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Conversations with the Earth (CWE) is an indigenous-led multimedia collaboration that uses professional storytelling and high-impact exhibits to amplify urgent indigenous voices in the global discourse on climate change. Grounded in respectful long-term partnerships between indigenous-led organizations and award-winning experts in participatory video, journalism, photography, and audio, CWE conveys a range of vital narratives: from local accounts of the impacts of climate change on indigenous communities, to stories of the unintended consequences of imposed mitigation efforts on local livelihoods, and examples of traditional knowledge and its value in developing appropriate responses to climate change. CWE is exactly what its name implies: a conversation, a way of listening closely to the Earth, via its traditional stewards, and formulating a viable response for the future. In this way CWE not only enables meaningful dialogue among indigenous communities but also transmits their voices, stories, and messages to the largest possible global audience.
Conversations with the Earth is launching in December 2009 as a multimedia exhibition at the National Museum of Copenhagen, highlighting indigenous stories of climate change as delegates gather for the watershed UN Framework Conventions on Climate Change Conference of the Parties meeting (COP15). The Copenhagen exhibit brings together audio, documentaries, participatory video, photo essays, informative captions, published articles, and a website into one powerful multi-sensory narrative portrait. The Copenhagen exhibit will launch a series of mobile presentations at critical locations around the world, building on the momentum generated in Copenhagen, to enhance indigenous communities’ capacity to communicate critical perspectives on climate change.
Conversations with the Earth is a collaboration between Land Is Life, an international indigenous-led advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples, InsightShare, an expert in participatory video, and Nicolas Villaume, a Paris-based photographer, curator, and specialist in cultural storybases. Conversations with the Earth partner organizations also include United Nations University and the Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment Project.
But more importantly, with the support of the California-based Christensen Fund and others, Conversations with the Earth works with a range of indigenous groups living in critical ecosystems around the world. From the Atlantic Rainforest to Central Asia, from the Phillipines to the Andes, from the Arctic to Ethiopia, Conversations has enabled traditional indigenous communities to tell their story on climate change. And in the process it has fostered a long-term relationship with these communities, based on principles of local control and indigenous media capacity, highlighted by the creation of self-standing autonomous indigenous media hubs in six regions.