A creative experience of knowledge sharing and education on Climate Change, Environmental Justice and Earth Wisdom for UK Black, Asian, Latin American and Ethnic Minority People
DIASPORA DIALOGUES FOR THE FUTURE COLLECTIVE
Paused Collaboration Project
“DDFTF is a space for marginalised communities and people of colour to engage in dialogue on climate justice through personal and community storytelling. This is a space to make sense of current climate communications - science, policy, politics, community solutions. We wish to make this space accessible for all when comprehending a complex and international reality. We centre community care, ancestral knowledge and the wisdom in our experiences/journeys to imagine our path to a climate just future for our local communities in solidarity with the international diaspora and the Global South.”
Within the core DDFTF collective, we have direct experiences ranging from NGO's, International Campaign Groups, Community Projects, Public Authorities, Arts & Culture Institutions and Corporate Sustainability. Most importantly, we draw on our nuanced realties and lived experiences across ethnicity, identity and geography in communities.
Farah Ahmed, Samia Dumbuya and Zunaira Malik - you always have me in awe.
@diasporafutures - Twitter/Instagram
"The Bee's Apprentice"
I started volunteering as a beekeeping apprentice at Hackney City Farm, London in March 2021, taking care of 7 bee hives. As part of a personal creative writing project, I will be writing about my experiences with the bees, what I learn from them and the many things I learn as an aspiring beekeeper.
Engagement Panel, Sustainable Futures Programme
Sustainability First is a think tank desigining a Sustainable Futures Programme, sponsored by National Grid. The programme wants to consider how issues such as climate change and social justice interrelate and how to achieve a smart, fair and green recovery from the pandemic. The programme includes a series of six online discussion events, schools outreach workshops, art and essay prizes, artist residencies, a conference on culture change, and will culminate in a call to action at COP26 itself.
Sustainability First is particularly focused on the unequal impacts of the climate crisis. The
programme recognises that certain individuals and groups will be adversely affected by the
consequences of the climate crisis and seeks to champion their involvement and capacity in decision making.
As part of an engagement panel, I will support with shaping Sustainability First's Sustainable Futures Programme between January and October 2021 - including the approaches taken and groups/individuals engaged - challenging and advising. I'll also be supporting Sustainability First on their participatory forms of engagement and helping helps to set an agenda for change and transformation in the utility sectors to be more
open, creative and diverse.
Peer-led Research: Access to Nature in British Countryside
During August - December 2020, as one of eight PoC peer researchers, I will support The New Economics Foundation (NEF) to conduct research for Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)’s campaign to widen access to nature.
Here we will collaboratively design and conduct meaningful and sensitive participatory research into racial inequalities in access to nature in the English countryside. Also, collecting stories on peoples meaningful stories of being connected to nature.
This research aims to feed into a commission to be held by CPRE to explore this topic; further develop the platform of research participants in discussing the structural barriers they encounter; and build up the U.K. evidence base in this area for future research.
Peer-led Research: Navigating Space Under Lockdown
This collaborative project between The Ubele Initiative and University College London will generate a better understanding on the immediate implications of Covid-19 on BAME communities. This 4 month project will run from November 2020 - February 2021. As a researcher a part of a focus group, I will contribute to the shaping of the research methodology, research themes, research questions and data collection (Maptionnaire). I will also use multi-media and creative methods (video, audio, “sound bites”, photography) to convey stories as well as contribute to the production of a short film assisted by FOAM20.
"Given the relative invisibility of young adults aged 18+ in COVID-19 national discussions and policy initiatives, we would like to capture and shed light on young BAME adults’ experiences of COVID-19 and associated lockdown responses. Also, relatively little is known of the impact of COVID-19, ‘social distancing’ and ‘lockdown’ responses on BAME young adults."
As an intergenerational organisation, Ubele creates opportunities to surface the views, experiences, and voices of young adults 18+.
Being, Seeing and Knowing
This is a space that’s not to be claimed
Where sugar plantations evolve their game
The blindspot of ignorance is sustained
600 illustrations and a billion missing names
Logics and patterns of how power is maintained
Institutionalised to the internalised, deeply ingrained
Being, Seeing and Knowing is in the roots of memory
When we remember, we sense and nurture its energy
Being, Seeing and Knowing: A Reflection for Decolonisation
Paused Collaboration Project
BSK is devised and hosted by Poet and Arts Activist, Zena Edwards and Climate Justice Advocate and Creative, Serayna Keya Solanki in response to the intensified conversation around inclusivity in the Climate Change Movement. Being Seeing and Knowing (BSK) is, at present, a two part immersive experience into the sense-making around decolonisation and anti racism. It is specifically designed to expose the legacy of colonialism and its historical roots residing in the contemporary hierarchical structures that drive narratives of output and upward growth over enrichment and reciprocity.
This creative interactive dialogue program that addresses decoloniality, gently unpacks privilege and calls attention to the logic and patterns that uphold blind spot practices of discrimination and bias. BSK is an immersion into ideas of decoloniality and Climate Justice via memory, art, eco-activism and personal journeying, with some participant interaction. The sessions are highly interactive so that a reflective unlearn/relearn-by-doing process is experienced.
Pilot session was supported by CDE South West and funded by CDE.
Visioning Camden 2030
What could Camden look like in 2030 if our borough rises to the challenges of tackling the climate emergency and social inequality? What news and issues would fill our local newspaper?
A selection of the stories and images were be printed in our special four page wrap around of the Camden New Journal on the 7th January 2021.
Collaborative and Inclusive Practices for 'We Make Camden'
with New Citizenship Project
I consulted and supported NCP on the nature of Collaboration and Inclusive Practices in the "We Make Camden" popup toolkit as part of the Camden Renewal Commission. This relationship emerged from interviews that disclosed my on the ground and in-action experience from projects as a local Camden resident wanting to bring attention to needing right structures and relationships in place after experiencing what happens when they aren't.
There were iterations of the tool kit to meet the clients request, informed by NCP's approach to participatory design and deep learning insights alongside my expertise of inclusive design for participation. The Collaborative and Inclusive practices were intervention measures to foster better and more trustful relationships. These covered:
Who's in the Room? Whose room?: an observation exercise that prompts questions to identify the types of representation in a room - physical, content and approach.
Lived Experienced Leaders: assisting in understanding what 'lived experienced leaders' and 'lived expertise' are; recognising the value and importance of lived experienced leaders in local community as agents of real social change.
Questioning Outreach: providing a critical awareness of outreach and its sequenced consequences on the allocation of funds, types of relationships and the undermining of marginalised people-led programmes.
Space Principles: providing guidance for meeting spaces or activity organising that upholds dynamics for inclusion; calling attention to pace, power, and the art of listening.
Explore Accountability: a reflective question guide for people to also explore the negative effects of projects with care and attention; and to also reflect on how to mend relationships and build trust to move forward when harm is inflicted in community.
The Unseen Hardwork: a description of specific acts that make the switch from being 'seen to lead and do' towards uplifting voices and taking leadership from marginalised and underserved communities to therefore be front and centre in strategies for real social change.
The work had ambition to gain consultation from Lived Experienced Leaders in the volunteered 'Super Participants' to then inform content and wider use. Due to COVID-19, this project has been discontinued and wasn't delivered. I particularly enjoyed my collaboration with NCP as we shared a relationship of mutual learning.
'Global Citizenship' Climate Action Fortnight
@ Leicester City Council
As part of Climate Action Fortnight, hosted by Leicester City Council to KS2, KS3 and Governors, I was invited to the session launch on Global Citizenship alongside Cllr Adam Clarke (Leicester’s Deputy City Mayor) and Lola Fayokun (UK Student Climate Network).
Apart of my contribution was recognising the super power of having diversity that is connected to our global experience, of migration, culture and knowledge within Leicester; across generations and communities. Link here.
Remembering our Stories of Fruits and Roots
@ St Ethelburga's Centre of Peace and Reconciliation
This workshop was held for People of Colour to be in collective healing/well-being through memory storytelling using senses and nature connections. To remember is an act of resistance and care. We shared stories that root us in the history, creativity and imaginations of those that stood before us and with us. In times of amplified crisis’ such as pandemics, climate change and conflicts; people of colour bare the disproportionate impacts.
Do you have a story to share that includes a fruit?
Tell us a story an elder shared with you?
Any memories of songs and sounds?
Any memories of smells and fragrances?
If you have a faith or spirituality practice, how does it hold your connection to the Earth?
PoC spaces are important to hold for resilience building when experiencing structural, institutional, interpersonal and internalised oppressions (e.g racism). Our communities have a connected, nuanced and complex experience of oppression.
What mesmerises you?
What lands do you wander?
What streets do you know?
What do you orbit?
Do you move in cycles?
Do chickpeas whisper to you too?
What rhythms help you see?
Are your bay leaves dry enough to crunch?
Can you smell the mustard seeds crackle in oil?
What sequels are there to your ancestors stories?
Did you think sweetcorn were teeth too?
Tell me about the tastes that tingle on your tongue
Tell me about the hands that hold the mango
For these two hours
We retreat into the soil and dig
pomegranate, jackfruit and cassava
Traveling, imagining, resisting and remembering
We turn the soil in our hands
and sink our toes just below the water mark
So we can chant from silence
We are here
We are there
They are here
Superheroes of Sustainability
"Nothing lasts forever, certainly not at the pace we’re going. Industry shapers share the steps to make sustainability a priority"
Mya-Rose Craig 'Birdgirl'
Dr Patsy Perry (Reader in Fashion Marketing)
Simon Doody (Partner, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios) and
Steve Smith (Founder, Picture Zero Productions)
Why do we need to think about the Social in Sustainability?
"As sustainability professionals and enthusiasts, we tend to be a deeply value-driven community who wants to get stuff done and save that planet of ours. However, sometimes we can be so engrossed with our environmentalism and forget about the full spectrum of implications our work can have. The UN and most official bodies have recognised the “people-component” that sustainable transitions need to include. In fact, most of the UN SDGs are dedicated to social concerns. Likewise, environmental issues affect different groups of people to differing degrees. This raises questions and dilemmas around justice at the interface of people and their environment"
Through the Women in Sustainability Network, Lola Okunrinboye (WIN's Aberdeen Hub Lead) and I are in dialogue on Wednesday 26th August 2020.
Diversity, Inclusion, Anti-Racism and Decolonisation
Culture Declares Emergency is a community of artists & cultural sector individuals & organisations who have declared a climate & ecological emergency. From August 2020 onwards, alongside a group of PoC, I will participate in internal meetings that generate collective reflections and advice to shape strategies. CDE are asking themselves "What kind of conversations, groups, structures and financing do we need to enable and support CDE on this journey?" to better their practice of their value of 'being a collaborative, inclusive & diverse community whose work is always rooted in justice for all'.
From Crisis to Sustainability - Building Equity and Equality
"Across the world, the COVID crisis has revealed and exacerbated the structural inequalities at the heart of our economic and political systems, adding saliency to existing concerns around racial and climate justice. As protesters take to the streets to make their voices heard, it is essential that we consider how minority groups have been disproportionately impacted by environmental injustices and explore the way in which environmental movements can align their cause more directly with social and economic justice issues."
FEEDBACK GLOBAL & May Project Gardens Street Team
Launching EcoTalent, an internship scheme for 18-24 year (BAME/working class) olds wanting to explore a career in the environmental sector by working in organic food growing placements (15 weeks, paid) with Forty Hall Farms. I supported Feedback Global and May Project Gardens with their experimental 'Street Team'. We used multiple creative methods for engagement - ecopoetry performances, art, baked goods, plant giveaways - led by a team of young people for young people.
Climate Justice/ Race-Power Workshops @ The Commitment
I ran two 1.5hour workshops for The Commitment to better their understanding of the (1) anti-racism lens for sustainability (representation, context, approaches) and (2) to reflect on strategic pathways towards all-inclusion. Covering, BAME experiences in the sector; understanding power; showcasing BAME-led orgs (practices and perspectives on sustainability); consolidating research on race, class, location; reviewing case studies of the climate sector trying to improve representation. We also explored engagement strategies and internal culture change.
The Commitment are an apolitical organisation that want to speed up government action for a healthy planet by acting as a bridge between society and politicians on the changes they want to see. They had a clear request to better understand the context of racism in the environmental sector and to build a representative mandate, focusing on learning about BAME experiences.
The Legacy of Empire and Climate Justice
@ St Ethelburga's Centre of Peace and Reconcilliation
I facilitated 2x two hour workshops for an intimate discussion for self/collective inquiry, reflection and reconciliation, unpicking the logics of colonisation. This dialogue supported participants to understand the intersection of oppression and ecocide, as the British Empire and it's legacy are not often conscious.
Some of the themes we explored are:
How can I practice solidarity?
What does it mean to have a practice of anti-oppression and ‘allyship’ towards a regenerative future?
How do we build solutions to navigate through the ecological and social changes to come, with this global narrative in acknowledgement?
The CLIMATE REFRAME project from Suzanne Dhaliwal (director and co-founder of the UK Tar Sands Network and creative climate communications expert), Mothers of Invent and TheDocSociety was created to highlight 100 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic experts and activists in the UK who are leading in addressing the climate crisis. The voices highlighted focus on a range of areas from lawyers designing climate litigations to scientists studying coral, activists protesting against air pollution to economists working on a Green New Deal for the UK.
See the entire list of 100 here: www.climatereframe.co.uk/
This is a wall that captures phrases and quotes when in a conversation on intersectional and inclusive climate justice where participants held international and local lived experiences as people of colour.
"European Oil Companies taking oil from the Ivory Coast - I was there"
"Poverty shapes our digital access to services"
"Women's work is invisible, still"
"Trauma from war, migration, no access to support, state violence and violence itself"
"Resourcing community knowledge projects"
"Colonial project legacies"
Climate Justice Coordinator @ Camden Community Think & Do
Camden Think & Do launched in October 2019, as a result of Camden's Climate Assembly. It had full support from the council and is ran by the community in coalition with environmental groups such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Transition Towns, Culture Declares Emergency, Extinction Rebellion and Veg Box.
In phase 1, I gave a workshop on 'Race and Power in Climate Action', as I was disappointed at the representation of the space, context and direction. Later, I joined the coordination committee in December 2019 for phase 2, where I explored the possibility of a climate justice project to centre those disproportionally affected. We had attendance from the Women of Colour, Global Women's Strike who have been speaking on Environmental Racism since the 90s, leading workshops on WoC in Climate Justice & Breastfeeding and the Care Income. We also had online webinars by The Commitment, who are building a representative mandate for government action as their research showed BME communities were more engaged on Climate Change.
Tip: When launching climate focused community projects, it's really important to design inclusive principles of practice; ensure the right structures are in place to support the time of those from low-wage backgrounds or/and BAME communities; and support the participation of existing BAME Community Leaders involved from the start when exploring the idea. Not doing so can have implications on the direction and context of your project if wanting to serve everyone in the community, leading to polarisation, exclusion, mistreatment and misrepresentation of the community and causes. I recommend that anti-racism/ power & privilege/climate justice trainings are engaged with by those on central teams so there is a shared understanding. It's really important to remember that BAME communities are closer in relationship to international communities experiencing climate change right now and low wage communities are closer in experiences to system dysfunction. Listen, learn, pause.
BBC Inside Out: Leicester BAME & Climate Action
Extinctions Rebellion's 'diversity' issues has finally surfaced wider structural issues of race and class. Extinction Rebellion have received a lot of criticism in regards of their lack of diversity, climate justice focus and respect for PoC-led climate movements. In attempt to change the voices of the narrative, Serayna travels back home to Leicester to speak with BAME Youth Strikers, visits the Leicester City Council's Young People Assembly with Judy Ling Wong (President of Black Environment Network), and BAME Taxi Drivers to hear about what climate change means for them. (Running Time: 9 minutes)
'Decarbonise! Decapitalise! Decolonise!' @ Leicester People's University
In my hometown, Leicester, I supported Lisa Tilley (Environmental Politics Lecturer, Birbeck University) in her workshop reframing the origin stories of climate change, having similar themed work. In the presence of her lecture, I also constructed a narrative using photos, artwork, diagrams and the participants quotes of realisations/ lived experiences to support participants to see the connection of events, themes and undersurface power dynamics and silenced experiences. All was to find a new way of making information accessible, to support others make connections between colonialism and today.
"Prominent proposed solutions to climate change often focus on changing individual consumption habits, shifting corporate emissions around by means of market-based mechanisms, and even expanding carbon-fuelled economic growth in order to fund the transition to renewables. At the same time, even some of the most progressive ‘Green New Deal’ proposals demand the expansion of resource extraction across important Indigenous ecologies in both the Global South and North. Worst of all, racist population alarmism has been revived in the popular imagination, boosting dangerous interventions into women’s reproduction in parts of the world where carbon emissions are actually the lowest..."
Sustainable Stand Up Comedy
'Climate Crisis Colonised Cats'
As apart of a Women and Non-Binary collective, four new Comedians took stage in Kings Cross after 6 weeks of laughter and confidence building with Belina Mafflick! Working through caved emotions and deep meanings to send out a message in a playful way! I weaved themes of colonialism and imaginations of cats fighting for climate justice!
Radical Resillience/Deep Adaptation (Participant)
@ St Ethelburga's Centre of Peace and Reconciliation
Alongside 15 other participants, Serayna has been working through Jem Bendell's "Deep Adaptation Agenda", emotionally processing it's implications and reality over 6 months. This 'community' supported each others well-being and resilience by confronting feelings of despair and anxiety. Processing such feelings and establishing authenticity has naturally allowed inspiration to design projects in response to the climate crisis whilst being in a community of various sector and life experiences.
XR Camden: Inclusive Reflections
Local to Camden, XR Camden voted in a poll to:
Work hard on ourselves through internal reflection to check our power and privilege dynamics
Make it easier for underrepresented people to be involved.
Touching on themes of "Gaze", "Allyship", "Erasure" and many many more, I collated a list of thought provoking and reflective questions for Camden Rebels to collectively discuss in all their meetings as a way to address the impact of their actions and decisions. Practicing skills of relearning, equitably and actively listening, behaviour observing/ looking back at ourselves and reassessing, they were independently (away from national XR) working towards solidarity.