This is part of a series of stories by ILG editor, Jim Poyser, who was trained in August to deliver the Climate Reality Leadership slideshow, connecting extreme weather to climate change.
So how did it go, you’re wondering, this first, bona fide presentation of the slideshow. Well, I have mixed feelings, in fact my feelings are pretty low right now, assessing everything.
Part of me just feels silly about the whole thing, I know that probably sounds weird.
You could call it a crisis of confidence.
I call it wimping out.
I took, however, certain bulls by certain horns, so to speak. For example, despite the rain, and promise of temps falling into the 40s that night, I rode my bike. It’s about six miles from my house, so by the time you account for riding to work, riding home, then riding to the Harrison and back, it’s a 15 plus mile day.
I’m not one of those cyclers that jump on a bike and ride to Bloomington on a lark. I’m a bicycle commuter. In fact, I’m a bicycle commuter with a bum knee that needs surgery.
Not looking for the violins here, just emphasizing that if I’m showing a slideshow about how fossil fuels are killing the planet I can’t justify driving there. At some point in this saga I will — and I will make it clear to the audience the hypocrisy.
As I was setting up for presentation in small room (the nursery room!) off the main gallery at the Harrison, I hung my dripping yellow rain gear — and helmet — on the wall in glory.
I’d planned on two sessions that night, 6 and 7:30 p.m., while FoodCon III was swirling around the building. I didn’t expect a lot of people wandering in. It’s a commitment. The slideshow is about 30 minutes long and I sure as hell wouldn’t get stuck in one spot during a First Friday for that long!
But folks did, and in most instances they did because they are my friends and support me in this endeavor.
So, the first session had four people. All of whom I knew. I was up front with them that this was my VERY first presentation of a power point/slideshow EVER. And so I showed it, and they gave me feedback, good feedback, and so I am grateful to Shelley, Sarni, Tom and David for their assistance.
The most consistent feedback I got was to “talk more.” Hey, wouldn’t like that!
Here’s what happens to me as I am showing a slideshow. I start showing it, I talk a little, then I start letting the slideshow run, so it can tell the story. Not to sound bombastic, but I am a writer; I have been instructed for decades to “show not tell.” So talking over images just seems discordant, if not downright anathema.
Second session: over a dozen folks came in, a few of them strangers. I took more of an initiative. I stood up at the screen, in fact. I’d been more in the “audience” in the first session. And I talked more.
And it was better. I got more good feedback on how I can make this better.
For example, one of the attendees seemed not to understand the basic science behind greenhouse gas emissions’ impact on the atmosphere. Fortunately, the Climate Reality Project has numerous mini-slideshows you can download on a variety of subjects — so I knew I could easily solve that one. My next slideshow presentation, Thursday on the campus of IUPUI, I’ll have that new section ready.
The second session was better, but I still suck at it.
It’s true. I don’t know how to work with a slideshow, it’s as simple as that. Given all the slideshows/powerpoints I’ve seen, I now appreciate the speaker and what s/he is up against. I marvel even more at Al Gore being able to doing it for a two hour session and keep it compelling.
I want to reiterate that I suck at this.
I want to make clear I don’t get paid for this.
I rode home in a pouring rainstorm that night for this.
Hey, I’m not getting all martyr-y on you. No matter how much I say this is about the planet, and me finding my role in figuring out how to do my part to fight for it, it’s also got to be in part about me and what I am learning.
“What you want to learn, teach,” goes the adage. So that’s one thing. This slideshow is forcing me to get better informed about the science of climate change. So much of this is what I read and write about and thus it’s in my head, not in the real world of engagement.
And the second thing is it will take engagement to create some traction for movement, and that’s a good thing for me. It takes a subject and turns it into an adventure.
An adventure that I can, in turn, write about.
I can hope that me being out in the world with this slideshow might create some of that traction, might turn some skeptics into believers, some believers into activists, and some activists into juggernauts.
At the very least, I can hope I stop feeling silly about the whole thing. Planet Earth could use my assistance.