Greenhouse Game-Changer: Hannah Robathan, shado

Hannah Robathan (far left) at a panel event hosted by shado

Hannah Robathan is Co-founder and Co-director of shado, a multimedia platform driving change at the intersection of arts, activism and academia. Through a print magazine and online platform alongside standalone events and projects, shado provides a platform for those with lived experience of a topic or injustice to advocate for meaningful change within that space.

Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about shado – what’s your mission? 

shado is a community of artists, activists and journalists with lived experience of issues, who are working to create social change.

Why have you chosen to focus on the intersection of arts, activism and academia?

We believe these are three sectors that are driving change, but are often unfortunately working in separation. We want to connect these fields because we believe not only that the mission they’re working on is aligned, but also because greater impact can come through collaboration.

What values are at the core of your work?

Collaboration and self-narration. We believe those with lived experience of an issue or injustice are best placed to advocate for meaningful change within that space – so shado is a platform for people to tell their own stories and take control of their own narrative, rather than being spoken for or about. We also mentor a lot of first-time writers, because we believe that anyone with a story should be given space to tell it!

What does an average day look like for you?

A mixture of commissioning, copy-editing pieces, and calls with contributors and organisations we collaborate with. For us long-term relationships are really important, so we love building personal relationships with everyone we work with. We also spend a lot of our day working on events and our other community-based projects, which bring our content to life in different ways.

Tell us about a career-defining moment.

It actually came before we officially launched our first issue. One of the artist features in the magazine was on a young Syrian photographer, Abdulazez Dukhan, who currently has asylum in Belgium. We wanted him to be able to come to the launch event, where we were exhibiting some of his images, so we worked with law firm Mishcon de Reya to get him a visa to the UK (which he’d never previously been able to secure, given the barriers put in place by the hostile British immigration policy). It was career-defining in the sense that I saw real power in connecting art with real-life change. Due to the visa we were then able to support Abdulazez on a tour to different cities around the UK where he was able to share his work.

An image of a girl in a street filled with rubble stands with her arms outstretched in either side. One giant rose is in front of the girl, one is near the front of the image.
Toward Life by Abdulazez Dukhan, as featured on shado

How is what you’re doing inspiring change in others?

We hope to inspire change in two ways:

  • By providing people with the tools to make their own changes and to feel empowered. We provide calls to actions on every article so that people have clear ways of taking action if they want it. Whether it’s signing a petition, following new organisations, or reading more on an issue, there are loads of ways people can get involved.
  • We also hope to inspire others through the stories of others – by hearing from and learning more about incredible artists, activists and organisations working on the frontlines. We think personal stories are an incredible and powerful tool to inspire others.

What is one thing you would like people to know about your work?

That we’re commissioning first-hand, frontline voices which are usually deliberately left out of mainstream coverage. We’d also love people to know that we’re always up for collaborating with like-minded organisations, so do get in touch! 

What is one action you want people reading this to take today to protect people and nature?

Educate yourself on climate justice, which reframes the climate crisis as an intersectional issue that affects people and places differently, depending on context and lived experience. To do this, listen to and amplify voices from the so-called Global South – folks who have contributed the least to climate change but will suffer the impacts the most. Bad Activist Collective are growing by the day and doing some amazing work – check them out. Many of their members have collaborated with shado in the past. You can also read a collection of frontline stories in our third print issue (on the theme of Climate Justice) – available to download here.

Download shado mag

What is your favourite medium for storytelling to inspire positive change? Do you have any recommendations for our readers?

Films are an amazing way to introduce people to topics of social justice. We’d really recommend In My Blood It Runs, an amazing film which follows a 10-year-old Aboriginal boy based in the colonised Alice Springs in Australia.

Who is your role model and why?

It’s so hard to choose one particular role model! Most recently I’ve been really inspired by three Indigenous speakers we hosted on our last panel:

  • Samara Almonte, a brilliant educator and activist based in the US – she runs a podcast called Raíces Verdes which explores the importance of nature and the connection to the land. She interviews some amazing people so this is definitely a podcast to check out!
  • Angela Camacho, also known as the Bonita Chola, runs an amazing IG feed which acts as both a visual archive and celebration of Indigenous women and activists. She is also part of Wretched of the Earth, which puts BIPOC voices front and centre in the environmental justice movement.
  • Clayton Thomas-Müller, an educator, author and organiser who has done some incredible work with youth and the climate justice movement. In particular his organising has focused on pipeline activism and movements for self-determination in Canada. You can read his memoir here. It’s super accessible and such a good read.

What’s on the horizon for you and shado?

At the end of the month, we’re launching a documentary about a refugee women’s football team in Liverpool. It’s been a while in the making, as we originally started filming in February 2020! We’ll be hosting an event in Liverpool to celebrate this on 26th March. We’ve also launched an artist callout in Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester for artists to create new works around the theme ‘reimagination’. Each chosen artist (10 per city) will receive a £500 grant and be part of an exhibition in their city.

Finally, what do you do to re-energise yourself?

Meeting and connecting to others in the space is the best way we’ve found to keep ourselves energised and inspired!

If you enjoyed this blog, take a look at some of our other recent Game-Changer interviews: