From talk to action – a summary of our project in English24.6.2021
Do-it-yourself-but-together. We must stop blaming individuals but instead act as communities. We need to do climate actions that really act on climate. We must base our acts on facts but also understand what’s behind our minds.
Ilmastolukiot (Climate Upper Secondary Schools) is a project where we collaborate with six upper secondary schools in Northern Ostrobothnia and experts on sustainability to turn the school into a learning environment for climate action. Our next year’s focus is on reducing emissions together: we’ll map emissions, find problem areas and make a road map for a carbon-neutral future.
Should we first learn to listen?
How could we be more efficient in our climate action at schools? Couldn’t we try to find the beauty of all the parts of the puzzle and to understand others without necessarily approving everything? Could the first step be – for all of us from children to principals – to learn to look inside ourselves and explore, what are our values, needs, hopes, feelings and experiences and separate them from sheer facts? If we then share our thoughts together, could we have a better understanding of how to proceed in breaking the structures that hinder the change for an ecosocial wellbeing? No matter how smart we are, emotions may lead us to either bad or good decisions for climate. So, we need to listen and to understand to be able to act.
In our project schools, we’ll have groups of students, teachers, principals and other stakeholders that reflect together how to do climate actions in their schools. Together with us and experts, they develop a carbon footprint calculator for schools and they plan the vision and routes for a carbon-neutral school. We’ll support schools in finding ways for all to join in, for example using the Timeout dialogue, and for learning emotional skills, for example using these materials.
How do we find the problems to tackle?
What are the main sources of emissions in schools? It’s hard to act if you don’t know on what. Change requires whimpering and finding the unpleasant truths, so it’s important to map the emissions and problem areas in schools. It’s quite common to call many deeds climate action even though they don’t even reduce emissions. Climate crisis demands real climate actions, so we must see the scale of different acts: we know that recycling school waste is only a tiny percentage of the organization’s emissions. For little children it’s a great way to learn sustainable living, but for adults and older students, we must concentrate on more effective climate actions.
In addition to the carbon footprint calculator, we’re creating a Repair Manual for Schools for pointing out the problem areas and for repairing the school to become carbon-neutral. This manual is designed to change the structures, learning and culture of schools and, at the same time, to fulfill the needs of the new curriculum for upper secondary schools in Finland. The exercises in the manual form one course and consist of climate badges that show the climate know-how of the student.
Where does hope meet action?
How can we feel hopeful when the climate crisis is haunting us, and most of the people don’t seem to care? Let’s remember that hope doesn’t come by waiting – but by doing! Is there a better place to do climate action and to practice living in this insecure world but schools and institutions? We must find the ways to each and everyone of us to find the proper climate actions and the community to hold on to. Everyone’s action should be proportionate to the size of his/her position to be able to act efficiently and to stay well. It’s the responsibility of adults to make space for action and hope.
With this project, we want to point out that we can make a big difference at community level. Schools are miniatures of societies, full of interactions with others. If a student finds a way to change one little habit in school, it might have a big impact on the school emissions. The school structures, attitudes and culture are a learning environment where there’s a lot to explore and a lot of choices for climate action. That’s why we’re also creating learning badges for school communities, that show their commitment and know-how on climate.
Do it yourself but together
If something’s broken, we must repair it. You can do it yourself, but since we’re in a hurry, we should do it together. By creating collective spaces to talk and by listening to each other, we can see the people behind the structures. The structures are people and they can change.
In summary, in this project we will map emissions and problem areas at schools, choose actions that reduce emissions and tackle the problems as a community. Our aims are to develop with students, teachers, other school stakeholders and experts:
- an online environment for learning and recognizing climate know-how, Repair Manual for Schools
- a carbon footprint calculator for schools with Häme University of Applied Sciences
- a carbon-neutrality road map for school communities
Let’s explore our schools and move from talk to action and from individual to community!
Paula Ratava, paula.ratava(a)ouka.fi, +358 40 593 1963
Climate Upper Secondary Schools -project 2021-2022
The project is funded by Finnish National Agency for Education and Educational and Cultural Services of Oulu
Repair Manual for Schools (translated later in other languages)