Saturday, April 1, 2023

Warming Stripes: Weaving the Weather, a Handwoven Rug & Short Film

Respecting and caring for the environment has always been a priority for Ann Schneider. After the debut of the locally made documentary film Resilience: Transforming Our Community in 2019 at the Roxy Theatre in Owen Sound, Ann became very involved in the development of the Georgian Bluffs Climate Action Team (GBCAT), then the regional network GBCAN (Grey/Bruce Climate Action Network) and also became a community member on the Georgian Bluffs Municipal Climate Action Committee.

The next years flew by with Zoom meetings, webinars, designing and presenting climate engagement workshops, books to read, more presentations, petitions, Earth Day and, in the spring of 2022, she was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the whole thing. She needed a change.

Reading Canadian scientist Katherine Hayhoe’s Saving Us – A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World taught her that if you want to open dialogue about climate change, you need to start with that person’s interests. Katherine told the story of a young woman wondering how to speak to her grandmother about the changing climate. Because the grandmother liked to knit, Katherine told her granddaughter that people have been knitting warming striped scarves, based on the work of climate scientist Ed Hawkins, using shades of red and blue to indicate annual temperatures, rather than graphs that most people would not relate to.

Ann decided she would weave a warming stripes rug to represent the temperature changes in the Owen Sound/Wiarton area from 1880 to 2021. That seemed like the perfect way for Ann to change tracks, as she is an accomplished weaver.

Scientist John Anderson gave her the annual temperature data. Ann shifted from nothing but climate action work to a craft she loved: designing, selecting fibres, and weaving on her loom. This slowed her down, and as she wove each year’s stripe, she reflected on the stories of her life and the area she loves dearly. Ann was also part of a group that developed the ‘What Do Climate Engagement Wheel’ and accompanying workshops. In hindsight, she realized, with weaving she was doing what those workshops suggested – do what fits for you, using what skills you enjoy.

Little did she know when she was part way through the rug that Liz Zetlin, the director of the Resilience film, would find out about the project and ask to film the process.

The 15-minute film, Warming Stripes – Weaving the Weather, was the result. What was initially a private process for Ann has become public. That came with some discomfort and adjustment, but it has been a really rewarding process for Ann to work with John and Liz. All three hope the rug and the film can become another tool to help people talk about climate change and move to action.

The film Resilience: Transforming Our Community, a climate change film of hope and action – co-produced by marine biologist John Anderson and poet and film director Liz Zetlin, had its premiere at the Owen Sound Roxy Theatre in May 2019.

Since then, the film was screened many times through Grey Bruce, allowing people the opportunity to “Talk About Climate Change”. This resulted in a groundswell of local action. Climate action teams were developed in many of the municipalities in the two counties. A network (Grey Bruce Climate Action Network – GBCAN) of all the grass roots initiatives formed to learn from each other’s experience as they work to engage their community members and elected officials to better understand climate change and move towards action.

Ann Schneider has taken her Warming Stripes rug to the Kemble Women’s Institute, The Sources of Knowledge Forum in Tobermory, to Grade 10 classes at the Owen Sound District Secondary school, and plans to exhibit it at Earth Day. Liz is looking for venues to share the film during Earth Day and beyond. The rug will be displayed at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery during Earth Week 2023.

Warming Stripes: Weaving the Weather: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPy9ymFW88s

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