Solar panels line a street

New publication explores how communities imagine climate futures

22 February 2024
Communities are reimagining a sustainable future
The latest output from the Grounded Imaginaries project examines the transformative power of climate imaginaries in shaping future actions and material realities.

The article, Climate Imaginaries as Praxis, challenges prevailing narratives of a climate-changed future, arguing that dominant imaginaries such as 'business as usual', 'techno-fix', and 'apocalypse' fail to inspire meaningful action against systemic injustices and extractive lifestyles.

Led by Professor Danielle Celermajer, the project collaborated with eight diverse community partners across Australia and India, including Sustainable Agriculture Gardening Australia (Moruya, Australia), Social Entrepreneurship Association Auroville (Auroville, India), and India and Bharat Together Foundation (renamed to the Margshala Foundation).

“By partnering with organisations in North and South India who had such a close, historically and socially situated understanding of the context, the research team was able to develop a complex and nuanced understanding of how communities are responding to climate change and to develop communications tailored for those contexts,” said Professor Celermajer.

“One of SEI’s key commitments is to not only closely collaborate with communities experiencing environmental challenges, but to learn from how they understand and make sense of what is happening and the grounded knowledge they bring to finding and implementing solutions.” 

Drawing on empirical evidence from communities in North and South India, as well as Australia, the article details a narrative of resilience and innovation as communities unite to confront the challenges of food production, energy sustainability, and ecosystem preservation. Despite limited state support, these communities are forging alternative futures through collective action, fundamentally altering their future imaginaries in the process.

The Grounded Imaginaries project supported 14 youth fellows in conducting research and developing essential skills, with researchers conducting weeks of ethnographic research across India and Australia.

“The youth fellows brought extraordinary talent and passion to the project, so involving them as researchers and communicators not only added to the quality of our work but enabled us to contribute to their capacity as the researchers and communicators of the future,” said Professor Celermajer.

At the core of these emergent imaginaries lie transformative shifts in relational dynamics, encompassing intra-community relations, interactions with the more-than-human world, and perceptions of time. 

Through extensive fieldwork and collaboration, the project yielded over 43 research outputs, including the Reimagined Futures podcast series, chronicling the narratives of five communities currently facing extreme impacts of climate change and how they are taking collective action to create real and sustainable futures.

The article is open access and available to read here.

The Grounded Imaginaries Project, funded by the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, was led by the Sydney Environment Institute in partnership with the Social Entrepreneurship Association Auroville and India and Bharat Together Foundation (renamed to the Margshala Foundation).

Header image: Shutterstock ID 1951819192

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