Create’s Climate Reality ~ Let’s Get Real

climate reality
climate reality

In recognition of The Climate Reality Project’s Let’s Get Real campaign on 29 October, our Founding Chief Executive, Nicky Goulder reflects on Create’s commitments, becoming a Climate Reality Leader herself and the power of the creative arts to change hearts and minds.

Last Sunday, I completed 10 challenging and inspiring days of virtual training – run by Al Gore’s The Climate Reality Project – to become a Climate Reality Leader. I was joined on this venture by three members of our Senior Leadership Team and five of our professional artists, including Trustee Holly Khan.

Our green commitment

As a charity, we have been committed to our environmental responsibility since I started Create in 2003, both in our operational practices and our project delivery. We strove to be paper-free from the start. And when we moved from my dining room table to our first official office in 2004, there was no centralised recycling so I used to walk to work each week with my giant suitcase so I could wheel all our office recyling to the bins near my home! Thankfully, a lot has changed since then and we can now pop down to the recycling bins nearby.

“Attending the Climate Reality Training felt like an incredible opportunity and an important next step.” ~ Nicky Goulder

As early as 2006, we ran a project called earth:works at Grange Primary School in the London Borough of Southwark. Linked to the school’s recycling theme, the project encouraged 6 and 7-year-old children to think about recycling, litter and the local area. Working with our professional artist, they created utopian and dystopian 3D maps using biodegradable and non-biodegradable reclaimed materials. The impact of such projects was highlighted to me when one of the children reflected: “I have learnt to recycle and keep the world clean and healthy.

These images are from our earth:works project:

We have run numerous environmental projects since, including changing:minds in the London Borough of Harrow; creative:connection in Cumbria and inspired:arts in Brighton. We formalised our environmental commitments into an Environmental Policy in 2019 and now have a Green Committee and Green Action Plan with measurable targets that underpin the way we work.

With the climate crisis arguably the most significant global challenge over the next decade and beyond, we want to find new ways of promoting environmental responsibility and to continue to take an innovative approach to leading change. We will provide further training for our people, including our professional artists. And we have already secured funding to develop and deliver two new flagship programmes – environment:matters and environment:tales – which we will be launching in 2022 to raise awareness and upskill our participants.

The team’s reflections

So attending the Climate Reality Training felt like an incredible opportunity and an important next step. The training was hard-hitting, shocking, empowering and hopeful. I learnt so much that I am still processing, and will be working with our team to embed all we can into Create’s thinking and activity going forward. Here are the reflections of others on our Create team who attended with me:


Chloe Cooper, visual artist

What is the main thing you’ve learnt from the Climate Reality training course?
We must be solution oriented. Art has an important role to play in reshaping the narrative around climate and connecting with young people.

How do you think you’ll incorporate it into your work for Create?
By using examples of young people using creativity to fight for change to inspire us to create artworks that communicate a strong message.

Wendy Dempsey, Director of Finance and Operations

What is the main thing you’ve learnt from the Climate Reality training course?
I have learnt the reality of the impact of climate change and how seriously and disproportionately it is affecting the most vulnerable communities around the world. I have also learnt that we must prioritise amplifying the voices of indigenous communities to find solutions.

How do you think you’ll incorporate it into your work for Create?
It has helped to strengthen my mindset to consider sustainability in everything we do, in decisions about procurement, banking, operations & facilities.

climate reality

Mike Haydock, Director of Communications

What is the main thing you’ve learnt from the Climate Reality training course?
It has improved my understanding not only of the problems but also the promise of the solutions – from the rapidly falling cost of renewable energy, to scientific advances such as green steel and green hydrogen, to rethinking the way we shape our economy.

How do you think you’ll incorporate it into your work for Create?
I’m really excited about the projects we’re already running about environmental issues, and the ones being planned for 2022. I’ll be amplifying these through our communications as much as possible, to show the value the arts can have in tackling the climate crisis.

Holly Khan, Trustee, composer/facilitator

What is the main thing you’ve learnt from the Climate Reality training course?
My biggest take away from the training is that the world’s most pressing issues sit at an intersection with one another. The global pandemic, the refugee crisis and racial inequality all link to climate change. If we combat the climate reality we will also be aiding these social injustices.

How do you think you’ll incorporate it into your work for Create?
I was incredibly inspired by Red Constantino: “This is a future we can win. But only if we’re bold. Only if we’re creative. … We need the power of music.” There is power in art and how we tell and frame stories for audiences to experience. As a composer and facilitator I am inspired to think about how the climate reality can be used thematically and practically in my work!

Amy Leung, visual artist

What is the main thing you’ve learnt from the Climate Reality training course?
The Climate Reality training enabled me really to understand the science behind climate change, how systems of injustice are interlinked and the many ways in which diverse groups – communities, corporations, countries, individuals – can act.

How do you think you’ll incorporate it into your work for Create?
I’ll incorporate some key points into my own workshops and while the hard-hitting facts are important to include, equally as valuable is emphasising elements of hope and creativity as essential for change.

Mike Poyser, musician

What is the main thing you’ve learnt from the Climate Reality training course?
The Climate Reality training was a really fascinating series of presentations and discussions, that I took a lot away from. Learning about the urgency and severity of the problems facing the whole globe was really important for me. And discovering ideas for how we can all help in this fight was great and made me feel much less helpless.

How do you think you’ll incorporate it into your work for Create?
I want to make workshops for young people that highlight the size of the problem but also gives participants ideas to inspire them to be active and passionate.


Aside from Al Gore’s inspirational presentations and some impressive programmes being run by dedicated, passionate young people around the world, like Holly, it was Red Constantino (Executive Director, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities) who motivated me most with his words during the final session:

climate reality

“This is a future we can win. But only if we’re bold. Only if we’re creative. … We need the power of music. The power of literature. Humanities combined with science. A global rebellion of poetry in order to sway the minds and hearts of those who have been tasked to make decisions. … Hope is a practice. You wake up daily and practise hope. And you do it again and again and again.”

The issues are so huge and the problems so overwhelming that it can seem incredibly daunting to know what I, as an individual running a small charity, can do. But using the power of the creative arts is what Create does best and I’m excited to see how our participants and our artists will work with us to use their power to help us win this future.

Nicky Goulder
Founding Chief Executive