SCENE: It’s the year 2050. Sage tells her great-grandchildren about the early days of the Great Turning.

“Tell us a Flash!Back,” said Ginnie.

“How far back do you want to go?” asked Great-Gramma Sage, settling back in her easy chair.

“Tell us about the first EarthFlash! Games Show,” said Annabeth.

“Ah yes, I remember it well.” (There’s a song for that!) “It was way back in April 2021, and the world was in pretty sad shape. The human family was divided in so many ways that it seemed like we’d never pull together to make a world that works for all. But many of us knew that the climate emergency was real, and we needed to make a massive shift in life as we knew it to reverse global warming. And the window of opportunity was closing.”

“The EarthFlash! Games Show was a final project for the Florida Climate Conversation-to-Action Program. We thought of that as an intergenerational climate conversation, but it wasn’t until the seventh of the eight-month Climate Conversation-to-Action Program that it actually involved young people.

“So Adrian and Brianna were the secret ingredient?” asked Annabeth.

“Adrian and Brianna — and Rebecca and Victoria and so many others — were like a catalyst that made the magic happen. We had been gathering the bits and pieces for years. It was a long, slow process. I have lots of significant moments in my climate story. Each has its own story, but for now I’ll just tell you the short version.

  • Buckminster Fuller challenged his students at MIT to play the World Game, to
    • “Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”
  • At the turn of the century, visionaries launched the Earth Charter, a document with 16 principles for a sustainable, just and peaceful future.
  • In 2000, my job was to greet fourth graders who came to see the museum exhibit, EarthQuest: The Challenge Begins. They had to walk through the open mouth of Toxicus, the garbage monster, to find themselves in a life-sized video game. They earned points by saving water, energy and resources.
  • In 2012, soon after we did the first FutureFlash! Show at Trilogy School, I had the 20 middle schoolers evaluate the eight-month program. They said it was good, they’d learned a lot about what’s happening and how they can make a difference. But it was too slow. One girl said to me, “Can you make it a game? You know we’re all about games.”
  • Jane McGonigal convinced me that video games are just practice for the real-world games.
  • I told the principal at PK Yonge School that I wanted to make a game as a collaboration of the University of Florida and Earth Charter International. Sixth graders created several games and activities in the six-week FutureFlash! Making the Game Club.
  • Middle and high school kids at the Rosa B Williams Center Summer Camp identified games for all 16 principles of the Earth Charter, and recommended that we include The Story of Stuff.
  • Jane Ji at Springbay Studio designed a video game based on the FutureFlash! Project. She said she could build it for $160,000.
  • Alex Davidowski made a fundraising video — for the first $10,000. I never did use it.
  • I learned about FIRST Robotics as a way of challenging young people to play with science, technology, engineering and math in friendly coopertitions.
  • I learned about the Compassion Games that engaged all ages in kindness coopetitions in schools and communities.
  • I took a five-day course on the Earth Charter, Storytelling and Theatre at Earth Charter International at the University for Peace in Costa Rica. That’s where I learned about the Earth Charter Game.
  • I played the Earth Charter Game with high school students at Trilogy School. They made plans for Family Earth Charter Game Night.
  • I proposed an intergenerational program based on the Earth Charter to the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice.
  • I developed the Florida Earth Charter Initiative with the Earth Charter Game as the centerpiece.
  • I read Pacha’s Pajamas: A Story Written by Nature and told the author I wanted to write the sequel where Pacha and her Nature friends ask the humans to help.
  • I read The Global Warming Express, written by a 9-year-old, and created a birthday party to introduce children to global warming — and what we can do about it.
  • I went to a conference on Imagining Climate Change and invited 200 people to the 50th Anniversary of the Earth Charter in 2050, when the world is celebrating the Earth’s temperature coming back down. That’s where I met Jennison Kipp.
  • Digital Worlds Institute hosted an Earth Day celebration with a storytelling game that used an app to engage the audience in climate solutions.
  • The Florida Museum of Natural History and Digital Worlds Institute hosted TreeTender and One Tree, One Planet. I knew they had a role in our collaborative storytelling adventure.
  • In 2018 I stumbled upon We, the World and 11 Days of Global Unity. I knew it was home for our collaborative storytelling adventure with Pacha, the Global Warming Express, and the Earth Charter Game. We started the Welcome to WE! Show to lay the groundwork.
  • Two teams in the University of Florida’s VR for the Social Good created prototype virtual reality games based on the Earth Charter Game and the Billion Trees Challenge.
  • Jennison Kipp, state director of the Sustainable Floridians program, and I dreamed up a community-wide climate conversation-to-action program that would include children’s storytelling with adult networks of support.
  • In 2019 Jennison and I created the Climate Collaboratory, a pilot project of We, the World and the University of Florida Extension. We started with Climate Collaborators from Pacha’s Pajamas and Young Voices for the Planet, and added more month by month on the Welcome to WE! Show.
  • We pilot tested the Florida Climate Conversation-to-Action Program in 2020-21. Our final project was the EarthFlash! Games Show, designed to engage children, youth, adults and elders in climate solutions.

So I’d known for years that there was a game to be played, but I didn’t know how to get it out of my imagination and into the world — until the first EarthFlash! Games Show. Adrian and Brianna were the key. Elders like Jim and me had been working slowly, steadily for years and years. We knew in our hearts that one day the tipping point would come, so we walked on and on with hope in our hearts.” (There’s a song for that!)

“And the rest is history!” said Ginnie.

“And herstory,” added Annabeth.

Sage smiled. And felt a swell of gratitude for being part of the story of the Great Turning. And a swell of love for her great-granddaughters, who would grow up in a world so different from the one she’d known as a child.

NOTE: If you’d like to hear the Rest of any of these Stories, write to Dear Sage <sueblythe@we.net> and ask for a specific topic.

(c) Sue Blythe 2021

Florida Climate Conversation-to-Action Program
A pilot project of We, the World and
University of Florida Extensionclimatecollaboratory.org  –  sueblythe@we.net