Elementary Kids Exchange Ribbons Across the Country

Elementary Kids Exchange Ribbons Across the Country

In April 2018, we had our first long-distance exchange of ribbons between elementary school classes. We received an email from teacher Jennifer Doolas, who made Climate Ribbons with her students at a school in Chicago and wanted to exchange them. This prompted us to get in touch with another teacher, Dena Maple, who teaches at a Jewish day school in Encino, California, and she was inspired to do a lesson plan with her students on climate change, and to have her kids make and exchange ribbons with Ms. Doolas’s class. 

Pictured above are some of Ms. Maple’s students holding up their ribbons. 

Would your school like to make Climate Ribbons and exchange them with other classes? Download our Climate Ribbon DIY kit to learn how to do it. And email us at climateribbon[at]gmail[dot]com if you have questions or want help finding a class to exchange with!

The Climate Ribbon as an Activity for Art Teachers

The Climate Ribbon as an Activity for Art Teachers

On April 19, 2018, Megan Stevens led her class in the Climate Ribbon art ritual, and students tied their ribbons onto a living tree at Metro State University in Denver, CO. Megan led her fellow 14 classmates in Intro to Art Ed: History and Philosophy in the ribbon, as part of a presentation on how to use art in the classroom to talk about social justice themes. 

This is a text that one of her classmates sent her after the presentation: "Can I just tell you how much I appreciate you. I loved your presentation and thank you for including us in something so important. ️” 

We agree that the Climate Ribbon can be a meaningful project to do in art classes with students in the 4th - 12th grade. Download our Climate Ribbon DIY kit to learn how to do it. And emails us at climateribbon[at]gmail[dot]com if you have questions!




How to build a tree and facilitate a unifying ritual for a group of 50+ participants

How to build a tree and facilitate a unifying ritual for a group of 50+ participants

Here's the story of how the Estes Valley Indivisible group used the Climate RIbbon project to create a Tree of Unity in the Colorado Rockies... and how you can too. 

By: Rae Abileah and Jasmine Holan

On Sunday, April 8, the Climate Ribbon was invited to Estes Valley Indivisible (EVI), as a main feature at their one year anniversary special event. After an inaugural year of many success, a major challenge that could have split the group was overcome. To mark the anniversary and celebrate coming together, Jasmine Holan and Rae Abileah co-created the ritual presentation, and in the process dreamed up a new version of how to make and assemble a Climate Ribbon Tree, that you can use in your community. The ritual went beautifully and the group brainstormed ideas for how to use the Climate Ribbon in their local outreach, renewable energy campaigns, and community engagement moving forward. They formed a steering committee with eight people to put these ideas into action… stay tuned for more!

2017 Year in Review

The Climate Ribbon team hopes you’re having a wonderful holiday season. However, we understand if sometimes it’s hard to maintain a cheery face amid the onslaught of national and global crises.  And since you’re reading this, you surely understand perhaps the greatest crisis of all: ever-quickening climate chaos.

We at the Climate Ribbon believe the best way to approach this alarming new reality is head-on – and together.  Much like the AIDS Memorial Quilt galvanized its generation, the Climate Ribbon uses art and ritual and to help us witness our mounting losses, and turn our grief into action.

In 2017, people across the country — from the People’s Climate March in DC to Congregation Nevei Kodesh in Boulder to the Climate & Energy Funders Group Meeting in San Francisco — created climate ribbon installations and committed to using their life force in this unique moment in history to turn the tide on climate change.

In 2018, we’re taking the Climate Ribbon to the next level, with several exciting partnerships in the works, which we’ll tell you more about in the new year.

Here are some highlights from 2017:  

Climate & Energy Funders Group Meeting, San Francisco, CA, April 14

People's Climate March, Washington, DC, April 29

Native Plants & Prairies Day, Dallas, Texas, May 6

Get Organized BK, Brooklyn, NY, July 25

ARISE Music Festival, Loveland, CO, August 4-6

Rosh Hashanah prayer service, Congregation Nevei Kodesh, Boulder, CO, September 21

5 Years After Sandy: We Remember, We Resist, We Rise, New York, NY, October 28

The Climate Ribbon inspired the youth-led Sunrise Movement to launch a nationwide Climate Time Capsule campaign in fall ‘17.

And here are some of the beautiful thoughts people wrote at these events:

  • “Wildlife, birds, trees, flowers, my sanity, soil, recreation, walks by the lake, my joy.”
  • “I will miss the opportunity for my grandson to enjoy nature as I knew it.”
  • “Hope – I pray to never lose hope, no matter how dark it gets.  And, fresh peaches!”
  • “My state – Florida – and all of our unique flora and fauna. The Everglades!”

If you’re inspired to put together some ribbons yourself, you can do so with the help of our new 1-page DIY toolkit!  Let your imagination run wild. And if you do put a ribbon display together, please tell us about it at climateribbon@gmail.com!

And, if you’re inspired to contribute to keep this project going into the new year, please support the Climate Ribbon’s work towards environmental sanity and sustainability with a tax-deductible contribution. Only with your support can we continue our work into 2018 and beyond.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

If you'd prefer to donate by check, please make it payable to "Backbone Campaign” (our 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor). On the memo line, please indicate "Climate Ribbon." Mail your check to: Climate Ribbon, ℅ Backbone Campaign, PO Box 278, Vashon, WA 98070. Thank you. 

Thank you so much for your consideration!  Again, we wish you and your families all the best as our precious home Earth makes another trip around the sun.

For future generations,
Andy, Andrew, Gan, Kate and Rae

5 Years After Sandy: We Remember, We Resist, We Rise

5 Years After Sandy: We Remember, We Resist, We Rise

The Climate Ribbon participated in an important event commemorating the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy in New York City – “We Remember, We Resist, We Rise” (#Sandy5). Over 3,000 attendees gathered to honor the people affected by one of the worst storms in U.S. history, and to demand bold climate action from Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo, and Senator Schumer.  Following a rally in Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza Park and a march across the Brooklyn Bridge, attendees congregated at the Alfred E. Smith houses, a housing complex that was severely impacted by the storm.

Upon arriving, attendees participating in an art build – painting the tarmac, drawing banners, and writing on & hanging ribbons on our screen!  In response to what people love and hope never to lose to climate change, people wrote messages such as:

“Hope – I pray to never lose hope, no matter how dark it gets.  And, fresh peaches!”   - Daniel, 24, Boulder, CO

“My state – Florida – and all of our unique flora and fauna.  The Everglades!”   - Sharon Brown, St. Petersburg, FL

“Earth, water, wind and fire – for all”   - Anonymous

We wish to thank our four incredible volunteers who helped set up, explain the CR to interested passers-by, and close down shop afterward: Sally Gellert, Becca Lynch, Brenna Cohen, and Caron Atlas.  It was such a great help to have you there.  Thank you again!



Andy Wanning, Climate Ribbon Project Coordinator


ARISE Music Festival

ARISE Music Festival

The 350.org Colorado booth featured the Climate Ribbon at the 2017 Arise Festival in Loveland, CO. Many concert-goers made ribbons, including dozens of kids and parents, and read through the collection of ribbons from around the world that hung from the booth. Photos and action were facilitated by CR co-creator Rae Abileah. 

The Climate Ribbon is a simple activity you can bring to your organization’s next tabling event. Download our toolkit on our Participate page to find out more! 


Huge shout out to Caron Atlas, Arts & Democracy, for bringing the Climate Ribbon to Brooklyn! The #GetOrganizedBK Civic Festival took place on July 25 from 5-8pm at the Prospect Park Bandshell. The festival celebrated the great work being done by local community members and organizations. Around 1,500 Brooklynites were in attendance, and the Climate Ribbon was a moving part of the tabling activities. Councilmember Brad Lander, Advocate Letitia James, NY State Assembly members Robert Carroll and Jo Anne Simon made ribbons alongside many Brooklynites. Thanks Assemblyman Carroll for tweeting about the Climate Ribbon and thank you Councilmember Lander for posting about it on facebook! And thanks to Raquel de Anda for volunteering to help bring the Ribbon to Brooklyn! 

Thanks #GetOrganizedBK and thank you Caron!

Native Plants & Prairies Day in North Texas

Native Plants & Prairies Day in North Texas

Big thanks to the North Texas Master Naturalists who brought the Climate Ribbon to the Native Plants & Prairies Day in May, which they host annually at the Bath House Cultural Center grounds at White Rock Lake in Dallas. This free, family-oriented community event focused on Texas native plants and animals, and created time to celebrate the role the prairie played in Texas history. According to Ethel Stephens, a member of the North Texas Master Naturalists, a group of Aztec Dancers spoke about honoring nature, and there were over 30 booths showcasing animals, birds, bugs, snakes, and plants, and several guided walks around the lake led by experts focusing on trees, edible plants, healing remedies, wildflowers.

Ethel wrote to us:  

“The inclusion of the Climate Ribbon Tree was a wonderful and touching addition to the event.  During the day, as ribbons were added, the tree became a visually stunning reminder of our commitment to fight climate change, and at the end of the day, we had a beautiful symbol of hope.”

She continued:

“I can’t tell you how many people said to me that climate change is the #1 issue in our country right now, and they appreciated that we were addressing it. I was so touched by how seriously people took this. You could see how they were really thinking about what they wanted to write.  And I almost cried every time parents would speak so sweetly to their kids about it. I was humbled and honored to be a part of this.”

There were so many beautiful messages written on the ribbons, some of them are listed below:

  • I love lush...the joy and feeling of life around me in nature with a real connection

  • I love you owl

  • I will miss cool winter mornings, changing wildlife and insects and the pleasure a change of seasons bring

  • Want to see a coral reef and all the fishes - I still want to see a glacier

  • Wildlife, birds, trees, flowers, my sanity, soil, recreation, walks by the lake, my joy

  • Would be sad to never see a hummingbird. Please love the Earth.

  • I will miss the opportunity for my grandson to enjoy nature as I knew it.

  • Cocoa beans for chocolate!!!

  • The breeze, the clouds, sunsets and all the wildlife

  • White Rock Lake, trees in front yard, cat, water, whales, Arctic fox, oceans, vegetables

  • The dogwoods at Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, monarchs, Mississippi kites, horn frogs

  • Bees and frogs and water and trees and turtles and flowers and good dirt and fish and grass and food and breath

  • The tender spring leaf reflecting life in the temperate lake!

  • Wetlands, freshwater, sea turtles

People's Climate March in DC

People's Climate March in DC

 Aerial image of the Climate Ribbon pathway at the People’s Climate March, taken by a camera on a kite.

Aerial image of the Climate Ribbon pathway at the People’s Climate March, taken by a camera on a kite.

Hi! I’m Andy Wanning, newest core member of the Climate Ribbon team. On Saturday, April 29, I traveled with other Climate Ribbon folks to Washington DC for the People’s Climate March – and it was a bigger success than we could’ve imagined!  We constructed a beautiful arched pathway of ribbons beside the cherry tree grove on the Mall, facing the stage where the post-march rally would be held, and waited for marchers to arrive.

As marchers arrived, they were drawn to the colorful ribbons fluttering in the breeze; thousands gathered to reckon with the biggest existential threat that humanity has ever faced, and share their stories of love and loss. Marchers tied their ribbons onto the “tunnel of ribbons,” and when they saw a ribbon that particularly moved them, they untied it and took it with them, becoming the guardian of another person’s story and fueling their own commitment to use their precious time on Earth to fight against the forces causing climate change.
A 7-year old girl from South Dakota wrote, simply, “Our river.” A middle-aged man from Maine wrote, “Confidence in the cycle of seasons.” Three women from Naples, FL held up a ribbon that had moved them, declaring, “We’re taking this one home and it will be the start of the climate ribbon at our church.” 

Later in the day, an MSNBC film crew showed up and shot a live segment with project co-creator Andrew Boyd. An hour later, a super-enthusiastic college student showed up to volunteer, saying “I just saw your ribbon project on TV and had to come help!”

The Climate Ribbon was founded at the first People’s Climate March in September 2014; we are deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to display it again at this follow-up March. We give a huge thanks to our volunteers — Cindi, Nadine, Jonah, and especially Mark; we could not have done this without you.

Please check out the great photos below!

By the way, you can create a Climate Ribbon - small or big - in your community by downloading our NEW 1-page DIY Guide.  And if you are enthusiastic about the potential for this project to affect changes in people’s consciousness, please donate to keep it going and showing up in movement moments. Feel free to email us anytime with your questions or to share your story at climateribbon@gmail.com. Here’s to connecting with each other and keeping up the fight!

 A woman ties her ribbon onto the Climate Ribbon.    

A woman ties her ribbon onto the Climate Ribbon. 


 Families and children interacted with the Climate Ribbon all day.    

Families and children interacted with the Climate Ribbon all day. 


 Marchers shared their own stories at our ribbon-making table.    

Marchers shared their own stories at our ribbon-making table. 


 Marchers shared their own stories at our ribbon-making table.    

Marchers shared their own stories at our ribbon-making table. 


 Ribbons fluttering in the wind, stories traveling the globe. Photo from the official  People’s Climate March album

Ribbons fluttering in the wind, stories traveling the globe. Photo from the official People’s Climate March album

JPNDC State of Our Neighborhood

JPNDC State of Our Neighborhood

In order to process and heal from the threats and negativity that had emerged since the disastrous outcome of the 2016 presidential election, the Jamaica Plain (MA) Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) modified the Climate Ribbon ritual to conduct a community building exercise for Jamaica Plain residents at their annual State of Our Neighborhood (SOON) event on April 27, 2017.  It was a great success, with around 125 community members separating into breakout groups according to five topic areas: Racial Justice, Immigration (two groups, Spanish and English), Housing, Faith and Community Engagement, and Arts and Culture.  Participants focused on the question, “What do you love and hope to never lose in Jamaica Plain?” They wrote their thoughts on ribbons and, upon returning to the main group, tied them to the Community Climate Ribbon Tree. All of the groups appeared energized and happy with the exercise.  The event was reported by a lot of media including several area newspapers such as the Jamaica Plain Gazette ("The 2017 State of Our Neighborhood: Community Climate" and "Affordable housing, racial justice discussed at State of Our Neighborhood") and the Jamaica Plain News ("2017 JP State of Our Neighborhood to Focus on ‘Community Climate'"), the JPNDC website, and the JPNDC Facebook page.  It was a great pleasure working with the JPNDC to make their event a success!

Climate & Energy Funders Group Meeting

Climate & Energy Funders Group Meeting

The Climate Ribbon was invited to the 2017 Climate & Energy Funders Group meeting in San Francisco, April 13-14, and our interactive ribbon sculpture greeted participants on arrival with an opportunity to feel into what they personally stand to lose to climate chaos,. Space and time constraints got us to innovate a new design for the ribbon, one you can easily make for your next event. We used a tri-fold screen as a base, weighted it with sandbags covered in natural-toned fabrics (remnants), and tied strings between the edges of the screen to use as the lines for the ribbons. 

 The Climate Ribbon Tree as a folding screen shape, and the accompanying table for people to make their own ribbons to add.    

The Climate Ribbon Tree as a folding screen shape, and the accompanying table for people to make their own ribbons to add. 


 Climate Ribbon co-creator Kate McNeely screws in hooks to tie string between the hinges of the folding screen.   Want to bring this design to your community? Email us (climateribbon [at] gmail [dot] com) if you have questions on how to build it, or if you would like us to ship this installation to you to use at your event, faith institution, school, or community!    

Climate Ribbon co-creator Kate McNeely screws in hooks to tie string between the hinges of the folding screen. 

Want to bring this design to your community? Email us (climateribbon [at] gmail [dot] com) if you have questions on how to build it, or if you would like us to ship this installation to you to use at your event, faith institution, school, or community! 


Dispatch from COP 22 in Marrakech, November 4-13

by Rae Abileah

I arrived in Marrakech with bundles of climate ribbons carrying messages of loss and hope from all over the world. I was there for the COP 22 (official name: the 22
nd Council of Parties), where last year’s historic Paris Accord would be hammered into concrete commitments to stop renegade climate chaos. Four days after my arrival, in the middle of negotiations, the US electoral map turned blood red before our eyes. What now? Our President-elect was a serial climate-denier who had also  signed a letter with the business community acknowledging climate change as a very real and present threat. How could negotiations move forward with the US delegation now under such a cloud of uncertainty?

And at such a huge moment of grief, how could I imagine proceeding with our puny little Climate Ribbon ritual? Then I remembered that we created this ritual because of the need to grieve, not in spite of it. And so, despite wanting to curl up in bed morning after morning, I arose, and found ways to weave the Climate Ribbon into the Marrakech summit. Here are some snapshots from what became a surprisingly moving adventure.


The Climate Ribbon was featured at the Conference of Youth (COY) for the second year in a row. Before I could even finish setting up the lines of ribbon that we’d gathered at the Paris COY, students were already clustering around our table, clamoring to make ribbons. There is something irresistible about this project. Moroccan student groups from Casablanca, Agadir, and Marrakech made ribbons and strung them up as a group, exchanging ribbons and speaking aloud their stories. Organizers with the Moroccan chapter of Surfrider added their stories of love for the ocean. “The joy of sharing a smile with a stranger,” wrote 18 year old Marakshi student Mourad. “Espero que nunca perdamos nuestra paz, nuestra naturaleza, y que podemos agradecer a nuestro planeta por todo lo que nos da juntos [I hope that we never lose our peace, our nature, and that we are able to be grateful for our planet and all that it gives us.]” wrote one student from Argentina. Each ribbon told a unique and moving story: “I want to protect the future of my children and their children and the future of the earth” “Fresh air, trees, water, forests, bees, birds, nature, peace, space, liberty, possibility, justice, wildness…”


On the Saturday after the election, a 100-person-strong flash mob erupted in Jemaa el-Fna, in the heart of Marrakech calling for a 100% renewable future. At the rehearsal leading up to the action, I’d invited dancers to write on a ribbon a variation of the central Climate Ribbon question - “What do you love and hope to never lose to climate change?,” which was: “What are you dancing for?” During the flash mob, dancers raised their right hands into the sky to metaphorically point into the future, the bright yellow and orange ribbons shimmered in the sunlight: the collective answer: We are dancing for a world powered by the sun, not oil.

On Tuesday, I was invited to facilitate the ribbon ritual as part of the Episcopal Church’s daily meditation and prayer space inside the COP 22 green zone. Dozens of people flocked to the space to make, exchange, and read ribbons. Several student groups promised to start a Ribbon Tree on their campuses. I read aloud a ribbon from Hamid, who wrote, “I don’t want to lose beautiful nature because of shortage of rain in my home, Palestine. We have to fight against CO2 emissions and burning coal for power, and replace it with solar energy.” We closed the ritual with a reading on the day’s theme, sorrow, from Christian liturgy:

The holiness of lament... draws us into communion with all life. Today, how can we still our minds to meet our sadness with open hearts, courageously and faithfully venturing into the darkness before us?

We are now talking with several denominations about how to integrate the Climate Ribbon ritual into Sunday school activities, and make it a meaningful part of religious school curriculums across the world.

Throughout all these activities, I was reminded how the Climate Ribbon is a ritual of grief and loss, but also a ritual to reaffirm our hope and the possibility of renewal. A Berber activist shared with me that his family in the Atlas Mountains above Marrakech tie swaths of fabric to trees as a prayer for new mothers. In a similar fashion, could our Climate Ribbons help not just be present to hospice the rich diversity of life we are losing, but also painfully midwife into existence a new regenerative society, that plays well with nature and makes a home for all?

And how did negotiations move forward after the US election? US businesses urged Trump to stay the course with the global climate deal. Independent of the federal government, California, and other future-minded states and municipalities are moving forward with huge plans for transitioning to renewable energy. It’s helpful to remember that the US isn’t at the center of the world (though it may fancy itself as such). With or without Trump, the world is moving forward to solve the climate crisis. The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative could leapfrog the continent into renewables much as cell phones did for communications, skipping landlines altogether. But while some countries made meaningful financial commitments, there was nowhere near enough commitment made from rich countries to poorer nations.


During the final week of the COP22, Climate Action Network hosted an historic event that brought together governments, corporations, and organizations to advance a 100% renewable energy future, and a video of the flashmob was the finale of that event, sending a strong message to diplomats and CEOs that artists and cultural workers are also integral to this transformation.

One of my main takeaways from this (long, painful) election season, is about the power of story, myth-making, and cultural shift. For too long Democrats and “the left” have relied on facts and logic to try to win over voters. When was the last time you changed your mind about a big political issue because of rational reasoning? For many of us, it’s art, music, theater, novels, the stories our friends share, that help shift our thinking. And that’s why we created the Climate Ribbon to begin with – because we recognized the power of heart-centered story, of belonging, of connection, of communion.

Joe Hill said, “Don’t mourn, organize!” But this time around, I’m heartened to see that my fellow activists and friends are taking more of a “Mourn. Then organize!” approach. It will take both strong hearts and purposeful hands to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis and have a fighting chance at a habitable planet.

Donate to help us outreach to faith and organizing communities!
Download the DIY Climate Ribbon toolkit.
Make your own tree - here’s how.

Rae Abileah is a co-creator of the Climate Ribbon project. She lives in Denver, Colorado. @raeabileah

How to build your own (beautiful & affordable) Climate Ribbon Tree

In September, 2016, the Climate Ribbon team was invited to a gathering of climate movers and shakers in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. People had seen the Tree at the COP21 in Paris and had been deeply moved, and wanted to share it with participants from all over the country who were coming to this event. We decided to use this opportunity to experiment with a different kind of Tree. We wanted it to be beautiful, of course, but also portable, affordable, and easy to install and disassemble — not just for us, but as a model for others to do it in a DIY way going forward.

  Look, ma! It only takes 6 seconds!   Kate and Rae did it in 6 seconds. And you can too. (Actually, it took about a day.)

Look, ma! It only takes 6 seconds! Kate and Rae did it in 6 seconds. And you can too. (Actually, it took about a day.)

How to build a Climate Ribbon Tree from a garden trellis and natural materials (in 7 easy steps):


  • Trellis
  • Tree branches, some with leaves
  • Twine
  • Rocks
  • Ribbons
  • Pens
  • Writing surface/table
  • Clipboards (optional)
  • Table cloth (optional)  


Set the base: Buy and assemble a trellis. We found an inexpensive three-leg trellis online (here’s an example). It was metal and a little tacky, but the garden designs disappeared once we added the wood.

Gather natural materials: Reflect on the natural ecosystem around you. What kind of trees grow where you live — redwoods, birch trees, palms? What natural debris can be repurposed without harming living plants? We built our tree sculpture in the fall in the small town of Nederland, Colorado. The Rocky Mountains were afire with crimson and yellow aspens. We scavenged fallen tree trunks and branches from the mountains, and harvested some bright yellow leaves & branches. Our most useful tree trunks and branches were tall and narrow, not too heavy, but capable of covering large swathes of the metal trellis legs.

Build the trunk: Use twine to tie branches onto the legs of the trellis. For elegance, choose a uniform number of times to encircle the branches, or a set height to make ties. You may wish to just cover the outsides of the trellis, or to cover the insides as well.

Tie the top: Tie on smaller branches that have leaves or needles to make the tree top.

Secure the structure: After adding the wood pieces, the trellis will be much heavier. For stability, you can add rocks/small boulders at the base, both inside and out, to make the feet of the trellis base more secure.

Add ribbon lines: Cut string the width of the space between each trellis leg and tie the segments from leg to leg in uniform rows.

Set the table: Set up a table with a basket of blank ribbons, cut to about 18 inches, and pens (Bic or ballpoint work best, not Sharpies). You can add clipboards which make it easier for people to secure ribbons for writing. Make a sign with the Climate Ribbon instructions, something like this:

The Climate Ribbon

What do you love and hope to never lose to climate chaos?

  1. Write your answer, add your name, age, and hometown

  2. Tie your ribbon to the tree

  3. Take someone else’s ribbon

Become the guardian of another person’s story and commit to act for climate justice.



And then…

Interact: Invite people to make ribbons, tie them to the tree, and take someone else’s ribbon home with them. Or facilitate a ribbon exchange ritual. Download our DIY ritual kit.

Share: Send a photo to share your Climate Ribbon tree story with us. We’d love to share your Tree as a blog post or on our social media. Send your photo or story to climateribbon@gmail.com or @climateribbon.  

Paris Review

Here are our daily updates from the innerworkings of the Climate Ribbon arts and ritual team in Paris during the COP 21, November-December 2015. You can also check out news coverage of the Ribbon Tree at these links: Democracy Now!, AJ+ , The Irish Times, The French Ministry of Culture, Buzzfeed.

Opening post by LJ Amsterdam, daily updates by Rae Abileah, Andrew Boyd, Kate McNeeley

Before leaving for Paris, I asked many of the young people from my organizing community in upstate NY what they loved and hoped to never lose to climate chaos. Here’s what some of them wrote:

The smell of the grass at dawn after it has rained – David, 21, Kampala, Uganda

Going to my grandpa’s house and taking the canoes through the miles of swamps – Collin, 25, North Adams, MA

My home country and all its history – Matteo, 17,Naples, Italy

As the protector of these ribbons, I wrapped their climate cares to my wrists and carried them in my pockets across the ocean, grounded by the gravity (even as I’m buoyed by the levity) of what they, as young people walking into this world, stand to lose.

They stand to lose their future. I stand to lose them. We are linked together on this mission.

These were just a few of the thousands and thousands of ribbons that made their way to Paris last November and December, as part of the Climate Ribbon effort, a global storytelling project that uses art and ritual to help us move from climate grief to climate action.

Ribbons came from all over the world, in assorted boxes, envelopes, and hand-deliveries. There was the box from a school in Finland, a Priority Mail package from a church in Michigan, a box of hundreds used in a streaming banner in a Seattle march, little envelopes from children and families across three continents. My compatriots on the project, who’d been receiving ribbons for almost a year and half, stuffed thousands of them into air compression bags and packed their knapsacks to the gills to get them through airline security as they flew in from New York. Not to mention the 25,000 blank ribbons that awaited us in Paris. One week before the UN Climate Summit, the COP21, began, the ribbons, and their human caretakers, converged in Paris to build a giant tree, the container for the ribbons and ritual, and to put up Climate Ribbon displays throughout the city.

November 26-28 - The 11th Conference of Youth, Parc des Expositions de Villepinte
by Kate McNeeley

Upon arriving in Paris, the Climate Ribbon’s first installation was at The Conference of Youth (COY 11) – an international gathering of young leaders designed as a counterpoint to the official UN Climate Summit. Rae and Kate installed a low-fi, but high-impact, iteration of a climate ribbon “wall” composed of rope and wire. Located just beyond the entry to the conference, the collection of ribbons invited participants to connect first with their hearts and to ask themselves why they were there, before heading into the various spaces of the conference. COY11 ran 6,000-strong, and by the end of the four-day gathering, the Climate Ribbon wall was adorned with messages from young people from Philippines, Chad, Tahiti, Haiti, and the world over.

Rachel, Walter, and I met Carl, 14, a young activist from Syria currently living in Orleans, France, who proffered a climate ribbon that highlighted the deep connection between conflict and climate chaos. What Carl loves and is afraid of losing is his home country, because of "all the pollution of the bombs that fall in Syria." For many families in Syria, he explained, the risk comes with every breath: "Syria is a very hot country and it’s cold in the winter… with the bombs there is no electricity and with the pollution the people can't breathe." Carl used his ribbon to make his struggle visible. He told us, "nobody has really written about Syria and maybe in COP they [the UN] will see this and think about Syria too."

Continue reading the rest of this blog...

Dispatch #4 : The Story of the Trees in Paris

Dispatch #4 : The Story of the Trees in Paris

We have all returned from Paris and the whirlwind of the holidays. We want to take a moment to thank all of our volunteers, supporters, design team, and media team for the amazing work and brilliance that went into making the project a success and share the story of the trees. 

The Trees

 The end result! A stunning display with thousands of ribbons.

The end result! A stunning display with thousands of ribbons.

There were ultimately 3 trees built. The giant one was about 13 feet high and 20 feet wide.  The two smaller ones were 8' high and used one of our design team member's, John Swain, hanging hoop design. One of which was "planted" in L'Bourget, "Inside" COP21 where the NGOs and politicians met. 

The large tree, which we named "The Tree of Solidarity" was installed twice. First at a giant 2-day festival called "The Village Mondial des Alternatives" put on by the Coaltion Climat 21 and Alternatiba, where thousands of people (including lots of families) participated in writing and hanging ribbons. 

The second spot was for 5 days at the "104 Space" a massive arts epicenter that was the primary organizing launchpad for the final actions on December 12th. It looked amazing in both settings. 

 People intently writing and tying ribbons. 

People intently writing and tying ribbons. 

Fabrication Process

 Laser-cut mock-up of Tree

Laser-cut mock-up of Tree

Members of our design team  was gracious enough to keep adjusting the 3D model on Paris time (THANKS Mateo!), based upon refinements we were making with the folks there on the ground. 

 Here you can see us start to slot the pieces together!

Here you can see us start to slot the pieces together!

The tree was cut out of Poplar, a locally grown sustainable farms in France. It is soft wood and water resistant. It's going to have a long life (see the Epilogue, below). 

 Above is the cool artists workshop that we were able to construct it all in.

Above is the cool artists workshop that we were able to construct it all in.

This is how we laid out the pieces before we installed it in 104 space. By the end of our stay (and with some modifications) we were able to assemble the large tree from start to finish in less than 1.5 hours. Pretty fast for something so big and complicated.

 Interior "keystone" space capturing a cathedral-like quality. 

Interior "keystone" space capturing a cathedral-like quality. 

 Engraving of the central question that the Climate Ribbon Project poses. Placed in both French and English on the front and back steps.

Engraving of the central question that the Climate Ribbon Project poses. Placed in both French and English on the front and back steps.

But in the end, despite the many challenges we faced, it was a great success and the tree's design and aesthetics were a huge part of that.

And it's not over!

The Epilogue: 

The trees are finding new homes. One of the small trees will be with a group "Foresters without Borders" who are planting hundreds of thousands of trees across France and the other remained with our team in Les Lilas as they host ribbon events in 2016.

The large tree was taken to Southern France where a Utopian community has adopted it. Mind you, this is not-your-father's-hippy-dropout-commune. This is a high functioning village with 300 residents, many of whom are expert builders and craftsmen.  They are going to retrofit and weatherproof the tree for permanent installation at the very center of their village.  It is being unveiled early this Spring.

There will be more from the Climate Ribbon team soon, including a full Paris debrief with videos. And if you are in NYC this weekend, please join members of the Climate Ribbon team at the COP 21 Report back at the Mayday Space.