Creatives For Change
A conversation with Safia Minney and Chris Haughton, internationally-recognized author, published in more than 30 languages on the need for communications and creativity in the face of the climate crisis.
How would you describe you describe yourself as a professional? And how has the personal defined that? how do you live your values?
I am an illustrator. I used to work in advertising and other things like that. It is hard to avoid as an illustrator if you want to be able to pay rent. But I was keen to work on my own work. I worked with People Tree and with fair trade and it is so good to do work that you really believe in. It was so inspiring to be working with people who had taken a big cut in their wages to do something they really believe in. I made a lot of friends and met lots of great people. And my work with People Tree was the first time I made work for children. Doing self generated work like that led me to create my first book for children. In fact, the idea for my first picture book came from designing a People Tree greeting card!
Faced with the climate and ecological crisis what do you recommend creatives and others in the comms industry do to use their skills for good?
I think creative who can communicate are really needed now. There is a dangerous disconnect between the science and the public. I imagine this is deliberately so. There has to be a lot of interests that would like to keep the status quo. And it is just so easy to sow confusion. We need to work to get the truth out. If you are able to communicate we need your voice.
Tell us about your two last films…?
I was asked by Hay festival to help communicate the climate science work of Emily Shuckberg in the Antarctic. And then I was asked to create another film about the climate science impact on wildlife in the UK.
how do you feel about the climate emergency, anxious or hopeful?
I think everyone who has done work on this is anxious. It is terrifying! If we are waiting on politicians and governments to save us we don’t have much of a hope. I think there are a number of things to be hopeful about though. The efficiency of renewable energy technologies and the rise of meat alternatives are pretty positive. There is an amazing restaurant in London called unity diner. All their food is vegan and you would never be able to tell. They do ‘moving mountains’ burgers, I imagine if the taste is the same and its healthier and reasonably priced everyone would be vegan. that alone would reduce the land we humans need by 75%. Can you imagine reforesting 75% of all our land? That alone would save us. I think technology will save us!
What are the obstacles to change and how are you trying to get over, through or around these?
The whole media system is about consumption. Our media is sustained through its advertising. Those advertisers only want to sell their products. They don’t want to be advertising something next to content saying we should all be cutting down on consumption. I used to work in advertising. It’s exactly as Noam Chomsky says in Manufacturing Consent. The only way I can see to get around this is to ban all advertising and go back to a model where we pay for our media and social media. That would solve it all. And it would actually benefit the advertisers because they are only advertising in order to beat the competition. Anyway… this is mostly my own opinion and I don’t see it happening any time soon!
What’s the best professional accomplishment for you and What’s next for you?
Publishing my first book was probably my best moment. And then seeing it getting translated into so many languages. I am always amazed seeing posts of my books in different languages around the world and the theatre shows and puppet shows of them. It’s a bit surreal the more i think about it! I am working on two non-fiction titles. One is about evolution and the other is about the media. I would love to communicate that stuff clearly for children.
I don’t know if i have one. I try to be kind and do my best, that’s all we can do.