Climate storytelling and interviewing

June 7, 2016

Jason Davis of the Climate Stories Project, climate fasters and walkers, and NOAA Climate Stewards conducted a webinar on June 6 on Climate Storytelling, interviewing, and recording peoples’s stories.  The CSP educational curriculum is an open source project.  Other projects are The Faces of Climate Change, Stories of TRUST: Calling for Climate Recovery (mini-documentaries of young people), Stories of Change, etc.

Projects such as these can be done by people and organizations independently or as part of larger networks or currciula (e.g., science, sociology, social studies, English, art, film, etc.).

“I realized that different people have really different responses to climate change.”

“I got a better sense for seeing the climate change around me.”

Questions for interviews:

  • Where do you live?
  • What do you do (work, school, etc.)
  • What do you value in your local environment?  What changes have you seen in your environment due to climate change?
  • How are you or your community responding to the changes around you?
  • How do you feel about the climate change happening now or in the future?
  • What are your hopes and vision for the future?
  • How are you working toward creating a better world?

Interviewing tips

  • Research your interviewee, background
  • Find a quiet location for the interview
  • Test recording technology before interview
  • Get permission to interview and record
  • Get all contact info and biographical info
  • Have a conversation rather than an “interview”
  • Listen and ask follow up questions — tell me more!
  • Ask for specific anecdotes, details, and sensory descriptions
  • Always keep recording — sometimes the best stories come after the interview has “ended”
  • Take a photo
  • Thank your interviewee and let them know how to stay involved in the project

Climate change workshop:

  • Start discussion about climate change:
  • Have you spoken with anyone about climate change during the past week?  Why or why not?
  • What climate change impacts can we observe?
  • How do you feel about this?
  • Students do workshop questions for discussion in groups and then discuss as a class.
  • Demonstrate good and bad interviews (not listening well, not asking questions in a coherent ways or not following up).
  • Practice interviews with simple topics:  family, school, hobbies, etc.
  • Students prepare/share list of questions.  Questions can be student ideas, “derived” from listening to interviews from website or suggested by facilitator.
  • Students fill out questions on Climate Stories Project Interview Information Form

Creative projects you can do with a recorded interview

  • Audio/video editing session (Audacity)
  • Digital Storytelling project (Storify, etc)
  • Music/Art project
  • Presentations to class
  • Share on website and/or social media
  • Students reflect on what they learned, evaluate project – John Sinnok – Shishmaref elder

Climate Stories Project (CSP) is an educational and artistic forum for sharing stories about personal and community responses to climate change. CSP focuses on personal oral histories, which bring an immediacy to the sometimes abstract nature of climate change communication. Some of us may recount dramatic events such as floods and wildfires, or we may address our observations of changes in seasonal patterns and our fears for the future of our families and communities. We may discuss how climate change is forcing our communities to adapt to extreme weather and sea level rise. Or we may speak about how we are getting involved in movements to build more resilient futures and to fight the fossil fuel industry through community organizing or nonviolent protest. There is no “right” way to talk about climate change as it is a vast topic that is increasingly touching every corner of our lives. 

In addition, some climate stories are being used as the basis for music and soundscape projects that allow audiences to witness the effects of climate change in a novel way. By presenting climate change narratives through music, Climate Stories Project will reach new audiences that may not be currently engaged with the effects of climate change. Currently, these artistic projects are being presented through the environmental sound/improvisation group Earthsound.

Climate Stories Project Jason Davis

Climate Stories Project Director:

Jason Davis is a musician, environmental educator, and leader of the environmental sound/improvisation ensemble Earthsound. He was a 2014 fellow with EE Capacity’s Community Climate Change Education Fellowship, for which he began developing Climate Stories Project. Jason has Master’s degrees in Music and Ecology, and has published research about the changing relationship between local communities and protected areas around Monteverde, Costa Rica. Jason was inspired to create Climate Stories Project from listening to Different Trains by composer Steve Reich, a piece which uses recorded interviews to explore the very different experiences of people traveling by train in the US and in Europe during World War II. Jason’s goal is to create a “living artistic documentary” that engages audiences to share and listen to personal responses to climate change.