Galvanised by the climate crisis

Madelyn Postman

Madelyn Postman

Recently, Grain consultants Sophie, Mary, and I did a Climate Fresk at the Islington Climate Centre. I had first heard about Climate Fresk through my CISL group — my cohort who studied Business Sustainability Management at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership in 2020 — but it had taken me a while to participate in one.

Climate Fresk logo

Environmental sustainability training

Climate Fresk was started by Cédric Ringenbach in 2018. Made up of 42 cards based on the data in reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body, it’s a collaborative and interactive way to learn the science behind climate change in a three-hour workshop. ‘Fresk’ refers to the fresco that results from ordering the cards to show activities and impacts, including feedback loops. To date, more than 1.3 million people worldwide have done a Fresk (it’s available in 45+ languages), and there are more than 60,000 facilitators. Some companies and local authorities require that their employees do the workshop.

The ‘card game’ element of the Fresk, including a creative phase, lasts about an hour and a half, after which there is a focus on emotions. I was literally in tears during the emotion-sharing. Though I am a sustainability consultant, I usually avoid thinking about the consequences of the climate crisis because it’s just too scary. Staring reality in the face was terrifying and overwhelming, particularly when considering my children — though I have no illusions about the dire impacts of the climate crisis right now.

Thankfully, the last hour of the Fresk takes that powerful emotion (in whatever form it takes for each participant) and focuses on action, be it for individuals, business, or government. Every ‘Fresker’ is asked to commit to one action, with the first step and timing. I took the plunge to go vegan — one of the most immediate and effective ways, together with reducing flying, to cut personal carbon footprint. One tip from the group was to try La Fauxmagerie cheese, which turns out to be as tasty as its name is clever. I’ve also found that Holland & Barrett’s plant-based offerings hit the spot.

The week after the workshop, I went walking in the Peak District with a close friend. That time in nature gave me the headspace and clarity to galvanise my work in sustainability.

To spread the word — another powerful action — Freskers are encouraged to become facilitators, in a three-hour session. I signed up and trained to become a facilitator the following week. Not long after that, I facilitated my first workshop, for my local environmental group Sustainable Amersham.

“A fascinating session yesterday at the Climate Fresk which made me realise just how massive and complex the difficulties we face are, whilst also bringing some optimism about ways to go forward and actions we can take at a personal, local and national level. The visual element of the session is really helpful and shows how interconnected so many elements of the climate crisis and our own behaviour are. I would definitely recommend and suspect we could have carried on discussing for much longer if time allowed. Three hours flew by!”

— Anne Fullelove, a recent Fresker

I learned in the training and in following facilitators’ sessions that my emotional up-down-up experience is actually built into the Fresk, as shown on the Kubler-Ross Change Curve.

There are monthly sessions for UK facilitators and multiple groups on Telegram: the community is thriving and responsive, and resources are easy to access. The facilitators’ website provides a wealth of information as well.

Our next workshops will be held online, on 16th November (10am-1pm BST), 20th November (9am-noon PST/noon-3pm EST/5-8pm BST), and 7th December (10am-1pm BST). The cost is £50/person, £40/person for B Corps and 1% for the Planet members, or £10/student (ask us for the relevant discount codes).

If you would like us to facilitate a Climate Fresk for your organisation, please get in touch.

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