I was asked recently by someone looking to host a 12 Characters event the following helpful question:
What target group you would have in mind, e.g. the “converted”, the “deniers”, the “sceptics”, or whatever labels you would like to give them?
I liked it because it made me think long and hard about where I stood. Here are my current thoughts.
The target group is those people that think that something is happening, even if they’re not clear about what it is or how bad it is. So definitely not limited to the converted and definitely not including the deniers. I would certainly hope there is room for people who are skeptical – but I’ve found many people who think of themselves as ‘skeptics’ who turned out to be ‘cynics’ instead.
I have only thought about the target group peripherally – so this is a helpful question. At this point my own hosting capacity is limited – I’m still learning what it takes to support people to take risks and speak about their fears and hopes in relation to the many many conflicting thoughts they are having when they think about whether or not a climate apocalypse is coming. What I have written in my opening notes is that the many labels that have been used “global warming”, “climate change”, “peak oil”, etc. are not helpful for me because of the distance they create between me and what I see. Instead what I am looking at is the unravelling of the web of living beings that supports us and makes our lives possible. The things that we put into the category of ‘changing climate’ is one set of factors that is impacting this unravelling. I am inviting people to have a conversation about their own experiences – about how the unravelling we are living through is impacting them, their families, and their communities. So, the audience then is the group of people that think they are living through an unravelling. At some point I might learn that group of people is too limited and that I want to reach out to a wider audience. The 12 monologues that we’ve chosen from Andrew’s set of 35 all answer “yes” to the question of whether they think Climate Change is real – and from that point they diverge as to how serious a problem they think it is and what they think we should do about it – some are pragmatic and quote Bill McKibben and James Hansen, others are reactionary – preppers building bunkers, partygoers in Thailand, still others are hit by either Hope or Hopelessness, some are just straight-forwardly hard-working to defend the place they live. But all of them thinksomething is happening even if they disagree about what it is.
What that complexity has offered me personally is a deep insight into the workings of my own thinking – that these ‘Characters’ capture aspects of my daily thoughts around what is happening and what I think I should do about it. What it has offered the people who have attended it is an intense and perhaps relentless experience
in which a years worth of thinking about what is happening gets condensed into a single hour. It has created an opportunity for some vulnerable conversations to take place where some neighbors have learned they have more in common than they thought and some bridges have been built between people of differening views of what we should do about it.