“We have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again. We have come to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not. They people will rise to the challenge. And since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.”
— Greta Thunberg at the COP24 summit, 4 Dec 2018
What is the project?
The 12 Characters project is a worldwide call for community dialog around one of the two most significant challenges of our uncertain times – the ongoing collapse of the web of living beings that supports all life on Earth – a collapse that with each passing day gains momentum. Our goal is to get people talking with one another about what is happening to them, their families, and their communities.
“12 Characters in Search of an Apocalypse is brilliant and important work. It is necessary work. I am grateful to Giraffe Social Enterprise for taking this on. If somehow we make it to a more sane way of living, it will be due to efforts like this one.”
— Derrick Jensen, author of Endgame, A Language Older Than Words, and The Myth of Human Supremacy.
How did it come to be?
The morning the Brexit referendum results were announced I realized that I had told myself a false story. That because I was an American living in the UK and because I couldn’t vote, there was nothing I could do about the process. I quickly realized how wrong I had been. I realized that there had been a gaping hole in the referendum process. Where I lived (rural Wales) and in most other places there were no public gatherings for neighbors to sit down and talk with one another about how they would be affected by leaving the EU.
I decided then and there I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
I realize that the same gaping whole is happening around what is often called “global warming” or “climate change” – there are no public gatherings where neighbors can share with one another how their families and their communities are being affected by the unravelling of the web of living beings that supports us.
This project – 12 Characters in Search of an Apocalypse – is my effort to change that.
“I came to believe that the people not in charge could get together and change all that. I loved the movie Hair. I used to believe the revolution was just around the corner, that before I turned thirty, we’d be celebrating in the streets.
Well, that didn’t happen.“
— From the voice of: “Despair is my only hope“, in 12 Characters in Search of an Apocalypse by Andrew Boyd
Cultivating conversations among neighbors
When I read the piece entitled 12 Characters in Search of an Apocalypse published in issue 11 of the Dark Mountain Project, I realized it could engage people with very different outlooks on the issues surrounding the issue of global warming and climate. So a group of us came together and began reading the piece out loud to groups of people and began using it as a seed for having a conversation.
This has now evolved into events around Wales and England. These gatherings bring together local people, to sit and listen, share a cup of tea and share with one another how we are being affected by the unravelling we are living through.
The 12 Characters are read by a group of volunteers from our team or from your local team. In between the readings you will be invited take time to talk with your neighbors and share your reactions to what you’ve heard. After the reading of the Characters is complete we will have host the Big Conversation.
“When I imagine the climate apocalypse, when I play out the nightmare scenarios, I’m never in them. When the final storm comes, I’ve always got someplace to fall back to. And the means to get there. And friends to be there with.“
— From the voice of: “It’s gonna happen – but to somebody else“, in 12 Characters in Search of an Apocalypse by Andrew Boyd
The Big Conversation
After completing the Characters, the hosts for the evening will assist a conversation for everyone to hear how the great unravelling is affecting each us. Each conversation is different but they can be opportunities for:
- having a risky conversation with people whose life decisions impact your life
- learning how each person thinks what is happening
- making something known between us that isn’t normally spoken about
- revealing things we share in common
Hopefully the conversation will plant a seed that has the capacity to grow into further conversations.
“People keep saying that Climate Change is an existential threat, and yet they just carry on like before. If the emissions have to stop, then we must stop the emissions. Every day we use 100 million barrels of oil. If to survive, we need to keep that oil in the ground, then we must to keep that oil in the ground..”
— From the voice of: “We can’t save the world by playing by the rules“, in 12 Characters in Search of an Apocalypse by Andrew Boyd
12 Characters as a platform for ‘gritty’ conversations
The 12 Characters project leverages our years of experience in having difficult conversations into the area of the affects of unravelling of the living web that supports our lives are going to have on us all, especially our capacity to stay engaged and connected to people in challenges. The primary impetus for the project is in creating places to talk with neighbours about really challenging issues. As with all our work we intend to host this in a ‘seeding’ fashion, encouraging others to to begin to host their own dialogues in their own neighbourhoods. To support this we are developing a Hosting Handbook that enables people from all over the world to invite people to come together and share potentially risky and vulnerable conversations to discover how each other experiences the unravelling of our hitherto seemingly stable systems that they are living within.
Want to invite the 12 Characters team to host a Gathering in your Community?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know who you are and how a 12 Characters gathering can benefit your local community.
Want to Host a 12 Characters Gathering yourself?
Please register yourself on the Forum. Read the threads in the ‘Hosting’ channel and make a post introducing yourself and how you think 12 Characters could benefit your local community.
Want to help translate the monologues into your local language?
One of the main focuses in the coming months is to make the monlogues available in languages other than English. We already have volunteers for Spanish, French, German, and Romanian.
Please register yourself on the Forum. Read the threads in the ‘Translation’ channel and make a post introducing yourself and let us know why you’re passionate about this and what language you’d like to assist with.