Monthly Archives: November 2021

Conscient Podcast: e71 green sessions debrief

e71 green sessions debrief are highlights from the 2021 Green Sessions organizing committee : Philippa Domville, Sandy Crawley, Robyn Stevan and Liisa Repo-Martell of Artists for Real Climate Action, Emma Stenning and Rohan Kulkarni of Soulpepper Theatre and myself from SCALE. We talked about the Canadian arts sector can step forward with impact to address the climate emergency.

e71 green sessions debrief présente les points forts de la réunion 2021 du comité d’organisation des Green Sessions 2021 : Philippa Domville, Sandy Crawley, Robyn Stevan et Liisa Repo-Martell de Artists for Real Climate Action (ARCA), Emma Stenning et Rohan Kulkarni de SoulPepper et moi-même de LeSAUT. Nous avons parlé de l’impact que peut avoir le secteur artistique canadien sur l’urgence climatique.

Excerpt

The Green Sessions was invented because this small group of people got together and decided we wanted to do something that created impact and we put really a fairly modest amount of money behind it, and a huge amount of hours of time and passion. I’m so, so proud of the impact. For me, there’s a big lesson, which is, you know, small group of committed people can really make a difference. I think on this agenda that is really, really encouraging for all of us and that has been very, very inspiring for me. On the, on the flip side, I think what I sent at the green sessions is actually the power that we hold as a community and actually the feeling that our sector is in dialogue about this most, most urgent issue is very, very uplifting and very powerful. I’m just really interested in new and more opportunities for us to collaborate as a sector and putting people into focus and a place of knowledge on this agenda, because that really was a starting hypothesis, which is that our sector needs literacy and confidence in order to step forward with impact and that was our mission. We have scratched the surface of that but I’m very proud of the contribution that we’ve made and I’ve very encouraged to do more.

Emma Stenning, #conscientpodcast e71 green sessions debrief, october 1, 2021

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Extrait

Les Green Sessions (Sessions vertes) ont été inventées parce que ce petit groupe de personnes s’est réuni et a décidé que nous voulions faire quelque chose qui ait un impact. Nous avons investi une somme d’argent assez modeste derrière et une énorme quantité d’heures de temps et de passion. Je suis très, très fier de l’impact. Pour moi, il y a une grande leçon à tirer, à savoir qu’un petit groupe de personnes engagées peut vraiment faire la différence. Je pense que dans cet agenda, c’est vraiment, vraiment encourageant pour nous tous et cela a été très, très inspirant pour moi. D’un autre côté, je pense que ce que j’ai ressenti lors des Sessions vertes, c’est en fait le pouvoir que nous détenons en tant que communauté et le sentiment que notre secteur est en dialogue sur cette question des plus urgentes. Cela est très, très édifiant et très puissant. Je suis vraiment intéressée par de nouvelles et plus nombreuses occasions de collaborer en tant que secteur et de mettre les gens au centre de l’attention et du savoir de ce programme, parce que c’était vraiment notre hypothèse de départ, à savoir que notre secteur a besoin des outils pédagogiques et de la confiance pour aller de l’avant avec impact et c’était notre mission. Nous n’avons fait qu’effleurer le sujet, mais je suis très fière de la contribution que nous avons apportée, et je suis très encouragée à en faire davantage.

Emma Stenning, #baladoconscient, e71 green sessions debrief, 1 octobre, 2021

The post e71 green sessions debrief appeared first on conscient podcast / balado conscient. conscient is a bilingual blog and podcast (French or English) by audio artist Claude Schryer that explores how arts and culture contribute to environmental awareness and action.

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About the Concient Podcast from Claude Schryer

The conscient podcast / balado conscient is a series of conversations about art, conscience and the ecological crisis. This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). The language of the guest determines the language of the podcast. Episode notes are translated but not individual interviews.

I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.

The term ‘conscient’ is defined as ‘being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations’. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast / balado conscient follows up on my http://simplesoundscapes.ca (2016–2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.

Season 1 (May to October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie’s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.

Season 2 (March 2021 – ) explores the concept of reality and is about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that ‘I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, ‘the state of things as they actually exist’, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way’. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 features interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.

my professional services

I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). My focus in (quasi) retirement is environmental issues within my area of expertise in arts and culture, in particular in acoustic ecology. I’m open to become involved in projects that align with my values and that move forward environmental concerns. Feel free to email me for a conversation : claude@conscient.ca

acknowledgement of eco-responsibility

I acknowledge that the production of the conscient podcast / balado conscient produces carbon. I try to minimize this carbon footprint by being as efficient as possible, including using GreenGeeks as my web server and acquiring carbon offsets for my equipment and travel activities from BullFrog Power and Less.

a word about privilege and bias

While recording episode 19 ‘reality’, I heard elements of ‘privilege’ in my voice that I had not noticed before. It sounded a bit like ‘ecological mansplaining’. I realize that, in spite of good intentions, I need to work my way through issues of privilege (of all kinds) and unconscious bias the way I did through ecological anxiety and grief during the fall of 2020. My re-education is ongoing.

Go to conscient.ca

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Please support CAN’s Crowdfunder!

Support CAN provide vital support for the arts by facilitating the reuse of materials and resources

We need to raise £6k to extend our CAN Co-ordinator’s, role for another year. So far, we have secured half of the money needed to keep Megan, and we have launched a crowdfunder campaign to raise the rest. We are asking all of our friends and networks to support us by donating.

DONATE HERE: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-fund-can

CAN provides vital support for the arts by facilitating the reuse of materials and equipment and reduces the sector’s impact on the environment. It is a unique resource within the UK. Megan’s post is essential to running CAN effectively, to keep it growing and to increase its impact. Without her help CAN wouldn’t have been able to achieve:

📍 Approx 538kg of materials reused.
📍 5,800 active users on canarts.org.uk
📍 Embodied carbon equivalent saving of approx 800kg.
📍 634 registered GIVERS and GETTERS.
📍 299 different types of items and materials listed.

You can show your support for this important project by donating to our Crowdfunder now and by sharing this email with your contacts.

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-fund-can

The post Please support CAN’s Crowdfunder! 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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Opportunity: multiple posts available with Dandelion

Dandelion are looking for fantastic people to join us on our mission to get everyone growing!

They are currently recruiting for:

Emerging Creative Producers (10 posts in total)

Supported by the core Dandelion team, each Emerging Creative Producer will work with a Dandelion Partner Organisations to actively engage people in local communities with the new Unexpected Garden spaces. This will include devising and delivering a creative programme that runs from April 2022 and culminates with a Harvest Festival on 10th September 2022.

These roles are designed for people who are new to producing. All Emerging Creative Producers will be mentored and supported by their Respective Partner Organisation and our Dandelion Network Coordinator. Relevant on-the-job training will also be provided. All Emerging Creative Producers will be provided with the equipment they need (e.g. a laptop) to carry out their role, and we may be able to help with relocation costs. All Black, Asian and ethnically diverse and/or D/deaf or disabled applicants who meet the essential requirements of the person specification will be guaranteed an interview.

If you are thinking about applying for one of the Emerging Creative Producer jobs across Scotland and want to find out more, you can join Fiona Dalgetty, Futures Director and Jen White, Project Manager – Unexpected Gardens on Zoom between 1-2pm or 8-9pm on Wednesday 1st December.

Deadline: 12noon, Thursday 9th December

Head of Production

As Head of the Production team, the post-holder will work across all Dandelion projects, providing leadership and management in all areas of production and ensuring all production elements of the Dandelion programme are delivered to the highest standards. Although each project strand is supported by a Production Manager, the role involves oversight of the production aspects of all strands including but not limited to: the Inverness and Glasgow POPL Festivalsthe Unexpected Gardens and Floating Gardensthe mobile bike and cube tours, and Free for Alls. The post holder will line manage Production Managers across the programme, the Logistics and Delivery Coordinator, and other temporary roles and contractors as required. The post holder will also be responsible for oversight of all technical and logistical procurement across the Dandelion projects, as well as oversight of all production administration including licensing, insurance, health and safety and risk management.

Deadline: 5pm, Wednesday 8th December

Logistics & Production Co-ordinator

Dandelion are supporting a large-scale citizen science project involving over 500 schools and producing and presenting a series of events across Scotland in 2022 ranging from community based growing events through to large scale music and food festivals. As the Logistics Co-ordinator, you will coordinate the booking and logistical delivery of technical and site equipment to a wide range of projects to support the successful delivery of the project.

Deadline: 12noon, Thursday 9th December

Production Manager (Unexpected Gardens)

Dandelion are supporting the development of a series of Unexpected Gardens across Scotland, working collaboratively with partner organisations anchored in communities to build extraordinary gardens in the most unexpected of places.

As a key member of the Production team, the post-holder will work across all Unexpected Garden sites, providing leadership and management in all areas of production. Working in collaboration with partner organisations and the Dandelion team they will support the technical and logistical delivery of the Unexpected Gardens to be presented at each site between April 2022–September 2022, culminating in large-scale harvest events to be hosted across sites in September 2022.

Deadline: 12noon, Thursday 9th December

For more information about all these posts, including job packs and application instructions, visit Dandelion’s opportunities page.

(Top photo: Cubes of Perpetual Light, Dandelion. Photography by Alan McAteer [supplied]. ID: An outdoor scene, with a loch in the background, featuring a three-tiered vertical plant farm under light.)

The post Opportunity: multiple posts available with Dandelion 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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New film for COP26 shows climate action needs culture

In a powerful short film launched today, Scottish-Nigerian supermodel, actress and activist Eunice Olumide MBE calls for culture to be front and centre of climate action.

“Economists, scientists and politicians can’t fix the climate emergency on their own. They can’t change the way people think and that’s what is required. Climate change needs cultural change and cultural players are waiting to help, armed with powerful skills, resources and audiences.”

In Climate Action Needs Culture, created by Creative Carbon Scotland (CCS) and partners from across the Scottish cultural sector for the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Olumide says: “Reaching net zero and a world adapted to the changed climate will require massive global transformation. But without culture providing a new positive vision of the future, can we actually create it?”

The film strongly argues that culture is the secret ally of climate policy makers.

Olumide explains, “Culture is a powerful force to shift societies’ embedded thinking and transform the status quo that’s only working for a small minority. Artists, historians and librarians think differently. They bring different imaginations, skills and experiences that can help other professionals think outside the usual boxes.”

Ben Twist, Director of Creative Carbon Scotland, the charity working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland, says:

“Scotland’s cultural institutions and creative sector have a compelling story to tell of the dynamic ways they can and do contribute to climate action but it’s a story that has been often overlooked until now. We realised COP26 is a perfect time to share this story through the film and the compelling voice of Eunice Olumide.”

Twist adds, “As the climate emergency grows more intense, increased public understanding and engagement are urgently required and innovative ways of thinking and working are needed, and the film addresses this head on.”

Climate Action Needs Culture was produced by Picture Zero, the film company specialising in climate solutions and human climate change stories. Collaborating partner organisations were Creative ScotlandHistoric Environment ScotlandMuseums Galleries ScotlandNational Galleries Scotland, the National Library Scotland and the Scottish Library and Information Council.

After watching the film, CCS and the partner cultural organisations hope that players from both the climate and the culture sides will start collaborating; that policy makers will want to learn more; and that members of the public will ask their favourite arts and cultural organisations how they are responding to the climate emergency.

The post New film for COP26 shows climate action needs culture 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

Powered by WPeMatico

A day in the life at COP26

In this guest blog from Catriona Patterson, she discusses her experiences of attending the COP26 United Nations climate conference, currently underway in Glasgow. The blog gives an honest and personal account of the ups and downs of her experience as well as some top tips on what she learned from the day. 

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend a day at COP26 – witnessing negotiations, attending talks and meeting lots of new people at the world’s largest (and most critical) climate change conference.

In the build-up to the conference, there was lots of speculation as to what our Glasgow COP would be like. This only intensified when COP kicked off on the 31St October, and there was an explosion of news, images and social media all trying to capture the activities taking place within the different zones and in wider Glasgow. Every day there are more reports and opinion pieces trying to analyse the progress of discussions or understand the long term impact of the present moment. Despite all this, I still didn’t know what to expect as an individual attendee: what would I actually do? So here’s my COP26 diary – a wee insight from Friday 5th November.

9.30am – I’ve already shown my passport 3 times this morning, and I’m totally disorientated.

My train from Edinburgh is filled with delegates – I find myself sitting next to someone practicing their presentation on behalf of the Finnish agricultural ministry – and I make it to the SEC Exhibition Centre train stop without any delay. But when stepping out of the station I see that the ‘Smartie Tube Bridge’ – the normal walkway to the SEC (the Scottish Event Campus, where COP26 is taking place) is shut and I realise that my mental map of Glasgow is currently useless.

Thankfully there are lots of local COP26 volunteers providing a ‘Glasgow welcome’ (my aunt among them!) and helping with directions. Generally, the advice is: yes, follow the people – go towards the gates – be ready to show your negative lateral flow test result. By the time I wind through the various street diversions, gates and queues, I’ve lost all sense of direction, but the throng has narrowed to a concentrated channel and I’ve worked my way through the various checks.

It’s very much like going through a visa border – clutching documents in hand, generally anxious that you’ve forgotten the one piece of paper you actually need – and, in effect, it is. The SEC has become ‘UN territory’ for the duration of the conference (with the associated UN staff and security guards!). I’d been warned about the airport-style security, but my experience is great: quick and cheery, and I even make a friend in the queue.

The SEC campus set up as the COP26 Action Hub with a huge globe suspended overhead.

A day in the life at COP26 5
The SEC campus set up as the COP26 Action Hub with a huge globe suspended overhead.
10.30am – Exploring the Action Hub – from the literal globe to the global

The spherical hydro of the SEC campus is unrecognisable from the last time I was here. Hanging from the ceiling is a huge globe, reminiscent of the ‘pale blue dot’ images often cited in climate change discussions, and there’s a mix of open event spaces and casual seating. All around me people are meeting, gearing up to present, live streaming (complete with ring lights) or on video calls – and I even spot a couple of people having a quick power nap in a quiet corner.

Of course, I’ve only scratched the surface of the Blue Zone: it’s known as the place where the official negotiations between nation states is taking place, but what I didn’t realise is that it’s also hosting lots of events and activities that seek to connect with delegates from around the world.

Almost immediately I take a (socially-distanced) seat in ‘Code Red for Climate Storytelling’: a panel by Project Everyone exploring the role of media and communication in fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals. Over 30 minutes I hear from filmmaker Richard Curtis about how Love Island will soon be Underwater Island, from Laurent Gaveau at Google’s Cultural Institute about their labs bringing together artists and engineers for climate solutions, and from Dave Erasmus of MyChangingPlanet about their work with biologists and sonographers to plot the ocean soundscape as they sailed to COP26.

12pm – Re-visiting Al Gore and the inconvenient truth

I make my way deep into the Blue Zone to the Pen Y Fan auditorium (the spaces at the climate summit being named after famous geographic UK summits – Cairngorm is next door) where Al Gore is presenting on ‘The danger we’re in, and the case for hope’.

It’s a powerful talk, but it’s also painful to remember that we’ve all heard it before. As even Gore himself points out, he’s given this talk over 1000 times since 2006, updating it as the science and the examples emerge. He shows us video clips of countless examples of climate disasters spanning floods, heatwaves and landslips but the most shocking thing is that so many of them happened in the last 12 months. Before almost every video clip he assures the audience that ‘they survived, by the way’, signalling we should brace ourselves for yet another harrowing scene.

A day in the life at COP26 2
A busy corridor during COP26 with people in masks for COVID-19 protection and well-placed hand sanitiser stations.
1.30pm – From Australia to Japan and back again

I head to the exhibition hall to visit the pavilions: huge stalls hosted by nation states, international groups (the European Union, the OECD, the International Indigenous People’s forum on climate change) and other organisations (the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Bellone Foundation).

Many of the pavilions are two-storey– a ground floor exhibition and meeting space, and an upstairs with various talks scheduled throughout the day. It’s more casual than other parts of the Blue Zone, and there is lots of milling about. I run into a friend, and we manage to navigate through the maze to Australia’s pavilion, which has a reputation for distributing the best coffee.

On my way out I have a near-collision with a group of 10 people walking towards me at pace. I dive into a pavilion to let the group past and realise it’s a walking live interview and accompanying media entourage. From the name tag on the adult Scout uniform, I realise it’s the adventurer and TV presenter Bear Grylls. Today has a focus on youth and public empowerment, so perhaps it’s something to do with that…

3pm – A confusing experience of live negotiations

I’m glad I’m wearing comfortable shoes as I make the trek towards the negotiation spaces of the Blue Zone. Here the colour decoration of the pavilions is replaced by a huge expanse of grey and white: a mix of open plan hot-desks, media stages and doors to anonymous and guarded meeting rooms (24 in total).

I manage to decode the online programme and information screens to work out that I can observe some negotiations from Meeting Room 14, but they are being broadcast live from Meeting Room 8. I feel a little like the overflow class of an oversubscribed university course. I stay for around 30 minutes but struggle to understand what is happening. The session is titled ‘CMA informal consultations on new collective quantified goal on climate finance’ but the formality of the negotiation process means the discussion is quite impenetrable. The Chair closes the session and notes that no resolution has been found: I don’t know if it will be revisited or resolved.

A day in the life at COP26 3
Catriona inside the Blue Zone
4pm – The long walk to the Green Zone

Across the water from the UN ‘Blue Zone’ is the UK Government’s ‘Green Zone’: the official space for members of the public attending COP26, and host to stalls from organisations, initiatives and businesses alongside a civil society events programme. It’s being hosted in the Glasgow Science Centre, which is across the pedestrian bridge from the SEC. However, that bridge, and those surrounding it, are closed for security purposes, so instead of a 3-minute trip across the water, it’s a 20-minute journey. When discussions about COP26 often come back to challenges around inclusivity and the limited participation of civil society, I feel like the artificial separation of these venues only seeks to highlight the disconnect. However, I cross paths with an old friend from university on the way, which cheers me up!

I don’t know if it is a product of visiting relatively late in the day, or if my energy levels are fading, but the space feels a little lacklustre. The security is more thorough (and stern) and the activities seem more sparse, with corporate sponsors given the luxury of space, and small-scale innovation projects crammed into corridors.

5.30pm – Overwhelmed on the shuttle bus

It’s the end of my day, and I learn that there is a shuttle bus between the Blue Zone, Green Zone and Glasgow’s Central station. My pass gets me free travel, so I hop on to begin the journey back to Edinburgh. It’s also at this point that I realise that I haven’t had anything to eat all day – just two coffees and a lot of adrenaline. I’m overwhelmed with the idea that I’ve probably only experienced about 2% of what I could have seen in the day, and just quite how big the whole thing is. I can’t quite believe that some people will be attending two whole weeks at this pace!

A day in the life at COP26 1
A tree of paper leaves, coloured in and written on; pleas to stop deforestation, and promises to use less electricity.
Reflections and top tips

I appreciate how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to attend COP26, and how many people are excluded from these spaces – by process, by economic circumstance, by systemic marginalisation and also by the mystery of what actually happens here. But if you do have the chance to attend, here are my top tips

  • Have a plan…and prepare to stray from it: I had created an agenda for myself based on the programme available on the COP26 app, but once I got there I ended up following people I met or hearing new announcements of confirmed events.
  • Plan your food and drink: There were plenty of restaurants, cafes and eating spots serving Scottish and sustainable food within the Blue Zone, but I didn’t make time for it in my day. It feels like you’ll miss something by stopping to eat, but you definitely still need the fuel.
  • You never know who you’re going to bump into: World leaders, celebrities, colleagues and friends mixing in one space is a strange combination. Recognising people and stopping to say hello was one of the joys of my COP26 experience.

COP26 [took] place in Glasgow until Friday, 12th November 2021.

All images supplied. © Catriona Patterson 2021

(Top photo: Catriona standing in front of a wall of plants and the words ‘Welcome to COP26’)

The post A day in the life at COP26 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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Conscient Podcast: e70 one step at a time

e70 one step at a time is a monologue that I recorded on September 28th, 2021, in one take, while walking in the forest in Duhamel Québec, where I talk recite a poem that I wrote earlier that day about making choices and moving forward one step at a time in ‘radical listening’ mode, which is the theme of season 3 of #conscientpodcast.

one step at a time

(September 28, 2021)

We make choices by not making choices 

And we live with unbearable consequences 

We hear alarm bells, but do not respond

We cling to uncertainty like a sad song 

We act as if unaware and innocent 

We are cognitively dissonant

We write feeble poems, like this one, to lessen our pain 

We accept our fate and wait for the last day 

We know that exploitation is the cause

And we know that we are it’s children

We try to change our ways but the draw is too strong 

We are so comfortable, so selfish and so tragically wrong 

We know that one day soon we will have to tell our kids

That we knew far too much and did far too little

We think that art can change the world if only we listened 

But we know that listening is an inconvenient truth

We made a choice by not choosing 

And now we live with the consequences 

And yet, we know that it’s never too late to start a new

We know, deep inside, that this, is true 

One step at a time 

One step at a time

Stop, listen

One step at a time 

One more step at a time

Stop, listen more deeply 

One step at a time 

One step. Stop. Listen.

Me recording a monologue while I walking in the forest…

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e70 one step at a time est un monologue que j’ai enregistré le 28 septembre 2021, en une seule prise, alors que je marchais dans la forêt de Duhamel (Québec). J’y récite un poème que j’ai écrit plus tôt ce jour-là sur le fait de faire des choix et comment aller de l’avant une étape pas à la fois en référence à ‘l’écoute radicale’, le thème de la saison 3 du #baladoconscient.

Une étape à la fois

(28 septembre 2021)

Nous faisons des choix en ne faisant pas de choix 

Et nous vivons avec des conséquences insupportables 

Nous entendons les sonneries d’alarme, mais nous ne réagissons pas.

Nous nous accrochons à l’incertitude comme à une chanson triste 

Nous agissons comme si nous étions inconscients et innocents 

Nous sommes cognitivement dissonants

Nous écrivons de piètres poèmes, comme celui-ci, pour atténuer notre douleur. 

Nous acceptons notre destin et attendons le dernier jour. 

Nous savons que l’exploitation en est la cause

Et nous savons que nous en sommes les enfants.

Nous essayons de changer nos habitudes, mais l’attraction est trop forte. 

Nous sommes si à l’aise, si égoïstes et si tragiquement en tord. 

Nous savons qu’un jour prochain nous devrons dire à nos enfants

que nous en savions beaucoup trop et que nous n’avons pas fait grand-chose.

Nous pensons que l’art peut changer le monde, si seulement nous l’écoutions. 

Mais nous savons qu’écouter est une vérité qui dérange.

Nous avons fait un choix en ne choisissant pas 

Et maintenant nous vivons avec les conséquences 

Et pourtant, nous savons qu’il n’est jamais trop tard pour prendre un nouveau élan.

Nous savons, au fond de nous, que c’est vrai. 

Un pas après l’autre 

Un pas après l’autre

Arrêtez-vous, écoutez

Un pas à la fois 

Un pas de plus à la fois

Arrêtez et écoutez plus profondément 

Une étape à la fois 

Un pas. Arrêtez. Écoutez.

The post e70 one step at a time appeared first on conscient podcast / balado conscient. conscient is a bilingual blog and podcast (French or English) by audio artist Claude Schryer that explores how arts and culture contribute to environmental awareness and action.

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About the Concient Podcast from Claude Schryer

The conscient podcast / balado conscient is a series of conversations about art, conscience and the ecological crisis. This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). The language of the guest determines the language of the podcast. Episode notes are translated but not individual interviews.

I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.

The term ‘conscient’ is defined as ‘being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations’. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast / balado conscient follows up on my http://simplesoundscapes.ca (2016–2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.

Season 1 (May to October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie’s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.

Season 2 (March 2021 – ) explores the concept of reality and is about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that ‘I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, ‘the state of things as they actually exist’, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way’. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 features interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.

my professional services

I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). My focus in (quasi) retirement is environmental issues within my area of expertise in arts and culture, in particular in acoustic ecology. I’m open to become involved in projects that align with my values and that move forward environmental concerns. Feel free to email me for a conversation : claude@conscient.ca

acknowledgement of eco-responsibility

I acknowledge that the production of the conscient podcast / balado conscient produces carbon. I try to minimize this carbon footprint by being as efficient as possible, including using GreenGeeks as my web server and acquiring carbon offsets for my equipment and travel activities from BullFrog Power and Less.

a word about privilege and bias

While recording episode 19 ‘reality’, I heard elements of ‘privilege’ in my voice that I had not noticed before. It sounded a bit like ‘ecological mansplaining’. I realize that, in spite of good intentions, I need to work my way through issues of privilege (of all kinds) and unconscious bias the way I did through ecological anxiety and grief during the fall of 2020. My re-education is ongoing.

Go to conscient.ca

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Member Spotlight: Meridel Rubenstein

October 18, 2021

This week we recognize the work of artist Meridel Rubenstein.

The Eden in Iraq Wastewater Garden Project (2011-present) is a humanitarian water remediation project, expressed through wastewater garden design and environmental art, that provides environmental and cultural regeneration to a desiccated region of southern Iraq. This project is a collaboration between co-directors artist/photographer Meridel Rubenstein and environmental engineer Dr. Davide Tocchetto, with environmental engineer Dr. Mark Nelson and engineer and managing director Nature Iraq NGO, Jassim Al-Asadi.

The Garden will provide urgently needed health and clean water for southern Iraqis, their children, and future generations to come. This project, sponsored by NGO Nature Iraq in Iraq and the Institute of Ecotechnics in both the UK and USA, is a response to decades of conflict in this region and continued tension due to climate change, external water rights violations, and social upheaval. Initial support since 2011 spans from Iraqi municipalities, the region and State, to international sources; most recently, the Eden in Iraq Wastewater Garden Project was chosen as one out of 100 grassroots projects for UNESCO’s Green Citizens Initiative.

The wastewater garden will feature locally significant design details, making it an engaging public site that emphasizes cultural heritage, while restoring health and offering ecological education. It will provide a sanctuary for reflection and relaxation in a continuously unsettled time. The garden design will engage with local craftspeople, local materials, and ancient crafts e.g. reed structures, earthen brick, ancient cylinder seal patterns for ceramic tiles, and a floral design layout that is inspired by Mesopotamian embroidered wedding blanket patterns (now being revived locally).

Eden in Iraq offers a solution to contaminated water through the utilization of simple and sustainable wastewater recycling technology to support a garden that embodies the rich cultural heritage and tradition of the marshes and the Marsh Arab community. For those millions of migrants afloat in Europe today, the Marsh Arabs of the Mesopotamian marshes in Southern Iraq offer a stunning example of a violently displaced people returning home to heal and restore their desertified land.

Meridel Rubenstein began her career as a photographer in the early 1970s, and slowly evolved from taking single photographic images to becoming an artist of extended works and multi-media installations. She studied with noted photographer Minor White at MIT and received her MA and MFA in photography from the University of New Mexico. From the start, her art has urged awareness of how we are connected to place. Rubenstein has been an active arts educator for over thirty years, having headed the MFA Photography Program at San Francisco State University. She has exhibited widely, including at Brian Gross Fine Art in San Francisco, Chan Hampe Gallery Singapore, and the Louvre in Paris. Rubenstein has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Bunting Institute at Harvard University, and awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Pollock Krasner and the Rockefeller Foundations. meridelrubenstein.com

Featured Images Above: ©Meridel Rubenstein, Eden in Iraq, 2011-present.

IMPORTANT: The Eden in Iraq team recently signed an agreement with the Center for Restoration of Iraqi Marshes and Wetlands (CRIMW) to implement the first stage of the Wastewater Garden. Meridel Rubenstein in Iraq below.

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ecoartapace was conceived in 1997 by Patricia Watts in Los Angeles. In 1999, Watts partnered with east coast curator Amy Lipton, operating as a nonprofit under the umbrella of SEE, the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs in California. 2019 marked twenty years that Watts and Lipton have curated art and ecology programs, participating on panels and giving lectures internationally. Combined, they have curated over sixty art and ecology exhibitions, many outdoors in collaboration with artists creating site-specific works. They have worked with over one thousand artists from across the United States, and some internationally. Starting 2020, ecoartspace became an LLC membership organization based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999

Go to EcoArtSpace

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Conscient Podcast: e69 soundwalk in the dark

e69 soundwalk in the dark is a monologue that I recorded on September 29th, 2021, from 4.56am to 5.25am, in one take, while walking around our cottage in Duhamel Québec in the dark. I talk about soundwalking, listening, reconciliation, John Cage, dancing, etc., including quotes from #conscientpodcast season 2: ‘do not listen to this episode’ and e22 westerkamp.  Note: I miscalculated the time that the sun would rise and ended up walking in the dark for the entire time ! Erratum : at minute 22 I say that I almost met John Cage in the ‘early 1980’s’ before he passed away but I meant the ‘early 1990’s’ (Cage passed away in 1992). I was hallucinating in the early morning air!

You’ll hear two excerpts from season 2 of the conscient podcast in this episode:

e22 westerkamp

(Claude Schryer)

I’m interested to know, for instance, around sound walking, you’ve recorded them, and you use them as stimulants or as proposals to people. What, what does that bring the person experiencing it? What is your intention when you create a soundwalk piece, or an electroacoustic composition with soundscapes? What are you hoping will happen in the experience of the listener?

(Hildegard Westerkamp)

I think I would like them to experience what I did. The microphone, when you first experienced listening to what the microphone hears, it’s very different to what the ear hears and when you hear that over your headphones into your own ears, there is a wake-up call there and it’s inspirational. And, when I first began the sound walking radio program here in Vancouver, which is now a long time ago in 79,  I was very interested in letting the microphone guide me through the environment and my own listening to what the microphone was picking up was then leading me through the city that and it was, yes, I had lived in it for 10 years already, but I was still somewhere in immigrant. It empowered me actually to walk into places that I wouldn’t have walked into with just my ears, just a person. So, the technology, and maybe because I am a woman, the technology gave me a sense of empowerment. I would walk into all sorts of spaces and sometimes I was asked what I was doing, and I had to get permission perhaps or not, but, for me, it was a way into the wilderness too. I think I’ve always felt that this wonder at what you hear when you really listen and the surprises that you’re met with, or the surprises that you get from what you’re recording. And because we in daily life, we often preoccupied, and we don’t always listen. The microphone gives you the opportunity to just specialize in listening and sound works without microphones can do the same thing. You have to just have the intent of that. Listening. Having always been a very busy and restless person, the microphone kind of allowed me to settle into that listening. And eventually I really didn’t want the microphone that much anymore because I felt a separation between that very private listening inside the soundscape but see where at the same time cut off from your social environment by doing that. After a while, I wanted to get rid of the microphones and then just really engaged in that listening as if my ears were a microphone…

do not listen to this episode : a special edition episode (published but not identified) 

This is a special edition of the conscient podcast called ‘don’t listen to this episode’. The idea came to me while biking. I thought, what if I stated, over and over, that people need to wake up to the reality of the climate emergency. you know, with my slow conscient podcast voice: ‘people. need. to wake up. to the reality. of the climate emergency.’  But it would be pointless because people already know that they need to wake up to the reality of the climate emergency.  Repeating it, over and over, is actually counterproductive, and boring.  People would probably tune out and all that would be left are these words that have no value whatever. But then I thought, on the other hand, what was it that John Cage once said 

If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all. 

*

(traduction)

e69 soundwalk in the dark est un monologue que j’ai enregistré le 29 septembre 2021 de 4h56 à 5h25, en une seule prise, alors que je marchais à Duhamel au Québec dans le noir. Je parle de la marche sonore, l’écoute, la réconciliation, John Cage, la danse, etc., y compris des citations de #baladoconscient, saison 2 : ‘do not listen to this episode’ et e22 westerkamp. Note : J’ai mal calculé l’heure à laquelle le soleil se levait et j’ai fini par marcher dans le noir pendant toute la sortie! Erratum : à la minute 22, je dis que j’ai failli rencontrer John Cage au “début des années 1980” peu avant sa mort, mais je voulais dire au “début des années 1990” (Cage est décédé en 1992). J’avais des hallucinations dans l’air matinal !

e22 westerkamp

(Claude Schryer)

Je suis intéressée de savoir, par exemple, autour de la marche sonore, vous les avez enregistrés, et vous les utilisez comme stimulants ou comme propositions aux gens. Qu’est-ce, qu’est-ce que cela apporte à la personne qui en fait l’expérience ? Quelle est votre intention lorsque vous créez une pièce de marche sonore, ou une composition électroacoustique avec des paysages sonores ? Qu’espérez-vous qu’il se produise dans l’expérience de l’auditeur ?

(Hildegard Westerkamp)

Je pense que j’aimerais qu’ils fassent l’expérience de ce que j’ai fait. Le microphone, lorsque vous faites l’expérience d’écouter ce que le microphone entend, c’est très différent de ce que l’oreille entend et lorsque vous entendez cela dans vos écouteurs dans vos propres oreilles, il y a un appel au réveil et c’est inspirant. Et, quand j’ai commencé le programme radio de marche sonore ici à Vancouver, ce qui est maintenant il y a longtemps en 79, j’étais très intéressé à laisser le microphone me guider à travers l’environnement et ma propre écoute de ce que le microphone captait me guidait alors à travers la ville et c’était, oui, j’y avais vécu depuis 10 ans déjà, mais j’étais toujours quelque part dans l’immigration. Cela m’a permis d’entrer dans des endroits où je ne serais pas allé avec mes seules oreilles, avec une seule personne. Donc, la technologie, et peut-être parce que je suis une femme, la technologie m’a donné un sentiment d’autonomie. Je me promenais dans toutes sortes d’espaces et parfois on me demandait ce que je faisais et je devais obtenir la permission ou non, mais pour moi, c’était aussi un moyen d’entrer dans la nature. Je pense que j’ai toujours ressenti cet émerveillement devant ce que l’on entend quand on écoute vraiment et les surprises que l’on rencontre, ou les surprises que l’on obtient de ce que l’on enregistre. Et parce que dans la vie quotidienne, nous sommes souvent préoccupés, et nous n’écoutons pas toujours. Le microphone vous donne l’opportunité de vous spécialiser dans l’écoute et les œuvres sonores sans micro peuvent faire la même chose. Il faut juste avoir l’intention de le faire. L’écoute. Ayant toujours été une personne très occupée et agitée, le microphone m’a en quelque sorte permis de m’installer dans cette écoute. Et finalement, je n’ai plus vraiment voulu du microphone parce que j’ai ressenti une séparation entre cette écoute très privée à l’intérieur du paysage sonore, mais en même temps, je me suis coupé de mon environnement social en faisant cela. Au bout d’un moment, j’ai voulu me débarrasser des microphones et m’engager dans cette écoute comme si mes oreilles étaient un microphone…

What I saw during most of my soundwalk… 

n’écoutez pas cet épisode : édition spéciale (publié mais non identifié)

Voici une édition spéciale du balado conscient intitulée “n’écoutez pas cet épisode“.  L’idée m’est venue pendant que je faisais du vélo. J’ai pensé… et si je disais, encore et encore, que les gens doivent se réveiller à la réalité de l’urgence climatique. Vous savez, avec ma voix lente du balado conscient : “les gens. doivent. se. réveiller. à la réalité. de l’urgence. climatique”.  Mais cela ne servirait à rien car les gens savent déjà qu’ils doivent se réveiller à la réalité de l’urgence climatique. Le répéter, encore et encore, est en fait contre-productif, et ennuyeux.  Les gens feraient probablement la sourde oreille et tout ce qui resterait serait ces mots qui n’ont aucune valeur. Puis j’ai pensé, d’un autre côté, à ce que John Cage a dit un jour : 

Si quelque chose est ennuyeux après deux minutes, essayez-le pendant quatre minutes. Si c’est toujours ennuyeux, alors huit. Puis seize. Puis trente-deux. Finalement, on découvre que ce n’est pas du tout ennuyeux.

The post e69 soundwalk in the dark appeared first on conscient podcast / balado conscient. conscient is a bilingual blog and podcast (French or English) by audio artist Claude Schryer that explores how arts and culture contribute to environmental awareness and action.

———-

About the Concient Podcast from Claude Schryer

The conscient podcast / balado conscient is a series of conversations about art, conscience and the ecological crisis. This podcast is bilingual (in either English or French). The language of the guest determines the language of the podcast. Episode notes are translated but not individual interviews.

I started the conscient project in 2020 as a personal learning journey and knowledge sharing exercise. It has been rewarding, and sometimes surprising.

The term ‘conscient’ is defined as ‘being aware of one’s surroundings, thoughts and motivations’. My touchstone for the podcast is episode 1, e01 terrified, based on an essay I wrote in May 2019, where I share my anxiety about the climate crisis and my belief that arts and culture can play a critical role in raising public awareness about environmental issues. The conscient podcast / balado conscient follows up on my http://simplesoundscapes.ca (2016–2019) project: 175, 3-minute audio and video field recordings that explore mindful listening.

Season 1 (May to October 2020) explored how the arts contribute to environmental awareness and action. I produced 3 episodes in French and 15 in English. The episodes cover a wide range of content, including activism, impact measurement, gaming, arts funding, cross-sectoral collaborations, social justice, artistic practices, etc. Episodes 8 to 17 were recorded while I was at the Creative Climate Leadership USA course in Arizona in March 2020 (led by Julie’s Bicycle). Episode 18 is a compilation of highlights from these conversations.

Season 2 (March 2021 – ) explores the concept of reality and is about accepting reality, working through ecological grief and charting a path forward. The first episode of season 2 (e19 reality) mixes quotations from 28 authors with field recordings from simplesoundscapes and from my 1998 soundscape composition, Au dernier vivant les biens. One of my findings from this episode is that ‘I now see, and more importantly, I now feel in my bones, ‘the state of things as they actually exist’, without social filters or unsustainable stories blocking the way’. e19 reality touches upon 7 topics: our perception of reality, the possibility of human extinction, ecological anxiety and ecological grief, hope, arts, storytelling and the wisdom of indigenous cultures. The rest of season 2 features interviews with thought leaders about their responses and reactions to e19 reality.

my professional services

I’ve been retired from the Canada Council for the Arts since September 15, 2020 where I served as a senior strategic advisor in arts granting (2016-2020) and manager of the Inter-Arts Office (1999-2015). My focus in (quasi) retirement is environmental issues within my area of expertise in arts and culture, in particular in acoustic ecology. I’m open to become involved in projects that align with my values and that move forward environmental concerns. Feel free to email me for a conversation : claude@conscient.ca

acknowledgement of eco-responsibility

I acknowledge that the production of the conscient podcast / balado conscient produces carbon. I try to minimize this carbon footprint by being as efficient as possible, including using GreenGeeks as my web server and acquiring carbon offsets for my equipment and travel activities from BullFrog Power and Less.

a word about privilege and bias

While recording episode 19 ‘reality’, I heard elements of ‘privilege’ in my voice that I had not noticed before. It sounded a bit like ‘ecological mansplaining’. I realize that, in spite of good intentions, I need to work my way through issues of privilege (of all kinds) and unconscious bias the way I did through ecological anxiety and grief during the fall of 2020. My re-education is ongoing.

Go to conscient.ca

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Lily Prince: Honing Plein Air

By Etty Yaniv

Lily Prince makes lush plein air paintings depicting the essence of specific places around the world. By utilizing linear and color vocabularies, she creates pictorial fields which resemble disorienting topographical maps where time is fluid and frozen simultaneously. Lily shares her background, ideas, process, and projects.

Tell me a bit about your background and what brought you to plein air painting.

Just before going to Bard for my MFA, I began painting at a park near my apartment, mostly out of curiosity. It felt like a challenge; it made me nervous. My first painting professor at RISD, Dean Richardson, said to always be nervous when you’re painting and drawing, like you have a plane to catch in a few minutes. So that’s how I knew it was right. And I fell in love with being able to make work while being out in nature. It was a gift to spend time outside and also feel I was accomplishing something. That sense of it being a challenge has never left me. Every new landscape I approach to draw from feels like an almost insurmountable challenge. 

So when I got to Bard, I continued with plein air work, but only painting rather than drawing. I would return daily to the waterfall in the woods on campus, dragging very large canvases that I’d thrown in the back of my 1971 Oldsmobile station wagon, and paint in oils. Bugs love the smell, so I spent a lot of time picking dead ones out of the paint when I returned to the studio at the end of each day. I loved being in the woods at the edge of that waterfall.

During my time at Bard, I went to live for a few months each in both northern and southern California. That is when I began plein air drawing, doing at least one oil pastel drawing a day, mostly black-and-white, for six months. I learned so much about how landscape space is made up of forms of light and dark. Just shapes of light and dark that fit together like a puzzle and change in scale. That was one of the most educational experiences I ever had.

Arles, 2, acrylic on canvas paper, 16” x 16”, 2019.

In your statement, you argue that beauty is the greatest form of protest. It’s an intriguing twist. Can you talk more about how you see the relationship between beauty and protest today?

Obviously, there are many forms of protest and these days we need them all. They certainly are not mutually exclusive. Organizing masses of people to demand change is imperative, crucial to our survival, but so is choosing thoughtfully how to live one’s life and making choices that consciously reflect one’s beliefs. Being vegetarian for 38 years is one way I feel I can effect change on a personal level. So is choosing to purchase organic food for decades and now seeing so many major food companies make and offer organic products. Using individual consumer power, which is a form of protest, is so important for change.

I define beauty as a vast term that encompasses consciousness, the pursuit of the making of things that have meaning, the discovery of solutions to problems, personal expression, and the seeking of knowledge. I’m not referring to just the classical sense of beauty. It is more about a sense of devotion to something greater than oneself (not as in organized religion, but rather spirituality: the connection to something greater than oneself and one’s self interests). Something that benefits humanity, nature, all species, the planet. Sounds a bit grand and hyperbolic, perhaps! But I think that the pursuit of beauty, defined as such, is these days a tremendous act of protest.

Scientists and artists who devote their time to being out in nature to record or reflect upon and bring attention to what is most important to our survival – nature – are engaged in an act of real protest. So much of the world has ignored the importance of this for too long and now we see where that has led us. It isn’t the easiest thing to be out in the landscape in difficult weather or uncomfortable surroundings struggling to capture and declare some element of the elements as vital. It certainly isn’t heroic, but I do see it as an act of protest.

Lago di Como, 37, acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”, 2019.

Your work takes you to places with diverse landscapes, like New York’s Hudson Valley, Italy, France. How do you choose where to paint and how does your approach to painting “Lago di Como” differ from painting “Arles” for example?

I choose where to plein air work based on some practical considerations, such as where I might be invited to be an artist-in-residence, or where I might want to explore, or where I might be able to plunk myself down and live for a time. Certain landscapes, although I might find stunningly beautiful and inspiring – such as many beach locations, or the woods deep in the mountains – just don’t have what I’m looking for artistically, such as deep space with varied patterns of fertile growth and ample sky. A place must also have what I connect with spiritually and sometimes I have to search that out.

I tend to respond most to certain very cultivated landscapes, land that has been cultivated for centuries like in Europe and has an ordered chaos. But also the rock formations and cacti forms in the southwest U.S. and distant mountains with water in the middle ground in parts of the northwest. The corn fields with hay bales in the Hudson Valley are always with me and enter into my work. So there is a simultaneity; it is never really just one place I’m working from. I carry within me all the places I’ve been most affected by. But give me a view with deep space, fertile fields with a fecundity of random forms and patterns, and distant, echoing mountains and I am ready to get to work.

Lago di Como, 39, acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”, 2019.
Lago di Como, 40, acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”, 2019.

Can you share one plein air painting experience that you consider formative?

Painting in the woods at the Bard College waterfall every day for 9 weeks during graduate school was truly formative. It was the first time I ever had that kind of continuity, of returning to the same place for 2 months and really exploring a place in depth. It was also my first time working large on site, as well as having fantastic support from mentors.

But more recently, returning to Italy seven years ago on an artist residency, was truly transformative. I had lived on and off for various periods in Italy beginning with my year at RISD in Rome. Returning there had so much sensory intensity for me. And it coincided with my return to plein air, which I had left for many years but always longed to return to. Drawing from the same spectacular view every day at the end of a small street in a tiny Tuscan town overlooking the Crete Senesi landscape was magical. My work is still inspired by those twisting, undulating hills, and the ordered chaos of the distant fields and silhouettes of cypress trees receding in space and dotting distant hills. I carry that with me.

American Beauty, 2, oil pastel on 300 lb. Fabriano paper, 30” x 33”, 2019

What are you working on now?

I am working on a project called “American Beauty” that is attempting to remind us all about how much beauty still exists in our country. We really need that now. I began a series of small black-and-white and large color plein air drawings on a recent trip to the southwest and northwest. During these times of environmental and societal devastation, it can seem almost impossible to remember how much untouched land and inspiring landscape there is out there/here. It is astounding how much undisturbed nature abounds in Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington, just to name the places I travelled to this summer.

So I set out on this road trip in August to draw from places of particular interest to me. I tried to avoid drawing in direct sun during the most intense heat of the day, which often was over 100 degrees, but I wasn’t always able to avoid it. It was extremely intense. Sometimes I drew from the back of a rented mini-van, on the side of a highway if there happened to be a view I wanted, so at least I could sit and have the raised back provide some shade. It was hot as hell and definitely a labor of love.

In the past, I’d never made plein air drawings larger than 14” x 15”. That way I could manage standing up to draw while holding the pad in one hand and drawing with the other. And that size allowed me to easily fit the work in a carry-on suitcase. But on this western trip I worked on 30” x 35” 300 lb paper and leaned on large cardboard sheets. Doing that really seemed a bit insane on the side of highways – it was a challenge for sure–but now I’m so glad I have those works to finish up back in my studio and use as composite inspiration for paintings I’m about to begin. 

American Beauty, Sonoran Desert, oil pastel on 300 lb. paper, 30” x 33”, 2019.

(Top image: Arles, 1, acrylic on canvas paper, 16” x 16”, 2019. Unless indicated otherwise, all photos courtesy of the artist.)

This interview is part of a content collaboration between Art Spiel and Artists & Climate Change. It was originally published on Art Spiel on December 2, 2019 as part of an ongoing interview series with contemporary artists.

______________________________

Etty Yaniv works on her art, art writing, and curatorial projects in Brooklyn. She has exhibited her immersive installations in museums and galleries, nationally and internationally. Yaniv founded the platform Art Spiel to highlight the work of contemporary artists through art reviews, studio visits, and interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. Yaniv holds a BA in Psychology and English Literature from Tel Aviv University, a BFA from Parsons School of Design, and an MFA from SUNY Purchase.

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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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Is Hope Overrated?

By Jennifer Atkinson

Many consider hope to be essential to maintaining social movements where change is slow, setbacks are frequent, and the odds aren’t good. As Rebecca Solnit once wrote, “To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.” But when it comes to the existential threats of climate change and mass extinction, what if hope is part of the problem? What if it obscures the enormity of our crisis, or makes us complacent, allowing the public to defer responsibility onto other people or the future?

When you look at the scale of our climate emergency and the inadequacy of society’s response, hope can feel like a throwaway term, a cheap neon sign we dutifully switch on at the end of climate rallies. But those reservations about hope are not the whole story. Research shows that environmental discourse has long fueled public hopelessness by perpetuating apocalyptic narratives and the sense that it’s already “too late” to act. That hopelessness becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as those who believe we’re already doomed – or that solutions don’t exist – chose not to act, thus ensuring the very outcome they imagined. Episode 5 explores the complicated role of hope in the fight for a livable planet, and the different forms it takes in environmental debates: hope as complacency or “cruel optimism” (an ideology to keep the public in line) as well as more subversive versions like active hope, intrinsic hope, and critical hope.

(Top image by Ruedi Häberli via Unsplash.)

Facing It is a podcast about climate grief and eco anxiety. It explores the psychological toll of climate change, and why our emotional responses are key to addressing this existential threat. In each episode of Facing It, I explore a different way we can harness despair to activate meaningful solutions.

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Dr. Jennifer Atkinson is an Associate Professor of environmental humanities at the University of Washington, Bothell. Her seminars on Eco-Grief & Climate Anxiety have been featured in the New York TimesWashington Post Magazine, the Los Angeles TimesNBC News, the Seattle Times, Grist, the Washington PostKUOW and many other outlets. Jennifer is currently working on a book titled An Existential Toolkit for the Climate Crisis (co-edited with Sarah Jaquette Ray) that offers strategies to help young people navigate the emotional toll of climate breakdown.

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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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