Supporting Climate Dialogue in Agricultural Communities: Artistic Strategies for Engagement
The climate crisis is affecting communities on a global scale, including agricultural communities in the U.S. North Central region. Climate change must be addressed urgently in these communities, and farmers must be key players in climate solutions. Research shows that a critical and often overlooked step in addressing climate change is climate dialogue, and that effective facilitation of climate dialogue in agricultural communities should highlight values, diverse perspectives, and personal experiences. Research on arts and storytelling as public engagement strategies has shown that artistic engagement methods are especially apt in incorporating values, diversity of perspectives, and personal experiences into public discussions of critical societal issues, such as climate change.
Within this context, the objective of this project is to explore the use of artistic strategies to facilitate climate dialogue – and consequently, encourage farmer agency in climate action – in Iowa and North Central region farming communities. The results of this project will provide community members, including farmers and artists, with concrete and regionally-specific strategies for facilitating effective climate dialogue that can help lead to climate solutions. On one hand, arts-based projects often do not have the budgets or time to be documented thoroughly. On the other hand, arts-based engagement strategies have shown great potential for improving civic dialogue and action and so should be documented and shared.
In Fall 2022, I will conduct fifteen interviews in Iowa farming communities with individuals who identify as farmers and/or artists and who have engaged in arts-based climate communication work. These interviews will reveal how artistic resources and strategies can be leveraged to increase climate dialogue in Iowa and North Central region farming communities. The project will result in a ten-episode podcast series that highlights these interviews and recommendations for how similar work can be applied in communities across the region. The podcast episodes will be released in Spring 2023 and will be accessible to North Central region community residents via various online platforms that target farmer and artist audiences.
It is expected that the podcast series will increase awareness of the innovative work that interviewees are doing at the intersection of arts and climate communication, as well as increase knowledge of and intent to apply arts-based climate dialogue facilitation strategies in the North Central region. Evaluation of outcomes will include surveys for podcast listeners and debriefs with interviewees and partner organizations.
Project objectives from proposal:
Through interviews with Iowa farmers and artists, this project will collect and share strategies to increase climate dialogue in North Central region farming communities, which is an essential step toward implementing climate action and ensuring that farmers and their communities have a voice in that process. The interviews will be shared in podcast episodes that will be distributed through online platforms that target farmers and artists who are living in North Central region farming communities and who have expressed investment in initiating climate dialogue in their communities.
Learning outcomes include 1) increased awareness of arts-based climate dialogue facilitation efforts in the North Central region and 2) increased knowledge of arts-based climate dialogue facilitation strategies that can be applied in farming communities regionally.
Long-term action outcomes include 1) increased climate dialogue in North Central region farming communities and 2) increased intentional use of artistic methods in facilitating climate dialogue in North Central region farming communities. Short-term action outcomes from this study include recommendations for how to implement such arts-based methods in communities across the North Central region.
The above outcomes will be evaluated via a survey that all podcast listeners will be invited to take following each podcast episode. Direct invitations to listen to the podcast, as well as take the survey, will also be distributed to farmers and artists through partnering organizations. The number of podcast listens will be measured, and follow-up debriefs will be conducted with interviewees and partnering organizations about their experiences.