A Cross-Cultural Dialogue on Climate Action

A Cross-Cultural Dialogue on Climate Action

International Perspectives from the CoJourn for Climate Action Pilot Program


Climate change is no longer a distant threat but a present reality, manifesting in extreme weather events like heatwaves, wildfires, and floods that are becoming increasingly frequent and severe across the globe. Environmental issues are affecting communities worldwide, from rising sea levels to the loss of biodiversity. In this context of urgency, individuals and communities are stepping up to make a difference. I'm Poulomi Chakravarty, founder of the Global Climate Association (GCA) from India, and I wish to share my journey alongside Drs. Grietje Keller, from the Netherlands who is the Co-Lead of the Mad Studies group at the Perceval Foundation, dedicated to creating a community for people with special experiences and combating their marginalization. Our paths crossed through CoJourn, a unique platform that promotes shared accountability and partnership. CoJourn For Climate Action was first time hosted in February 2024 and we both were participants of this pilot program. This is our story of collaboration and the impact we've made together.

The CoJourn Platform

CoJourn, created by Dr. Molly Keehn and Karl Henricksen, fosters accountability through partnership. Their 12-week CoJourn for Climate Action program brought Grietje and me together, two passionate individuals from different backgrounds but united by a common goal: addressing climate change. Our collaboration on this platform led to meaningful actions and shared learning, proving the power of global cooperation in tackling the climate crisis.

My Story

Background in Environmental Activism

I come from India, with a deep passion for environmental advocacy. My educational background in Environmental Sciences, focusing on natural hazards, motivated me to pursue a Doctoral Degree. I founded the Global Climate Association (GCA) to create a platform dedicated to climate literacy, action, and community engagement.

Personal Motivations

My commitment to climate advocacy is driven by the belief that spreading accurate scientific information and building an informed network is crucial to combating climate change. The journey has its challenges, but my vision remains clear: to create a global community that is aware, educated, and motivated to take action against climate change.

Grietje’s Story

Background in Climate Advocacy and Political Activism

The climate crisis, the war in Ukraine, the atrocities in Gaza, and the backlash against transgender and women's rights make me feel depressed and helpless. It all makes me want to close my eyes, avoid reading or watching the news, and focus on my day-to-day activities. I regularly sign online petitions and occasionally participate in demonstrations. In the most recent elections in the Netherlands in November 2023, an extreme right-wing party with an anti-immigrant and anti-environment platform became the largest party. Since then, I decided to step up my activities, hoping to feel less hopeless and helpless. But where to start? I saw an announcement for CoJourn for Climate Action and decided to sign up. I was paired with Poulomi, and we had weekly phone calls for 12 weeks.

Discussing Our Climate Goals

Poulomi's Climate Goals

My goals are multifaceted, focusing on grassroots movements, education, and policy influence in India and beyond. I believe in the power of local action and am committed to fostering community-led initiatives. My aim is to revolutionize climate action globally, integrating climate science into curricula and developing diverse educational resources for local communities and young learners to make them aware of the pressing issues of climate and environment. My advocacy also extends to influencing environmental policies worldwide, ensuring sustainable practices are embedded in development plans.

Grietje’s Climate Goals

My climate goals are focused committing to political activism and community engagement in the Netherlands, driven by the urgency of the climate crisis and the rise of political movements opposing environmental protections. I believe that substantial change can only be achieved through political advocacy and grassroots mobilization. My goal was to step up my own actions and go beyond signing online petitions, attending demonstration once every few years and some individual actions (consuming less, trying not to fly, eating mostly plants etc).

Approaches to Climate Action

Spreading Climate Awareness by Terra Confluence 2024 by Poulomi

The CoJourn for Climate Action program provided us with the tools and support needed to work towards our climate goals. After starting the 12-week CoJourn journey, I utilized the platform to plan and execute the international event series Terra Confluence 2024. Terra, means earth, and Confluence, meaning convergence, marked the Earth Day this year and was held from April 22nd to April 29th, extended to May 5th due to overwhelming responses. This significant event aimed at promoting climate literacy and action was completely planned by me within one month and executed effortlessly by the help of our international collaborators UMass Amherst NSDC Chapter led by Sai Gattupalli, HerWILL led by Farhana Hasan, Planet Alba led by Albert Schiller. The CoJourn structure was instrumental in hosting this successful event and support provided by Molly Keehn, Jessie Cooley and Angélica Castro were the positive boost for the global climate and environment awareness initiative.

Integrating Climate Activism with Community Engagement by Grietje

In one of our early conversations, Poulomi suggested combining my existing efforts in organizing reading groups with climate activism. Why not start a similar reading group focused on climate issues? Inspired by this idea, I decided to create a climate reading group.

I collaborated with the organization that hosts my current reading groups to set up a new group at the intersection of philosophy and climate change. We chose to read Schokeffecten by Wouter Kusters, a book that explores philosophical approaches to climate change. I've secured a location, set dates, and am now actively recruiting participants.

Additionally, during these 12 weeks, I attended a demonstration about the Lutkemeerpolder and sent letters to city council members advocating for the preservation of the Lutkemeerpolder.

Image: About page from the Red Ons Groen Website

I am actively involved in the Red Ons Groen initiative, a campaign launched by Behoud Lutkemeer and Voedselpark Amsterdam to prevent the construction of a massive 55,000 m² distribution hall on Amsterdam's last fertile agricultural land. The campaign opposed Proptimize BV's plans, highlighting the importance of preserving this valuable green space for community-led urban agriculture rather than allowing its destruction for real estate profit. As the construction of the largest distribution center is scheduled for the first quarter of 2024, and the partial revision of the zoning plan is on the municipal agenda, Red Ons Groen called for immediate action. The campaign aimed to collect 100,000 signatures and organize protests to demonstrate widespread citizen support for preserving the Lutkemeerpolder.

Overcoming Challenges

Both Grietje and I faced numerous challenges in our current climate action journey. However, our partnership on the CoJourn platform allowed us to support each other and find innovative solutions. By sharing our experiences and insights, we were able to overcome obstacles and make meaningful progress towards our goals.

Holding Each Other Accountable

Accountability was a key component of our collaboration. Through regular check-ins and mutual support, Grietje and I kept each other motivated and focused. This partnership not only strengthened our resolve but also ensured that our actions had a lasting impact.

Lessons Learned and Shared Insights

Through our journey, we learned the importance of collaboration, perseverance, and adaptability and most importantly kindness. Our experiences highlighted the power of global solidarity and shared responsibility in tackling the climate crisis. By working together, we were able to achieve more than we could have individually.

Call to Action and Conclusion

As I conclude this blog, I encourage readers to take their own steps towards climate action. Whether it’s joining a local initiative, starting a reading group, or participating in advocacy efforts, every action counts. Our story emphasizes on the importance of global solidarity and the need for each of us to play our part in addressing the climate crisis.

If you are interested in ways you can use theCoJourn Frameworkto support your own**Climate Action Initiatives, learn more on the website and contact us at cojourn.org(more CoJourn for Climate Action programs will be coming soon!)

- Molly Keehn, Ed.D., Co Founder, CoJourn

This blog is jointly authored by Grietje Keller and Poulomi Chakravarty to share their experience as online participants of CoJourn for Climate Action Pilot program.

Please visit the official website of Global Climate Association for more interesting information on climate science, upcoming events, literacy tools, initiatives and narratives at https://globalclimateassociation.org/.