‘Address the Elephant’ - YEU Cyprus
The ‘Address the Elephant’ campaign was a project implemented by YEU Cyprus in collaboration with Fashion Revolution Cyprus and Friends of the Earth Cyprus. The project’s activities were implemented during the 16th to 20th of November 2020, of which included a series of workshops & a public intervention. It was selected amongst others, to be part of Global Education Week 2020, and funded by the Council of Europe.
Its overall aim was to creatively campaign awareness towards the sustainable development goals and encourage active citizenship amongst the Cypriot community as a whole but to also reach out to international participants. The activities included a series of online workshops that touched upon several Sustainable Development Goals, followed by an immersive action in a public space using an elephant mask as a prop, and by creating moving experiences that prompt people to rethink how we look at reality, studying simultaneously the values in our local community.
Drawing from the culture and its lack of actual awareness on the 17 SDGs, the aim was to make a visual impact and plant the seeds for recreating behaviours and sustaining lasting change. Specifically, the workshops aimed to enhance collective knowledge regarding SDG’s, their importance, and long-term implementation. Additionally, the goal was to empower young people in Cyprus and abroad to engage in issues from a local to a global perspective, promoting creativity, innovation, and commitment to peace, human rights and sustainable development, using Non-Formal Education and experiential learning. Furthermore, the action of the Public Intervention sought to trigger curiosity to initiate learning and self-reflection through artistic activism that is used as a tool for critical thinking.
The first workshop incorporated tasks and methods from the ‘’Local to Global’’ Manual which was a result of the sub-grand project Bridge47, that aimed to foster and develop the sense of initiative for young people and initiate learning through dialogue and conversations. Additionally, the workshop provided young people with the knowledge and information to understand the challenges of reaching a sustainable Cyprus and Europe. Moreover, the focus was given on Global Citizenship Education and how through raising awareness on issues of sustainability and specific SDG’s one can become a change-maker in our society.
The workshop ‘Local to Global’ served as an introduction to the second workshop “Sustainable Activism” which aimed to educate young people on non-violent protests, and how an activist can create actions that will have a sustainable impact or create change in our communities. The specific action was implemented in collaboration with ‘ Friends of earth Cyprus’. Additionally, participants were introduced to case studies of activism that tackled social issues and created an intense impact in non-violent manners. As a follow-up, a 3rd workshop was implemented aiming to go deeper into ‘Artistic Activism’, something that urged participants to consider art as a powerful tool to address important social topics. It analysed art movements throughout history and presented the pioneering work of artists that reestablished the role of art in the society. The specific workshop served as a warm-up in order for the participants to take an initiative to create a public intervention in their own community using an elephant mask as a prop.
The participants received their pink elephant masks via post and went out to the public to ‘address the elephant’, giving a visual representation to the campaign. It gave us an opportunity to reach both local young Cypriots as well as young people in the UK. The elephant character represents the uncomfortable truths that we tend to avoid at times, although it is vital that those issues are addressed. It represents the big picture, the emergency to address the common issues that humanity is facing.
All activities were intertwined in promoting creativity, innovation, and commitment to peace, human rights and sustainable development. Discovering and discussing non-violent practises and impact of sustainable activism and support/facilitating actions through the “Address the Elephant” campaign gave us the opportunity to think of alternative ways to engage in global citizenship and build towards follow up activities.