Dive Deep & Dream Big: Guest blog by our Research Assistant – Education and Sustainability, Dr Renuka Thakore

As part of UCEM’s pledge to tackle climate change, Dr Renuka Thakore attended Dive Deep & Dream Big – an event bringing together activists and politicians to work on sustainable solutions for our planet at the beginning of March in Brussels. Here, Dr Thakore reports back from the event…

Dr Renuka Thakore at the Deep Dive event

Background

As more and more people are waking up to the realities of climate change and seeing a huge potential for transformation, UCEM is actively taking part in events that are aiming to engage citizens, politicians, businesses and officials to take bold actions and inclusive responses to these global challenges.

Event

I dived deep into this intensive event in person along with 80 other participants from all over the world. The inquiry of the workshop centred at a question:

How can we better support people to co-create and sustain ambitious and inclusive responses to the climate and ecological crisis at a municipal scale?

Given this intention, people representing a very wide variety of disciplines, networks, organisations and perspectives pooled their knowledge base and practical experiences, and debated and discussed the types of changes needed in the immediate short and medium term. Several avenues to foster co-responsibility, sharing of power, co-shaping the inquiry process and the outcomes were tested at the event. Without doubt, this event motivated, supported and constructively challenged all those involved to take meaningful next steps towards one planet living.

My contribution

During the event, I shared my vision of how to engage several stakeholders towards a common shared vision by presenting my STRIDES (Strategic Tri-level Relational Interventions of Delivering Energies (Energy efficiency) and Sustainability) model. STRIDES is capable of catalysing leverage points in the societal system and delivering effective sustainable transformation of the system while developing strategic capabilities of individuals and collectives. The discussion interested many participants working at the municipal level coming from different EU member countries including Belgium, Spain, Hungary, Portugal, Estonia, Austria, Denmark, Slovenia, Netherlands, Romania and France.

Practicalities

The event was very engaging and synergetic for collective action. It offered a very unique experience right from the venue where it was hosted through to how the accommodation and the food that was served. The event was hosted at See U which is part of a temporary occupation approach project. See U only hosts projects related to sustainable futures. The participants were provided accommodation with people from community groups who loved to create positive change in the city and liked people staying with them. The vegetarian lunches were sourced from an organisation created and managed by Syrian people, supported by the people of Belgium since their arrival in 2016. The event also offered entertaining events with a ‘food journey’ experience and ‘ceremony’ enjoyed by performing rituals and musical instruments which people brought with them and played at their own pace.

Next steps

Towards the end of the event, next steps leading to more ambitious and inclusive interventions and collaborations supporting change at the municipal scale were agreed. A proposal titled ‘Forward Imagination’ was created with participants from Belgium and Portugal. The purpose of this proposal is to design creative tools and processes for navigating the emergence of regenerative culture. This proposal will include the development of a set of elements supporting transformative individual and collective expression and participatory actions envisioning of a desired future through a variety of art and game form. These will include theatre forums, pop-up tomorrow performances, games, storytelling, poetry bombs and guerrilla art. This proposal will have several leverage points such as existing community groups, existing events, collaborative events, museums, public spaces and schools. The co-creation of contents and translation will be made accessible to diverse audience as well as it will be made a safe zone of expression while transforming the consciousness of those involved.

As the leading vocational online university, UCEM has the potential to support this proposal and I have the insight into sustainability and climate change challenges and knowledge of sustainable transformation which will drive this proposal towards predetermined outputs and outcomes.