The Heatwave and the Drought

It’s been a week since the turbulent Thursday of final pitches in Wroclaw. We all rocked the stage, cheered for each other, sharing vibrations and tension. After that came the emotional Friday of reflection. Most of us had more time to say goodbyes through the weekend, trying to numb the separation anxiety. Some of us are still travelling through different European cities, cultivating relationships, postponing going home – back to the real world.

(story under the pictures)

Journey 5 before pitches
Participants and Fabienne Lang, Climate KIC Education Manager Switzerland
Audience and best idea award goes to #swimaware
Best business plan co-winners #moss
My team created a business plan for modular water filtration systems to be marketed in Ethiopia
Who will hold you if not these amazing coaches??!

I feel that I am fully back. So now it’s time to cash in and talk about the learnings. I will not discuss climate change, we all know it’s our reality – floods, droughts, lost harvests, rising sea levels, melting glaciers etc. I will not evaluate our business plans, they all had impact potential.

I am trying to understand, how this community that is being built by Climate KIC can contribute to adaptation to and mitigation of challenges, that we, humans, have brought on ourselves. First of all, community is the key word. Without community we cannot have integrated solutions. Therefore, I feel, that it’s time to step up, name and claim our impact, share our community resources and start influencing our environment. By resources I mean knowledge, by environment I mean our daily activities.

Many times during the Journey I felt like a hypocrite  – eating a hamburger, buying bottled water, taking an Uber. But it’s no time being harsh on ourselves, we all do our best, let’s try harder. And think more globally.

Our coach read a quote by Marianne Williamson last morning in the circle:

“…Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
Your playing small does not serve the world.”

And if a biotechnologist by day, taxi drive by night is trying to convince you that climate change is fake news, it is not OK to let him get away with it.

Thank you Climate KIC for making this amazing experience possible. Thank you everyone of my co-participants, my friends, for creating this unforgettable space together.


The countdown

Concentration. Purification. Iteration.

The 4th week is pacing on. We are showered with the challenge of synthesising 3 weeks worth of work into 1 minute pitch. 3 minute pitch. 3 rounds of pitches… Delivering a fist draft of the business plan and receiving never ending rivers of feedback. From our peers, from the coaches, from experts and, most importantly, from ourselves.

Groups are more and more concentrated around their little islands. Tired eyes, random outbursts of laughter, sighs.

It is rather difficult to let go of the work you were building up for so many days, but sometimes going forward means stepping back and shifting focus. After an initial confusions we are back on track.

The context seems less important now, but visiting Climeworks ignites discussions and challenges us to contribute. Green roofs, closed cycle aquaponics and hydroponics at ZHAW and other solutions, the hope is definitely not lost!

Tomorrow is the last day in Zurich and Saturday morning we start a 15 hours long journey to Wroclaw. Tick tack, the heat is building up, but we still have high hopes for good weather. And positive climate impact.

Pitching for Beth Sussane


Man made


Group process


About building a boat


Third week is approaching the end in the speed of light. With all the tools in our pockets, we are looking forward to our free weekend in Zürich. I assume, everyone is tired. But our coach Paul says ”Assumption is the mother of all fuckups”. What I actually heard, is that everyone is a bit concerned about handing in  the first draft of our business plans. So between mountain hikes, lakeside strolls, relaxation in the sauna, we will have to find time for team meetings and some efficient work.

To me it feels that we were thrown in the water along with lots of materials and tools to build a boat to save ourselves. Prototyping, design thinking, pitching, business plan, life cycle analysis, finances (wham!) has to magically turn our ideas into feasible and plausible reality, that will be communicated in 3 minutes on the spotlight. Pretty overwhelming.

Deborah, our other coach, stresses the need to reflect on the process we are going through. And I believe that it helps me change perspective and remain resilient. Or to put it shortly – keep my mind straight. And help my team build an awesome boat.

Rollercoaster week behind me

Last week was a rollercoaster.

I was enthusiastic during the first inspirational day, overwhelmed during the second day full of hard data on climate models, ice cores and a visit to an actual freezer full of ice samples in the Centre for Ice and Climate.

Wednesday goes smoothly, brushing up sustainability concepts in my head and user research skill out in the streets of Copenhagen.

Thursday starts too early, but that’s what it takes to have enough time to go all the way to Sweden, visit Tetra Pak headquarters in Lund, #Kretseum in Malmo, sharing a fyke (coffee and cinnamon rolls)  with E.on representatives, sustainability experts from Malmo municipality and – having a long walk in a new district, that showcases best city planing practices….uhh.

Like last men standing, Friday morning we bike to Guldminen (or Gold mine), an actual recycling collection point, where people dump there household plastic, sad three legged chairs, plants, pots and more. Amazing project coordinators there created a space where all this trash can get a second chance, community comes together for a discussion, kids learn about the life of stuff. Splendid morning, looking for gold in a dumpster revives a primal gatherer within me. To finish the week, we meet face to face with Carlsberg Group sustainability director Simon H Boas, learn what it takes to work in the field and what it means to have excellent presentation skills. Of course, field work is carried out at Carlsberg Experience. Next stop for the bravest – a fresh dip in one of Copenhagen baths.

I am still in a funnel, let’s hope I make it in one peace. The project coaches Paul and Deborah forms a circle. It’s a magic shape.DSC06590DSC06605DSC06627DSC06643

Belated reflection of the first day at school

So here I am, technically, in the second day of the Journey, as it is 5 minutes past midnight. I am tired, I am. But more than that, I am excited.

I had a great day. Despite the lovely Copenhagen weather, as they call it. Despite having a slight cold from it, too.

I met a lot of great women today. They are Climate Kicking ass cool.

So, first things first: after a sleepy breakfast and a bike ride to university, we found ourselves in a beautiful auditorium. Necessary and playfully swift practicalities and then – time we meet  – Kirsten Dunlop. Yep, she is the CEO of Climate KIC. OK, it’s a virtual experience, but we are all enthusiasts of innovation here, right?  An exemplary pep talk is followed by an expressed hope – that we will all meet, in person.

Second dish on the table – an amazing, entertaining, engaging lecture by Katherine Richardson. I learn this concept of #Planetaryboundaries and how dirty our hands already are, but get reassured, that the climate situation is not completely hopeless.

That is more than enough for a Monday. Great start!

The city tour was enhanced with sensual rain/wind add on. But who cares – Copenhagen is a comfort to sore eyes, especially with such good company.DSC06517DSC06520DSC06523DSC06525DSC06573DSC06555

Getting real

It’s less than one week left until I pack my luggage and take a train to Copenhagen, where my #climatejourney17 begins. To tell you the truth, I am excited, curious and a bit sad to leave home for whole 5 weeks in the middle of the summer. But on the other hand, I know it’s gonna be an amazingly enriching experience and kick ass fun!

Now then, if only I could be already done with packing… and could go on with Twin Peaks…