster.
Tomorrow’s perspective comes from Geography student and Student as Researcher Sophie Blackburn, currently on exchange in Canada, who will share her findings on how the university curriculum could better prepare students for lives and careers in a time of climate crisis.