Using pictures to promote a good climate: bikablo meets Fridays For Future

No movement in recent years has gotten as much rolling in such a short time as “Fridays for Future.” In August 2018, Greta Thunberg demonstrated for the first time in front of the Swedish parliament. Twelve months later, there are over 360 local groups of students in Germany taking to the streets on Fridays for better climate policies, and Greta’s spark has spread to all other continents. In order to provide the activists with visual tools for dialog and communicating their concerns, an eight-person bikablo team was present at the FFF Summer Congress in Dortmund.


It all started with a short mail from FFF activist Jonas to the bikablo office: “We are still looking for cool visualizations for our panels. Could you imagine supporting us? With fees, however, it looks difficult for us.” Stefan, Heidrun and Michaela from the trainer team and the recorders Birgit, Martina and Volker came forward to support the project “pro bono” together with Andrea and Natascha from the bikablo office. The management provided material and know-how.

Our team expected a colorful, energetic four-day meeting at Revierpark Wischlingen with over 1500 young climate activists. The topics of the workshops and panels ranged from fundamental questions such as climate protection – all the responsibility of politics? to complex content such as post-growth vs. green growth.

“Even if some things seemed a bit chaotic at first glance – everything worked out amazingly well in the end. FFF intuitively knows what self-organization and personal responsibility mean,” reports Andrea. “It’s fascinating and encouraging to see how much expertise, mindfulness and open conversation culture the activists deal with each other and with their topic.”

Our team of trainers offered two short crash courses on the topic of “Visualization in Dialog”. “We are convinced that thinking with a pen is becoming a key competence of the 21st century – when it comes to explaining complex contexts, finding consensual solutions and planning concrete steps. This applies not only to companies, but also to social movements that organize themselves in a decentralized and autonomous manner,” says trainer Michaela. Stefan adds: “For anyone communicating scientific findings or political demands, a combination of text, images and graphics is the best means of transport. For our short training, we had therefore specially developed a pictogram cheat sheet for climate issues.”

Meanwhile, on the panels, the central forums for all participants, the graphic recorders were active. “The enthusiasm, fun and belief in doing the right thing – all of that was incredibly moving,” Martina reports. What we quickly realized: FFF always means improvising. Although the congress had a clear agenda, spontaneous changes had to be made again and again. A challenge for the recorders, who were supposed to capture the results? “We worked in teams of two. It’s a process where you can’t have an ego. Where you look out for each other and then “dance” together.” It’s good to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and also those of the other person,” Volker describes the collaboration. “Those present on the panels looked at our recordings very intensively and for a long time after the discussion rounds – partly in discussion with each other, partly in meditative silence,” Birgit reports. “For me, this was an extraordinarily appreciative way of dealing with the content, which we reflected back to the group via graphic recording.”

What’s next? “Our goal is to combine the energy of the FFF Summer Congress with the commitment to our program bikablo macht Schule and to build a bridge to the visualizer community. To this end, we have created an internship position in the bikablo office for which we are looking for someone who is between high school graduation and university graduation and who would like to connect visualization with topics from politics and society. The person should support our office, coordinate the bmS team and bring along personal responsibility, social commitment and the will for dialogue from the FFF spirit”, says Andrea (inquiries to the office).

Not only the commitment to Fridays for Future arises from the desire to take responsibility for society and the environment as a company beyond commercial interests. Since 2018, we have been offsetting our own C02 emissions with myClimate. With the new internship position, we are taking the next step.


Climate protection is fun, but also a lot of work: the findings of the summer congress panels, documented by bikablo bildwerk’s graphic recorders:


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