TEDx SPRINTS: Delta-2 ~ Pass It On
One of my favourite projects in 2021 was at TEDx SPRINTS ~ a creative bootcamp where visual artists have 48 hours to produce an artwork on a specific issue. All works are then published under an open license, so that activists, nonprofits and educators globally can use them in their future campaign work. In this instance it was to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis.
WHAT DID I DO?
Well… this is the text of the talk I gave (although I winged it after the first couple of lines, so it’s more the talk I was going to give until I thought of other things to say in the moment):
“When we met as a group on Friday, somebody said – half jokingly – “A POSTER can’t change the world.”
They were right, of course. And… I can’t change the world… WE can’t change the world.
Can ANYTHING we do matter while China and India and the 1% keep hurting the planet more every day?
We HAVE to HOPE
turning down the radiators is just a drop in the ocean…
Of course, if you get enough drops you get a WAVE!
But big waves are not exactly symbols of hope!
We need to be positive…
We need to beat the machine that we’re all just cogs in.
Maybe there’s a decarbonisation message to be made by turning the cogs in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times into bike cranks?
But that’s SO specific.
And it probably alienates anyone who isn’t already on our side
(the PLANET’s side!)
And… MAYBE a cartoon figure with a toothbrush moustache is not a great idea in protest material!
It’s abig worry though:
If I’m just a cog, how can MY actions ever effect the Big Picture?
Well, as teenager, I was the first person in my group to go veggie.
My friends questioned my sanity.
This was the 80s so vegetarian food was pretty limited in shops and restaurants would sneer at me
Fast forward to today and non-animal food and lifestyles are everywhere!
That’s not BECAUSE of me… not REALLY… but it sort of was… in a way.
A good number of my friends slowly changed their diets after seeing me do it
MANY of them have been vegan for years now…
and a number of THEIR friends have changed as well.
I didn’t need to change EVERYBODY’s behaviour… just a FEW people, who went on to change a few more in turn.
If the planet is damaged by constant growth, can the solutions come through the same sort of growth?
It’s like the old Chinese tale…
The Emperor was so taken with the new game of chess that he offered its inventor any reward he could imagine…
“Just put one grain of rice on the first square of the board,” said the inventor. “Then double that to 2 grains on the next square. And keep going, doubling the grains each time until all the squares are covered…”
Well, when you do the maths, you realise that before even HALF the board was covered, the Emperor would give away ALL the rice in China!
If we CHANGE just two people… and THEY each change two people…
In 33½ steps we’d have changed EVERY SINGLE PERSON on earth. All 7.9 billion of them!
Exponential growth! THAT’s the HOPE I can cling to!
What do we change, though? HEARTS or MINDS?
Well… it has to be BOTH doesn’t it? We have to change the HEARTS of people and the MINDS of companies and governments.
I was playing around with symbols and words when I remembered the Greek capital letter Delta is used in maths to denote CHANGE.
Could I use that triangle shape with the number 2 and added a HEART or a MIND or…?
I wondered if I could actually SHOW the Emperor’s chessboard gradually turning GREEN?
But the numbers get big so quickly and it’s hard to show that in a physical form
(if anyone can animate that process, THAT could be viral)
Writing the numbers out shows how small actions can snowball for good causes.
But it’s not exactly photogenic at a Protest, is it?
This sort of thinking goes round in circles for as many hours or days as I’ve got on a project. Often derailed by things like remembering the Emperor in the story was so ANNOYED with his clever clogs inventor, that he had him executed…
There are people making money of the Climate Emergency would like to take a similar approach with us…
ANY WAY… THIS is what I chose in the end.
Something that references the chessboard and includes the maths. A visual that is adaptable for different arguments
And I HOPE has enough graphic impact for all sorts of use.