CCL Alumni in Focus: Jessica Sim

Jessica Sim headshot

Julie’s Bicycle’s Creative Climate Leadership (CCL) programme aims to build an international network of diverse and influential cultural climate leaders who will work with their communities to make change happen.

Jessica Sim took part in the CCL Wales 2017 programme. She is a co-founder and director of Nadas Istanbul and an artist and curator working in the intersection of community engagement and creative climate work.

How has your journey unfolded since CCL, and what creative climate projects are you currently working on?

My journey has folded and unfolded in many ways since being a part of the first CCL cohort in 2017. Following CCL, I returned to Istanbul and shortly after received a CCL-in-action grant to pursue a project called Yeşillendirelim – a series of workshops and an immersive exhibition creating space for people to come together, share their experiences about living in the megacity, and grow Istanbul’s green community. Along with expanding my network immensely, through the project I also met Ahu Toksöz, and together in 2018 we opened Nadas Istanbul – an organisation and physical space dedicated to connecting people with sustainability and their environment through creative programming.

I was a director of Nadas until 2022, at which point I decided to move to the UK to pursue a nature education training course (Call of the Wild with Wildwise) and volunteer on organic farms and conservation projects. Also, to ask some big questions about my own connection to nature and place in the world; how I can sustain myself and show up for my work in an environment that so often feels big, threatening, too late, painful, connected, incredibly beautiful.

In March this year I joined Land Body Ecologies – a global transdisciplinary network exploring the deep interconnections of mental and ecosystem health. LBE is centred on the concept of solastalgia* and seeks to understand lived experiences of land trauma among land dependent and Indigenous communities.

* Solastalgia is a term coined by Glenn Albrecht to describe the feeling distress caused by environmental change, ‘the experience of homesickness while still at home’.

Nadas Istanbul business card
Nadas Istanbul

What is a key piece of learning or inspiration you took away from CCL that you’d like to share with others?

For me, one of the biggest take-aways from CCL was a feeling of not being alone. Prior to CCL, I had been feeling relatively isolated in the work I was doing in Istanbul; in a way, fighting to make it work through passion and motivation, while lacking the vast resource that comes with being connected to a wider network of creative climate activists. I left CCL feeling like I’d been seen and supported and was a part of something bigger. I’ve continued to feel this holding from JB and am very grateful for it!

Jessica Sim at the Creative Climate Accelerator and Creating Now For The Future in-person event. Photo by James Allan

What does Creative Climate Leadership mean to you? What is most exciting about working in the arts/creative community on climate transformations?

Creative climate leadership is about allowing that ‘other part’ of ourselves, our minds, and our thinking, to play a role in how we address our relationship with this planet. I think of it often as a frame – one that has space for art and community, and also for our hearts to play a role – that eases us into seeing and talking and feeling this climate crisis. Creative climate leadership has the potential to engage those of us feeling paralysed by fear and those of not knowing where to start.

For me, the most exciting thing about working in the art/creative community on climate transformation is its possibility. Art has the ability and potential to transcend boundaries of communication and is an incredibly powerful tool for expressing and engaging people in new ideas, worries, actions, relationships…

What is your project looking to achieve and your ambitions for it? What transformations or visions of a liveable future are you working towards in your community or organisation?

Overall, my work stems from the idea that we take action for the things that we care for and we care for the things that we feel connected to; and the idea that change comes from a deep and personal connection to ourselves, one another, and the world of which we are a part. My ambition is to continue to facilitate creative environments where this is possible, and in a way that is both sustainable (materially, energetically, economically) for all those involved in the work, the humans and more-than-human natural world.

Jess and a friend sitting down and looking upwards at the Museum of Garbage
Jessica Sim (left) at the Museum of Garbage

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone working on climate-related projects right now?

Look after yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Work on having boundaries, spend time under the sky, and remember that you’re not alone.

Any upcoming programmes / webinars / events to mention?

The LBE podcast series may be of interest!

LBE Indigenous Batwa artists and partners in our Bwindi Hub (Uganda) are also currently developing a Batwa Cultural Centre, which you can learn more about here.

Museum of Garbage text
Museum of Garbage

Climate action is urgent and can be overwhelming: how do you cope, decompress, stay inspired and positive? (asked by previous CCL Spotlight interviewee Rie Alkemede)

I’ve spent many years asking this question and am still looking for answers. For one, I make sure to spend time under the sky and to take time to remember the world, that nature, is so much bigger than I am. I used to feel desperate about trying to ‘save the world’ and now I spend a lot more time trying to listen. I read (usually fiction) to remember that I’m not alone, I jump in cold water as often as I can, and I try to follow my natural pace (which is slow!), because it’s usually in the slowness I feel most able to cope, decompress, feel connected and stay inspired.

Want to hear more from Jessica?

She features in the CCL Podcast, Episode 2, alongside CCL-er Yula Rocha, talking about relationships and resilience and how to work with and in community. You can find the episode – and many more inspiring conversations – here.


Jessica Sim CCL profile
Jessica Sim on recent CCL podcast (episode 2)
Jessica Sim on episode 8 of JB’s Creative Climate Chats series


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