THE STORY BEHIND OUR YOUTH CLIMATE LAB
This year, The United Nations Climate Conference - COP 26, is happening for the first time in the UK in Glasgow. The conference is attended by world leaders representing various countries in the world.
Young people are an integral part of the climate action movement globally yet time and time again they are rarely invited or fully represented in official meetings like this. As a youth focused and black-led organisation, Activate The City! are keen to ensure young people’s voices are heard, particularly those who come from ethnic minority backgrounds.
It is evident that climate change is affecting the most disadvantaged groups in the UK with communities left without access to public lands, higher death rates from COVID in Black and Minority communities and poor air quality, all of which are factors contributing to spatial inequality. Participation in climate action appears to be low among the groups most affected by this disparity despite an ongoing desire for change.
Picture above: Some of our cohort of 9 young people aged 16-19 representing 8 London boroughs.
WHO WE ARE
Activate The City! is a social enterprise and a creative agency that works to facilitate youth-led community development. We provide avenues for community development and youth empowerment by delivering programmes and initiatives that enable young people to build on their creative and design potential and make a tangible impact in their local communities.
OUR VISION FOR A SYSTEM CHANGE
We want to make climate action more inclusive by giving more under-represented young voices the information and language that they need to be able to participate directly in environmental policy making decisions. We aim to start conversations and diversify the action they can take with autonomy over short or long term, local and global action by starting here in London.
Image above: Windows Project ran by Activate The City! in June during lockdown in response to the Black Lives Matter protests across the world. We reached out to young people across 12 cities in UK and posted them free pens to raise awareness of different global inequalities that were important to them by creating window art.
HOW DOES THE CLIMATE LAB HELP WITH THIS?
The Climate Lab is based on 3 core principles outlined below which we have translated into outcomes we want to see at the end of the programme.
- To diversify Climate Action
- To recognise who is disconnected from conversations about climate change
- To promote self expression as a form of creative activism
Our core aim for this project is for the young people to start new conversations in the Climate Lab space that begins to centre their own diverse narratives and help them to articulate and tell their own stories through creative activism.
Through this fundraiser, we want to launch Phase 2 of the project; a showcase of the young people's work during the programme to share their ideas with the general public and inspire these 9 young people to turn their initial work and ideas into positive action.
We don’t just want to stop there. Beyond the Lab, we need further funding to support the cohort , apply this learning over a period of 6 months and deliver small scale projects or campaigns within their local communities in their respective London boroughs.
Photo: Week 1 of Climate Lab focused on Nature and the Built Environment. Credit: Be Seen Project
COP 26 presents a unique opportunity to engage other young Londoners through the narratives that our young cohort aim to highlight. We reached out to UK's Cabinet Office COP 26 Engagement Team and researched existing initiatives to engage young Londoners ahead of COP 26. Overall, we found that there were limited opportunities available for youth despite London having a large influence over policy as a capital city. In April 2021, we began planning to create our own engagement programme using the little resources we have and launched the Climate Lab in July 2021 as part of our emerging 'Creative Youth Labs' initiative.
Our Climate Lab cohort is made up of a group of 9 young people aged between 16 -19 and representing 8 different London boroughs. Each place on the lab is provided for free with a small grant provided to enable young people to travel and access the in person workshops in Central London.
The initial 6 part workshop series are delivered in partnership B-Corp shoe brand Allbirds through their Allgood Collective initiative. Allbirds have provided a space, contributed to workshop materials and equipment costs and event sponsorship for Part 1 of the programme. We are now looking to raise additional funds to cover the costs of the exhibition which forms Part 2 of the programme.
So far, the cohort have been involved in learning about air pollution, greening their local area and how to start telling their narratives through creative forms of media.
To make this Summer programme happen, we've recruited 3 young curators and are collaborating with 8 individuals/organisations with expertise in creative climate action to co-facilitate workshops with us and help us achieve our programme objectives.
We're half way through the programme and have another 3 weeks workshops and inspirational panels to go! We are already witnessing the positive impact this programme is having on the young cohort's desire to make change.
Here's what our young cohort said after Week 1:
"I have enjoyed learning about the ways that young people are making a difference in their communities and raising awareness about the ways air pollution disproportionally affects disadvantaged communities"
"It’s really nice to know there’s ways in which we can make our local communities more bright"
"I know how to change the community with little seedbombs ..... ever since the first workshop, I’m out and just unknowingly looking around for green spaces"
Activate The City! wants to ensure that these young people's voices are heard by making their work more visible to the general public. We therefore see the outdoor public showcase as an essential component to close our first ever Summer youth programme.
WE NEED YOUR HELP TO MAKE THIS UNIQUE 1 DAY SHOWCASE HAPPEN!
WHY SHOULD I DONATE?
The final showcase exhibition is imagined as an opportunity for the young people to close the series by curating, producing and presenting their narratives on Climate Action and presents a unique opportunity for their voices to be heard in public. Something that is only reserved for those invited to attend COP26.
The showcase exhibition takes place outdoors in St Pauls Church Gardens in Covent Garden on Sunday 5th September 2021 (2pm -6pm). The space which they will build themselves, will host an installation and exhibition curated by the 'Climate Lab' cohort and will function as a space for conversations through two panels inviting other young change makers to take centre stage.
For people who are unable to visit the exhibition in person, a zine will be produced featuring the work of the cohort during the programme.
Our aspirations to keep this programme 100% free for participants means that we have a funding shortfall and now need to raise funds to cover the exhibition production costs and zine publication.
We also aim to cover all expenses for our volunteers and to build a legacy from this project by supporting our young cohort for the rest of the year realise self-initiated small community projects and to run a smaller workshop series between October - November to coincide with COP 26.
Overall, the showcase promises to be a more engaging, diverse, hopeful and inclusive look at Climate Action through the lens of young under-represented Londoners.
Please help make this showcase a reality for our young cohort by donating to our crowdfund over the next 4 weeks!
WHAT THE MONEY WILL BE SPENT ON
We are fundraising for a total of £6000 which will be spent on the following:
- Printing 200 x copies of the Zine & Exhibition Materials: £350
- Audio Visual Equipment Hire includes (£200 deposit): £1000
- Volunteer Expenses £500
- Insurance £300
- First Aider Hire £400
- Paying Panelists £1600
- Logistics Costs (transporting materials): £200
- Staff Refreshments: £300
- Videographer to document the event (half day) + Video editing: £1000
Stretch Budget (additional fundraising goal to help realise small projects)
- Engagement workshops in Oct/Nov + Small Grants for the 9 young people in the cohort to initiate own community projects or campaigns - £1350
We have 5 rewards up for grabs in return for your support on this project:
- £20 or more: 1 x Copy of Showcase Zine + £10 donation to our next workshop series in October
- £35 or more: Pay it Forward - 1 x Showcase Zine for you and a young person in our network + £15 donation to our next workshop series in October
- £100 or more: 5 x Copies of Showcase Zine and mention within the zine as a key supporter
- £250 or more (Silver Event Sponsor) : - 5 x Copies of Showcase Zine, Credited on our social channels as event sponsors and mention within zine and your logo on the event poster.
- £500 or more (Gold Event sponsor): 10 x Showcase Zines for staff, 2 x VIP Access tickets to all 2 panel events (front seats), your logo on event poster, Sponsorship sign within the exhibition space
We're so grateful for your support on this project and look forward to welcoming you to the Climate Lab showcase space with our young people in September.
Please help us spread the word by sharing this project with your network!
Team Activate The City + The Climate Lab Cohort
(Anisa, Annalise, Ateh, Aya, Kajal, Kelicia, Jess, Piriya and Raphael)