02 May Marte Skaara – The Climate Cards (Interview)
Climate change is the most serious problem we have to face today and in the future. And now, finally, it’s also getting more and more famous via social media, reports on radio and tv, newspapers and magazines and so on. Even in comedy shows it became a welcome subject, as I had to see last night. But still too many people are denying the facts or adopt the attitude that they have a too low impact to change anything at all.
Marte Skaara, a young woman from Norway, found her own way to wake people up and present some ways to face the climate crisis: she went out on the streets and asked people what to do. Not only in Norway but all over the world. And she got answers. Written on the The Climate Cards.
I wanted to know more about her project and asked her to give me an interview. Fortunately she said yes 🙂
Hello Marte, nice to „meet“ you! First, would you like to introduce yourself, please? Who are you, where are you from and what are you doing in „real life“?
I am a person who care greatly about the planet and all the creatures who live here. I see myself as part of nature and all the ecosystems I contribute to. I grew up on the west coast of Norway where I spent my days with my horses by the sea. Now I live in Oslo and study climate change adaptation and social transformation.
For someone who has never heard about The Climate Cards: explain briefly what your project is about and how it works?
I post people’s solutions to and reflections on climate change on the Instagram account @theclimatecards. I think we need to approach the challenge of climate change with a different mindset than the mindset of modernity which is currently dominating our society. To create such a worldview change we need deep reflection and sharing of ideas, and that is what I want The Climate Cards to be about.
//Some have no idea what to put on the card, but after talking for a while they always come up with something. Others have given climate change a lot of thought and have much to write. It is almost as if they have been walking around waiting for someone to pop the question.//
What was the initial trigger for your idea of the Climate Cards and when did you start?
I discovered a Tumblr blog called The Freedom Cards. On the freedom cards people write what freedom means to them. I decided I wanted to do the same with the issue I find most urgent and important, so five years ago I started The Climate Cards.
Is it difficult to get answers? What are the people’s reactions on your request?
It is not difficult, but it takes an effort. When I started I was hoping that people would just send me cards when learning about the project without me having to ask them personally. One girl did that. All the other 800 cards I have actively had to collect myself. It is a lot of work, but I do it as part of my daily life. For example, my supervisor asked me to have a climate change work shop for school children in Oslo, so I asked the school children to make climate cards. On Friday I was striking for the climate, so I asked the other strikers to make cards. I also did two bike trips, cycling from the north to the south of Norway and through Denmark asking people along the way to make climate cards. When I stop people in the streets and ask them to make cards, some are very surprised by my request, but mostly in a positive way. Some have no idea what to put on the card, but after talking for a while they always come up with something. Others have given climate change a lot of thought and have much to write. It is almost as if they have been walking around waiting for someone to pop the question. I think a lot of people want to talk about climate change, but have few opportunities to do so. With my project, I give them an opportunity to talk and reflect upon it.
Marte on her cycling tour through Norway and Denmark, 2016
How many cards did you receive so far? From which countries do they come from?
The last time I counted I had 700 cards. Now I think I have more than 800. Most of the cards are from Norway. I also have some from Denmark because of my bike trip, some from Germany because I was doing an internship with the UN Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn earlier this year, and then I have cards from around the world because I have collected cards at international conferences and written letters to people from other countries.
Are there answers that are often repeated? Do they vary from country to country?
„Recycling“. And lists of individual actions we can do to lower our carbon foot print. I think that is the easiest thing for people to write. And it is okay to do so. However, my hope is that people will go beyond those practical list, and also reflect upon the root causes of climate change and the deep transformation needed to create a sustainable society of thriving communities.
Has there been one card or a few cards that impressed you particularly? Because it gave you a new point of view for example?
A girl named Danielle wrote a card saying that the hero of our new story will be a „we“. I think that is such a wonderful sentence. No one person can solve the issue of climate change, it must be a collective effort. My professor always says that the individual is the collective, because we are all connected. I believe that we are relational beings, that what one of us do affects all of us. When we act together, there is no problem that is too big.
What do you think are the most important things everyone should do to stop climate change or at least avoid the worst?
We have to show that we care. There are tons of ways to do that, and every one of us have to find our own way. I think the most important thing to sustain the engagement is to find a community that share your values and to find joy and harmony in your work, either through being in nature, growing food or flowers, or whatever makes you connect to other humans and the rest of nature.
//I think the most important thing to sustain the engagement is to find a community that share your values and to find joy and harmony in your work, either through being in nature, growing food or flowers, or whatever makes you connect to other humans and the rest of nature//
How much did you change your lifestyle?
When I started The Climate Cards I was already a vegetarian on a shop stop. Gradually I started to do other changes in my life, for example I have not been on a plane for 2.5 years and I got engaged in politics. Most importantly I stated and continue to reflect on who I am and what my role in the world can be. At the moment I try to fill my work with joy. It is not always easy when working on an urgent and existential threat, but I try to remember that harmony is not an achievement but a way of life.
How long are you going to continue this project? And is there planned anything further?
I think I will just go on as long as at makes sense to me, and at the moment gathering the cards is very meaningful to me. I have developed a reflective journal to provide people with an opportunity to reflect on issues such as change, justice, power, belonging and climate change. My dream is to one day have an alternative library in Oslo full of journals filled with people’s reflections.
If people like to participate but are not able to meet you personally, how can they do that?
First, you find a small card (post card size) and on it you write your solutions to or reflections on climate change. And remember to add your name!
Second, you take a picture of the card and one of you with the card and send it to me either on a personal message on Instagram (@theclimatecards) or to my email (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also just post it on your Instagram and tag me.
Third, if you want to add your card to the physical collection, you send it to my address: Marte Skaara, Christian Michelsens gate 17B, 0568 Oslo.
What a great project, Marte, and thank you so much for your time!
So the conclusion is: there is not this one single solution, there are many small ones. And there are not just a few people to solve the problem, it’s up to all of us. With small steps done by many we can make a big step forward, change our lifestyle and, at last, change the world!
Follow Marte on Instagram and don’t hesitate to write your own Climate Card!
I made one, too. Presented by a very wise creature 😉 :