Understanding our responses to environmental change

You, Me and our Resilience

You, Me and our Resilience

IMG_4770This project proposes a novel way of articulating and communicating the interlocking risks associated with poverty and climate change, and of exploring the shared experiences of different communities, acknowledging that climate change affects everyone on the planet. It uses Forum Theatre, an established form of participatory drama that takes and applies peoples’ own experiences to share stories, encouraging participants to collaboratively seek and enact potential solutions to the proximate and underlying drivers of their oppression – in this case, the multiple risks and uncertainties that plague and indeed define the lives of the poor.

The project works in Kenya and the UK, using the dramatization of common stories to provide a safe space to enable the sharing of lived experiences of climate related hazards and the collaborative identification of solutions. It will engage directly with communities themselves, and with scientists, policy makers and corporate actors to identify leverage points to build resilience of poor people to climate change, extreme weather events and other stressors.

The approach has three principles at iIMG_4836ts core: cross-cultural learning based on narratives and lived experiences of resilience to hazards; an active participatory approach using Forum Theatre as a means of empowering communities to transform their circumstances; and targeted engagement with top scientists, influential policy-makers and insurance industry executives. Forum Theatre is the central means of communicating and engaging with these different communities and audiences. Originally developed in Brazil by Arturo Boal and sometimes known as ‘theatre of the oppressed’, Forum Theatre is a medium for engaging community groups in solution-focused dialogue about the issues that affect them (Boal, 1992). A typical Forum Theatre piece presents a story similar to the actual experiences of the community and focuses on a particular difficulty they face. The community audience is invited to stop the performance and attempt to change the course of action and work towards resolving the situation. The key partner in this project is S.A.F.E. Kenya, (www.safekenya.org) a Kenyan NGO and UK charity that uses street theatre, films and community programmes to educate, inspire and deliver social change on a range of issues, including HIV/AIDS prevention, female circumcision, gender-based violence, unclean drinking water and environmental sustainability. We work alongside S.A.F.E., including their award-winning Executive Director Nick Reding, to co-design and co-develop the theme and the production and activities stemming from it.

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