CCL Alumni in Focus: Bridget McKenzie, Climate Museum UK and Big Green Day, Telegraph Hill
Bridget McKenzie is a UK based consultant for the arts and museums with decades of experience developing and evaluation cultural learning programmes, founding director of Flow Associates, and founder of Climate Museum UK .
Growing up in the countryside with environmentally minded parents, Bridget feels she has long been a ‘defender of nature’. Alongside her rich career working within the creative and cultural sector, Bridget has forged a parallel path thinking, speaking, and writing about environmental and climate change. However, for much of this time she felt that it was difficult to turn this activism into a substantial movement commensurate with the challenges we face.
Bridget took part in Creative Climate Leadership in October 2017, spending five days in Slovenia. Having this time in Slovenia gave her the opportunity to step outside of her busy London existence, and, she describes, gave her the opportunity to think deeply about her role and purpose in the world.
The experience stayed with her, and her time at CCL led her to decisively give up a day or two a week specifically to focus on growing her creative climate action. Following this, she founded her project Climate Museum UK. Climate Museum UK is:
A mobile participatory museum that assists to develop the capacities of cultural and civic workers to engage their audiences or communities with the climate emergency. It’s a set of tools, and the tools are growing and expanding through each interaction and activity. They’re like creative games or objects, curious objects or ephemera that trigger conversations. So the first rule of climate museum is talk about climate change.
Climate Museum UK has helped Bridget counteract some of her previous frustration at feeling that she could not easily galvanise people in the name of climate change.
‘since forming Climate Museum UK, I’m starting gradually to build a bigger number of interested people and supporters and a bigger sense of identity through it’.
Through Climate Museum UK, Bridget has been invited to attend the conference We Are Museums in Katowice, Poland, and Climate Museum UK has recently received its first paid commission.
Although Bridget’s Climate Museum UK is seeing many positive responses, she remains deeply aware of the challenges that individuals working on climate change across the cultural and creative industries face.
The key [challenge] is the struggle to communicate [the] centrality [of climate change and environment] in a time when the cultural sector is starting to wake up to big social challenges like intersectionality, gender… the environment is all-encompassing and if you take an ecological, expanded view, you can find ways . . . to engage with these other issues that have arisen from an extractive, exploitative culture.
Bridget also acknowledges how, because of the myriad difficulties people face in getting the message of climate change across, ‘people struggle to be calm in this particular area of discourse’. Whilst this passion and anger is important, Bridget also wants projects like Climate Museum UK to expand because she believes that ‘the tools that we’re developing help people just take a step back, be calm, and think, talk and think and deliberate’. At the heart of Bridget’s practice is the idea that we need to develop platforms to communicate about these ideas in open and effective ways; she emphasises the importance of supporting each other in facing the environmental challenges of the current day.
Bridget plans to continue her creative climate work through a number of avenues including the Climate Museum UK.
Her CCL dissemination event gathered a group of champions affiliated with her local Telegraph Hill Festival in London, UK with who she shared her learning and inspiration. Together, they planned an event called Don’t WASTE the Day with creative activities around reducing waste and plastics, and a workshop for young adults and emerging professionals to design a Big Green Game.
Building on this original CCL dissemination activity, this year Bridget is running a larger event called the Big Green Day on May 4th in Telegraph Hill, London. This event will bring together actors, musicians, local council workers and the general public to think about environmental concerns in the local area, at a time when building local resilience in the face of environmental changes is climbing up the global agenda. She hopes to continue this as an annual event.
Image courtesy of Bridget McKenzie.
Towards a Thrivable Culture: Bridget McKenzie: https://aboutbridgetmckenzie.wordpress.com/
Flow Associates: https://www.flowassociates.com/
Climate Museum UK: https://climatemuseumuk.org/