Mente Ambiente: dialogues within, dialogues with us

Giulia de Oliveira Borba

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Thesis Abstract

This research addresses the affects experienced by most people in response to the current climate crisis. Research in the fields of psychology and human behaviour have termed the negative-value emotion “climate-anxiety.” My research inquires into both the positive and negative-value affects of this experience. To explore the nuances of this condition, the research is grounded in a practice-based methodology, using methods of speculative and participatory design. The personal explorations of narrative and future-building scenarios that express this condition are evidenced mainly through printmaking,
embroidery, and writing.

The learnings from these activities validate responses to climate destruction and validate the use of a creative practice to transition from value-negative to value-positive affects, allowing the self to reconcile with, and mediate these emotional responses.

This research reveals a better understanding of the components of this condition and offers ways to moderate its experience in everyday life. It culminates in the rationalization of a model, Mente Ambiente, to better understand and navigate this condition. This is evidenced through a final project that engages with the model to guide a creative practice and reveal points of entry for others to explore the elements of their own condition.

The Mente Ambiente Model

The Mente Ambiente model creates a discussion and a transitory space; it represents in a holistic way what I was feeling and what I came across in literature research and participatory workshops in regards to the climate crisis-evoked emotions. The movement between one state and its spectrum opposite can be done through a creative practice.

This model is not exhaustive and is not all-pervasive, but it can be evidenced through the practice that informed my thesis.

Landscapes of Connection

With this project, I explored my own connection to the MtH world through different time lenses: the past, the present, and
the future. 

The Mente Ambiente Toolkit

The toolkit exists as a non intimidating initial step. 

It has 3 components: a series of cards, through which the user can choose a state to explore—Hope, Agency, or Connection by drawing a prompt to respond to; a dice which gives the user a medium through which to explore said prompt; and lastly a spiral bound collection of fabrics and paper which would allow the user to embroider, sketch, write, and stamp, in addition to any other affordances the user finds for these. The prompts can be answered as a dialogue with the self or the collective, and the user does not need to use the dice to decide on a material. 

An alternate form of this toolkit—intended for broader accessibility—is an online version that allows the user to randomly select a prompt and a material. This version includes a gallery for sharing pieces by the users and creating a community.

To access the digital toolkit please visit:

Giulia de Oliveira Borba

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Giulia de Oliveira Borba (BA in Visual Communication and Global & International Studies) is a Brazilian interdisciplinary designer situated in Vancouver, BC. Her current practice consists mainly of printmaking, embroidery, and editorial design. Giulia has completed her master of design at Emily Carr University in 2023, currently focusing her research on the role of a creative practice has in understanding and addressing climate crisis-evoked emotions.

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