The Climate Media Factory (CMF) recently took part in a workshop called “Storytelling for the future”. The workshop included exciting input from filmmakers, media theorists and environmental psychologists. One of the questions during a discussion was about how knowledge can be translated into action. In addition to various factors that play a role in this context, the environmental psychologist on the panel emphasized the importance that action is perceived as an option that can bring about real change. She underlined the importance of the reference group on the overall motivational experience in groups.

In the climate debate, we often look at two things. On the one hand, the focus is on individual behavior which can, for example, translate into change of diet or energy consumption. On the other hand, we look at the political context, like laws or how international agreements are negotiated and implemented. Both areas are important. But while individual behavioral changes direct the responsibility to the individual, the effect of this is barely measurable and the group factor, the shared experience, is missing. On the other hand, the larger political context seems unattainable for most people and the individual influence on political change is minimal. But there is a third area where group and individual actions come together. This is ones own environment, i.e. the district where we live, the school of our children, the canteen at work and so on. These are places where our influence can motivate actions and changes in behavior that extends ourselves.

This is exactly where I-CHANGE comes in with its Living Labs. The participants in the Living Labs understand and change the challenges of climate change directly in their environments, not alone, but together with other motivated participants and scientists. And interestingly, groups interaction and activities in everyday locations is also what is gripping for documentary film audiences. Combined with interviews and a setting in a wider political context, it is fascinating to watch people pursuing their goals, interacting, and taking up a challenge alone or in a group.¬†That’s why we at CMF are excited to have the opportunity to visit three Living Labs and document the work of citizen activists on film. From a filmmaker’s perspective, the collective action played out in the Living Labs is an attractive context for engaging storytelling. We are still in the planning stage, but look forward to update you on the further process here.