Behind the Scenes: Ki Culture. Blog 3 – communicating climate culture
Freelance communications specialist and writer Darya Danesh describes her time as a volunteer at Ki Culture empowering cultural professionals to embed sustainability in their practice. The third of three blogs looking behind the scenes at Ki Culture, an international non-profit working to unite culture and sustainability.
In March 2021, I was in the process of a big life change. I was in my notice period at a job that took more energy than it gave. I was starting my freelance writing work. I was ready to give my time to an organisation that was doing good for the world. That’s when I stumbled upon Ki Culture.
From my first meeting with Caitlin Southwick, the Founder and Executive Director, I knew this was exactly the type of organisation I was looking for. Ki Culture’s founding tenets, aside from championing and providing resources for sustainability (environmental, social, and economic), are co-creation and international collaboration. It was precisely these three things that made joining the Ki Culture team such an incredible pleasure.
Since its inception, and to this day, Ki Culture works 100% remotely and in all corners of the world. One of my first team meetings included other members who were based in The Netherlands (where I am), Italy, the UK, and Canada. Already in our first meeting, I could sense that I had stepped into a space that would provide what it promised.
Communication is Ki
My first role within the organisation was as part of the communications team. Through collaboration with my international counterparts, I was able to flex the skills I had learned in my studies and previous work. I was also able to learn and gain experience in aspects of the communications field I had not yet dabbled in such as marketing and social media strategy, content planning, and research into brand messaging. Among the projects I was able to work on, there were two that stood out the most.
First was our Digital Marketing Guide, this is a document we created across the social media and operations teams that required a total of six hours of collaborative brainstorming. I learned how to define a content strategy that encompasses all aspects of an organisation. I also learned invaluable brainstorming and teamwork skills with international colleagues. Together we created a baseline for the information that we would be sharing with the public about the organisation, something I didn’t think I’d ever have the pleasure of being part of.
The other communications project that changed not only my own way of thinking about messaging, but also taught me the value of cross-collaboration, was the creation of a monthly newsletter. Together with a fellow volunteer in Argentina, we worked alongside Caitlin to determine which Ki Culture events and updates were useful to share with our audience as well as deciphering which of the hundreds of global, online events would serve our audience.
Launching Ki Futures
Part of my role as a communications specialist and coordinator at Ki Culture was to help spread the word about the Ki Futures program. Ki Futures empowers cultural professionals to embed sustainability in their practices and provides them with training, coaching, bespoke resources, and tools to become sustainability leaders.
In the summer of 2021, together with the same volunteer from Argentina mentioned above, I helped organise a launch event for our Pilot program. The pilot brought together over 25 organisations to see if the programming Caitlin and the Ki Futures team had worked so hard to develop would be well received (spoiler alert: it was!).
Our program launch included interviews with prospective Pilot participants and, you guessed it, I was given the opportunity to host a few of the interviews. This was yet another way that my experience at Ki Culture provided me with valuable experience on an international level as the interviews I did get to do were with participants in Norway, Germany, and The Netherlands. I also had the opportunity to interview one of the program’s coaches, Kim Kraczon, whose work in circularity I find incredibly fascinating.
Much later, at the start of 2022, I had the unique opportunity to work with our visual designers in creating the layout and copy for the forthcoming Ki Futures website.
CHERISHED: digital cultural heritage in compulsory secondary education
Outside of Ki Culture’s own initiatives—the Ki Futures program and the Ki Books, our free step-by-step-guides to sustainability—we are involved in several external projects and consortiums. The CHERISHED project is one such project. Together with five other partner organisations across Europe, we researched compulsory education in secondary schools to see which subjects are common among all six secondary curricula.
With the information, our partners who specialise in education created a pedagogical framework and a three-module micro-learning course. The micro-learning course was then tested with teachers and cultural professionals in each of the partner countries. Using the provided feedback, the partner organisations in charge of the framework and e-learning platform that houses the course are now in the process of making the necessary changes.
This experience, among all the others I’ve had in my time at Ki Culture, was truly the most out of my comfort zone I’ve gone in my professional life. Having the opportunity to work with international colleagues to implement digital cultural heritage in secondary education—a topic that I’ve become passionate about in the meantime—has been incredibly rewarding.
An incredible team and mission
What I’ve shared here is only a fraction of the amazing co-creation and international collaboration I’ve had the honour of being part of as a Ki Culture team member. There is a breadth and depth of work happening at Ki Culture that can only get better. I’ve had the opportunity to provide input at different phases of multiple projects and meet so many new friends and colleagues.
Being part of this growing organisation has been a joy. Thinking back to this time last year, it's amazing how much incredible work I’ve been able to be part of. I can’t wait to see what the future will bring!