Bénédicte Herbout

Bénédicte Herbout

Referent of the Communication Working Group

My journey as a volunteer for the Climate Collage

This all started with a three hour Zoom call.

I participated in a Climate Collage workshop last December. I can’t really recall how and why. I guess an acquaintance was promoting it again and again on social media, so I gave it a go.

It was an online version: before Christmas, the covid situation was still not allowing us to meet in person and anyway, there were no workshops organised in my town.

What an eye opener. First, I discovered video calls could be interactive and fun, which is nowadays quite the challenge. Second, it gave me a lesson. With a master’s degree in environmental sciences and management, having worked as an Environmental and Social risk analyst in the financial sector, I considered myself quite informed about the climate crisis. The truth is, I had lost track of the exact science behind the emotional debate that surrounds the biggest question of our century: how do we deal with and adapt to climate change?

During the workshops, I made mistakes, discussed, and learned from people I never met and with different backgrounds, recalled some courses I had during my master’s, realized how bad things are getting, but most of all I understood exactly why. It was overwhelming. But stepping back: having this understanding is actually empowering. Once we know why and how things work, then we can take decisions to move toward solutions, can’t we? 

I want to put the emphasis on the “we”, and you’ll understand why very soon.

Becoming a facilitator

New year’s resolution, I decided to move from doing things on my own to be part of something bigger than my own projects. So I participated in a training to become a workshop facilitator myself. Once again, an amazing three hours video call, this time with people even more interested, all willing to share the knowledge of the science behind climate change.

Then it all happened so quickly. I trained myself, invited some friends to participate in my first workshop. I am not even good at speaking in public and explaining stuff. And indeed, it was not a smooth workshop, but I felt more knowledgeable afterwards. Registered to facilitate more workshops. Saw an invite for a kick-off meeting for some project about Climate Collage and the COP26. Registered. Almost did not join because I was lazy and binge-watching some kind of series (ashamed to disclose which one). Joined anyway. Got a snapshot of the project. They were calling for volunteers.

Being part of the COP26 squad

COMMUNICATION

You enjoy writing, social media, creating video, graphic design... or simply being creative!

Two weeks later I was co-referent for the communication working group of the COP26 project. And I know nothing about the communication field. I just like to write.

Today, I am surrounded by people willing to act (and doing it!). And I am telling you: this feels good. I learned so much in the past months thanks to them, and not only about climate science. I learned about social-media strategy, web

development, managing a team to reach targets… But also on how to be resilient, how to work together even though most of us never met (yet) and how powerful a “we” can be.

Yes, this is cheesy. But the more brains, the merrier. You feel down and meaningful tasks wait for you in the corner. You know the Climate Collage community is as aware as you are about climate change and wants to do something about it. You will join calls with people willing to do exactly the same as you – spread science so people can decide for themselves what to do, based on facts.

Two weeks later I was co-referent for the communication working group of the COP26 project. And I know nothing about the communication field. I just like to write.

Today, I am surrounded by people willing to act (and doing it!). And I am telling you: this feels good. I learned so much in the past months thanks to them, and not only about climate science. I learned about social-media strategy, web development, managing a team to reach targets… But also on how to be resilient, how to work together even though most of us never met (yet) and how powerful a “we” can be.

Yes, this is cheesy. But the more brains, the merrier. You feel down and meaningful tasks wait for you in the corner. You know the Climate Collage community is as aware as you are about climate change and wants to do something about it. You will join calls with people willing to do exactly the same as you – spread science so people can decide for themselves what to do, based on facts.

An emotional roller coaster

And yet sometimes, it is a lot. Being a volunteer for the Climate Collage becomes quite consuming sometimes. When a whole group is so motivated as these Climate Education Activists are (that’s how we like to call ourselves), one can get more than 100 messages a day with new ideas, new tasks, new meetings, new articles to read… I embrace them, do them, participate in them, read them until I just can’t anymore. Why would I put so much energy trying to fight against a crisis that is so close to be irrevocable?

Well, because of that ‘we’. I am not alone putting so much energy into it. Now I know so many people doing it too. The energy I give, I get it back. In another form. In trust. In motivation. In hope. As for some sleep lost… well. I switch off and ignore my new buddies for a while. I know that no volunteer will blame me for that, cause a tired team does not get far. And as for the question whether it is still worth it, whether or not climate education is one of the missing building blocks to fight the climate crisis, or if there is still time to help change the course of things… I don’t know. But at least, when I die from a heat wave at 95, I’ll be proud of us that we tried.

Well, because of that ‘we’. I am not alone putting so much energy into it. Now I know so many people doing it too. The energy I give, I get it back. In another form. In trust. In motivation. In hope. As for some sleep lost… well. I switch off and ignore my new buddies for a while. I know that no volunteer will blame me for that, cause a tired team does not get far. And as for the question whether it is still worth it, whether or not climate education is one of the missing building blocks to fight the climate crisis, or if there is still time to help change the course of things… I don’t know. But at least, when I die from a heat wave at 95, I’ll be proud of us that we tried.

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