When I set up the social enterprise MAINTENANT, my mission was to empower members of the community to adapt their lifestyles now for a happy future. This mission has never changed: it is in our DNA and the backbone of our company.
The name MAINTENANT – which means “now” in French – was a natural fit for this new endeavour. The origin of the word, which also translates as “maintain” or “sustain”, is the idea of holding something in your hand. I want people to recognise that the future is very much in our hands and how we choose to act (or not) will have far-reaching consequences.
I have had a long-standing interest in sustainable development which, coupled with a scientific background and a naturally curious mind, has led me to create this organisation, which produces content, workshops and games centred on sustainability science. It was, for me, an unexpected step into an area outside of my expertise. However, with hindsight, it is clear it was a logical and natural path for me to follow, as well as being a journey I felt compelled to take.
A focus on impact
The endeavour began when I started studying sustainable development more deeply, which led to the dire realisation of the critical situation we are in in terms of levels of damage to the Earth’s atmosphere and biodiversity. It was enough to compel me to take action, to drop the work I was doing with IT companies and use my acquired skills and expertise with more impact.
I spent the first six months researching and networking to find out how I could contribute and make a difference. What I discovered during that time was a parallel world of astonishing people working very hard and dedicating their time and money to tackling the unprecedented challenges we are facing. There were also many people like me, especially from the field of finance, who had left their previous positions to try to find a way to help.
A pivotal moment came when I discovered that climate change debate was being cut from the British national curriculum. As a parent, I strongly felt the injustice of not only jeopardising our children’s future but also preventing them from learning exactly what was happening to our planet and why. I felt driven to act and to do so immediately.
No procrastination, just action
I started by working with a local school, leading children in scientific activities and discussions about the planet and our relationship with it. In truth, I learned as much from them as they learned from me. These children, aged between 4 and 5 years old, completely got it. They were full of imagination and creativity. By giving them the scientific facts, in a non-patronising and non-dramatic way, they were able to fully engage with the topic. I did not need to tell them what to do. I just had to give them the why.
With a focus on learning from an easy, different and playful perspective, we then developed a learning methodology called Earth System Science Education™. This compelling approach represents the Earth as seven strongly interconnected spheres. Being solution-focused, we promote Project Drawdown and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Global Goals.
The next step was to widen the spectrum of our audience by running workshops and lectures for higher education students based on the same methodology. In some cases what we were offering hadn’t previously been covered, while for some schools we were tapping into developments that were already underway in terms of advancing sustainability, both with students and with administrative and teaching staff.
Learning through play
Interestingly, we noticed that, in much the same way as the primary school children, the higher education students were playing with our materials. This gave me the idea of turning these educational flashcards into card games aimed at the general public. The result was the DIVERSITY DECK® Collection, which represented our science curriculum across 16 decks. Aimed at the whole family, you can play more than nine reinvented classic card games while also learning about sustainability science. It enabled us to extend our reach outside of the classroom, taking learning and fun into the home.
More recently we have extended our offering to corporate clients, providing everything from workshops to company-branded sustainability card games. We are also proud of the work we have done to enable companies to sponsor school workshops, CPD and teacher training, eco clubs and community projects, such as creating gardens or installing solar panels.
If you had told me five years ago that I would be running an educational social enterprise, I wouldn’t have believed you. However, I am proud of the work MAINTENANT has already done in bringing the message of sustainability to a wide range of people and remain committed to maximising our positive impact and fulfilling our mission in the future.