New offering from With Many Roots

Sophia Cheng / 10 min read / Newbie Entrepreneur Life
5 June 2020
aka Corona-induced existential rethink

Now offering Climate Crisis Workshops Online ‍

I’ve realised I’m one of the lucky ones in this pandemic, hiding away from the frontline and working from home. It has, however, forced me to rethink, to reevaluate how useful I am being when it comes to tackling the climate crisis – the reason I gave up travelling and returned to the UK in 2019.

I was gearing up to offer workshops in real life when corona hit. I then stayed quiet and immobile, initially very anxious, I spent time reflecting on what the pandemic might mean for the climate movement as the skies cleared and the birds took over. An old friend of mine announced she was pregnant while I was making myself read The Uninhabitable Earth. The contents divulge just how vulnerable our global food system is and how we’re likely to hit a 2 degree warmer world in my lifetime. When I thought further into the future at the life of this unborn child, I crumpled into a heap.

What’s the point? We’re not going to turn around things in time. Can I escape into a parallel universe where none of this is happening.? Also maybe that I should quickly try and get pregnant so we could have babies together like we said we would(!). Cue self-pity. I was about to be really useful but coronavirus has thwarted all my plans. No one will be interested in these workshops now nor will corporates be prepared to pay. Therefore you will fail, so don’t bother trying.

But I’d made a few decisions to myself in the last 18 months or so:

  1. That I am dedicating myself to being useful in the climate crisis in this decade – because what we do in these 10 years will have ramifications for the next hundred. And really, if I think about it in a different way, it is a very unique moment to be alive!
  2. Being as useful as I can does not equate to having a child/adopting right now for me
  3. I promised myself I would keep my eyes wrenched open and not allow cognitive dissonance to creep its way back in

So after a few wholesome conversations I began to pick myself up off the floor. I trained up on delivering the workshops online and in fact tested a whole series of workshops with willing volunteers. And it dawned on me: I can do online facilitation well AND pandemic restrictions does not have to restrict our learning.

And for a super-injection of motivation, the Hay Festival online meant timely words from wise people.

Author Mark Lynas shared the idea that believing it’s too late to act on the climate crisis is another form of denial. Any reduction in warming is worth working towards, 4 degrees is better than 5, 3 than 4 etc.

And Christiana Figueres.

I booked in strategy sessions with Monisha Bajaj to structure the business and work out my offering and priorities. I also dug in to establish good processes from the get go. Then I used branding workbooks from Melissa Packham’s A Brand is Not a Logo and mapped out key audiences to target, analysed my marketing channels and worked out a sales funnel. All things I have done many times for many external projects but had never quite managed to do for myself.

From I to we

Another big change is that I am working with Jayme, life partner and personal wellbeing officer, to bring this to the world. He is taking on a lot of the admin and marketing. While I struggle to share the load some of the time, this opening up will provide the stamina and scale to get this off the ground.

Including inequality

My learning about what it’s gonna take to curb climate change has pulled the wool from my eyes on systems. It started with the climate science and cutting carbon, then into challenging climate silence and capitalism, and now to inequality and colonialism. They are all interlinked, and now I can’t un-see it. (More of those thoughts here.)

So here goes:

Given the urgency and how pivotal the next few months will be in terms of industry bailout that may well lock in degrees of warming – we are biting the bullet and putting the business out there.

With Many Roots is now more than a blog; we now offer workshops, mentoring and words on the climate crisis. Here’s the tagline:

The climate crisis together with rising inequality is the biggest issue of our time- through workshops, mentoring and words, With Many Roots will help you find your place in the movement.

And here’s the sales pitch:

With Many Roots is providing a series of workshops aimed at tackling climate science and climate silence. In small friendly groups, online or offline we’ll learn, debate and challenge ourselves, covering the complexity of the climate science and solutions to building confidence for climate conversations.

There are currently 2 workshops and one-to-one EcoMentoring available:


1. Get to grips with the climate science: Climate Collage

Understanding climate science is hard but it’s important we get to grips with it, whether we’re activists, work colleagues or students. Join an online interactive workshop to look at in more detail, learn together and challenge our assumptions.

The Climate Collage turns climate science into a game, more than 50 000 people have played it worldwide. After being trained up to facilitate this workshop in real life, Sophia Cheng brings us this workshop online.

Group size is limited to 6 people online, 8 offline | Workshop is 2.5 hours including a break

Ideal for teams or local groups.

Find out more

2. Tackling Climate Silence: Your Climate Story

Storytelling is the oldest form of learning. And when it comes to the climate crisis, facts and figures are not enough, we need an emotional connection to the issue.

This is the power of good stories. To have better climate conversations let’s also explore our own climate story. This workshop will encourage us all to be better storytellers.

Using findings from Climate Outreach and neuroscience, we’ll make a start on drafting our own climate story

Group size up to 20 online | Workshop is 1.25 hours

Find out more.

3. One to one mentoring: EcoMentor

(I’ve mentioned this one before.) EcoMentor is a one to one service for people who are ready to act to address climate change in their daily life. Creating a space for down-to-earth and practical conversation, EcoMentor uses a relatable voice to work with mentees.

EcoMentor shares insights helping people feel empowered. Ultimately, providing the support needed to move people from apathetic and well meaning to active and intentional.

Find out more.

Why workshops?

I’ve thrown myself into climate activism since April 2019, from protesting on the streets, leafleting, to stand-up comedy and civil disobedience. I also gave public presentations on the climate science, part of XR’s Heading For Extinction work and I loved it. But I want to operate on three different levels; one-to-one, one-to-few and one-to-many.

I keep returning to the idea that education feels central to the climate and inequality crisis. And I don’t mean formal education, with right and wrong answers. I mean creating safe spaces where we can grapple with difficult topics and unlearn many of the ideas that directly or indirectly harm ourselves, each other and/or the planet. Being “on a constant learning curve” was one of my mottos for my 20s, I love learning and I love sharing that learning in interesting, creative ways. There are plenty of webinars and youtube videos if you want to learn – but I’ve found that interactive learning can be more fun and help things stick.

And with my focus on impact I wanted to create opportunities for people to learn with me. I’ve been experimenting on workshops about climate conversations, the green new deal, writing climate fiction – all sorts. And to bring in other brilliant facilitators on different topics. But it made good business sense to focus on one or two just now.

So we’re starting with the Climate Collage. And I bet my right arm, that in someway shape or form nearly all of us might benefit from a better understanding of the climate science. Most of us weren’t taught this in schools. And campaign groups can get ahead with their messaging.

There are a lot of assumptions that we all already understand the mechanisms of climate change. We might know climate change is bad – but why? And how does it increase the temperature of the ocean? How does it lead to more hurricanes? And what’s the difference between a glacier melting and sea ice melting? What is a feedback loop or tipping point? Why do wildfires become more intense? Why is the coral reef dying off? What activities create the most carbon emissions? No doubt you’ll have plenty more questions too.

In two and a half hours, this workshop will bring you up to speed with the complexity, you’ll get to ask plenty of questions. AND you’ll have created a resource you can keep coming back to.

Now you know the science – you can all get on the same page. Now you can go forward and have really meaningful discussions with your team, school or community group about how you’re going to tackle it. Knowledge is power.

To get the ball rolling, we are running monthly pay-what-it’s-worth sessions – you can book your spot over on the very new Eventbrite community page.

Fancy giving us a boost?

If you’ve read this far down you’re either very interested or very kind! Thank you!

Here’s the thing: we could really do with all the help we can get. You can reach people we can’t.

If you’d be interested in participating yourself OR even better, can organise a group yourself for Climate Collage (up to 6) – it could be your Womens Institute group, your work colleagues, writing group, etc. OR you could pass on any of the links below to people you think might be interested.

We want to make this venture sustainable so we’re charging for these workshops. The corporate rate allows us to run more free workshops for grassroots groups. There is a more modest fee for non-profits and a pay-what-it’s-worth rate for individual participants. Ten percent gets donated back to Climate Collage, and as a business we donate 10% of my profit each year to charitable organisations as part of the Giving What You Can Pledge.

Stuff you can share with your friends and colleagues:

Drop us a line at [email protected] if you have any questions.

Thank you in advance for any support you’re able to give.

Let’s do this.

Sophia and Jayme

More backstory

Thanks to Melissa Packham for the opportunity to share more of my rationale.

Acknowledging the people that have given me (Sophia) lots of boosts already and linking to their websites. Thank you! I am vouching for them personally and professionally here:

Avatar photo Sophia Cheng With a decade of communications experience across the for profit and nonprofit sectors, agency and in-house, Sophia has made a habit of making ‘the hard stuff’ more accessible. Since 2018, she has reorientated her life around the climate crisis. She has forged her decade of communications experience into offering workshops, mentoring, blogging, and more, on the biggest issues of our time. View all posts
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