Role Play Accelerates Climate Action
Participants roleplay community climate action in South Carolina.
In South Carolina’s Georgetown County, climate action takes a village. Supported by the North Inlet-Winyah Bay Reserve and partners, more than 300 community members came together in role play workshops to better understand risks like intensifying storms, rising sea levels, and extreme heat—and weigh the trade-offs of various policy solutions.
“This training was eye-opening for me,” says Yolanda McCray, a workshop participant and president of the Georgetown community nonprofit Black River United Way. “I remember saying, ‘What are they going to do about it?’ but quickly, in the simulations, ‘they’ became ‘me!’”
For a community that has endured increasing high tide flooding, thousand-year-rainfalls, and Hurricanes Matthew, Irma, and Florence in the last four years alone, solidifying community understanding and participation in climate action is more vital than ever.
“That’s what this was all about,” adds McCray. “We’re able to create a vision and come together and work together and find a solution that is not only beneficial for the other, but beneficial for the whole.”
The workshops immersed participants in fictional Riverway County, where they role played a realistic climate planning process informed by climate projection data at a relevant scale and a consensus-based approach. The Georgetown Climate Adaptation Project team led the workshops, which were adapted from a model first used by the New England Climate Change Adaptation Project and funded by the NERRS Science Collaborative.
For many, the experience helped demystify the role of government in hazard planning as well as foster empathy across community divides. Relationships forged during the workshops enabled the North Inlet-Winyah Bay Research Reserve to craft a resilience training for the Georgetown County Department of Public Services that made emergency response and planning abilities even stronger.
Other communities can use the project’s simulation tools and briefing document to fine-tune their own hazard planning processes.
The workshop team included the NOAA-sponsored Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments and Georgetown RISE, which was recently designated a United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. The work was sponsored by the NERRS Science Collaborative, a program that’s managed in partnership with the University of Michigan.