Creative action ideas

Sometimes using creativity can be the best way to reach people. Make them curious and they will want to know what you are doing. We are talking about serious stuff here: a global crisis that is already making many people’s lives more difficult. How can creativity help you to tell your story? And remember, science is on our side – so spend some time to gather solid data about your region and use that information to support your action. Read on for lots of fun and creative ideas! You can find a how-to on five of the most common ways to make dots here (.pdf).

Put your dot on the map:

  • Put the problem at the center: There are very real and tangible impacts at the center of what we’re working for. Put those problems at the center of your dot, be it wildfire, dead crops, tornadoes, rising sea-levels, etc. Perhaps paint that image onto your dot, or choose a location for your action that speaks to this problem. Is this the high-water mark from the flood? Is this where a house was? Is this where there used to be crops?
  • Impacted Materials: Let the medium be the message. Form “dots” in public places out of materials that speak to the story of a local impact. Bring snow from a receding glacier to a public space and let it melt, form a mandala in your town square from crops that have died, draw a huge black dot in front of a politician’s office using the charcoal from a forest fire or bring the dry earth from a drought inside to form a dot in a shopping center or politicians office. Gather with members of the impacted communities around the dot for a photo and have someone speak about the reality of their situation.
  • Earth Art Dots: Go to an impacted space and create a dot out of the materials you find there: scrape away layers of soil in a dried-up river bed to expose different colored layers beneath, or create dots where glaciers used to be. In drought prone areas, surrounded a well with empty buckets or create dots or mandalas out of the crops that have died because of abnormal weather conditions, use leaves of a tree that was destroyed by a hurricane to draw circles around the tree stump, or create a dot by piling the remains of a house together.
  • Giant Dots: In some places it’s a good idea to go big. Giant dots can be made out of fabric and placed on a beach, a glacier, a town square —any big open space! Sew together pieces of fabric to form your giant dot, and color it for high contrast and maximum impact (easily dye fabric by dunking it in very diluted water-based house paint). Form a circle of people around it, and take a picture from above.
  • Photo Dots: Photographs are one of the most emotionally impactful mediums we have. Use giant photo dots to show what a place used to look like. Bring a photograph of what a receding glacier used to look like and photograph it in front of the glacier, or bring a photograph of a house to the empty spot left by a tornado. Photos can be cheaply printed out on A4 paper and glued together to form huge images using the free program PosteRazor, or you can participate in the INSIDE OUT Project.
  • Impacted Portraits: Show the human face of climate change. If you’ve been affected by climate change, paint a dot somewhere on your body or face and pose for a portrait. Or put a portraits of someone affected by climate change at the center of your dot. Consider placing portraits at visibly impacted sites, like a wall partially destroyed by flooding with a large dot image of the family that used to live there. Or put up dot portraits in public spaces and over advertisements to inspire conversation about climate in your community and in the media.
  • Dirty Dots: Connect a source of climate chaos by painting a large black dot on fabric and hold it up in front of the causes of climate change (e.g., coal funding banks, polluting factories, gas stations) or paint a dot directly on the odious institution. Pour a puddle of “oil” or use coal to draw a big dot in front of banks that fund coal plants or politicians that accept fossil fuel money.
  • Simple Dots: Sometimes a simple approach is the most powerful. Your dot can be as simple and easy as a circular piece of colored cardboard. Optional: turn your dot into a simple sign by painting or writing a message on it (“This is Climate Change”, “350”, “Save Our Coastline!”, etc.). You can also attach a stick or dowel to hold your dot up high (great for marches and rallies). Simple dots work particularly well for large events where you may want to produce a lot of dots quickly.

Human Dots:

  • Community Dots: Join with others to form a Human Dot. Perhaps all wear a color that speaks to a local climate impact with a round banner in the middle, or each hold up something (e.g. a piece of fabric or painted cardboard of the same color). Maybe organize a group to physically surround an emblematic object or place that speaks to your local issue. Or draw your big dot using a long piece of string and some chalk, then fill it in with people. Make sure you can get high enough to get a good picture!
  • Flash Dots: Have people converge in flash mobs at a specific moment to sit or lie in a circle in front of a cause/solution/symptom of climate change. Perhaps have “Freeze” Flash mobs in front of media outlets/political offices to highlight their inaction. Bring a banner with your message, or you could even blindfold participants with money with logos on it to show how the media or politician has been “blinded” to the reality of climate change by fossil fuel money.

More Dot Ideas:

  • Dot Scavenger Hunt: Create a “Connect the Dots” scavenger hunt in your community, and give people clues so they can go about connecting the dots on climate change in their local community (ex. gas station, organic farm, news station, etc.) encourage them to have an action/teach-in at each stop and have everyone come together for a big final action.
  • Photo slide-shows: For solidarity events or in places in the Americas that can access the photos from the day already posted online, slide shows that show dots from all over the world can be powerful educational materials.
  • Cinco de Mayo Clean Energy Festivals: Cinco de Mayo is an important celebration of Mexican heritage in the United States – some people in the 350 network had the idea of taking this day to gather with their communities and celebrate a clean energy future as well!
  • Moving Waters: Rising sea-levels are already forcing some countries to look towards evacuating completely while snow and glacier loss is causing many freshwater lakes and rivers to rapidly diminish. On land or on water use kayaks, people, chalk, paint or other means to show where the waterline should have been, where it might be soon, or to recreate a bridge or home that was washed away.
  • Solutions Dots: Let’s not forget to keep the graceful solutions to the climate crisis as a part of this story! Creative projects like floating schools in flood areas, rooftop gardens, communal wells, or circular garden projects help to share the positive aspects of cultural change.
  • Dot Banners: This is simple, get a big piece of fabric and paint a big dot on it. At the middle of your dot you can paint an image of your impact or write your message. Get creative with messaging, perhaps write “This Is Climate Change”, “Enough!” or “This is what fossil fuel subsidies are paying for.” There is also lots of room for localization of a political message too.
  • Garbage Dots: Engage waste-picker or environmental school groups to create dots out of garbage. They could sort out all the dark plastic and put it into a pile surrounded by clear or lighter items. Or create a dot out of garbage and then sort it out to be recycled. You could get even more creative and form the garbage into an image of what was/what used to be there.
  • Negative Space Dots: Create dots by clearing something away. Perhaps you make reverse-graffiti dots by washing the dirt and smog off the walls of your city in the shape of a dot, or you make a dot by clearing away garbage and concrete in an abandonded lot to make a space for a garden.
  • Traditional Dots: What creative traditions does your region have that could be used to form a dot? Perhaps weaving techniques, carving, pottery, or embroidery techniques can be used to create a dot out of local materials and highlight the importance of traditional knowledge and skills in sustainability.
  • Floating Dots: Create dots that float to mark where a bridge used to be, or where your coastline once was. Use plastic soda bottles or other recycled materials as floats. And don’t forget to secure your dots so that they don’t float away!
  • Connect the Dots: Create a mural project or sidewalk chalk project where people are invited to connect the dots to form an image (just like the kids drawing game). Have groups take a picture every few seconds and make it into a stop-motion animation.
  • Cool Roof Dots: Paint a big white dot on top of a building or school to help keep it cooler in summer. Try and get a photograph from above.
  • Pointillism Dots: Use the Impressionist painting technique of pointillism to use lots of different dots to create a single image.
  • Black Holes: Create a symbolic “Political Black Hole” in front of a political office where endless dirty money gets poured in and no political action on climate change comes out.
  • Dance Dots: Organize your community to do a circular dance in an impacted area.
  • GPS Dots: Have people log in different GPS locations that form dots that when connected on a map spell something out or form an image related to climate impacts.
  • Musical Dots: Compose a song about a local impact (sheet music is just a series of dots). See some of the joyful noises the climate movement has made here.
  • Color Blind Dots: Remember those tests for color blindness? You could use this concept to make cool dot-commentary posters about climate change and how some people refuse to see its impacts.
  • Transition Dots: If you live in the U.S. and are working on a solutions-oriented project for Climate Impacts Day, consider registering your action in the 2012 Transition Challenge. Projects like installing solar panels or planting community gardens would make a great Climate Impacts Day & Transition Challenge event–just be sure to include a dot of some kind in your photo!