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How the Climate Imagination Network is dreaming of a better world

How the Climate Imagination Network is dreaming of a better world

Joshua Nordiff
|December 1, 2022

the international community has COP27, but the climate crisis continues. What would our world look like if we got it right?

A few weeks ago, I joined a group of Columbia University students, alumni, and friends in an attempt to answer this burning question. Imagining a future without searing wildfires and raging hurricanes can be daunting. But dreaming of a better future gives us a blueprint for building the world we want to live in.

this is our vision Climate Imagination Network — A group of researchers, artists and storytellers supports an interdisciplinary collaboration at the Columbia Climate Institute.

“To meet the challenge of the climate crisis, we must envision how we will act and connect in a very different way,” said Hailey Basiouny, a student at the Climate Institute. Climate and Society Master’s Program and network facilitators. “This is where art and storytelling are not only useful, but absolutely necessary. Human beings are moved by stories.”

Shapes made with colored clay

At a conference, the Climate Imagination Network invited attendees to use clay to express their emotions about places that are disappearing with climate change.Photo: Joshua Nordiff

The Climate Imagination Network meets twice a month to use its creative arsenal to tackle the greatest existential threats in history. In one session, collaborators were invited to use clay to express anxiety, sadness and nostalgia for places lost to climate change. At another meeting, collaborators penned a series of poetic manifestos describing a more equitable future. The network also provides financial and logistical support for productions, exhibitions and events on campus.

Columbia isn’t the only institution that believes storytelling is integral to climate action. The Climate Imagination Network recently hosted the Natural Resources Defense Council to talk about “Rewriting the Future,” a movement that puts pressure on Hollywood to develop a strong climate narrative. Throughout history, movies have transformed society — and they can shape attitudes to the climate crisis, too.

Imagination knows no bounds, dare to dream, and bright futures are possible. The group meets fortnightly on Thursdays. welcome everybody.

Joshua Nodiff is a climate justice writer and graduate student Climate and Society Program in the Columbia Climate School.

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