Climate Change & State Violence

Workshop created by Cecilia Pineda, RADIKO
Suggested Duration: 1 – 1 ½ hours (Preferably 1 ½ hours)
Suggested Facilitators: 1 – 2
Originally presented as a workshop at Free City 2015 (6/20/2015)

Abstract: Climate change is already here, and at the same time, we witness a world where the state often defers to violence and control during unrest. How do we prepare ourselves for what is to come? This workshop aims to let us dive into the connections between climate change and state violence (including policing, militarization, incarceration, and criminalization). It holds a space for dialogue around these intersections, as well as the feelings that emerge. In the second part of the workshop, we will envision community-based responses to climate change, so that we can start to better prepare placing our safety in our hands.


  1. Introduction (10 minutes):
    1. Facilitators & Participants: Name, Preferred Gender Pronoun, Why we are here (why we chose to attend this workshop).
    2. Introduction (Main points of workshop): Climate change is already here, at the same time we live in a world where the state defers to violence and control. How do we prepare ourselves for what is to come? We’re gathered here today to dive into these connections, hold space for this dialogue and the feelings that emerge. In the second part of the workshop, we’ll also envision how we can prepare our communities.
    3. Sign-in sheet
    4. Community Agreements
  2. Connecting Climate Change to State Violence (40 minutes): A “Gallery Walk” of different media (text, visual, audio, and video) related to climate change and state violence is set up in the space. Participants then walk around and engage with the media. As an alternative, set up blank butcher paper around the space with the titles of different intersections. Participants then walk around and fill what comes to their mind.
    1. Gallery Walk / Butcher Paper Collective Brainstorm (20 Minutes):
      1. Introduce Gallery Walk. Caveat: heavy content. Move through the space as is best for you.
      2. Participants walk around and engage with the space.
    2. Discussion (20 minutes): Depending on group size, can have participants share back in pairs or small groups – and then come back to share larger ideas as a full group.
      1. Did anything stand out or surprise you? What feelings arose as you moved through the gallery?
      2. Have you witnessed any similar aspects in your communities?
      3. Are there major themes that came up for you as you moved through the different intersections?
      4. How could we change these narratives?
      5. *Facilitator caveat: We have to complicate the idea of climate violence. There are several books, articles, and analyses on how climate change increases the threat of violence (‘looting’, direct violence between people and communities to access resources, etc.). However it is necessary to critically analyze the historical actions that led up to these conditions. For example, is it not violence when histories of colonization and imperialism cut off communities’ and people’s agency to determine how they interact with the land they are on and its resources? Furthermore, certain entities (corporations, developed countries, the U.S. military, commercial aviation, etc.) have historically contributed significantly more to climate change and profited from doing so. Similarly, on an individual level there is a great discrepancy between who has contributed to climate change and those who will bear the burden—with this latter group often also being demonized in their attempts to survive during and following disasters (i.e. the ‘looting’ following Hurricane Katrina, or how black poor women were described as welfare queens, when the United States’ response time was dismal and they had set up precarious infrastructure that malfunctioned).
  1. A Community Response to Climate Change (35 minutes): Participants will look at specific climate impacts that will befall their communities (wherever the workshop is hosted). They will then collectively brainstorm what resources we have as a community and what plans we could build to support one another, our communal resiliency, and our safety as a response to climate change impacts.
    1. Climate Change Impacts: Butcher paper is spread throughout the room, each one describing a different climate impact set to befall NYC. As an alternative, each group can be given a handout describing the different climate impacts.
    2. Envisioning Community Responses: Participants work in small groups collectively brainstorming community responses and resources to address each impact.
      1. Guiding questions: What resources do we have, or could we build for when these impacts start to come regularly? How can we support each other and create the infrastructure we need to survive/thrive?
    3. Closing (5 minutes):
      1. This is just a beginning in these conversations. As we continue to experience climate change, it can feel really daunting on top of other issues and oppressions we are facing. We encourage everyone to continue these conversations with y/our community and the people we love. We also have to remember how we are also implicated within this system, living in a country that is the largest historical contributor to climate change. Because as much as we can prepare for climate change, it is critical to also work to prevent it—for that will only lessen the impacts we face.
      2. Housekeeping: (Reminder to sign-in, etc.)
      3. Grounding outro: Can either do a check-out (how is your mind/body/spirit), collective breath, or any other closing that feels grounding.

For a printable version, click on the PDF document below: 


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