On a cycling adventure through West Bengal, I learnt about the history and importance of Indian coffee houses. Locals explained that the coffee houses were the go-to meeting places for worker independence movements.
The Albert Coffee Hall in Kolkata is one such place. With it’s high ceilings and long wooden floors, The Albert was a home for artists, writers and political activists to debate dangerous ideas and to discuss how colonial institutions could be dismantled. Many other 20th century revolutions are said to have been concocted from the tables of community cafes throughout the world.
“When social spaces were created outside the direct control of the state (including commercial ones, run for profit), civil society could start to flourish in unexpected ways.” Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker
I took this idea from my travels home, and once even asked my local cafe to participate in a fundraising campaign for climate action. The cafe knocked me back because they preferred not to be political. That was a couple of years ago now, and businesses are no longer sitting on the fence in respect to global warming.
This Friday’s Global Climate Strike is a huge opportunity for workers and businesses to join the School Strikers for Climate Action at huge rallies across the continent. It’s been exciting to see collectives of all sizes - from small cafes through to big tech companies like Atlassian - come together to say that in lieu of the current climate emergency, there’s no such thing as “business as usual.”
Whether you’re a pilot, nurse, firefighter, farmer or designer like me, all of our trades and businesses are impacted by the climate crisis. As experts in our chosen field we can all play a role in facilitating change. For me that’s choosing not to work with polluting fossil fuel companies, taking video calls instead of flying to meetings, and volunteering my design and video services to climate groups.
There are many simple actions we can all take. If you’re just getting started, why not invite your boss to a Climate Strike event on Friday? Or simply shout them a coffee, and have a chat about how your business can help create a safe climate future.
Learn more at NotBusinessAsUsual.co, an alliance organised by Future Super.