Feb 26, 2015
CoClimate is a research & design studio whose mission is to provoke, stimulate, and inspire new connections between people, technology, and the environment. We work with organizations to re-engage exhausted audiences around climate change, undertake social science-base research, clarify strategy, intent, and vision, and we design imagery, experiences, and objects that are beautiful, compelling, imaginative, and legible for people from different worldviews and frames of reference. CoClimate is fiscally-sponsored project of Fractured Atlas.
The first large project that CoClimate took on was researching, curating and designing the exhibition “Strange Weather: Forecasts from the Future.” We began dreaming about creating a climate change exhibition back in 2011, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2014 that the exhibition was launched.
Our team was interested in seeing if there were ways to more directly connect climate to culture. We wanted to design an exhibition about this challenging topic, but one that was engaging, delightful and beautiful, not the adjectives often associated with Climate Change messaging. We knew that many visitors to our exhibition might be exhausted or overwhelmed at even the mention of Climate Change, so it was important to create exhibits and invite artists who would change their perspective. This is as serious a topic as can be imagined, but we do our best work when we are curious, laughing and open to new possibilities. In the autumn of 2013, we were asked to say a few words about what we thought the Strange Weather exhibition might be. The off-the-cuff video below shows our unscripted thoughts before we began our research phase, but many of these instinctual comments ended up showing through in the final exhibition.
9 Months later we had completed the research and production of the exhibition. The video below is a compilation of the opening weekend, which shows some of the many artworks in the show. We were fortunate to have worked with the excellent team at Science Gallery and had many amazing participating artists.
One of the legacies of the exhibition is the many hours of YouTube videos where members of the public read weather forecasts from the future. In addition to watching the playback of these videos, audience members shared these clips with their friends and the general public through social media.
For the Strange Weather exhibition there was a selection of 8 videos visitors could choose from. CoClimate produced 4 of the videos, and other videos were produced by other artists that participated in the exhibition. The feedback we received was that people really enjoyed reading the weather report, a well known trope, but with content that was from the far future. Building on this experience we are currently working on a refined version of this artwork. Strange Weather continues to be one of our major research programs, and we are looking for other methods for connecting culture and climate, and imaging alternative atmospheric futures.
Superclime is a new program from CoClimate. The Superclime program and tools are designed for communicators, designers, journalists, researchers, and leaders who want to help their organizations do some of the heavy lifting that comes with strategic planning and setting communications goals around climate change.
Getting “all the right pieces” on the table can be complicated–especially when starting from scratch. Finding clarity in informal interactions, structured meetings, and planning sessions can be a challenge without frameworks to guide discussions and orient outcomes. Moreover, internalizing how engagement with climate change fits with an organization’s mission and culture is critical.
We are using our Superclime program to compile some of the best frameworks to help support the goals, audiences, constraints, and objectives communicators might have. Our first map and card sets are pieces of that puzzle. We have plans for more.
Understanding complicated human dynamics is difficult enough, and we wanted practical tools to help individuals and organizations make sense of their own experiences, unleash their creativity, and transform those insights into strategic planning. We think that “helping people be better than they think they are” is a strong first step.
CoClimate’s Gabriel Harp recently conducted a workshop with the Mono Lake Committee and shared his insights about the climate change communications landscape in the United States. The Eastern Sierra region is experiencing massive change brought on by climate change and intensified by California’s four-year drought. Visit our site to read about the session and how the group was able use these tools to build a better climate change plan.