Co-creating Climate Change Education Materials with Immigrant and Refugee Communities in King County, WA

Imagine a place that experiences warmer temperatures and poorer air quality than other surrounding cities. Within this place, there are neighborhoods that are threatened by coastal flooding from storm surges and higher than average tides that seem to extend to new places than years before. In addition, this place also has residential homes, communities, and businesses that are located within, or close to, a floodplain and are expected to face more frequent river flooding and changes in stream flows as extreme weather events occur more often. This is a reality for some communities in South King County and as our climate continues to change, hazards like the ones mentioned above are only becoming more and more real.

The impacts of climate change will disproportionately affect communities across King County in Washington State. Some of the region’s most climate-vulnerable groups represent foreign born communities with limited-English speaking capabilities. The County initially designed climate change education and outreach materials for English-speaking audiences who have a general understanding of climate change and are familiar with technical terms and reading graphs. In effort to develop materials on climate change that are accessible to some of the most climate-vulnerable groups within King County, I partnered with King County’s Climate Action Team where we collaborated with four community-based organizations (CBOs) who represent immigrant and refugee communities living in the South King County area. Together we co-produced and transcreated climate change education materials that are in the native language of each group in order to increase accessibility of climate change information for people within King County.

To do this we:

Zoe Van Duivenbode
Arabic community workshop on climate change.
  1. Held a series of preliminary meetings with CBO staff to brainstorm content, messaging, and design for climate change materials based on what would make the most sense for their community.
  2. Hosted community workshops on climate change for each CBO where we presented on climate change and provided time for participants to provide feedback and input on how they thought climate change materials should look and what information should be included.
  3. Administered an exit survey at the end of workshop to assess learning after each workshop.

Going through the transcreation process with CBOS and their community was a necessary step to ensure that outreach and education materials on climate change were culturally relevant, accurately represent community values, and make sure that content and messaging holds the same meaning after translation.

Through workshops with community participants we were able to provide them with information on climate change and create a space for participants to ask any questions they might have about climate change. Overall, the transcreation process was an informative and insightful learning experience for all that were involved and helped develop a shared language around climate change. Through collaboration and partnership we collectively developed resources on climate change with input and guidance from the community. This process was a great opportunity to build relationships and trust with our CBO partners and their community and also started the dialogue on climate change between King County government and local communities. Fostering this connection can hopefully lead to a stronger representation of immigrant and refugee communities within climate change conversations taking place in King County government.

Zoe Van Duivenbode
Arabic climate change infographic

 

 

 

To see the final infographics that were created with each CBO visit King County’s climate change website (kingcounty.gov/climate). For more information on this project, read the full report here.

 

 

 

 

 

Zoe van Duivenbode earned her Master’s Degree from the UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs in 2019. This project contributed to climate change communication and outreach efforts at King County and was part of the UW Graduate Certificate in Climate Science. Following graduation Zoe accepted a position in California with San Mateo County’s Office of Sustainability where she will be leading a K-12 educational program on climate change. Read more about Zoe and her work in June 2019 College of the Environment Headlines.