Running a Climate Fresk workshop in prison

If you were looking for a new place to run a workshop, you wouldn’t necessarily think of a prison first. And yet, Alexis did. He received a warm welcome from the participants and came out of the experience feeling even more motivated!

It all started with a newsletter from ‘Make Sense’

Alexis came across Champ Libre (Free Rein), an association which works in closed environments – namely in prisons and psychiatric hospitals. The association works in about ten establishments in the Ile-de-France region. Volunteers share their knowledge and passions with others through conferences and workshops of all kinds: music, history, science, sport, etc.

Alexis wanted to know more about this little-known world. He thought to himself: why not? Without skipping a beat, he got in contact with them. As he was working out the details, he opted for a Climate Fresk workshop. He was keen to educate those who may not be familiar with this subject. And this was a great opportunity to do so!

Despite not knowing much about Climate Fresk, Champ Libre immediately put their trust in Alexis. He then set about organising a series of workshops at the Bois d’Arcy prison. This is located in Yvelines, in the Ile-de-France region, with a population of 800 incarcerated men.

Preparation: choosing continuity

Champ Libre is used to offering a series of 4 workshops to prisoners. Alexis offers Fresk’pals to run the 3 other slots: the Ecological Renaissance Fresk, the Ocean Fresk and the Biodiversity Fresk. They lined up their agendas, gave the prison the facilitators’ identity details and got permission to bring in the workshop materials: pens, games, paperboard, etc.

While preparing for the workshop, Alexis spoke to the three other facilitators. They wondered: should we shake up the format a little? Should we adapt the workshop for this context? Dress differently? Alexis also discussed with Fred, another fresker, who has previously worked in prisons and shared his personal experience. They choose not to let their prejudices get in the way. “In the end, we did it the usual way!” 

All Champ Libre volunteers undergo a 2-hour training on how the prison environment works, in order to break down any preconceptions. A veteran volunteer also accompanies each new volunteer. In this instance, it was Sophie. She knew the facility well and quickly put Alexis at ease.

How do the inmates sign up?

Champ Libre sent the programme to the cultural coordinator… and whoever was interested then signed up. The participants chose to attend these workshops on their exercise time.

On the day

The workshop was held on the stage of a conference room. Nine people took part, enough to fill two tables. There was a wide age range. No guards were present, as requested by Champ Libre. “It’s for the best, it would have been strange to have someone looking over our shoulders,” says Alexis. The atmosphere was nice, warm and friendly. 

“I ran the workshop in a fairly standard way,” says Alexis. “The collaborative format may have been surprising at first, but I really appreciated the involvement and dynamism of the participants who leaned into the workshop’s dynamics. Those who were most at ease with the subject – and the French language – helped the others to understand better.”

He organised the debriefing phase as a talking circle, so all the participants could exchange as much as possible. They could talk about what climate change would mean for their “life on the outside”. 

Positive feedback from participants

They were curious and open. Some spoke of the satisfaction and interest in understanding more about climate change. This will help them to explain the reasons for certain political measures to their relatives. These types of things are usually accepted more easily when they are better understood. 

They warmly thanked Alexis. One of them was particularly grateful for everything he had learned. According to him, he would not have been able to join such a workshop outside prison. Another was grateful that Alexis and Sophie took time out of their weekend for them.

The workshop created conviviality, sharing and exchange, which they all appreciated. 

Alexis is happy to have been able to ‘fresk’ isolated people

Now, Alexis is a believer: he plans to extend this project to Bois d’Arcy and to propose the idea to prisons in Ile-de-France as well as in the Basque country, where he lives.

How about you? Are you interested?

If you’d like to discuss this with Alexis and take part in this project, please contact him:

Learn more about Champ Libre on the website (only in French).

We’d like to thank Alexis for sharing his experience, Champ Libre for offering the possibility to run a Climate Fresk workshop in this facility, Sophie for her support and the Fresk’pals for their commitment to Climate Fresk!

Climate Collage is now Climate Fresk!

We are still the same! We just changed our name ;)