Introducing SAIL’s New Framing Guide: From Imagination to Action

Posted Case study, News

SAIL is thrilled to be launching our latest resource: a framing guide designed to help you tell empowering, inspiring, and impactful stories about the climate crisis. This guide has been in development for a while, and we’re now excited to be making it fully available.

To access the full framing guide, click the button below.

Redefining the Narrative

Traditional approaches to climate communication have often fallen short, relying on scientific data and dire warnings. While these statistics and facts are crucial, they alone cannot inspire the widespread action needed to address the crisis.

We all know that the need for climate action is paramount, the alarm bell has been rung loud & clear. We now need compelling stories that make climate action normal, tangible, relevant, grounded in reality, solution-based, open for nuanced interpretation, and that compel our communities to respond.

We need a new approach, one that harnesses the power of storytelling to engage hearts and minds.

Case Study: NEST 2023

Image credit: JMA Photography for LEEDS 2023

NEST commissioned by Leeds 2023, and co-produced by the National Youth Theatre, followed the story of Skylar – a teenager in 2050 where climate change is shaking the natural world. The outdoor processional piece with a cast of 100 young people visually represented the power of community sharing and collective action.

Your Audiences are Ready

Surveys have shown that audiences are hungry for impactful storytelling that addresses the climate emergency. From cultural organisations to mainstream media, there is a growing recognition of the responsibility to influence society and drive meaningful change. By tapping into the power of narrative, we can motivate individuals to embrace sustainable behaviours and advocate for systemic change.

Guiding Principles for Effective Communication

Our framing guide offers ten key principles to help craft compelling climate narratives:

1. Keep it Light: Inspire hope and community rather than fear and despair.

2. Make it relevant: Connect climate change to individual priorities and concerns.

3. Portray climate action as everyday: Normalise sustainable behaviours as part of daily life and everyday storytelling or marketing.

Case Study: Emmerdale and Behaviour Change

Image credit: ITV Studios

6.5 million people tune into Emmerdale every evening, and observe the characters driving electric vans, using recycling bins, reusable cups and paper straws. By repeatedly watching good behaviours on screen, audience members awareness of the action they can take is increased and any changes in behaviour are validated and normalised.

4. Highlight solutions, not problems: Showcase existing efforts and inspire further action.

5. Be inclusive and embrace nuance: Recognise the diversity of perspectives and experiences.

Case Study: The Meal Act XLV at Harewood House

Image Credit: Lucy and Jorge Orta

Lucy and Jorge Orta’s ’70 x 7 The Meal’ provided space for communities to congregate, share food, share ideas, and enact change. Each Meal is shaped by the community to raise issues most pertinent to them, from biodiversity loss to food security issues. Providing this platform for this conversation assumes no existing knowledge: instead, the output is the conversation created.

6. Highlight ‘the system’: Emphasise the role of systemic change alongside individual action.

7. Make it tangible: Ground the narrative in real-world experiences and examples.

8. Keep it grounded: Use clear, accessible language and realistic messaging.

Case Study: The Art and Energy Collective

Image credits: Art and Energy Collective

‘How to Bury the Giant’ is a in-person and online mass participation project based in Dartmoor, where only 1% of the original peat-bog is healthy. The Art and Energy Collective are encouraging participants to learn and interact with the environment in order to develop their own creative response to be shared with others.

In collaboration with schools and local communities, each participant plays an active role in the project from; constructing miniature moss gardens, growing place specific sphagnum moss, making local fleece felt, to restoring areas of the moor that have been damaged.

9. Create an active audience: Engage audiences in meaningful dialogue and participation.

10. Say it in your unique voice: Be authentic and true to your values and identity.

Join the Movement

SAIL invites you to join us in reshaping the narrative around climate change. Through harnessing the collective power of creative communication, we can inspire action, foster dialogue, create hope, and build a more sustainable future for all. Join us on this journey to reimagine the narrative and transform imagination to action.

Thank you to the organisations and individuals who supported us in the development of this resource. This guide has been created with support from Leeds Arts University.