As one of the ten winners of The Special Event Call Out we launched in partnership with Selina last month, Lilith Archive, Climate Crisis Hub, and It’s Freezing in LA! (IFLA!) magazine have teamed up to bring you Animating Eco-Feminist Futures, the perfect event to refresh your ideas of nature through an illustration workshop and screenings of vibrant animated shorts. Ahead of the evening, which will take place on Thursday 1 July at Selina’s new Camden location, we spoke to Zoe Rasbash, co-founder of Lilith Archive, about what tickets holders should expect.
“What we watch plays a massive role in determining our relationship with our ecosystem and planet—film is such an accessible way to learn about the world and share stories,” Rasbash told me when I asked her about Lilith Archive’s creation and where her need for a DIY digital film archive came from. “We became frustrated at how damn difficult it is to access independent films about nature that are produced, directed and filmed by women and non-binary people, particularly those from marginalised communities. When we think of ‘nature films’, we think of the same old format—the nature documentary—which often centres on stagnant, patriarchal, white, western narratives that reflect the makeup of the film industry more generally,” she added.
Despite their successes, these types of documentaries have a detrimental impact on the voices of frontline communities, woman and non-binary people, people of colour, disabled people and especially those from the Global South. “Yet at the same time, it is these people who are creating exciting and rebellious waves in environmental filmmaking,” Rasbash points out.
And in case, like me, you never had the chance to explore the inspiring, funny, cinematic, and devastating films which challenge patriarchal, colonial foundations, as well as the aesthetics of environmental filmmaking, Lilith Archive has come to save the day. “We created Lilith Archive as a way to platform the brilliant diversity of nature filmmakers and create an accessible resource for anyone to explore. And in the act of collectivising these films, we hope to support the ongoing efforts to challenge the inequality embedded in the film industry and western climate movement.”
Eco-feminism is defined as a philosophical and political theory: a movement that combines ecological concerns with feminist ones, regarding both as resulting from male domination of society. “It worked to connect struggles and see pathways to mutual liberation,” adds Rasbash.
“Here, we’re using it to help us think about how we can centre women and non-binary voices when we imagine a better, fairer, sustainable future. How can it be fun, colourful, vibrant, exciting? Animation frees us from the world we know to create new ones entirely from our heads! What does that world look like if we were to have fun with it?”
For the event, IFLA! art director Nina Rose Carter and fantastic illustrator Bug Shepherd-Barron will be leading a collective animation workshop drawing on the themes of the films, and guiding all attendees to creatively re-engage with nature. Participants will be guided into illustrating their own individual frames, which will then be brought together in a collective animation produced together.
As for Climate Crisis Hub, “they’re leading the way on using creativity to inspire action, with their online film festival in 2020 and recent re-launch of the hub providing access to tonnes of amazing films about climate change from filmmakers across the globe. They’ve been supporting us with essential technical know-how, and providing guidance on film programming and licensing,” explained Rasbash.
Next up, ticket holders will be invited to enjoy a screening of animated short films from emerging femme filmmakers. Speaking about the many ways a topic like nature can be covered, Rasbash said, “The films are about all ‘nature’ in a sense, but what’s exciting is each of the directors bring new and unexplored perspectives around the ‘human-nature’ relationship through brilliantly diverse animation and art styles.”
Of course, everybody’s welcome! “Our aim is to bring together anyone who’s interested in diversifying the climate justice movement and the world of film and animation to make these spheres more accessible, inclusive and diverse for all. We want to encourage individuals who are keen to collaborate, share ideas and learn from viewing and creating cartoons to engage with imagination and creativity as tools to make sense of the word,” she added.
If you feel like you’re ready to do just that, then why don’t you grab a ticket now before they’re all gone? Recalibrate and refresh your ideas of nature through a collective illustration workshop for only £12.10, just get yours here. And if you’re not fully convinced yet, here’s what Rasbash had to say to you, “Come and watch these cartoons, they’re so honestly so cool! Whether you’re big on environmental justice or just really into cartoons, it’s going to be super fun. People can find climate change and environmental conversations boring or overwhelming, whereas animation is a fun way to hear and see new voices and perspectives. You’ll also be able to have a try at animation yourself!”
Who could say no to that, right?
How does a climate scientist get up in the morning? I’m going to tell you how to face your worst climate fears. Since you have clicked on this article, I know that you are afraid and that you are ready to admit it. I have one thousand words this month to help you through this. Today could be a day during which you think about something bigger than yourself. Perhaps such thoughts will fill you with a surprising sense of calm and connectivity.
I’ve been speaking to climate scientists all month, in search of hope. I’m going to show you where the hope is hidden, but first I’m going to write to you about the bad news, because you have to read it, again. What good would a therapist be if they didn’t sit you down with your greatest anxieties and hold them up to the light, for a proper examination?
Asking a climate scientist if it is all going to be OK is like locking eyes with an air host aboard a plane about to plummet into the ocean. Indeed, sixteen-year-old climate hero Greta Thunberg wants you to panic. Climate scientists and activists wake up every day and know it is too late to mitigate climate change entirely. We are going to have to adapt and nobody knows what this will look like, but that’s what makes a climate scientist tick. It might make you tick too.
Jeffrey Kiehl is a climate scientist and a Jungian analyst living near San Francisco. Kiehl, who has been in the climate biz for four decades, has studied warm climates in the deep past. Earth had a warmer climate before, tens of millions of years ago, but obviously humans weren’t around for that. Here is what Kiehl told me, ten minutes into our Skype call:
“If we do not stop our dependence on fossil fuels we’re going to push the climate system into an extremely dangerous state—one that the human species has never experienced in its entire evolutionary history…when you look at the rate at which the climate system has gone into and out of warm states [in the deep past], it’s been the timescale of tens of millions of years, we are pushing Earth’s climate system into a state like that on a timescale of a century.”
Your first instinct might be to reject this information. “It can’t be that bad. That’s not the whole story.” All those defence mechanisms which protect us from unpleasant feelings of uncertainty will kick back against this trigger with which I am presenting you. You are not a climate denier, but you might be experiencing climate disassociation or disavowal.
Kiehl points out that back in the late seventies, when the scientific community realised what would happen if we did not get off fossil fuels, everyone just assumed people were rational enough to wake up and change. What Kiehl finds interesting is that we, the human species, are not acting nearly as quickly as we need to.
Kiehl is interested in the polarising discourse of climate change in the U.S. He believes the modern American myth of “the rugged individual” who ruthlessly pursues their own success, renders it hard for some folks to accept the science of climate change and the government intervention which will be necessary in order to overcome the perils of the Anthropocene. Basically, if a culture values individuality too much, it is difficult to promote the sense of teamwork and altruism needed to overcome the issue.
Certainly, when speaking to those on the front lines of climate action advocacy, the toxic relationship between unchecked individualism and climate disassociation, or the emotional inability to wholly accept the reality of climate change, comes up repeatedly. Remember that last month I spoke to Liam Geary Baulch, a British activist and member of Extinction Rebellion. I asked Geary Baulch why we were so unable to connect with the horror of environmental catastrophe and he replied with the following wisdom:
“[The U.K.] is the country where the industrial revolution happened, this is the country where […] we decimated our forests to build warships to spread colonialism around the world, and then we decimated other people’s natural resources. I think you have to disconnect people from each other and from the environment to allow that much exploitation to happen…”
I wonder if climate disassociation, like individualism, is scalable. Katie Hayes, who is writing up her PhD in mental health and climate change in Canada, thinks most of us experience something like “climate disavowal”, where we move through the world with “one eye open and one closed…which is sometimes worse than climate denial.” In London, for instance, where we are only marginally less polarised than in the U.S., many accept that climate change is happening, but have the dangerous privilege of postponing action.
Now you have read the bad news you might be stomaching the heavy weight of despair; your skin might feel alive with fear or flightiness; perhaps you are frozen, numb or angry. This is exactly where you need to be.
You should message a friend, forward this article, tell them how you feel, ask them how they feel. This is the only way to heal our fear of climate catastrophe. We have to let this environmental shit-show wash over us. Kiehl recommends focus groups in which small communities can talk through their feelings about the topic, although he acknowledges that many societies will feel extremely uncomfortable with this. But we do have to ritually reconnect with each other and with the natural world we are so close to losing. Hayes and Geary Baulch both agree too, that treasuring a sense of community is an important part of healing the disassociation many of us are trapped by.
It is not only the stories of doom we should communally exchange, but tales of how we are making a difference. It starts with recycling a yoghurt pot. Hayes, who trained in climate leadership under Al Gore, tells me that we should write down these small actions, perhaps in a tweet or a diary, and share these amongst ourselves. In this way we can see how momentum adds up, and we are able to reconceptualise the problem beyond our individual actions and our isolated feelings of hopelessness.
“You are a messenger now”, Kiehl tells me. And so now are you. This is how to face each warming day. Go tell it in the office, at the supermarket, on the tube.