How do you reduce the number of unnecessary short drives that occur in Williamstown?
Organize a car-share program and a bike cab service.
How do you talk about climate change with people who don’t believe in it?
Rebrand climate change in terms of very specific effects the person would care about.
How do you fight the sadness many New Englanders feel as climate change causes snow to fall less frequently?
Stage an all-night reading of snow-centered literature, or call a snow day at the first sign of snow—just to enjoy it!
These problems and solutions were presented at Log Lunch by Ghana Think Tank’s Carmen Montoya.
Carmen Montoya, participatory performance artist and Assistant Professor of Sculpture and Spatial Practices at the Corcoran School of Art & Design at George Washington University, is one of the core organizers of Ghana Think Tank. Founded in 2006, Ghana Think Tank is an international collective of think tanks in so-called “developing countries” that solve problems submitted by citizens of the “first-world”. The project flips traditional power dynamics about who possesses useful solutions, who can be creative, and even which societies have problems.
Many submitted problems are social in nature, dealing with issues of—for example—loneliness, the role of elders in society, diversity, or immigration. Some problems very specific and seemingly small in scope, but exemplify structural characteristics of “developed” societies. The solutions put forth by the think tanks are often human-centered and artistic. Few require extensive funding. Many are quite simple, but creative in a way that requires a completely fresh perspective.
This year, as part of the College’s Confronting Climate Change initiative, Ghana Think Tank is working with the Williams campus. Williams community members are submitting problems about the causes and effects of climate change. These problems are being solved by think tanks in Morocco and Indonesia. Williams students are also getting involved with Ghana Think Tank through a Winter Study course that will create an installation in WCMA’s rotunda and a spring Break Out trip to help with a project in Detroit.
– Sophia Schmidt ’17