Monthly Archives: October 2019

Wild Authors: Brian Adams

By Mary Woodbury

In this spotlight on climate change authors I talk with Brian Adams, who has become a prolific fiction writer covering various environmental themes for teens and young adults. I first talked with Brian in November 2014 after the publication of his novel Love in the Time of Climate Change. 

Meet Casey, a community college professor with OCD (Obsessive Climate Disorder). While navigating the zaniness of teaching, he leads a rag-tag bunch of climate activists, lusts after one of his students, and smokes a little too much pot. Quirky, socially awkward and adolescent-acting, our climate change-obsessed hero muddles his way through saving the world while desperately searching for true love. Teaching isn’t easy with an incredibly hot woman in class, students either texting or comatose, condoms strewn everywhere, attack geese on field trips, and a dean who shows up at exactly the wrong moments. What’s a guy to do? Kidnap the neighbor’s inflatable Halloween ghost?  Channel Santa Claus’s rage at the melting polar ice caps? Shoplift at Walmart? How about all of the above!

Who would have thought climate change could be so funny!  Actually, it really isn’t, but Love in the Time of Climate Change, a romantic comedy about global warming, is guaranteed to keep you laughing. Laughing and thinking.

After our previous chat – a portion of which follows – Love in the Time of Climate Change won the 2014 Gold Medal INDIEFAB Book of the Year in the Humor category.

You are a professor of Environmental Science at Greenfield Community College in western Massachusetts, you are active in the climate change movement, and now you have written a romantic comedy about something similar involving a climate change activist teacher. How did your real life experiences inspire your novel? Any funny anecdotes to share?

As a professor I have struggled for years with how to present the issue of climate change to students without them resorting to substance abuse, slipping into profound depression, sending me poisoned chocolates, or, worse case scenario, doing absolutely nothing. The teacher in my novel undergoes the same sorts of struggles, many of which are based on my real life teaching experiences. The process of guiding students to the abyss and then gently pulling them back, giving them hope, and motivating them to get off their asses and do something, is incredibly challenging. If anyone has figured out how to do this please contact me!

Funny anecdotes…being the awkward fool that I am, I have so many I could share! One of the scenes in the novel takes place during a field trip to a solar home, and the love interest (Samantha) is attacked by geese and falls into a farm pond. Her teacher (Casey, our hero) lends her dry clothes, which makes for an awkward moment when the dean shows up. This is based on an incident I had when teaching and I had my students in the Green River doing aquatic insect sampling. One of my students fell in, I loaned her dry clothes, which led to, wait for it, awkward moments. I have a great deal of awkward embarrassing teaching experiences that I embellished (or not!) and used in my novel.

Can you tell us more about your background in climate change action and environmental science teaching?

I have been an activist all of my life around energy-related issues, and a teacher most of my professional life. This is my 20th year at the community college where I teach. I’ve found activism to be an effective and productive way to deal with climate change angst. There is great joy to be found in the struggle, and to be surrounded by active young folk who want to change the world is incredibly inspirational. On campus, I am active with our Green Campus Committee as we work to reduce our carbon footprint. Off campus, I am increasing my activism with Climate Action Now, a local western Massachusetts node of 350.org.

Love in the Time of Climate Change is about a serious subject – climate change – yet you use humor to address it. I think comedy is a great way to tackle dire subjects because laughing is good for the soul and helps us put this overwhelming crisis into an identifiable and human perspective, which might be more motivating than the scary facts. Yet it takes a special skill to treat subjects like this with humor – without making light of the facts – and you seem to have succeeded. How did you accomplish this?

I’ve attempted something that I think is rather unique in that I’ve tackled potential world catastrophe in a fictionalized form through humor, drugs, social awkwardness and sex while being uncompromising about the science of climate change. I have found that many people avoid climate change nonfiction given how depressing and absolutely paralyzing it can be. I mean, seriously, how many people read climate change nonfiction? It can be an incredible downer! Extreme weather, food insecurity, drought, famine, melting glaciers, drowning polar bears, out of control wildfires, rising sea levels… My thought is that humor, silliness and love present an ideal opening not just to climate activists but to a larger audience as well. I love awkward romance and relationship angst, so it was a lot of fun to write.

Quite a few novels are being written today about climate change. How do you think fiction can address this subject in ways that other literature cannot?

Fiction can clearly go where non-fiction can’t, and draw readers deeply into stories and drama and relationships where they get hooked while getting educated. My novel is very didactic and quite preachy, and I make no apologies about it. But if it wasn’t for the awkward romance and silly adolescent antics, I’m not sure people would stick it out. I love stories where you’re laughing while saving the world!

Are there any inspirational authors you grew up with who inspired you to tackle environmental issues through fiction? And, I have to ask, are you a big fan of Gabriel García Márquez?

I love Edward Abbey (all of his writing) but particularly his The Monkey Wrench Gang. That was a great revelation to me. Activism can be fun! And that’s the take away here: How do we bring humor into the most serious of topics without trivializing the gravity of the situation? How do we make climate change an issue people want to take on and have a good time doing it? How do we foster the sentiment of the great anarchist activist Emma Goldman who supposedly said “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”  How can we dance while saving the world?

And yes – Gabriel Garcia Marquez rocks!

Back to your book, the teacher in your novel suffers from OCD, or Obsessive Climate Disorder. Can you describe this?

There is a scene in the novel where the hero is in the midst of “fooling around” with a very attractive woman who is clearly interested in him, and he is simply unable to free his tortured self from the energy no-nos in her apartment: inefficient light bulbs that are all turned on; the open windows and the cranked heat; recyclables in the trash can, etc. I can’t tell you what happens (read the book!) but, when climate change rears its ugly head in the midst of foreplay, that is clearly and unmistakably obsessive climate disorder!

Well, I just got your book in the mail, and can’t wait for this scene! Your book audience is probably all ages to an extent, but your main characters consist of a youngish teacher and his young, college-aged adult students. Young adult fiction is growing by leaps and bounds, even in climate novels. Why is this audience so important?

Youth will save the world! My goal was to promote activism among younger folks and get them psyched and motivated to get out there and make change. For anything good to happen, the younger generation must be active! I’m working on a novel now that features a 15 year-old protagonist battling mountain top removal in West Virginia, sort of a coming-of-age to activism novel.

Bill McKibben, of 350.org, said that you are “funnier than most of us environmental types” and that it was a pleasure to meet you. How did that feel to be acknowledged by such a well-known activist and author?

I was SO flattered to be blurbed by him! I believe, however, that he meant it was a pleasure to meet the main character in my novel, not me. If I met Bill McKibben, I’d probably do something really awkward and make a complete fool of myself! Bill is a hero to so many of us in the climate change movement, but his dig at those “environmental types” is quite revealing. While there is absolutely nothing funny about climate change, we do need activists to take joy in the struggle and have fun in their activism. My goal was to bring humor and hope into a genre that is noted for dystopian despair.


Since then, Brian has come out with KABOOM!, and his third novel, Offline, came out April 22, 2019. Brian recently told me about his second novel:

KABOOM!, my second novel, is the story of Cyndie and Ashley, two spirited and spunky teenage girls living in the heart of coal country, West Virginia, who discover that their beloved mountain is to be blown sky high by the coal company. It’s a young adult romantic comedy that focuses on first love and finding your voice through environmental activism. While KABOOM! (Kids Against Blowing Off Our Mountaintops) is fictional, mountaintop removal is definitely not. It’s a horrendously destructive and extreme method of coal extraction and it’s heartening to know that there are many true-to-life committed activists in Appalachia intent on fighting it. The times we live in are tough, so rather than dwell in dystopian nightmares, I try to use humor and romance as tools to promote environmental issues and move my story along. KABOOM! won gold medals at the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the Literary Classics Book Awards.

It’s great to see youth activists taking on fossil fuels, one of the leading contributors to global warming. Brian’s stories are an example of how humor can be used to shed light on serious issues, without demeaning those issues, and how youth can be empowered to take on Big Things.

He also was excited to discuss Offline, coming soon:

Offline is a young adult romantic comedy about two spirited and spunky teenage girls. The novel’s focus this time is on cell phone and online addiction. Meagan, the heroine, is banished by her parents to her gay grandfather’s farm to deal with her “netaholism,” and a lot of the novel’s humor is Meagan and her bestie’s bumbling forays into the offline natural world. The inability for so many people to disconnect from their laptops and phones and get outside is driving me crazy, so I wrote a novel about it. It’s timely, it’s funny, and I hope it gets people (not just kids!) thinking about going offline.

Brian and I also talked about what’s been going on in the five years since Love in the Time of Climate Change.

Feedback from my first novel, Love in theTime of Climate Change, has been very positive. Published in 2014, the novel chronicles one semester in the life of my community college professor hero (mot me!) as he muddles his way through saving the world while desperately searching for true love. I tried to tackle potential world catastrophe in a fictionalized form through humor, social awkwardness and sex while driving home the essential science of climate change. Once again, silliness and a love story can hopefully entice readers into picking up my novel who might otherwise shy away from reading anything to do with such a paralyzing, mind-numbing issue.

In my non-literary life, my wife and I have inherited quite a bit of money, which we are using to install photovoltaics on non-profits whose mission we agree with. It’s an exciting project that allows us to put our money where our mouth is and help tackle climate change on the local level while allowing wonderful organizations to use more of their resources to do good work in the world. Climate action now!

I appreciate Brian doing the good work he does and taking the time to chat with me again about his novels. He tells me he is also working on another…stay tuned!

This article is part of our Wild Authors series. It was originally published on Dragonfly.eco.

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Mary Woodbury, a graduate of Purdue University, runs Dragonfly.eco, a site that explores ecology in literature, including works about climate change. She writes fiction under pen name Clara Hume. Her novel Back to the Garden has been discussed in Dissent Magazine, Ethnobiology for the Future: Linking Cultural and Ecological Diversity (University of Arizona Press), and Uncertainty and the Philosophy of Climate Change (Routledge). Mary lives in the lower mainland of British Columbia and enjoys hiking, writing, and reading.

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Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

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AQUARIUM OF THE PACIFIC PRESENTS ART EXHIBIT, OCEAN RESILIENCY: THE EXPEDITIONS OF DANIELLE EUBANK

The Aquarium will display art by painter Danielle Eubank resulting from her twenty-year quest to capture all the world’s oceans

The Aquarium of the Pacific will display an exhibit of paintings by artist Danielle Eubank from November 5, 2019, to January 5, 2020. Eubank is exploring the relationship between abstraction and realism. For her One Artist Five Oceans project, she has sailed and painted all of the oceans on the planet. Her process of documenting the world’s oceans has included expeditions aboard replica historic ships. In the exhibit at the Aquarium, Eubank’s paintings will be paired with messages about what people can do to help the environment. On November 5 at 7:00 p.m., Eubank will present a lecture as part of the Aquarium’s Guest Speaker Series. She will discuss the process of documenting the world’s oceans and her travels.

Eubank holds a master of fine arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and exhibits widely in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, and Asia. She is a former director of the Women’s Caucus for Art, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant awardee, a member of The Explorer’s Club, a 2018 Creative Climate Awards nominee, and the awardee of the 2018 WCA/United Nations Program Honor Roll. Her paintings are on exhibit at C Gallery Fine Art in Long Beach.

WHEN:            November 5, 2019 – January 5, 2020, 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

WHERE:         Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802

COST:             Free to Aquarium members and included with general admission for the public – General admission: $34.95 adult (12+), $31.95 senior (62+), and $24.95 child (3-11)

INFO:              (562) 590-3100 or aquariumofpacific.org/events/info/one_artist_five_oceans/

AQUARIUM:   The nonprofit Aquarium of the Pacific is a community gathering place where diverse cultures and the arts are celebrated and where important challenges facing our planet are explored by scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders in search of sustainable solutions. The Aquarium is dedicated to conserving and building nature and nature’s services by building the interactions between and among peoples. Home to more than 12,000 animals, Aquarium exhibits include the new Pacific Visions wing, Ocean Science Center, Molina Animal Care Center, and the Tentacles and Ink and FROGS: Dazzling & Disappearing exhibits. Beyond its animal exhibits, the Aquarium offers educational programs for people of all ages, from hands-on activities to lectures by leading scientists. Field trips for schoolchildren are offered at a heavily discounted rate, from $7 to $8.50 per student. The Aquarium offers memberships with unlimited FREE admission for 12 months, VIP Entrance, and other special benefits. Convenient parking is available for $8 with Aquarium validation.

Opportunity: Adopt an Early Warning Sign

Calling arts venues concerned about climate change! Adopt an Early Warning Sign in 2020!

Since 2011, Ellie Harrison‘s four rotating ‘climate change’ signs have been touring arts venues across the UK under the mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle your art!’ for a project called Early Warning Signs.

Every autumn, the search begins to find four host venues to ‘adopt’ the signs to display outside their venue for the following year. 32 venues across the UK have now taken part including CCA Glasgow, Eastside Projects, ACCA Sussex, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Aspex and Artsadmin and many more. Read about the history of this project.

Deadline for applications from interested venues to host a sign in 2020 is 31 October 2019.
It takes 2-5 minutes to apply via the website.

See more information on Facebook and Instagram.

The post Opportunity: Adopt an Early Warning Sign appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

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Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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Q18 DESCRIBED: WALKING INTERCONNECTIONS

Lead Editor’s note: We will be publishing excerpts from Q18: dis/sustain/ability, guest edited by Bronwyn Preece, in order to make the content accessible to blind readers with audio screen readers. We’ll also be including audio descriptions of the Quarterly’s original layout designed by Stephanie Plenner, described by Katie Murphy. Please stay tuned for future posts and share widely.

In this our fourth chapter, Dee Heddon and Sue Porter discuss the reframing of walking practices for wheelchair-bound participants, along with ideas of interdependency.

Audio Description of images in Walking Interconnections

CONNECTIONS

It is the summer of 2012 and Dee is walking across Belgium with The Walking Library, a library filled with books considered good to take for a walk and carried on foot. The Walking Library is an artwork created for Sideways festival, a month- long peripatetic festival aiming to renew attention to the ‘slow paths’ – the underused and thus endangered network of footpaths crossing the country – by walking some 334 km along them. 1

In a tent in a field somewhere in the Flanders region Dee’s phone accesses wifi and emails are downloaded. One of them is from Alison Parfitt, a collaborator with Dee in a 2010 research network which explored site-specific performances’ relationship with environmental change. Alison introduces Dee to her friend and colleague, Dr. Sue Porter, a researcher at the University of Bristol. Sue is in the process of putting together an interdisciplinary research grant application for a project which would explore disabled people’s everyday experiences of landscape and environment to surface everyday wisdoms and expertise. Sue’s interest in using walking as a research method had prompted Alison to connect then, given Dee’s enduring interest in walking art. 2 From the tent in the field in Belgium, battling the erratic internet connection, Dee sends Sue an email, signalling her enthusiasm.


WALKING


In 2014, the project Walking Interconnections: Researching the Lived Experience of Disabled People for a Sustainable Society was launched. Walking Interconnections, led by Sue Porter, was a year-long interdisciplinary study that responded to the demonstrable lack of connection between disability and environmental movements. More pointedly, it was motivated by the marginalization of disabled people within and by environmentalist discourse, which most often presumes, figures and reiterates a normative, undifferentiated and able-bodied subject, revealing what Sarah Jacquette Ray identifies as a “corporeal unconscious”. The ‘environmental subject’ is one who is independent, self-sufficient, fit and healthy. 3 Walking Interconnections took walking as its primary methodology in part because it is immersive and fosters convivial exchanges, 4 but more importantly because placing walking at the centre challenged a corporeal unconscious which figured the ‘walking’ body as a body walking upright on two feet. As one of our co-researchers, Liz Crow – a wheelchair user – commented on the Walking Interconnections blog in June 2013, she bit her ‘tongue at the word walking (because I’m not, am I?)’. Notably, six months further into the project, Crow’s use of the word walking, though still hesitant, indicates an importantly expanded signification:

Speaking personally, so many years of medical history have been of
doctors telling me I should walk – that is, functionally, place one foot in
front of the other in order to move from one point to another. In almost 30 years of using a wheelchair, I’ve never yet seen a doctor who understood that that’s not what walking ever represented to me. It was moving through space, connecting with natural and social environments, relationships, meditation, relaxation, pleasure, mental health, tactility, and more. Those are the really important features of walking and it remains all of those things when I ‘walk’ with wheels. 5

Walking Interconnections emerged from an earlier scoping essay by Porter and her academic colleague David Abbott. 6 In this, the authors asked whether physically disabled peoples’ experiences might enable them to become valuable contributors to planning initiatives directed towards environmental hazard, rather than marginalized by the dominant perception of disabled people as singularly vulnerable. The authors didn’t deny that disabled people were vulnerable – that is, ‘disproportionately affected by the consequences of all kinds of natural and human made hazards’ 7 – but their contention was that such vulnerability is a product of neglect (for example, structural attitudes position disabled people as the least worth saving) and also by design (the needs – and skills – of disabled people are not fully acknowledged – for example, planning responses are often ablest in their assumptions, privileging normative notions of bodily abilities).

Seeking to problematize the perception of vulnerability, Abbott & Porter
proposed an alternative hypothesis, one paying attention to disabled people’s ‘intricate, daily negotiations with risk, hazard and barriers’. 8 As they argue, ‘disabled people may have lived experiences which bestow expertise which could significantly contribute to discussions about and planning for environmental risk’. 9 Walking Interconnections aimed to identify such expertise in order that it could be recognized and valued and could contribute to wider discussions around sustainability.

Over the course of a year, a research team worked with 19 co-researchers
from Bristol who self-identified as either physically disabled or environmental activist – tellingly, only one co-researcher self-identified as both. Each co-researcher was asked to invite another co-researcher to accompany them on a walk of their choice. Walking pairs were often also accompanied by Personal Assistants and/or assistance dogs. A variety of walking aids were used, from a trike, to scooters and sticks. Each walking pair carried a digital voice recorder. More than 20 hours of audio material, mostly recorded on the move, was transcribed and edited and re-recorded into a 30-minute verbatim audio play-reading, ‘Going for a Walk’. This can be downloaded from the project’s website; here, I offer just a few extracts taken from across different scenes. 10

SCENE 2: PLANNING
Jane: Have you got a walk in mind?
Hayley: Yes, Baydock Woods. There’s quite a few little walks round there, but there is one on the level up round the top, which you can basically just go round in a circle.
Neil: I was thinking about walking round my allotment site.
Hayley: Are there places to sit?
Neil: Good question. Not readily, no, there are not.
Jane: Has it got a path?
Neil: Yes, there’s a path.
Jane: Tarmacked?
Neil: Not tarmacked, ehm, a combination of sort of hard sort of gravel and grass.
Hayley: And level?
Neil: There’s a very slight incline, as you go up, but nothing.
Hayley: Nothing major. Neil: Yeah, pretty much level.
Sue: Well what you find with disabled people is that they have to plan very
meticulously if they don’t want to get caught out. This is why I chose this
walk today. We came and reccied it after our meeting and made sure I
could see where I could get on.
Sharon: So from the bridge if you go up the hill it takes you somewhere else. But it’s a bit steep and I don’t think the buggy will manage it very well, and it’s a bit rockety so I don’t think we will go up there.
Tony: There’s this bridge, that’s a footbridge, so these are all footpaths, these purple colored things on the map, so we could maybe investigate that?
Sue: As long as we’ve got some options in case it doesn’t work.


SCENE 4: MAKING CHOICES
Julie: The reason I’ve chosen this walk today is, one, they’ve got good facilities. Obviously you’ve got the café, and the toilets for disabled which you can access them with a radar key, most of the footpaths are quite level, and obviously it’s good for Billie to run around and there’s various walks to do with Blaise Castle. I’ve chosen this walk because we can go, almost complete it.
Dale: I like walking around the dock area. It’s a big, wide open space and there’s lots of different things to look at, like boats, and ships and the harbor side. And for me it expresses the freedom of walking. Because you don’t get a lot of traffic down there, it’s much easier and accessible for people like myself.
Sharon: I chose this one because I’d been there before. It’s quite a nice walk. It’s not too far, and they have loads of lovely trees and there’s always people in there walking their dogs and it’s just very peaceful in there.
Sue: I think I chose it because I knew it was flat. And you’ve chosen it to
accommodate me, really.
Tony: Partly, but I just like somewhere near water. I think anywhere near water I quite like.


SCENE 6: THE STEPS GOT US
Glenise: Ah, there’s steps up here. […]
Julie: Sometimes, people take things for granted. All the walks here aren’t fully accessible.
Anais: Clearly you wouldn’t go through there?
Julie: You wouldn’t, because of the dip. […] We couldn’t go up to the mill. That’s one of the things that we couldn’t access. There’s going to be other things.
Anais: For example, going to the path on the left, which is too steep.
Julie: Yes, too steep.
Liz: Ok, so we’ve come past the nature reserve and got onto a track that we were both getting really quite enthusiastic about, it’s one of those very sustainable tracks, tramped down earth and my trike has coped just about with the loose gravel surface on it. And beyond this gate we’ve come to what looks lovely, real potential for open countryside but we’ve
come to one of those kissing gates which is impassable. I would probably
get stuck in and left there because I think I would get wedged. And
there’s a lovely big gate next to it – but unfortunately that’s padlocked – so
that’s the end of this route. So – now we are going to backtrack.

SUSTAINING INTERDEPENDENCY

Key aspects of the transformation towards sustainability are the abilities to cope with and adapt to new challenges arising from changing environments. 11 Going for a Walk reveals repeated practices of planning, mitigation, risk taking, deviation, adaptability, problem solving, persistence, commitment, attentiveness and creativity and interdependency. The dominant discourse of ‘independence’, particularly as this is attached to the field of disability policy and practices, belies the reality and necessity of interdependence – interdependence offering alternative and useful conceptions of ‘sustainable living’. Repeatedly observed in our project were interdependencies’ attendant practices, including trust, negotiation, collaboration, reciprocity, mutuality, and co-operation. The inter, we suggest, is surely part of an environmental ethic, contesting as it does the story of the subject as self-sufficient and singular. Whilst interdependency is perhaps more apparent because more explicit in the relationships of (some) disabled people (some of the time), Judith Butler has insisted that as ‘socially constituted bodies’, ‘we are fundamentally dependent on others’. 12 Vulnerability and interdependency are two sides of the same ontological coin, far removed from the idea of the ‘masterful’, omnipotent subject. Borrowing from Butler again, greater recognition of our ‘inevitable interdependency’ might very well provide the sustaining grounds for what she calls a ‘global political community’. 13 Such sustaining grounds are surely the foundations for sustainability? Acknowledging our vulnerability might just allow all of us to practice our interdependency better, a process of resilience necessary to sustaining a diversity of assembled lives, human ones included.


POST-SCRIPT

Dr. Sue Porter died suddenly on 11 January 2017. Nevertheless, this piece of
writing is interdependent, the product of conjoined labor, written and rewritten as a collaborative act. The ‘I’ is a ‘we’. I last saw Sue in July 2016. She gifted me a book for The Walking Library for Women Walking. The book was Examined Life: Excursions with Contemporary Thinkers. 14 Sue wrote:

The reason I chose the Examined Life book was particularly for the
chapter that is the walk Sunaura Taylor and Judith Butler take in San
Francisco – where we hear what makes a city inclusive and therefore
accessible, in city planning terms and, more importantly for me, the
exchange between these walkers on the ideas of ‘what a body does’. They speak to me of the importance of ‘belonging’ and the value of asking again and again, ‘who is it that belongs here?’ I also love hearing the relationship that evolves between them, the gaze, the touching, the making of a shared pace.


Dee Heddon holds the James Arnott Chair in Drama at the University of
Glasgow. She is the author of numerous books, essays and articles, many of
which engage with walking as an aesthetic practice.

Sue Porter was a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Policy Studies,
University of Bristol. Sue wrote widely about disability, justice and equality. She lived her life as a scholar, an activist and an artist.

FOOTNOTES

Beltane Fire Society receives funding to explore a ‘Green’ Fire Festival

Beltane Fire Society has been awarded £500 from the Climate Challenge Fund

Beltane Fire Society has been awarded £500 from the Climate Challenge Fund, part of Keep Scotland Beautiful, to explore creating a ‘Green’ Fire Festival.

The charity’s board applied to the Climate Challenge Fund for a small development grant of £500 to assist in hosting conversations with its volunteers to find ways to reduce the environmental impact of hosting the festivals. The idea came about after the recent environmental focus at the Beltane Fire Festival 2019*.

As a result of the successful application, Beltane Fire Society will host several conversations with its volunteers to understand what action they would like to see the charity take and how it can better support volunteers to be more environmentally friendly in their activities. The conversations will encompass what volunteers can do individually, what they can do when involved in their festival groups, and then finally how Beltane Fire Society can do more from an organisational standpoint.

Volunteers make up a vital part of the festivals, with almost 300 involved every time. The board is very pleased that this funding will enable Beltane to include their voices to help shape the charity and ensure it creates a community the volunteers are proud to be part of.

Although aimed at the charity’s volunteers, the meetings will be open to members of the public to share ideas. Beltane wants to generate ideas with locals to ensure everyone can enjoy the activities that take place in their city.

More information about the discussion events coming soon, so please keep an eye out if you are interested in taking part of the conversation of creating a ‘Green’ Fire Festival in the run up to Samhuinn Fire Festival 2019, which will take place on 31st October on Calton Hill.

*This year at the Beltane Fire Festival 2019, the volunteer who held the role of May Queen, a key character on the night that represents part of the Triple Goddess at the festival, had chosen to take a more environmental approach with the role they played on the night. This was done to highlight the damage that is happening to the Earth every day and got quite a bit of media attention as other environmental groups were being very vocal around the UK as well. Read more on the specific issues that were discussed in April can be found here.

The post Beltane Fire Society receives funding to explore a ‘Green’ Fire Festival appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

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Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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On Late Style Ecotheatre

By Karen Malpede

“There’s a wilding inside that connects with a wilding up there,” Uncle, the elderly environmentalist, says in my 2014 play Extreme Whether. That is what it feels like when creation takes hold of one. Necessity flaps madly in the gut like a free-flying bird that will dash itself to death or find release. This is why poetry is wild nature produced by human nature, a song between a living cosmos and an ever-emergent self. This is why preservation of life in all its sentient forms is the work of the dramatic poet and why the poet must be fiercely engaged in the exploration, creation and manifestation of justice on this earth and for earth’s creatures.

I had written ecofeminist theatre all through the 1980s and mid-90s. In Better People, 1987, a rare beast wanders into a geneticist’s lab, and rather than be cloned, she swallows him; he emerges an animal-rights ecologist. But, I was sidetracked by the Iraq war and the US torture program so it wasn’t until 2012 that I turned my attention to the warming climate. As I did the research necessary to begin to understand, I came, of course, upon the resistance to scientific truth from the fossil fuel industry, a Republican Congress and successive administrations. Extreme Whether is about this conflict within a family (à la Ibsen). One twin is a renowned NASA climate scientist being censored by the government, the other, a publicist for the fossil fuel industry, married to a Republican lobbyist. I came to view climate scientists as visionaries and altruists, ill-suited to the public battle forced upon them but fighting for truth in the face of falsehood. The relationship between a deformed frog, Sniffley, who exists in the minds of the characters and the audience, and an Asperger child, who is also a fierce environmentalist (prefiguring Greta Thunberg), and Uncle provides the play’s subplot.

The Beekeeper, Sybil, (Evangeline Johns) from the 2016 revival of The Beekeeper’s Daughter. Photo by Beatriz Schiller.

Extreme Whether is the last of my mid-life ecotheatre works. Now, I have found my way into cli-fi futurism and at the same time, the dictates Edward Said outlines in his last book On Late Style seem particularly apt. I am calling my new play Other Than We, a Late Style work. Writing now, at the “end of the world,” (at very least at the end of the stable climate we’ve known since writing began), and closer to the end of my life than I’ve ever been, I think about Edward Said’s concept of Late Style in both ways, personal wisdom on the edge of singular mortality, and the madness of unthinking ecocide.

Said writes: “Lateness is being at the end, fully conscious, full of memory, and also very (even preternaturally) aware of the present.” Lateness, according to Said, includes the facility to rip through one’s own style, arriving at dissonance and resonance, surprise, entangled themes and variations, a strange sort of buoyancy, ending in irresolution, and mystery.

Said died in 2004, the year of the invasion of Iraq. (His daughter, Najla Said, would play three roles in my play Prophecy, about the costs of the war.) If Said had lived, he, too, could not help but become increasingly obsessed with the climate crises. In her Said memorial lecture in London in 2016, Naomi Klein focused on the environmental themes already present in his work. I have never before set a play in the future and doubt that I could have done so were my own future not becoming short. While I had thought about and researched the play for several years, I wrote most of Other Than We in the months following Trump’s election. In part, a debate about the origins of consciousness, “from a glob of flesh thought, think of that,” in main, a thriller about the creation of a post-Homo sapiens species, Other Than We is preternatural, outside the known order of things. Its final transformative moment represents, simultaneously, the death of Homo sapiens and dawn of a new species’ consciousness.

The Beast in Better People dances with the geneticist, Edward Chreode (George Bartenieff). Puppet designed and animated by Basil Twist. Photo by Beatriz Schiller.

In the middle of the night, working from 3:00 am to 6:00 am, literally shocked out of sleep by an image or thought, I wrote. This futurist cli-fi play takes place after “the deluge,” when the survivors live in a surveilled and increasingly unsustainable Dome. The two women scientist-lovers, joined by a physician refugee from Africa and an elderly linguist, knowingly sacrifice themselves in order to birth a new and finer species that will run on four legs or two, tolerate temperature extremes, be able to go for long periods without water, be androgynous, and, most of all, be capable of language and rational thought BUT no longer have a head separate from a heart. Every thought henceforth will be felt through.

These characters exhaust their own bodies in a daring escape, creating, birthing, nursing, nurturing the new beings, without knowing if their experiment will be a success. It’s a metaphor, of course, a fable, for what we do anyhow when we give birth, if we dare, in this harsh new world. There’s an unforeseen transformation at the end. No answer, but a glimmer. The play inhabits the liminal space between knowing and not knowing. Late Style supposes clashing feelings, tonalities, and resolutions that devolve into rising crescendos again. The climate crisis moment we inhabit imposes, like Late Style, the impulse to rework, rip up or revivify old structures, transform social systems, to dare in face of the imminent end of species and habitats.

To rewild our intellects.

Other Than We will have its world premiere at LaMama, NYC, Nov. 21-Dec. 1, 2019 and be published by Laertes Books.

(Top image: Uncle (George Bartenieff) and Annie (Emma Rose Kraus) construct a frog pond for Sniffley and others, Extreme Whether, 2018, LaMama production. Photo by Beatriz Schiller.)

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Karen Malpede’s earlier ecotheatre works include A Monster Has Stolen the Sun (1984), Better People(1989), the adaptation of Christa Wolf’s ecofeminist novella Kassandra (1992), The Beekeeper’s Daughter (1995) and the short Hermes in the Anthropocene: A Dogologue (2015). Blue Valiant, scheduled for production in 2021, continues her fascination with animal-human communication. She is author of 19 plays produced in the U.S. and Europe and of the anthologies: A Monster Has Stolen the Sun and Other Plays and Plays in Time: The Beekeeper’s Daughter, Prophecy, Another Life, Extreme Whether;  her plays and essays on the environment have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Dark Matter, Transformations and elsewhere. She is co-founder of Theater Three Collaborative and Adjunct Associate Professor of theater and environmental justice at John Jay College for Criminal Justice, CUNY. National McKnight Playwrights Fellow, NYFA Fellow.

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Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

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Green Arts Conference Programme and Session Registration Launched

The programme for the annual Green Arts Conference has now been launched and it’s packed with a bumper crop of speakers, workshops, and discussions to sink your teeth into.

Take a look now, either on our website page or download the document. As usual, in order to reduce the environmental impact of the conference we won’t have physical copies for attendees on the day itself.

Session registration is now also open, with attendees able to book places in the sessions that are of most interest to them. Places are limited, so register early to avoid disappointment.

We have also released information about our Green Stallholders and our venue.

For those who have been holding off on buying tickets for the programme until after the programme launch, there are still tickets available but a limited number, so do visit the conference page to get your ticket as soon as you can.

The post Green Arts Conference Programme and Session Registration Launched appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

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Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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Sean Dague Invites Us to Envision a Fossil Fuel-Free World

By Peterson Toscano

In this episode of the Art House, we use the power of our imagination to experience the future we desire. Right now, we need to reduce localized pollution and global heat-trapping greenhouse gases. How do we build the political will so that the public clamors for legislation and policy that will change how we get and use energy? We need to communicate to the public what success looks like.

But envisioning success in our climate work requires imagination.

To help us with this task, Sean Dague, the group leader for the Mid-Hudson South chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, leads us through a powerful exercise. He asks us, What does a decarbonized world look like? What does it smell like? What does it sound like?

Once you hear Sean’s vision of a successful future, we invite you to continue the exercise. Try some creative writing. Write a short story or a letter from the future about what you see, smell, and hear. Maybe create visual art, a drawing or painting. If you can’t draw or paint, get images from magazines or online then create a collage. Write a song, create a map, choreograph a dance. Use art to capture a vision of a decarbonized economy.

Even if you don’t see yourself as an artsy person, just try it.

Towards
the end of his life, writer Kurt Vonnegut would say, “Everyone should
practice art because art enlarges the soul.”

Please feel free to share your art with me at radio @ citizensclimate.org and let me know if I can share it with listeners, on the podcast, Facebook, and Twitter.

Coming up next month, poet Catherine Pierce crafted the extraordinarily moving poem, Anthropocene Pastoral. It was published in the American Poetry Review. She reveals the creative process from the original inspiration, through the many choices and changes she made, to publication. Then she reads her poem for us.

If you like what you hear, you can listen to full episodes of Citizens’ Climate Radio on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, Podbean, Northern Spirit Radio, Google Play, PlayerFM, and TuneIn Radio. Also, feel free to connect with other listeners, suggest program ideas, and respond to programs in the Citizens’ Climate Radio Facebook group or on Twitter at @CitizensCRadio.

(Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash.)

This article is part of The Art House series.

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As host of Citizens’ Climate Radio, Peterson Toscano regularly features artists who address climate change in their work. The Art House section of his program includes singer/songwriters, visual artists, comics, creative writers, and playwrights. Through a collaboration with Artists and Climate Change and Citizens’ Climate Education, each month Peterson reissues The Art House for this blog. If you have an idea for The Art House, contact Peterson: radio @ citizensclimatelobby.org

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Artists and Climate Change is a blog that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

Go to the Artists and Climate Change Blog

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Design a Digital Sculpture

Take part in the preparation for our upcoming Green Tease ‘VR Climate Curator’ by creating a digital sculpture for participants in the event to work with.

Our upcoming VR Climate Curator Green Tease, organised in collaboration with North East of North digital arts festival, will explore how creative technologies can assist disabled people to access the outdoors, create artwork and engage in conversations about climate change. The workshop will give participants the opportunity to curate digital sculpture parks in virtual landscapes using sculptures designed for the event. The VR landscape will highlight how climate change is affecting Scotland and the implications that this can have for accessibility. The event will be fully accessibility to people with a range of physical disabilities but is open to all.

In the run-up to the Green Tease, we are looking to crowd source some ‘digital sculptures’ that our participants can work with on the day itself. This is a great way to be involved in this event even if you can’t attend in person and will give you the chance to try out some exciting design software and engage with the themes we’re tackling. The sculptures should be designed to respond to the themes of how climate change will affect Scotland’s landscapes and weather and how we can make the climate movement accessible to all but you can interpret this in any way you want to.

Participation in this opportunity is open to anyone, you don’t have to be a professional artist to get involved!

If you are interested in participating then please get in touch with me at lewis.coenen-rowe@creativecarbonscotland.com and I will add you to an email list to receive further information about it.

The post Design a Digital Sculpture appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

———-

Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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Review: After ‘Into the Mountain’

By

Allen Ginsberg instructed us,

“Notice what you notice”
“Catch yourself thinking”
“Observe what’s vivid”

Earlier this year Simone Kenyon’s new work Into The Mountain, commissioned by the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, was performed in the Cairngorms. ‘After Into The Mountain’ is a reflection from John Hall, Wendy Kirkup and Simon Murray who went to Into The Mountain together.

We offer John, Wendy and Simon’s reflection, not as a review (pacemthe blog title), but as a consideration of the experience. In order to maintain the three voices this piece is a pdf which you can access here: After into the mountain – final version with images.

Biographical notes:

John Hall is a poet, essayist and retired teacher, who lives below Dartmoor and was closely involved in the conception and development of Performance Writing at Dartington College of Arts.

Wendy Kirkup is an artist living in Glasgow. She is also an Associate Lecturer in Fine Art for the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), working at the Moray School of Art campus.

Simon Murray teaches contemporary theatre and performance at the University of Glasgow. He has been a professional performer and theatre maker and was Director of Theatre at Dartington College of Arts before moving to Glasgow.

Links to an incomplete collection of reviews:

Studio International Review

The Scotsman Review

Art North Magazine

The Stage Review

The Guardian Review

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ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

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