What do shopping, cookies, and outdoor concerts have to do with climate change? Anyone who has explored the Climate Reality Project’s visually stunning website, Whatilove.org, can tell you: all will be jeopardized in the near future thanks to carbon pollution.
Like most people, you may feel largely disconnected from the impacts of climate change. What I Love personalizes these impacts in a non-aggressive, playful and visual manner. As the site’s tagline goes, “To love a thing means wanting it to exist.” When you realize that the things you love are in danger, it is hard to remain apathetic.
Upon entering the site, you are posed with a simple challenge: discover the things you can’t live without. It is then up to you to select eight things you love from a broad list arranged in a photo mosaic. These things range from places, such as Rio de Janeiro and Miami, to foods, such as seafood, peaches and coffee, to recreation, such as running, photography and movies. You may even choose abstract loves, such as faith, freedom and wealth. Once you have selected your top eight, you are taken to your “canvas,” where you can explore how climate change will impact each love individually. Check it out for yourself!
Today we had the chance to sit down to talk with Katie Homes, the Strategic Partnership Associate for the Climate Reality Project. She was able to offer further insight into the ideas and goals behind Whatilove.org.
What was the initial idea behind Whatilove.org? How does it relate to the goals of the Climate Reality Project?
The Climate Reality Project is powering a social revolution for climate action by changing the conversation about climate change and carbon pollution. We seek to educate, empower, and inspire, and are constantly looking for creative ways to do so. What I Love is a new, very nontraditional approach to climate change education.
So much of the conversation about climate change revolves around science. While it is clearly an important component, this language and medium of communication caters to a very specific audience. What I Love takes the scientific and makes it more tangible so that it can reach a broader audience. It presents a very personal view of climate change in the hopes that people will begin to see how climate change will directly impact multiple aspects of their lives.
What I Love was designed in an effort to bring awareness to the issue, in a sensitive way, and to hopefully move people who are on the fence on climate change. Climate change can be a tricky topic, but the site is testimony to the fact that there are other ways to educate people without trying to push an agenda.
Why did you choose this visual approach?
What I Love is first and foremost an experience. By using uses sounds, unique graphics, and compelling visuals, the site allows you to actively participate and feel connected. The photographs themselves are general enough so people can identify with them and be taken on a familiar journey that leads to new and interesting information. In the process, you gain awareness about how climate change will impact the things you love most. This combination creates a very different form of storytelling something you simply don’t get by reading facts from an article or journal. Even if you already know a lot about climate change, What I Love has something in it for you.
How have you combined the site with social media outlets to reach a larger audience?
When you go on the site and create your own canvas of your eight loves, you have the option to share it through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or email. That alone is a cool component: being able to share with your friends and community what you value the most. The hope, though, is that when others see your canvas they will be intrigued enough to go check out the website themselves…often without even knowing it has anything to do with climate change.
Was it intentional that the name of the website does not mention climate change or global warming?
Yes. Sometimes these terms tend to get a bad rap. Some people will completely disengage when they see the world “climate change” or “global warming.” So it was completely intentional to leave this language out. This allows the viewer to have an experience first, instead of walking in with preconceived notions. By asking people what their loves are and then connecting those to climate change, we are able to reach a greater audience, from outdoor enthusiasts to photographers, from pet lovers to foodies. Climate change is already impacting every one of us and these effects will only grow. We created the site to be as big and broad as possible so more people can understand this reality, engage in the climate conversation and take action.
–Serena Bernthal-Jones, 2013 Winter Intern
Read our other interviews about visual communications
Alexandra Garcia, International League of Conservation Photographers
Gary Braasch, climate change photographer