A Quest for Meaning

En Quête de sens DVDIt’s Christmas holidays, for the first time after a few years we are meeting at my Grand-ma’s house. The whole family that is all the aunties, uncles, cousins, a gathering of not less than 28 people, is sitting around the table. Discussions and debates about politics, solutions to the crisis are often coming back. I am also asked many questions about the Santiago way and my experience at Place to B during the COP 21. Obviously, my family is wondering and sometimes queries my recent choices. I am 29 years old, I left my well established job in a big multinational company a few months ago. I came back to France and started to seek for a more meaningful life. “A quest for meaning”, this is actually the name of a reportage I heard of so many times during the COP21. So much that I bought the DVD and organised a projection with all my family. Without even watching it before, I installed the screen, plugged the video projector and a 1h30 movie session started with all my family.

Projection En Quete de sens

Soon everyone was absorbed in Marc’s and Nathanaël’s encounters and discoveries. These 2 childhood friends met by chance in New-York a few years ago. At that time Nathanaël Coste had just finished a reportage about water in India, whereas Marc de la Menardière was working as a marketer in a big multinational company which was selling water. Many things were opposing them despite their friendship: their ways of life, their convictions…However, when Marc found himself stuck in bed after breaking his leg he watched Nathanaël’s reports and began to change his vision of life. So much that once he was better, he decided to quit his job and joined Nathanaël in India. He needed to understand, meet all these bright people who lived differently and were not afraid of change. Nathanaël filmed Marc’s quest of the world. Then they produced the movie together.

     Like the road-trip report Tomorrow -more centred on interior change- “A quest for meaning” is mind opening since the spectator watches actors of the sustainable development and today’s philosophers. It shows that it is possible to live differently, stresses important notions such as the difference between pleasure and happiness, the link between human being and nature, the limits of our current system. Through each encounter and testimony the spectator slowly becomes conscious that humanity can be actor in the change, can imagine new structures, places of living and systems which are meaningful. The production of “A quest of meaning” has been financed by crowd funding with the help of not less than 963 internet users. Moreover its licence allows anyone who desires to do so, to organize a pubic movie projection without fees and complications. It just needs connecting on the website and follow the instructions. This report is anchored into today’s world. It does feed our reflections about change, ways of life, current and future systems. A report to be widely shared with your friends, family and social groups. Be the first person to export it out of France!

The Bureau of Linguistical Reality

   During the second week of the COP21, I was finishing my lunch break when Heidi Quante came to me. She looked as if she was coming directly out of a movie with her glasses without glass pushed on her curly hair which were pulled up in a bun. She was also wearing huge golden half-moon shaped hearings. Originating from San Francisco (California) she needed help to translate a few texts for her association. This is how, I ended up in the Bureau of Linguistical Reality, translating a very declarative text supposed to be read by Heidi herself, the following day at  l’Académie Française (a French institution with a board of  literary people who decide which words are to be registered in the French dictionary).


    Indeed, Heidi has been a climate activist for many years and has tried various approaches to shift culture around climate change. Her background is science, however she found out through her different experiences that the best approach to do so, is through art. Therefore, since 2014 with the co-founder of the Bureau Alicia Escott she holds a Salon or Field study every month. On this occasion 8 people who never met before are invited. They come from very different backgrounds: mums, scientists, psychologists, farmers, fishermen…They are invited for one evening, to share wine and food and a reflection around a theme such as, for example, the four years’ drought in California. After dinner, they all discuss their emotions and feelings in relation with the theme. The aim being to create new words which express at best theses sensations and that way enrich and actualize our vocabulary with useful words full of signification. Exactly on the same principle as Dr. Henry Antoine did when he created the word « smog » to designate the fog created by the smoke of the civilization pollution. The Bureau of Linguistical Reality has facilitated the creation of many words such as:

Pre Traumatic stress disorder: Pre-trau.mat.ic. stress dis.or.der                                                  


Definition:  A condition in which a researcher experiences symptoms of trauma as he learns more about the future as it pertains to climate change and watch the world around them not making necessary precautions. Similar to Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder but preceding the actual trauma. Characterized by disturbance of sleep, constant vivid worry and dulled responses to others and to the outside day to day world and/or seemingly comparative short term responsibilities such as: paying rent on time, attending children’s soccer games or appropriate attention to a retirement portfolio.

Origin: Lise Van Susteren, 2013, United States.

    Behind this very literary workshop, there is much more than simply enriching the dictionary. Indeed, Heidi and Alicia are creating here a space to allow the participants to stop and think of how they are impacted by the climate change. It allows the participants to recognise their emotions and what these emotions are generating inside them. Sharing their experiences the participants realise that they are not alone in their positions. They can discuss and define precisely what they are experiencing. The purpose is not to have a therapy group to discuss big traumas. The aim is more about creating a psychological space where people can share all the little daily emotions related to climate change and feeling less isolated with it. Heidi assures that at all times when people stop feeling isolated in front of a problem new movements start to emerge. Therefore, with Alicia, they hope facilitating the emergence of new movements at their own scales. Finally, creating a new word is q playful and empowering experience. From the position of “climate victims” who suffers the changes without being really able to name the small discomfort which it generates, the participants are taking in charge their emotions and create something very meaningful out of it: a new word. This salon is therefore a great opportunity to become conscious of human capacity to act and create in this world where so many things seem fixed. With new words we can create a dictionary and with new actions we can create a new world. In the meantime, let’s hope the French Academiciens reserved a warm welcome to the Bureau of Linguistical Reality!

Questions to Anne-Sophie Novel

Blogger and journalist, Anne-Sophie Novel is the founder of Place to B. During the COP15, she was in Copenhague and enjoyed working and meeting other blogers in a café booked for them. When she discovered that COP21 would be in Paris she suggested to find a similar place. Since then the idea has grown and lives far beyond what she initially suggested. She agreed to answer my questions last Friday as she was finishing her breakfast. Thank you for your availability Anne-Sophie!

Portrait Anne-Sophie

   cc Marine Leduc

Anne-Sophie, the first Place to B adventure is about to end. What are your impressions?

There are several things, with Place to B we had for main ambition to create something positive, a bubble for people to feel good so they would understand that Place to B exists only in a constructive spirit. The aim being to really create a new way to communicate about climate change and to open to the citizens. Place to B is a place where people meet around convictions and try to discuss how to share it better. And I think we succeeded, we reached our ambition. On the other hand, I think we have a team that had proved to be a revelation on all levels. I am thinking or the core team which is working on the project for  months, and also the volunteers. I am happy to see how everyone has found its place and made this adventure possible. It is a human adventure before anything and I am really satisfied about it.

What is the next step for Place to B? Do you already have a  vision?

After what we experienced, I believe each of us will relax and it will be strange next week to not have any event to organize. But there is so many content to work on, that we know it is only the beginning of something. This morning we will meet and have a reflection about the future of Place to B. I don’t know yet how it will materialize. Having said that there are already few options to explore: there is the idea to create a web doc by using all the radio, video and photo contents, in order to explain what happened here during 2 weeks. There is also the idea to create some crowd-funding campaign in order to support some projects of the Creative Factory. There is the possibility to create an international network of people who wish to keep the effort alive in time. Some people see us as a collective event which could be replicated at other occasions. It is a concept which seduced lot of people, the fact to gather diverse people in a great and open space. The question is to know if we want to replicate it at each COP or also at some other occasions. First, we will listen to the community and see the ideas which are arising. And we will give ourself time to think it through because we won’t be able to do everything, at the end we will decide at the majority.

Today the theme at Place to B is B-Long, a reflection about time. Lately, you have started a collection of interviews on that theme. What is your vision of time?

I had that idea of interviews about time in September 2014, around the time where the project Place to B was taking more and more space in my life. I was wondering how the others were doing to manage their schedule, because it requires a lot of discipline as a freelance to manage the interviews for my journalist job, the conferences and this project at the same time. I wanted to know how the others do. I offered my idea to Le Monde and they liked it. I couldn’t do exactly what I had in mind, because I wanted to ask always the same questions so that everyone would do the exercise.  Finally the series has a great success it has been stopped in June and started again for the end of this year. Therefore one will be published today and one will be published next week. In the future, I would love to interview Sylvain Tesson, but for now he doesn’t want to answer.

Did these interviews opened new horizons for you? Did you change the way your are managing your time?

I was my own guinea pig because I always have a full timetable. I interviewed a coach in time management who helped me. I have been coached myself, it is really interesting to understand through the lens of time management my relationship to emails and another list of things. I am progressing, I learned to say no, to put priorities. For exemple I always try to get something done by 10 o’clock in the morning, so that I don’t get the feeling that the day is flying by and I am losing my time. I learned many different tips as that one which help me to organise my time better, so I can enjoy the moment. What  it is interesting is that there are many different time approach with all the people I met. And everyone doesn’t talk about it the same way.

And why did you choose this theme today?

Because we are in the urgency, the leaders are in the urgency to find an agreement. It is a time for action because we are trying to find an agreement for 2020. And the distance there is between now and 2020 doesn’t necessarily give us the feeling that there is urgency for action. It is paradoxal and we do not know how to take it, we will abord all those questions today.

Fab lab, an innovation to share

           With Climate change people are pushed to innovate, to find new solutions in order to build a viable future. Innovation requires a fair amount of creativity. Without it, it is impossible to develop something new. And transgressing established rules, questioning it or reversing  it are part of the creative process.  Innovation is a concept applicable in all fields, it comes from a dream, an idea, a need or a problem. Equally, if these factors are reasons for innovation, then all humans are able to innovate because we all have ideas, dreams and solutions in mind.

        However we might not necessarily have the competences, tools or technology required to realise it. It was the from this statement professor Neil Gershenfeld from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology  decided to give access to his laboratory at any time of the day or the night to his students . He wanted to free up their creativity and encourage them to innovate. By doing this, the students could use  all the tools,  machinery, software and technology required to realize prototypes they had in mind. This is how the first Fab Lab (Fabrication Laboratories) was born.

        Neil Gershenfeld not only opened his laboratory to his students,  but through the Fab Lab charter he also encouraged them to share their knowledge and competences, in an educative perspective and also in the spirit of accelerating the innovation process. Indeed, the Fab Labs are open to anyone. And above all, there is no secret! All the processes, programs and plans are available in open source, accessible to everyone on the web network. That way, everyone is free to enhance the innovations of others, or to replicate it. There is no patents to protect it, only licenses which regulate the level of sharing and stipulate if it can be modified and redistributed, or only redistributed; and if the innovation can be commercialized or not.

fablab pic.jpg

     The concept of Fab Lab has a great   success and in 15 years  has grown way beyond Universities environment. Fab Labs have been developed in networks in the entire world, not less than 400 have been listed in 2014. The Fab Labs can be private, or financed by crowd founding or public institutions. It already allowed many innovations, with  quality comparable to the industry: « It exists 2 models of 3D printers in the world, with similar prices and performance levels » explains Nicolas Sadeghi, a student from EFREI passionate by this topic and very involved in Fab Labs in France.

fablab quote


     Indeed, the Fab Lab network is an excellent accelerators of innovation, because different  people can work together  on the same project. Equally, it permits the development of long  lasting, adjustable and repairable products. Allowing the market to slowly to move away from the logic of planned obsolescence of products. Finally, the Fab Labs are great tools to empower people to create, develop and realize their ideas.

To go further:

>Some Fab Labs closed to mine?

Round is the solution !

     Ecosystem ! This one of the favorite word of environmentalists, ecologists and climate activists. This scientific word is an explanatory-word, a solution-word. And following the COP21 without understanding this term is a bit like trying to ride a bicycle which doesn’t have pedals! So I got interested in the question, and according to Larousse encyclopaedia an ecosystem is characterised by its flux and raw material being recycled. Moreover in ecology, the ecosystem designate an environment in which the living beings are working together in closed circle, such as in the water cycle. Indeed, scientists estimate that climate change is due to humans disturbing the ecosystem rather than contributing to it. For example when we release an excessive amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and there isn’t enough trees to absorb such a quantity, or at least not that fast in any cases.

   However human being is a living being and is by consequence part of ecosystems! So, with which living beings does he work in closed cycle? Indeed, when he transforms his organic waste into compost and uses it to fertilise the soil in his garden or field. And when he filters his waste water to reuse it. Or when he invests money with others in a project or a company which contributes in some ways to the society. This is it!  This is the solution to climate change: the closed cycles. And it is time to stop turning in circle, and let’s start to create, re-create and restore the round of solutions!!!


Demain – Tomorrow

     Half way of the COP21, most of the time inside the positive bubble of Place to B, I am making the most of my free time. Through conferences, movies, live at Place to Brief, Le Bourget or this weekend in the village of alternatives, I listen, I learn, I question, I read and I meet lot of people. It is difficult to find the time to stop, think and write. And, I don’t really know where to start. Each evening I tell myself  « Tomorrow my ideas will be clearer, tomorrow I’ll do it! I will write. »

       DDEMAINEMAIN (Tomorrow, in french) is actually the title of the film of Mélanie Laurent and the Cyril Dion. Thanks to this movie I understood why I didn’t know where to start. It is because everything is connected. A good solution can’t  only focus on agriculture, or energy, or economy but requires to take all these parameters and many more in account. Of course, I will share on blogpause some already existing and tangible solutions, but you would miss something not watching DEMAIN.

     Realised over 2 years, this movie has been crowd-founded by 10 266 citizens who believed in the project. DEMAIN is all together realist, positive and dynamic. The message is clear: tomorrow is built today, and therefore solutions already exist. The movie directors chose to start by the agriculture chapter because, as Cyril Dion explained after the movie, it is proven that the end of a civilisation is most of the time due to food shortage. One thing being connected to another, we are soon taken on a road trip of the solutions, the entire experience being enhanced by a wonderful soundtrack composed by Frederika Stahl. During the journey we forget about time, we discover, we learn, we are astonished by so much positivity about such a topic! This movie will be soon a reference among the film-reportages on solutions to climate change. So invite your family, your friends and your neighbours and go to the cinema! Who knows, maybe a idea of project will grow out of this cinema session!

The car industry entering circular economy

         Friday night at Place to B, Hugo Spowers was one of the guests for the live session Place to Brief. He was presenting his company Riversimple, which could change the landscape of the car industry in few years time.

       Currently cars are designed and developed, such as it is built, used and disposed. And this is what we usually do in our current linear economy. Mr. Spowers business approach is completely different: he is developing a service where people will pay a monthly package for 1 to 3 years, which will include the rent of the car, the hydrogen fuel cost, the road tax, the car maintenance, as well as any needed repairs on the car. The only additional cost for the client will be a fixed mileage rate. “In the eventuality of hydrogen price inflation, it would be an on-cost for the company. And as the car gets older, the cost of the car rent would decrease”, explains Hugo Spowers.

       Mr. Spowers also insists on the fact that he will be selling a service and not a product. Simply because if he was to sell cars 100% recyclable, then it would be in his interest to sell short or middle –life cars which are not always repairable. It would make the economical circle spin faster and faster, so that he would be able to  increase the capital of his company. His vision is actually, rather the opposite: he wants to slow down the circle. So he could reinvest the benefits of his company in developing new cars, more energy efficient, and as a consequence increase its capital. The service is not available yet, next year there will be a trial with 20 cars and the company is aiming to start offering its service by 2018.


     This business model is the perfect illustration of circular economy, so well supported by Dame Helen MacArthur and her Foundation since 2010. According to the circular economy model, the products are designed to be long-lasting, repairable and recyclable. This idea grown in Ellen’s mind after she experienced it sailing on her own across the Austral Ocean. She had to take care and re-use each single resource she had on board. Because what she had taken with her when she started was all she had. Since then, she has been sharing her vision with the entire world; taking part to many conferences, participating to TED talks and trying to inject this model inside multinationals.

       From the vision, to the realization, it takes lot of time and efforts. But replacing lines by circles, fossil energy by green energy, short-life items by long-life items is definitively part of the climate change solution. And it is in humanity interest to see this virtuous circular business model start spinning in all types of industry.

The voice of citizens in COP21

      For the first time in the history of a COP, the world citizens gave their opinion about the 5 main themes of COP21. The results will be shared with the decision makers during COP21.

           The citizen debate about climate and energy, called World Wide Views Climate and Energy, took place on the 6th of June 2015. It was organised following the initiative of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, the French National Commission for Public Debate (FR), the Danish Board of Technology Foundation (DK) and Missions Publiques (FR). The idea came from the principle that no topic is complicated enough to justify not asking citizens opinion. On the contrary, they are convinced that the solution to climate change resides in each citizen’s action. Therefore, it is urgent and important to give them a voice and empower them to initiate the change. The first World Wide View gathered around 10 000 citizens from the 5 continents, spread accross 76 countries.

           The citizen panels who took part to the debates were formed in such a way that they would be representative of the socio-demographic  repartition of each country. Therefore criteria such as gender, age, education level, geographical zone of residence or citizen origins  have been taken in account. The debates were focuses on the 5 themes now discussed by negotiators at Le Bourget: Importance of tackling climate change, Tools to tackle climate change,  the UN negotiations and national commitments, Fairness and distribution of the effort, Making and keeping climate promises. All the debates happened under the same format. The citizen were spread over 5 tables of 8 people. For each theme, they watched a 15 minutes informative video and then discussed together over 1 hour this theme, helped by a facilitator. Finally, each citizen individually voted the solutions which appeared the best in them opinion under that thematic.

  The results of the debates were then valued and broadly communicated at a national level and then at Bonn during  the COP21 preparation meetings with the negotiators. The results have have been used during the national report elaboration , as well as the private sector and civil society views. They  brought  an additional dimension to this reports by reflecting the citizen opinion for each of the 76 consulted countries.

Citoyens Draw

     The reading of the World Wide View debate are very interesting, as they demonstrate that   80% of the citizens are very concerned by climate change, 70% want ambitious measures and  76% of the citizens want  the country to take tangible measures, even if the neighbour country don’t act. All the results are accessible on-line on the website http://wwviews.org/. They also show that the north/south division that we observe at decision makers level, isn’t reflected so strongly in the citizen debates. The world citizens are ready to change and are asking for it. However, one of the organiser of the French  debate underlines that the decision makers tend to focus more on the current citizen habits, and they don’t always reflect the citizen will for change. This is why, the citizen role in COP21 is real. And the citizen role in climate change is huge, as it is about leading the way by already starting to change habits and show politicians that citizen are ready for the change.

Let’s bounce! 

Résilience ! Since I joined Place to B, I hear a lot this word. Almost unused in the French vocabulary until recently, this word has now invaded the life of French people. Personally, I am not a big fan of this word, probably because the first time I heard it, I associated it to the word resignation which I don’t really like. In fact, resilience is the ability of a person to accept and act in a situation which generate stress. It is the capacity of this person to protect herself in that situation. Her capacity  to find a new balance and to take action in such a way that it will turn the situation to the advantage of that person. It is actually our ability to bounce back.

  And if this word is so used in the CoP 21 discussions it is because as said so well this morning the reporter-filmmaker Slater Jewell-Kemker:  » Our future is not the future promised by our parents, but it is the incredible possibility to build a new world. »

Are you ready to bounce?


A bit of context

Logo_PlacetoB-2     I am have been working with  Place to B team since few days now , running around to set up the rooms, to change the menus or to prepare  pass for the guests. The atmosphere is really good, each of us is doing  a lot ,  the team is motivated and efficient. I start to feel at home, sometimes very enthusiastic about the people I am meeting, sometimes very humbled by being surrounded by so many personalities.

       I can see the journalist working all day long, I meet people who are telling me « We decided to really act and live differently, now », I can hear the noise from the street and the outside world where security became a good reason to limit people expression. I am wondering about the format of my future articles and it seems to me that a bit of context would be good to start with. 

       Indeed, I am interested in the question related to climate change, and I am far from being an expert in sustainability. Therefore, I will do my best to make the most of theses 2 weeks in order to absorb a maximum of information. What a I the most interested in ? The solutions. I am convinced it isn’t too late to limit the climate change and that, as citizen we do have all the cards in hands to start the changes. By consequence, my future articles will be optimists and positives. I will share my discoveries and offer tangible solutions. My aim is to open your mind  and to transmit you the will to take action, at your level,  in your life.
Having  said that, the French context text isn’t great.Since the terrorists attacks of the 13th of November in Paris, the French government first forbidden street demonstration, then in the entire country. Since Sunday, the police has been doing search and arresting ecology  activists for their own « security ». Where is our great freedom gone? Since when a state needs to limit citizen freedom in order to guaranty their security? Is France still a democracy? Theses questions are in my mind as well.

     This is in that atmosphere that France is about to welcome the heads of states of the entire world, in order tdessin du jour 1o agree all together on the next targets to limit the global warming. Why do we need to limit it? Because if the average earth temperature rise by 2 extra °C , then the globalwarming process will be irreversible. The negotiations are incredibly complexes because each country has its own interests and different objectives. There are the developing countries which are already victims of climate changes (flood, drought …) and they don’t have the resources to face theses catastrophes and help their populations.  There are the emerging countries who want to develop fast and who don’t especially want to conform with new norms.  And finally, there are the developed countries who want to keep the same level of life and comfort while limitate and reduce their impact on environment…and their spend.There are 195 countries taking part in the CoP and a single country has the power to block the negotiation. In summary, as said yesterday a journalist specialist in the CoP negociations: « We are witnessing a beautiful utopia. » 

      In any case, the climate change is real . And it is important to remember that in one hand, all the  governments which are in Bourget for 2 weeks are representing us and we can hold them  accountable for their promises. And in another hand, each of us is capable of initiating the transition toward a world more respectful of environment. So, see you soon to share about evolution, solutions and options!