I’ve been working on an important story for nearly three years now – an obsession that, in many ways, has come to determine much of my adult life.
This is the story of how we have reached our current point of great social and ecological crisis, due to, among other factors, the unprecedented threat of global climate disruption.
It is a story of what we can still do to solve this crisis, and what is being done to build a far more sustainable, brighter future for all of us.
I think grand stories happen when we refuse to accept the grim reality we’re being faced with – and that is the foundation of this story.
It is a story of a world not doomed to deepening crisis – disrupting all our lives, global society and the wellbeing of millions of species and ecosystems.
It is a story that dreams of an opportunity for renewal; for transformation; and for cultural and spiritual growth far beyond what human society has experienced for some time – perhaps ever.
This is the story I am seeking to tell through a new grassroots documentary film Beyond Crisis, to be released Fall 2017 (Check out the trailer here: www.beyondcrisisfilm.com).
How did I get involved with telling this story?
How did it reach the point where I can feel it each day, in my bones – where I know that this is a story worth telling?
The process started, I believe, many years ago – back when I had an opportunity to teach high school overseas, and was assigned to teach a semester course on climate change.
Standing in front of a classroom full of young students who were expectantly looking at me to help provide a sensible path forwards in many ways changed my life.
No longer could I simply delegate responsibility for solutions towards climate academics, clean tech engineers, policymakers and other leaders in society – much less pass on this burden to the next generation.
I knew then that this moment required much more of me – that somehow, I had to do more.
Fast forward a few years, and I found myself volunteering in a growing social movement of people who were calling out climate inaction here in Canada, while leading a beautiful suite of solutions forward.
I participated in and documented this movement for several years, adding my voice to an amazing choir of so many people dreaming of a far more just, safe climate future.
When the opportunity arose to apply to Canada’s first ever Master of Climate Change program at the University of Waterloo, I felt like I was riding a wave of positive momentum that couldn’t possibly be stopped.
I applied, was accepted and spent a year immersed in research and discourse amongst esteemed climate scholars and thought leaders – all the while dreaming of a better future.
When this year ended, it was this wave of optimism and determination to make a difference that carried me forwards.
Despite the seemingly endless depressing news about accelerating climate disruption and planetary warming, spending years in the company of those people leading solutions continues to feed my hope for a safe climate future.
With an attitude of dogged perseverance, courage, and faith in our ability to solve this, I decided to apply my talents towards sharing this story with others.
In my heart I always knew that it would be people, not just technology, that will make the many changes that are needed – engaging in this process of transformation.
I know that no matter the odds, the pendulum of our age can always swing towards truth and justice once again – if we the people push it in this direction.
It is this faith in humanity, of our deeper love and kindness, that has kept me moving forwards.
Upon graduation, I reconnected with the community I’d known so well in Toronto, with the hope of participating in what was then the world’s largest climate march to date: the 2014 People’s Climate March in New York.
Over 400,000 people participated with nearly a million participants in solidarity events around the world.
It was this event that provided the spark for our film, Beyond Crisis – a journey that would transform the next three years of my life, crafting a story of the immense times we are living in, and how we might shape the future.
So how does one tell the story of what I believe is our generation’s most important call to action?
I am sure there are many ways to do this. For our team, the core pursuit over the last three years has been the pursuit of climate truth, illuminating the times we are living in and the massive shifts taking place.
History is rich with examples of moments where people were challenged to face a common reality, rising to meet a shared challenge with courage.
We can look to World War II as an example of when millions of people came together to face the common threat of fascism; or examples of social movements that fought for civil rights; women’s rights; an end to slavery; and yes, the rights of the natural world around us.
We can look at the “race to the moon” as an example of when human dreams sparked incredible human ingenuity – an analogy to the clean energy race of today.
And we can look at the times we are living in now as possibly the greatest social and energy transition that has yet occurred – a race to build a new society in balance with nature in time to leave a livable future for our children.
Many of the challenges we’ve gone through provide prescient insight into the challenges we’re facing now.
As before, there are immense entrenched incumbents that dominate our economic world today and are making this transition difficult – yet in the end, if we push, the pendulum will swing towards what is right; towards peace, life and justice.
The disruption of our climate, which has supported our lives and our progress since the very beginning, remains the greatest threat to human society we’ve ever faced.
It is up to us now to dream of a world “beyond crisis” – rebuilding the conditions necessary for a safe, stable climate future to nurture all life to come.
Surely such a transition will require deep realignment within ourselves, reconnecting our spiritual and material life to the life of the natural world that so graciously supports us.
It is with this aim of encouraging deep conversation and reflection between all people that we crafted this film – we hope that it inspires a far better future, beyond crisis.
Beyond Crisis is being launched at the Princess Twin Cinema on Thursday, September 21st. Check out event details here.
Kai is a documentary and social change filmmaker, and co-founder of the multimedia company Better Creative.
He is a graduate of the University of Waterloo’s Master of Climate Change (MCC) program and completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with a focus on film and video, through NSCAD University. A multimedia artist and storyteller by nature, Kai has worn many hats in leading Beyond Crisis to completion, as a powerful story of change and transformation.