On June 20, 2018, SOCAP (Social Capital Markets) convened investors, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders at the Highland City Club in Boulder, Colorado to encourage the funding of climate solutions. As part of the proceedings, SOCAP invited the Climate Ribbon to install a Ribbon Tree and lead a ritual of climate grief and hope. Ribbon co-creator Rae Abileah brought a Ribbon Tree first created by residents of Estes Park, CO. At the SOCAP 365 Chasing Solutions event, over 70 participants had the opportunity to make ribbons and engage with the stories on the Tree.
Climate Ribbon co-creator Rae Abileah first spoke about the importance of storytelling and art to create cultural change. She was followed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Coral, Chasing Ice) who shared what he has witnessed on the frontlines of climate change, and how his films have sparked conversation on climate chaos in faith communities, especially in the South. The presentations complemented each other in highlighting the importance of narrative and visuals in prompting action.
The Climate Ribbon Tree became a sacred space for people to share their climate griefs and hopes. Participants wrote on ribbons what they love and hope to never to lose to climate chaos (Matt from Denver, CO, wrote: “If temps continue to rise, the trout that I love to fish for cannot survive. You can only protect what you love.”). People then tied their ribbons onto the Tree, found another one that moved them deeply, and became the guardian of that person’s story. This last step helped to build an “intimate solidarity” that now — with thousands of people having shared ribbons at hundreds of rituals — spans the globe.
The experience at SOCAP 365 brought an interesting lesson home. While we often use the Climate Ribbon to engage communities who have not yet activated around climate change, time and again we see how important it is for people in the movement - from climate experts to seasoned activists - to reconnect with what’s personally at stake for them. The Climate Ribbon creates a meaningful space to do this, helping participants renew their commitments to action and forge relationships with strangers they may never meet again yet with whom they feel a common destiny. This is as true at the huge climate mobilizations (NY 2014, Paris 2015, etc.) where that the Ribbon has been displayed, as it is at the many smaller funder and investor gatherings to which the Ribbon Tree has been invited, such as the Climate & Energy Funders Group Meeting, the Tides Foundation in San Francisco, and the Compton Foundation funders’ gathering in Paris.
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A big thanks to SOCAP 365 event coordinator Liz Maxwell who made this installation in Boulder happen, and was an integral team member for the Climate Ribbon’s first-ever installation at the People’s Climate March in NYC in 2014! And thanks as well to volunteer help from Micha Kurz and Munq DeVoe. Finally, our gratitude to the Highland City Club for hosting this powerful evening in their beautiful garden amphitheater.