These in-their-own-words pieces are told to Patricia Lane and co-edited with input from the interviewee for the purpose of brevity.
Laurence Letarte-Préfontaine wants to deal you in on an inclusive conversation about climate change.
This 28-year-old Montrealer and her friend Vanja Lugonjic designed and produced a card game to allow players to have honest and hopeful conversations about their relationship with nature and the climate and to choose actions to protect it.
Tell us about your project.
The Connect Deck Climate Action — Entre toi et moi is a pack of 100 cards, each of which asks a question or contains a fun fact. In the first level, the questions you might be dealt are gentle. “What does nature mean to you?” “Did you spend a lot of time outside growing up?” Or open-ended, like: “What are you grateful for?” and “Who inspires you?” Some players might draw a “fun fact” card, like: “On average, half of the oxygen you breathe comes from the ocean.”
After the players get to know each other a little, the next level of cards becomes a bit more pointed. “In thinking about the future, what emotions come up for you?” “How do you currently centre others’ needs in your day-to-day life?” “What are your current consumption patterns?” And “How is self-determination of Indigenous communities part of the environmental justice movement?”
Players might draw a card asking what holding corporations to account actually means. They might also be encouraged to name things they are currently doing right. Fun facts convey alarming information, like the rate of polar ice melt and inform players of opportunities to engage.
In the third level, players are asked how they ground themselves and experiences they may have had of solidarity. Some cards invite players to discuss contributors to climate injustice, like fast fashion. Other cards invite a conversation about the future, such as what role they would like to play if they could choose.
Laurence Letarte-Préfontaine and her friend Vanja Lugonjic designed and produced a card game to allow players to have honest and hopeful conversations about their relationship with nature and the climate and to choose actions to protect it.
The fourth level invites conversation about change, such as what should be different about media coverage, how to help others with their climate anxiety and imagining which friend they would like to work with to throw a climate event. This round also contains cards with tips for actions, like making a piece of art that expresses their feelings about climate.
We worked with HappyTears, which has experience producing other themed Connect Decks. We tested the deck at an event with 30 people and got very good reviews. We are hopeful our Connect Deck Climate Change will be for sale soon. We see it as a tool for teachers to use in classrooms or friends around a kitchen table or for conversations at networking events. Not enough people are talking about climate change because it is seen as scary or unapproachable. This is one way to get things started.
How did you come up with the idea?
In university, I was worried about climate change and experienced anxiety because I couldn’t see that anything I could do would make a difference. It seemed hard to talk about it because it was so negative and alarming, but it was on my mind a lot.
To ease my anxiety, I got involved with the Ocean Wise Youth Ambassador program and in the summer of 2023, Vanja and I began to ask how people could engage in a way that was motivating and supportive rather than alarming and disempowering. We decided to host an event to explore this with speakers and conversations and created these cards to ease the way.
Tell us about the Ocean Wise’s Ocean Bridge program.
I filled out an easy application form. They asked me to create something that would demonstrate my feelings about the climate crisis and I sent in a small scrapbook/collage. Four weeks later, I was accepted. Together with 25 other young people, we went to a small community in northern Quebec to learn more about climate change and the oceans from scientists and Indigenous people. Then we attended online events and seminars for five months. We were expected to develop a project to help with the crisis and Connect Deck Climate Action was my choice.
What makes this hard?
Getting active has helped ease my anxiety but finding the pathway to bring this to market requires time, networks, skills and resources I have found hard to find.
What gives you hope?
The experience showed me if you create an inclusive space, people from different backgrounds can have deep respectful conversations and be inspired to take action. I have left my corporate job to take some time to discern how I can apply my data management, analytics and math skills to work on climate change. I am learning that being engaged is a path to resilience.
What would you like to say to other young people?
I had no background in the climate justice movement or in anything related to this project. But people are willing to help and opportunities for finding a community of support do exist if you are open to them.
How about older readers?
Climate change is not a young person’s problem. This requires a team effort.