We have the ambition to transform culture and make it an ally for the ecological transition

An expert in media and citizen mobilisation, Magali Payen is a producer but above all the initiator of the “On est prêt” movement, which creates inspiring content and uses social networks to raise awareness and mobilise young people (but not only) on environmental issues. Meet an activist and a creative entrepreneur!

How does « On est prêt » (“We are ready”) help raise awareness of ecological transition issues?
The movement is meant to inspire and, above all, mobilise the general public. Our mission is to speak to those who are often the most distant from environmental issues and to connect them with their daily lives and interests, especially cultural ones. By organising collaborations between experts, actors of change, and artists, we try to create inspiring and convincing content, even for someone who does not seem interested in the issues at hand. The form is, therefore, particularly important to us. We have the ambition to transform culture and make it an ally for the ecological transition. “On est Prêt” is continuously working on renewing our collective imaginations. By spreading not only our work but also the work of experts and cultural creators, we hope that they can be the first links towards greater mobilisation and that their creations can, in the long term, push the transition into action. What’s better than a Netflix or HBO series that skillfully shares useful messages to change society?

What challenges did you face when setting up ”On est prêt”?
The model and the ambition to transform mainstream culture – also called popular culture – was something entirely new when we created our first campaign. Working so closely with actors as diverse as YouTube creators, experts and NGOs pushed us to create a new model, one that relies on collective intelligence and the ability to mobilise the actors of an economy for the common good. We had to convince all these people to give this new model a chance, even though all this was done entirely voluntarily in the beginning. The question of the economic model is still important to us. We have to be able to produce quality content, without promoting “destructive” ideas or objects, and then share it as widely as possible, hence they must be free of charge.

Then we quickly realised that social media networks, our main playground, often contained forms of activist purity, which turned out to be a real obstacle for engagement. This constant criticism of imperfections, of past and present mistakes, really prevented a lot of people from speaking out and participating in mobilisation. So we had to work on this issue and even coach our staffs to overcome this obstacle and move forward together.

Do you see the Covid-19 crisis as a threat or an opportunity for the ecological transition?
Both, of course! All crisis are threats as well as new opportunities to make the right choices and transform the model on which we base our society. First of all, threats because they can make us want to leave aside the ecological, climatic, and social emergencies, and focus only on the immediate symptoms of the crisis. But they are also opportunities because, as we are witnessing, disasters make possible what a few weeks ago still seemed unthinkable. The financial world starts to open at the same time as laws, decrees, and regulations follow one after the other to stem the crisis. It is then possible to orient all these measures and decisions with a reliable indicator: “how can this help to change societies’ model?” It’s possible, as some governments have done, to grant public aid to companies that play the transition game and to push others towards change – changing tax rules to benefit these sustainable, resilient and supportive practices and to slow down the recovery of those that threaten the ecological transition.

It is also in these moments that it finally becomes possible to make people understand the importance of communities, public services, and social ties to move political lines. It is democracy itself that can emerge transformed and regenerated from this moment if we let citizens take hold of the debate and make their proposals. This is perhaps what is happening, for example, with the Citizen Climate Convention, which will issue its recommendations at the end of June. What better time than that to listen to these 150 citizens and implement these transformations?

What are the next steps for “On est prêt”?
We are going to do our utmost to make as much noise as possible around the Convention’s proposals so that they can be taken into account and applied with no filters, as President Macron promised. This is an unprecedented opportunity, and we would like as many people as possible to support the 150 citizens. “On est Prêt” will, of course, continue its work on social networks, produce artistic and cultural content to challenge and to build up our imaginations, inspire the broadest possible public to mobilise on environmental issues and social inequalities of course, but also on new causes, such as feminism for example. 2020 is also the year for movement’s internationalisation, and we hope that the bridges we are building with other European countries will very quickly lead to joint, international campaigns capable of mobilising the citizens of several countries simultaneously!

Interview by
Baptiste Fassin
Publications & communication officer

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