Creativity and Community

Daphne Pleace / 5 min read / Inspiring Activist
8 February 2024

The power of community could not be more apt with our latest Inspiring Activist. Ely and Sophia have been in the same online community since 2019, joining regular conversations on environmental topics. One day Ely wondered if we had heard of a new workshop she’d experienced in Shanghai back in 2019. Not many people had heard of it back then; it was called Climate Collage (now Climate Fresk) . It was just what Sophia was looking for in her pursuit of being useful in a climate and ecological crisis, by February 2020 Sophia had trained up in the tool and was delivering the session to her local activists in her hometown. At that time less than 20 000 people had participated. More than 10 of the women from the original community now take out this tool to various audiences around the world. Today more than 1.5 million people have participated. Talk about ripples building to waves.

What concerns you about the world today?

Ely called this “the Big Question”. She said all humans need the same things; all of us want safety, love, acceptance, and yet we don’t see that in each other. She spoke about how she sees the same pattern in all crises, in all wars. She referenced Palestine and Ukraine specifically saying, “it’s our inability to see each other as human beings” and that money and status are seen by many as more important: ‘business as usual’ is still the predominant model. She is concerned about our ability to withdraw from what is becoming more and more obvious.

Watch Ely’s version of Nick Wyke’s sea shanty – No birds in the air, no fish in the sea – 2021

What positive contributions are you making?

Like many of our Inspiring Activists, Ely facilitates Climate Education workshops with Climate Fresk, and she hopes that her strengths lie in helping others see beyond what is to be seen on the surface. She says “I see creativity as essential to everything I do”. Explore Ely’s creative blog and Instagram, see links below.

Ely is another of our activists who calls herself a ‘craftivist’: emphasising community and nature connection via her collage and embroidery work.

One of Ely’s collages

Have you had to make any sacrifices?

As a privileged person living in the global north, Ely finds this question a difficult one. And yet she comments (she’s definitely not alone in this) how she feels her mental health can suffer. She can easily feel over-stimulated or overwhelmed. She’s aware of her need to rest – hence using craftivism as a way to be an activist.

How do you stay motivated?

Ely sees community as her greatest motivator and an antidote to everything. She reaches out to friends and other means of support whenever she can. She spoke about how she values the community currently constellating via With Many Roots: the Understory Collective for the group of climate education facilitators working with With Many Roots. (Look out for updates on the Understory Collective coming soon) 

Another of Ely’s collages

What gives you hope?

Ely had several responses to this question, starting with “people’s kindness and generosity and those who dedicate their lives to climate work solutions in general.”

She also spoke highly about people who she feels are “brave enough to be vocal”.

What if…we make the changes needed, what will your world in 2030 look like?

“Greener cities, less concrete and more woods, lakes and forests” was Ely’s immediate answer to this question! And to enjoy this better environment, we humans will be more “slowed down”, we’ll work less, spend more time in the natural world, more time volunteering, and less time travelling – living and working closer to our homes.

A book that has helped you grow

Ely appreciated the balance of science and the author’s own experience, and said how the book has helped her to embrace her own need for quiet.

A song that keeps you going

A quote that lifts you up

“I beg you to have patience toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you now because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke

Your message to the world: imagine we gave you a microphone and every person on the planet can hear you, what would you say?

Ely told me she had been thinking about this, but didn’t know how to put her thoughts into words… nonetheless, she said this, which I found beautiful and an antidote to the more fevered busy-ness around climate activism:

“There is no urgency. You have the right to have conversations, to rest, to press the pause button. You have time to look at the clouds, to smell the flowers, to put your feet in the sea”.

Rushing to get this piece finished, I will remember that, Ely: thank you!

Avatar photo Daphne Pleace Yorkshire, UK Daphne is our well-being director and in-house writer. She has over 50 years’ experience of ‘people’ work in a range of contexts. She has been, or still is, an English and drama teacher, a counsellor in educational and relational settings, a psychotherapist, and a facilitator and mentor in both personal and professional developmental contexts. She chooses now to devote her time and skills to individuals and organisations working with the climate crisis. View all posts
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