Monthly Archives: January 2022

Opportunity: Creative change maker – climate action

Aberdeen Performing Arts is seeking a Creative Change Maker.

We are seeking a creative individual, a natural influencer, possibly a grass roots activist or artist, someone who is a champion for enabling the positive change needed to address the critical situation we find ourselves in as a result of the climate emergency. The Creative Change Maker – Climate Action is a new freelance role based within our Creative Engagement Team, and will work with us to identify areas we can improve and develop our commitment to climate action through:

  • working with artists, arts and cultural organisations, local communities and regional and national partners to support sustainability and build resilience
  • exploring how we can use the arts to continue to be a more environmentally conscious organisation
  • minimising our impact on the environment from our buildings to our productions and operations
About you

You’ll be a creative, confident individual, with experience of creating, developing and delivering climate challenge initiatives that support communities to take ownership of issues around the climate emergency. You’ll have experience of working in an organisation, reviewing and implementing climate policies and strategies. You’ll be comfortable communicating with and influencing people from all walks of lives, happy working in settings from board room to youth group and everything in between. You’ll be emotionally intelligent, bringing people on board in a positive way.

About us

Aberdeen Performing Arts is a focal point for the performing arts, community engagement and talent development in the Northeast of Scotland. Our three iconic city centre venues are all on a national and international touring circuit for the performing arts and a vital part of Aberdeen and Scotland’s cultural ecology. We present, produce and commission diverse and distinctive arts and cultural programmes of regional and national reach and impact.

How to apply

​For more information about Aberdeen Performing Arts, download the scope of work and apply online, visit https://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/work-with-us/.

Alternatively send your CV and covering letter to recruitment@aberdeenperformingarts.com. Please also complete our Equal Opportunities Monitoring form.

You may wish to send us your cover letter in video or audio format. If you do, please ensure it is saved in an easily accessible format and ‘we transfer’ this to us at recruitment@aberdeenperformingarts.com. Video or audio applications should be no longer than five minutes.

Closing date for applications is Sunday, 23 January.

Whilst some of this work can be achieved remotely, it is a requirement that the successful candidate is able to spend the majority of the delivery time in Aberdeen in order to engage and work with our venues and our local communities.

We are an equal opportunities employer, committed to diversity in all our work. In that spirit, applicants with diverse backgrounds, experiences, ability and perspectives, and those from backgrounds under-represented in the arts, are encouraged to apply.

This post does not meet the minimum requirements for visa sponsorship under the Skilled Worker Route. We are therefore unable to consider applicants for this post that require sponsorship to work in the UK.

The post Opportunity: Creative change maker – climate action 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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Wild Author: Michael Mohammed Ahmad

By Mary Woodbury

I had a wonderful talk with Michael Mohammed Ahmad, editor of the anthology After Australia, founding director of Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement, author, and so much more. Our conversation opened up doors for me to explore the promotion of literacy around the world. Sweatshop is a literacy movement based in Western Sydney. The movement provides research, training, mentoring, and employment opportunities for emerging and established writers and arts practitioners from Indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds.

ABOUT THE BOOK

This interview explores Dr. Ahmad’s novels, but focuses primarily on After Australia(published by Affirm Press, in partnership with Diversity Arts Australia and Sweatshop Literacy Movement).

In this unflinching anthology, twelve of Australia’s most daring Indigenous writers and writers of color provide a glimpse of Australia as we head toward the year 2050. Climate catastrophe, police brutality, white genocide, totalitarian rule, and the erasure of black history provide the backdrop for stories of love, courage, and hope.

The anthology features Ambelin Kwaymullina, Claire G. Coleman, Omar Sakr, Future D. Fidel, Karen Wyld, Khalid Warsame, Kaya Ortiz, Roanna Gonsalves, Sarah Ross, Zoya Patel, Michelle Law, and Hannah Donnelly. It is edited by Michael Mohammed Ahmad. The  original concept is by Lena Nahlous.

A CHAT WITH THE AUTHOR

First, I would love to know more about the Sweatshop Literacy Movement, of which you are the founding director. How did this movement come about and what kind of success has it had?

Sweatshop is a literacy movement based in Western Sydney, devoted to empowering culturally and linguistically diverse communities through reading, writing, and critical thinking. Over the past decade, Sweatshop has mentored an ongoing ensemble of emerging and established writers from the region who have come to be known as the Sweatshop Writers Group. Sweatshop has also facilitated writing workshops and residencies in schools and universities, produced publications, podcasts, and short films, and we have presented book launches, seminars, readings, and performances at writers’ festivals across Australia.

It is difficult to know exactly how successful we have been in meeting our goals, but it always brings me great joy to think about the thousands of young and emerging writers whom we have supported over the years – witnessing their intellectual development and providing them with public platforms to share their stories. I am particularly proud of the ground-breaking anthologies Sweatshop has produced in recent memory, such as Sweatshop Women, which is Australia’s first publication produced entirely by Indigenous women and women of color, and Racism: Stories on Fear, Hate & Bigotry, which features 39 short stories and poems about the real-life experiences of racism faced by Australians on a daily basis.

You have also written some novels: The Tribe,  The Lebsand The Other Half of You. What are these stories about?

The Tribe was the first novel I wrote in a collection of works on Arab and Muslim Australian identity. It is told from the perspective of Bani Adam, a fictional version of myself as a child. The book details Bani’s domestic experiences within a large Lebanese-Australian family.

The second novel I wrote in this collection is The Lebs. The book follows on from The Tribe, only this time the stakes are much higher. Bani is now a teenager and he is dealing with many of the usual issues teenage boys face – coming to terms with his gender, sexuality, race, and class while also trying to obtain an education. This is complicated for any normal teenager, but for a ‘Leb’ growing up in the post-9/11 era, what I am describing is a war zone. Bani faces a political climate that is dominated by news headlines in Australia and around the world, which have demonized and homogenized young men like himself as criminals, gangsters, sexual predators, and terrorist suspects.

I wrote The Tribe and The Lebs with very clear intent: I was young and idealistic and genuinely believed that I could improve the global perception of Arabs and Muslims through my stories. But when it came to my most recent novel, The Other Half of You, writing it was like crying – the book just fell out of me involuntarily. I remember the night my son was born; his mother was asleep in her hospital bed as I sat in the darkness before her. I was cradling Kahlil in my right arm and writing on my phone in my left hand. At the time, I did not know why I had suddenly felt this tremendous urge to write; the words were just pouring from me. Later, when I read over what I had typed, I discovered that I was reliving the surreal and mystical scenes I had witnessed during Jane’s labour and Kahlil’s entrance into this world. These words ultimately became The Other Half of You. If there is such a thing as a soul, and if it’s possible that your soul can somehow be transferred onto a page, then my soul now exists inside this one book.

I found you by way of a Discord community called Rewilding Our Stories, where one of our community members gave the After Australia anthology a really nice review. You edited the anthology, whose authors are Indigenous and writers of color, writing mostly speculative or modern urban fiction and prose. How did this anthology come about?

In 2019, I was asked to develop a new anthology which imagined Australia in the year 2050. Originally conceived by the executive director of Diversity Arts Australia, Lena Nahlous, the publication would bring together Indigenous writers and writers of color from every state and territory in Australia. Together, they would create a collection of short stories and poems in the literary form called “speculative fiction.” In the aftermath of the Black Summer Bushfires and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the #BlackLivesMatter protests, I could never have speculated that by the time the publication was complete, it would look more like a picture of our current reality, rather than our inevitable future.

As the editor of the anthology, I pictured a book that would imagine a world after empires, after colonies, and after white supremacy. So I called it After Australia. However, the writer of Martu ancestry, Karen Wyld, sent me a story that intertwined three historical timelines, disentangling the complexity of contemporary Indigenous identity. And award-winning author, Roanna Gonsalves, wrote a love letter to the printing press, which examined the Governor’s Order in 1814. All at once it occurred to me that Australia’s future could only be written on the foundations of our past and present.

As with a lot of fiction that explores environmental losses, some of the stories deal with climate change and intersect directly with oppression in the form of racism and bigotry. What are your thoughts about the intersectionality of ecological and socio-economic tragedies? Do you think things will ever get better?

Firstly, with regards to the question on the relationship between ecology and socio-economic tragedy, I strongly recommend the book, Is Racism an Environmental Threat?, written by one of Australia’s greatest anthropologists and intellectuals, Professor Ghassan Hage.

Secondly, with regards to the question of whether things will get better, let me take it back to After Australia: I think by far the most unique aspect of the anthology is the way in which all the stories and poems converge into a unified voice, speaking for our past, present and future as a whole. Wiradjuri writer Hannah Donnelly guides us on this journey with her collection of stories titled “Black Thoughts.” In spite of the challenges we currently face as a nation, Hannah’s words remind us that there is hope as the world continues to unravel: Our time is a loop. We’ll find our way back, before, after…

What power do stories and art have in bringing about a more just world, and what other projects is Sweatshop doing right now to expand that goal?

More broadly than just “stories” and “art,” I believe in the power of literacy to bring about a just world. The entire Sweatshop movement was inspired by the work of African-American civil rights activist, feminist, and writer, bell hooks, who argues that, “All steps towards freedom and justice in any culture are dependent on mass-based literacy movements, because degrees of literacy so often determine how we see what we see.”

In terms of other projects Sweatshop is doing right now – thank you, this question presents a perfect opportunity to announce that Sweatshop, Affirm Press, and Diversity Arts are currently developing a follow-up to After Australia, called Another Australia. This time I have taken a backseat as the sub-editor, and the wonderful Tongan-Australian writer and general manager of Sweatshop, Winnie Dunn, is at the helm as the editor.

Another Australia will feature a new cohort of super-talented and award-winning First Nations and POC writers, including: Osman Faruqi, Declan Fry, Amani Haydar, Jamie Marina Lau, Shirley Le, L-Fresh the Lion, Mohammed Massoud Morsi, Sisonke Msimang, Anne-Marie Te Whiu, Sara Saleh, and Nardi Simpson, and poetry and linocut illustrations from Omar Musa.

Definitely keep an eye out for Another Australia, which will be hitting bookshelves in July 2022!

I am so excited about that! Did you want to talk about any of the writers or experiences in After Australia in more depth? Do the stories all take place in Australia?

From the groundwork laid-out by the writers I’ve already discussed in this interview – Hannah, Karen, and Roanna – the other contributors each interpreted the theme of the book in their own unique and personal way: Zoya Patel detailed a dystopian (not-too-distant-and-kind-of-already-here) future where bushfires have ravaged the ACT and our neighboring islands have drowned. As the brown people are trying to get in throughout Zoya’s story, in screenwriter Michelle Law’s story, the brown people are trying to get out, while under the occupation of a fascist society that makes 1984 look like The Little Mermaid. Meanwhile, Noongar author Claire G. Coleman introduces us to the Ostraka Law of 2039; her story subverts the notions of systemic institutions, and explores both the physical and psychological prisons that manifest in a racialized society. Newcomer Sarah Ross re-writes her experiences as the child of an interracial same-sex couple amidst the rubble of the Taj Mahal; and emerging poet Kaya Ortiz plays out our future as a lyrical exercise in multiple choice. Multi-award-winning author and illustrator Ambelin Kwaymullina sends Australia 2020 a dire message from the Ngurra Palya of 2050; and writer and cultural critic Khalid Warsame depicts an environment that will likely feel the most mundane and safe among all the stories in After Australia, until you realize it isn’t.

Perhaps the most controversial contribution in After Australia is written by the poet Omar Sakr. In his short story, titled ‘White Flu,” Omar dissects the vivid texture of multicultural suburbia against a global pandemic that will be frighteningly familiar to readers at this moment in time, only this particular virus has selected “white” people as its primary casualty.

And lastly, in an equally prophetic story, the playwright and author originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Future Destiny Fidel, lays bare the tragic future and destiny of so many young black men. Future’s story, “Your Skin is the Only Cloth You Cannot Wash,” recounts an incident in which he was going from door-to-door selling solar panels to the residents of Mount Ommaney, Brisbane. Suddenly, he is confronted and arrested by a group of white police officers, after a complaint had come through from a concerned citizen about a strange black man wandering the neighborhood. Future’s story arrived on my desk at the same time that protests throughout the United States and the rest of the world had erupted, following the murder of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer; and a lesser known incident in which an innocent African-American man from Georgia, named Ahmaud Arbery, was violently gunned-down by two white vigilantes that claimed he looked like a suspect in several break-ins in their area.

Reflecting on all these stories now, I’m remembering what a truly special collection After Australia is, and I really hope people take the time to read it.

Do you have any other thoughts to share or any personal stories you are working on now?

As a matter of fact, something kind of odd happened yesterday while I was praying at Auburn Mosque: The ghost of Christopher Hitchens appeared before me and said, “Stop wasting your time, there’s no afterlife.”

Anything else to add?

In a country where Indigenous people are regularly assaulted and killed by police; where young African men are demonized as “gangsters” by our news media and politicians; where Pacific Islanders are overrepresented in our prisons; where Muslims cannot conduct their Friday prayers without ever wondering if an Australian-born white supremacist is lurking outside with a machine gun; and where we cannot go into self-isolation without blaming four-and-a-half billion Asians; solidarity between all Australians – black, brown and white – is central to our survival.

I can’t thank you enough for this brilliant insight into your wonderful work with literacy, people, and our planet. It’s truly inspiring.

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 Nova Scotia 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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Member Spotlight: Luciana Abait

This week we recognize the work of artist Luciana Abait.

Abait’s work Iceberg – Red Sky, pictured above, will be featured as a billboard installation on Bedford Avenue, just south of Church Avenue, near Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York starting today through the end of 2021; the board is the eleventh in the I AM WATER ongoing billboard series co-sponsored by ecoartspace and Our Humanity Matters.

“My art practice is informed by my own immigration history from South America into the US in the 1990’s. I faced many struggles and trauma in relation to assimilation and a sense of invisibility within the new urban environments that I had to adapt to. In my work, I portray my personal experiences in two series that I have been developing over the last few years that are comprised of metaphorical, poetic and “alternate reality” artworks.”

“In my Iceberg Series, icebergs represent me as a wanderer – shifting between oceans and continents. Mountains, in turn, are metaphors for the hurdles and obstacles I have had to climb along the way since I departed my native hometown in the 1990’s. This work invites viewers to reimagine nature through psychological landscapes that conjure alternate (or perhaps future) realities marked by adaptation and assimilation, isolation and displacement.”

“Images are sourced from personal photographs, shots of snowfields and mountain sides, textbooks, encyclopedias and stock imagery, connecting personal experience to a collective geographic history. I work over the surface with pencils and pastels erasing the photographic quality beneath, and lending urgency to these emotionally charged images.

Natural landscapes and human-made utilitarian objects or structures are twisted, scaled out of proportion, or impossibly adapted to new roles where they coexist in a magical reality. The icebergs represent me as a wanderer – shifting between oceans and continents. Mountains, in turn, are metaphors for the hurdles and obstacles I have had to climb along the way since I departed my native hometown in the 1990’s.”

Luciana Abait was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and is currently based in Los Angeles where she is a resident artist of 18TH Street Arts Center in Santa Monica. Her photo-based two- and three-dimensional works deal with climate change and environmental fragility, and their impacts on immigration in particular. Abait’s artworks have been shown widely in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia in solo shows in galleries, museums and international art fairs. Selected exhibitions include A Letter to The Future at Los Angeles International Airport and Sur Biennial in California; Flow, Blue at Rockford College Art Museum and Luciana Abait at Jean Albano Gallery in Illinois; Nest at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania; and ARCO in Spain. lucianaabait.com

Featured Images: ©Luciana Abait, Iceberg Series

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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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Betsy Damon: Passages: Rites and Rituals – Brooklyn Rail review

ArtSeen

By Alex A. Jones

What function does art serve in society? There are always multiple answers to this question, all of which can be true at once. At different moments in space and time, however, certain functions of art have perhaps been extra salient. Art always reflects the creative (which is to say, the spiritual) needs of the collective. Thus art can illuminate historical consciousness, and vice versa.

The contemporary art that I grew up with, from postmodern to post-internet, seems to have principally served a social function of deconstruction. You could call it collective reckoning. In a world made ever-more complex by globalization and the rise of mass media, the creative tools of artists have served to detangle its complexities. This analytical function is reflected in the common praxis of contemporary art: interdisciplinary research as a dominant artistic strategy, critical engagement with history and subjectivity, and the inextricability of texts from visual media. In short, a complicated world has been mirrored by complex conceptual art.

But now, I am certain that a new paradigm is in the process of emerging, aligning art with a new social function. It comes forth in the context of collective crisis. Ecosystems are collapsing, the authority of capital forecloses all other priorities, liberal democracy has failed to assure human rights, and beyond the event-horizon of technological “progress” lies an equally alienating and inhumane frontier. These are not just the dooms of one pessimistic critic. “Humanity is failing,” read a banner over the River Clyde in Glasgow last week, an act of protest during the COP26 climate conference. The banner was flown by two German children, ages 10 and 11.1

I believe their slogan is a sentiment shared by many artists of my generation, who now feel the deconstructive modes of conceptual art are insufficient. In times such as these, art must do more. It must evolve from modes of critique into modes of possibility, becoming an agent of change. In the broken world we now inherit, art must help us to heal. 

Betsy Damon’s current solo show in New York successfully frames her as a pioneer of such a healing practice, and as a key artist through which to consider the relationship between art and activism. I first wrote about Damon’s work last summer in a review of the 2020 group show ecofeminisms, where her standout sculpture The Memory of Clean Water (1985) represented to me a sort of elegy for gallery-based practice in times of crisis. However, the current exhibition (curated by Monika Fabijanska) takes a retrospective look at Damon’s experimental performance works from the 1970s and ’80s that preceded the departure of her practice into eco-activism. The 12 projects on view include collaborative works of feminist theater, workshops and public meditations for women, and a Shrine for Everywoman at the United Nations World Conference on Women in 1980 and ’85. Collaboration, public engagement, and solidarity-building are central to all these projects, so that on the whole, the exhibition ties a powerful feedback loop between performance art and activism.

Damon’s breakout performance series was the 7,000 Year Old Woman (1977–79). It started as a quest to discover the lost collective history of women. The artist painted her skin in white makeup with black lips, and covered her body in little cloth sacks filled with 40-pounds of colored flour. She cut these open one by one to spill onto the ground, gradually exposing her naked or nearly-naked body. Beginning with a gallery performance in 1977, Damon subsequently took the character to the city streets, staging public happenings in SoHo and on Wall Street. As she wrote at the time, “so complete has been the eradication of things female from our streets that we do not miss them.”

Holding public space as the 7,000-year-old Woman was an emotionally difficult act, so much so that Damon said, “at a certain point I felt so exposed, I tried to put the bags back on.” Throughout one iteration of the performance on Prince Street, collaborator and painter Amy Siliman painted yellow triangles in a ring around Damon, creating a protective barrier while further underscoring her reclamation of space.

At the time of the performances, Damon recalls, everyone interpreted the 7,000-year-old woman as a goddess image. The character doubtless recalled the mysterious Roman cult statue Diana of Ephesus, covered in little sacs like breasts or eggs (or offertory testicles). But it was a limited reading, for a dead fertility goddess hardly constitutes a credible threat to modern patriarchal order—which is exactly what Damon intended for the work to do. With her white and black makeup, the 7,000 Year Old Woman is more like a ritual-clown, one who both amuses and frightens her audience into the ambivalent space of transformation. In the documentary photos through which the work is experienced today, we see a range of emotions on the faces of the crowd: some laugh at the weird woman on the ground while some solemnly watch. The artist recalls some boys throwing eggs.

Continue reading on the Brooklyn Rail site HERE

(Top image: Betsy Damon, 7,000 Year Old Woman, performance on Prince Street, New York, May 21, 1977. Archival Print. © Betsy Damon 1977/2021. Courtesy the artist.)

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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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Guest blog: European Day of Sustainable Communities 2021

In this guest blog, Scottish Communities Climate Action Network reports on the European Day of Sustainable Communities.

On 18th September, organisations around Europe celebrated Ecolise’s Annual European Day of Sustainable Communities (EDSC). In the anticipation of COP26, Scottish organisations were eager to celebrate the vital work achieved by communities all over the country. 

Ecolise is a Europe-wide network that focuses on community-led action against climate change on the path towards a more sustainable world. The 2021 EDSC is the fifth to take place and, amid a pandemic, it is more important than ever to celebrate the amazing community work that has taken place.

Here’s a look at how communities around Scotland celebrated EDSC 2021:

The Pyramid at Anderston’s Community Fun Festival

The Pyramid at Anderston is a community-owned space for the people of Anderston, Finnieston, Kelvingrove, Yorkhill and Glasgow. Six hundred and thirty-one people attended The Pyramid at Anderston’s Community Fun Festival, taking part in a wide range of activities and workshops. This included:

  • wildflower seed weaving, creating a 10-metre-long woven piece of bee and butterfly friendly seeds to be planted down the side of our building and seed mats to be planted in the area
  • making community artwork with Jim Parkyn (Aardman Animations lead modelmaker)
  • sharing their wants and wishes for the community
  • fairground rides, games, face painting, balloon modelling, smoothie bike, street dance, circus skills and hula hooping
  • Glasgow Science Centre climate challenge exhibition models
  • zine-making with Glasgow Zine Library
  • drawing with Mind and Draw
  • Plus magic, children’s author Kjartan Poskitt and more – all accompanied by live music and plant-based snacks!

Glasgow bike ride with Food and Climate Action

Food and Climate Action along with Bike for Good and Glasgow Allotments Forum ran a very successful bike tour to three allotment sites on the Southside of Glasgow.  The group visited Queen’s Park allotments, South West Allotments and New Victoria Gardens. Members at each site gave fascinating tours and participants saw the diversity of allotments and found out more about the history, biodiversity and community engagement of allotment sites.

Sustaining Dunbar film screening

Pix in the Stix – in association with Sustaining Dunbar, Climate Action East Linton and Take One Action – hosted a screening of Not Without Us, a 2016 Cert (12+) documentary that connects the dots between growing economic inequality, fossil fuel-driven economies and government inaction in the face of the greatest crisis engulfing our planet. It conveys the call from campaigners from around the world for deep, far-reaching system change. The film traces seven grassroots activists from around the world as they head to the COP21 UN climate talks in Paris and poses the question: can the will of the people put pressure on world leaders?

Following the screening, the audience engaged in lively discussion and debate focusing on a series of questions provided by Take One Action. These included considering the extent to which perceptions of COP climate negotiations and agreements shifted as a result of seeing the film. A number in the audience were surprised to learn that the Paris Agreement did not mention fossil fuels directly and that, following COP21, nothing relating to fossil fuels was legally binding, having only featured in the preamble. 

The consensus was that, although it was not an uplifting film overall, it did convey the vital importance of people power; the joy and solidarity that working together to combat the climate crisis can bring, along with the assertion that we cannot rely on governments and corporations alone to do the right thing.

Net Zero Action’s documentary screening

Net Zero Action hosted a screening of Not Without Us, followed by facilitated open discussions in four small groups to air ideas on what we can do, and what aiming for Net Zero might mean to us as a community. The event was kindly hosted by Bruntsfield Evangelical Church, with first-rate facilities for accommodation, screening, food, and group facilitation. Free refreshments were provided by local residents in Leamington Terrace and generously by Dig-In Community Greengrocer. 

Net Zero Action hopes to use the information gathered at the event to boost community action and assist them in setting up their own street-level community groups to act on net zero.

GAMIS Community Market

GAMIS hosted the first Govanhill Community Market led by G42 Pop-Ups in partnership with Govanhill Baths Community Trust. The community market project aims to strengthen connections between diverse communities of Govanhill, support the local economy, and activate underused parts of the neighbourhood. The market had a focus on sustainability in its wider sense, focusing on the social, environmental, and economic impact, with this event linking to the Scotland Sustainability Summit, Climate Fringe Week, Glasgow Open Doors Days and Harvest Festival that also took place in September. The target audience was local residents, including families, young people and older generations. In addition to the market, there were many free events and activities such as a family ceramics workshop, Roma dance demonstration and workshop led by Sonia from Romane Cierhenia, choir performance by Govanhill Voices community choir, music performance by local music ensemble FIRKA, and Climate Frisk, which is an interactive workshop to help develop an understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change. 

Communities for Future

This year’s EDSC gave communities the opportunity to celebrate and highlight their achievements in community-led action against climate change. However, it is also an opportunity to kickstart more projects and inspire others to join the journey towards a more sustainable world. The Communities for Future project, led by Ecolise, is an online Europe-wide network designed to help communities take action in their own way. The Communities for Future project encourages communities to pioneer their way towards a more sustainable world and to respond creatively to the climate crisis. Creating a post-carbon future means we must celebrate and indulge in the diversity of local culture.  Communities for Future provides a platform for communities to share their stories and inspire each other. We must all work together to achieve a happy, just and sustainable world.

If you would like to learn more about Communities for Future, please visit www.communitiesforfuture.org

Become a SCCAN member to stay up to date on community-led action in Scotland! www.scottishcommunitiescan.org.uk 

(Top image: A young person enjoys having their face painted. Photo credit Robin Mitchell.)

The post Guest blog: European Day of Sustainable Communities 2021 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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Member Spotlight: Erika Blumenfeld

This week we recognize the work of artist Erika Blumenfeld.

“In April of 2011, after seven months without rainfall, the Rock House Fire ignited in Marfa and raged across the beautiful landscape of far West Texas, devastating the region’s environment. I was living in Marfa at that time and, in those weeks while the wildfire reigned, I began collecting material from the burned landscape—carbonized trees, cacti, dirt, animal bones, grasses—and photographed the charred remains and blackened earth.”

Graphite & Charcoal Trees: Las Conchas Wildfire (New Mexico 2011), 2013

“I followed those devastating wildfires throughout the summer of 2011 to Arizona and New Mexico, again in 2012 during the wildfire season in New Mexico and Colorado and finally in 2013’s season in New Mexico. I have documented five major wildfires across of the southwest in this way, gathering burned material from the Rock House Wildfire (Texas 2011), the Wallow Wildfire (Arizona 2011), the Las Conchas Wildfire (New Mexico 2011), the Waldo Canyon Wildfire (Colorado 2012) and the Silver Wildfire (New Mexico, 2012).”

Left: Wildfire Paintings, 2012; Right: An Offering to Stolen Nature, 2012

“For the Wildfire Paintings, I hand-grind the burned debris into a fine carbon pigment and then adhere it to a gilded-edged panel, allowing the raw material to sit on the surface. Each wildfire pigment varies slightly depending on each location’s indigenous flora and fauna as well as how hot the fire burned. In the Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado wildfires the highly iridescent sheen across the surface of the black carbon tells the story of a very hot fire fueled by burning timber. In contrast, the Texas wildfire consists mainly of grasses and dirt and so the pigment is more matte and slightly brown in tone.”

An Offering to Stolen Nature, 2012, and Charred Earth: Rock House Wildfire (Marfa, Texas 2011), 2012

“For the installation, An Offering to Stolen Nature, I filled hand-hammered Tibetan song bowls with charred trees, grasses, pine cones, and pine needles and displayed them alongside burned volcanic rocks, animal bones and cacti. All of these materials were collected from areas that were private, state, or federal land. At each location that I gathered debris, I was at some point evicted from the land, and in one case was asked to put back the burned material I had collected. This piece considers the innate sacredness of nature alongside the human desire to own or manage the land, exploring the question: has our land ownership in one sense stolen the land from nature? In stealing it back, the piece intends to re-sacralize nature beyond our possession of it.

In the photographic works, I documented the thick smoke of the active fires and the blackened landscape in the aftermath of fire’s blaze.

These works become forensic evidence of the crime of anthropogenic climate disruption – they are a eulogy to the wildfires, and homage to the nature they consumed. Yet, as carbon is both the building block of all life and is itself an artifact of light, these works also intend to look to the regeneration that is possible as we look for solutions.”

Blackened Forest: Las Conchas Wildfire (New Mexico 2011), 2013

Erika Blumenfeld is a transdisciplinary artist whose practice is motivated by the wonder of natural phenomena and the relationship between nature and culture. A Guggenheim and Smithsonian Fellow, Blumenfeld approaches her work like an archivist, driven by a passion to trace and collect the evidence and stories of connection across the cosmos. Blumenfeld often works in collaboration with scientists and research institutions, including NASA, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, McDonald Observatory, and the South African National Antarctic Program. The photo and video-based works, installations, paintings, drawings, sculptures, writing and data science visualizations that result from her artistic investigations are the artifacts that express her inquiries’ reflections and weave an equally conceptual and formalist intent. Blumenfeld lives and works in Houston, Texas. erikablumenfeld.com

Featured Images: ©Erika Blumenfeld, Wildfires series 

Header: Smoke: Las Conchas Wildfire (Los Alamos, New Mexico 2011), 2012

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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: e89 excerpts from ben okri’s ‘artists must confront the climate crisis’

episode 89 features quotes from Artists must confront the climate crisis – we must write as if these are the last days by Nigerian novelist and poet Ben Okri from the November 12, 2021 edition of The Guardian newspaper. Okri writes about existential creativity and call for a new philosophy for these times, with an excerpt from episode 87 kendra fanconi. Cover art is a collection of flowers and fruits by Jeannine Schryer of Ottawa. 

conscient podcast episode 89, Sunday, December 5, 2021, 7.32 pm

I’m back in Ottawa and I’m going to record this monologue in one take, as I have been doing since the beginning of season 3 of this podcast. So here we go. 

Today’s episode features quotes from Artists must confront the climate crisis – we must write as if these are the last days by Nigerian novelist and poet Ben Okri from the November 12, 2021 edition of The Guardian newspaper.

Here is the first quote from Ben Okri’s article: 

Here we are on the edges of the biggest crisis that has ever faced us. We need a new philosophy for these times, for this near-terminal moment in the history of the human. It is out of this I want to propose an existential creativity. How do I define it? It is the creativity wherein nothing should be wasted. As a writer, it means everything I write should be directed to the immediate end of drawing attention to the dire position we are in as a species. It means that the writing must have no frills. It should speak only truth. In it, the truth must be also beauty. It calls for the highest economy. It means that everything I do must have a singular purpose. It also means that I must write now as if these are the last things I will write, that any of us will write. If you knew you were at the last days of the human story, what would you write? How would you write? What would your aesthetics be? Would you use more words than necessary? What form would poetry truly take? And what would happen to humour? Would we be able to laugh, with the sense of the last days on us?

Words like this provide clarity and insight, don’t they?

I think they help contextualize complexity and they help us cut through destructive fantasies like endless growth.

They literally lay out the truth so that we can see, and hear, the world in which we live, as it really is and it reminds me what a zen teacher once told me: 

Zen practice shows us how to take care and take responsibility with, and as each moment, by opening attention to reality and responding to what actually needs to be done.

It being December, Okri’s words are all the more poignant as we enter this crazy period of hyper consumerism that we call the holiday season. 

This is how Okri concludes his article and I encourage you to read the entire thing: 

This is the best and most natural home we are ever going to have. And we need to become a new people to deserve it. We are going to have to be new artists to redream it. This is why I propose existential creativity, to serve the unavoidable truth of our times, and a visionary existentialism, to serve the future that we must bring about from the brink of our environmental catastrophe. We can only make a future from the depth of the truth we face now.

I’m intrigued by this notion of existential creativity, and I wonder what it might sound like?

(Sound of a piece of paper ripping)

Maybe it sounds like a piece of paper being torn. 

Once torn, the paper cannot be put back together again, like Humpty-Dumptyand one is left holding the pieces. 

More on the sound of some of these concepts in a future episode. 

I’ll end with an excerpt from episode 87, where theatre artist Kendra Fanconi comments upon Ben Okri’s article: 

We are all artists of the Anthropocene. We inherently are because this is the world that we’re living in right now. There’s no other world. We were down earlier at Robert’s Creek (BC) and it’s a salmon bearing stream. I think of it like we’re artists in the Anthropocene, like fish would be in the ocean: the water is all around us and the Anthropocene is all around us. I think it may be what Ben Okri is tasking us with is: can you describe the water? It’s all we know, but we need to be able to look from this moment now into the future and maybe that’s the job of artists. We’re the visionaries, we can see the future and we can envision it in different ways. I think he speaks to that too at the end of the article about saying part of why we need to talk about the times we’re in now is in relationship to a future, whatever that future looks like. And I do spend a lot of time trying to negotiate my belief in the future.

I wish you peace, peace of mind as you negotiate your own belief in the future.  

I want to thank Ben Okri and The Guardian newspaper for sharing these words and Kendra for her reflections upon them. 

And I thank you, for listening. 

The act of listening, to me, and maybe I should say the art of listening, true listening, sincere and radical listening, through to the depth of the truth, is at the heart of this moment.

*

L'épisode d'aujourd'hui présente des citations de Artists must confront the climate crisis – we must write as if these are the last days par le romancier et poète nigérian Ben Okri, tirées de l'édition du 12 novembre 2021 du journal The Guardian. Okri écrit sur la créativité existentielle et appelle à une nouvelle philosophie pour notre époque, avec un extrait de l'épisode 87 kendra fanconi.

balado conscient, épisode 89, dimanche 5 décembre 2021, 19h32

Je suis de retour à Ottawa et je vais enregistrer ce monologue en une seule prise, comme je le fais depuis le début de la saison 3 de ce podcast. C’est parti. 

L’épisode d’aujourd’hui présente des citations de Artists must confront the climate crisis – we must write as if these are the last days par le romancier et poète nigérian Ben Okri, tirées de l’édition du 12 novembre 2021 du journal The Guardian.

Voici la première citation de l’article de Ben Okri : 

Nous sommes ici au bord de la plus grande crise à laquelle nous n’ayons jamais été confrontés. Nous avons besoin d’une nouvelle philosophie pour ces temps, pour ce moment quasi-terminal de l’histoire de l’humain. C’est de cela que je veux proposer une créativité existentielle. Comment la définir ? C’est la créativité où rien ne doit être gaspillé. En tant qu’écrivain, cela signifie que tout ce que j’écris doit avoir pour objectif immédiat d’attirer l’attention sur la situation désastreuse dans laquelle nous nous trouvons en tant qu’espèce. Cela signifie que l’écriture ne doit pas avoir de fioritures. Il ne doit dire que la vérité. En elle, la vérité doit être aussi la beauté. Cela demande la plus grande économie. Cela signifie que tout ce que je fais doit avoir un but singulier. Cela signifie aussi que je dois écrire maintenant comme si c’était les dernières choses que j’écrirais, que chacun d’entre nous écrira. Si vous saviez que vous en êtes aux derniers jours de l’histoire humaine, qu’écririez-vous ? Comment écririez-vous ? Quelle serait votre esthétique ? Utiliseriez-vous plus de mots que nécessaires ? Quelle forme prendrait vraiment la poésie ? Et qu’adviendrait-il de l’humour ? Serions-nous capables de rire, avec le sentiment des derniers jours sur nous ?

Des mots comme ceux-ci apportent clarté et perspicacité, n’est-ce pas ?

Je pense qu’ils aident à contextualiser la complexité et qu’ils nous aident à couper court aux fantasmes destructeurs comme la croissance sans fin.

Ils exposent littéralement la vérité afin que nous puissions voir, et entendre, le monde dans lequel nous vivons, tel qu’il est vraiment et cela me rappelle ce qu’un professeur zen m’a dit un jour : 

La pratique du zen nous montre comment prendre soin et assumer nos responsabilités à chaque instant, en portant notre attention sur la réalité et en répondant à ce qui doit être fait.

Maintenant que nous sommes en décembre, les mots d’Okri sont d’autant plus poignants que nous entrons dans cette folle période d’hyperconsommation que nous appelons la période des fêtes. 

C’est ainsi qu’Okri conclut son article et je vous encourage à le lire en entier : 

C’est le meilleur et le plus naturel foyer que nous ayons jamais eu. Et nous devons devenir un nouveau peuple pour le mériter. Nous devons être de nouveaux artistes pour le redessiner. C’est pourquoi je propose une créativité existentielle, au service de l’inévitable vérité de notre époque, et un existentialisme visionnaire, au service de l’avenir que nous devons créer au bord de notre catastrophe environnementale. Nous ne pouvons créer un avenir qu’à partir de la profondeur de la vérité à laquelle nous sommes confrontés aujourd’hui.

Maintenant, je suis intrigué par cette notion de créativité existentielle et je me demande à quoi elle peut ressembler ? 

(Bruit d’une feuille de papier qui se déchire)

Peut-être que cela ressemble à une feuille de papier que l’on déchire. 

Une fois déchiré, le papier ne peut pas être recollé, comme Humpty-Dumpty, et on se retrouve avec les morceaux. 

Nous reviendrons sur le son de certains de ces concepts dans un prochain épisode. 

Je terminerai par un extrait de l’épisode 87, où l’artiste de théâtre Kendra Fanconi commente l’article de Ben Okri : 

Nous sommes tous des artistes de l’Anthropocène. Nous le sommes par nature, car c’est le monde dans lequel nous vivons en ce moment. Il n’y a pas d’autre monde. Nous étions tout à l’heure à Robert’s Creek (BC) et c’est un ruisseau à saumon. Je pense que nous sommes des artistes dans l’Anthropocène, comme des poissons dans l’océan : l’eau est tout autour de nous et l’Anthropocène est tout autour de nous. Je pense que ce que Ben Okri nous demande, c’est de décrire l’eau. C’est tout ce que nous savons, mais nous devons être capables d’envisager l’avenir à partir de ce moment présent, et c’est peut-être là le travail des artistes. Nous sommes les visionnaires, nous pouvons voir l’avenir et nous pouvons l’envisager de différentes manières. Je pense qu’il en parle aussi à la fin de l’article en disant qu’une partie de la raison pour laquelle nous devons parler de l’époque dans laquelle nous sommes maintenant est en relation avec un avenir, quel que soit cet avenir. Et je passe beaucoup de temps à essayer de négocier ma foi en l’avenir.

Je vous souhaite la paix, la paix de l’esprit alors que vous négociez votre propre croyance en l’avenir.  

Je tiens à remercier Ben Okri et le journal The Guardian pour avoir partagé ces mots et Kendra pour ses réflexions à leur sujet. 

Et je vous remercie d’avoir écouté. 

L’acte d’écouter, pour moi, et peut-être devrais-je dire l’art d’écouter, la véritable écoute, l’écoute sincère et radicale, jusqu’à la profondeur de la vérité, est au cœur de ce moment.

The post e89 excerpts from ben okri’s ‘artists must confront the climate crisis’ 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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Guest blog: COP 26 – overwhelming, alienating, inspiring and moving

In this guest blog, Anna  Hodgart of the Tayside Climate Beacon, part of Climate Beacons for COP26,  our Scotland-wide collaborative project connecting arts and sustainability, describes her experiences at what was for many of us in Scotland the biggest event of 2021: COP 26. 

With big thanks to the determined perseverance of Lewis Coenen-Rowe at Creative Carbon Scotland in navigating the complex registration process, I was lucky enough to attend the first week of COP26  on behalf of the Tayside Climate Beacon. I found  COP  -the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties  held in Glasgow on 31 October to 13 November-  an overwhelming, alienating, inspiring and moving experience.

My time at COP started with a lot of queuing to get accredited and issued with my pass. It was a strange transition from the streets of Glasgow, the protestors congregating at the security gates shouting, singing, handing out flyers – to showing lateral flow test, passport, and invitation letter to the security team, with the metropolitan police force monitoring nearby. It was surreal too to see Glasgow transformed into UN territory, the familiar made unfamiliar – like when big blockbuster movies shoot in the city and George Square becomes New York. And to be allowed access – to be ‘on the inside’.

This unreal feeling persisted as I made my way through security and into the Hydro arena. It was a little like navigating an airport – easy to lose sense of time, location in a conference centre with little natural light; thrilling and disorientating to be surrounded by people from all over the world, to hear different languages, see different clothing and customs. I tried to orientate myself by consulting the programme and the map and found myself in the Action Hub – an Instagrammable globe floating suspended from the Hydro ceiling, news reporters dotted around the edges grabbing politicians, activists, and diplomats for interviews and soundbites. I sat down in a corner and watched the World Leaders Summit opening speeches. It was a strange experience to be inside the conference itself but watching from a screen. Inside but still outside. It was also strange to hear people speak powerfully and movingly about the climate, nature, their country, and people, about the ticking clock and growing emergency in this heightened conference centre context – so removed from the natural world and civic society – muttering translators, strip lighting, and air conditioning.

I don’t want to make it seem like a wholly negative experience. At COP I heard some incredible speeches. I had some epiphanies. I was fired up by a panel discussion on just transition led by trade unionists and considered the trade unions’ rich history of organising and struggle and what that could offer if mobilised towards green jobs, just transition, and climate justice. I was inspired by a panel discussion about digital storytelling led by the Climate Storytellers Collective, that the traditions and tools of storytelling could be mobilised towards climate action. I felt privileged to hear the Indigenous People Council speak about the knowledge they hold, their particular relationship to the earth, and was deeply moved by the vision of a future where this type of knowing and relationship could lead our way out of this mess. I found myself returning to the Resilience Lab in the pavilions several times, to hear engaging conversations about stewardship versus ownership, about transforming humanity’s relationship to nature, about the Imaginal cell and the possibility for system change coded inside our DNA.

I took away some key learnings from COP and have been considering since how we might weave some of this learning into the next steps the Tayside Beacon takes. (You can learn more about the Climate Beacons for COP26 initiative  led by Creative Carbon Scotland here. In a nutshell, Climate Beacons brings together shared resources and knowledge from cultural and climate organisations, providing a welcoming physical and virtual space for the public, artists and cultural sector professionals, environmental NGOs, scientists and policymakers to discuss and debate COP26 themes and climate action specific to each local area that constitutes a Beacon hub, of which Tayside is one of seven.)

I’ve been reminded of the crucial importance of asking who is in the room. At an early morning press conference, I slipped into, a young activist woke up the room by pointing out that she was the only young person in the space, it was her first COP, that everyone else had been coming to COP for years – what had they achieved? Our course of action, she implied, is being set by older, white people – mainly men – from the ‘global north’, who are statistically those less affected and less likely to see the worst effects of climate change. We need the voices of those who are already experiencing the reality of climate change, we need indigenous leaders who can offer different ways of thinking about and addressing what has gone wrong, we need young people who are going to be living with the consequences of these decisions.

I learnt about the strength that exists at the intersections. The struggle for the survival of our planet intersects with many other struggles – race and gender equality, the trade union movement, the fight against poverty and socio-economic inequality, disability rights, the land back movement, and many others. Our best chance comes from acting in solidarity, gathering around the places those struggles intersect and learning best practice from each other to inform our respective movements.

It’s not the politicians that create system change, it’s civic society. There are many inspiring politicians doing great work. It was incredible to hear the Prime Minister of Barbados and the President of the Seychelles speak at COP for example. However, the real energy was definitely outside of the official COP26 site. The ideas, solutions and path forward will come from people organising, not the politicians.

We need to reconnect to nature. It’s no coincidence that countries and cultures who hold the majority of economic and political power often live at a disconnect from nature. Our rituals and celebrations no longer centre around it, our lifestyles keep nature at arm’s length – a visit away. The natural world can feel other and abstract. We need to tap into the truth of our interconnectedness and re-remember that we are a part of nature too, that our survival and wellbeing and the earth’s are intimately connected at every level.

My biggest takeaway from COP was that art can do more and be more in this conversation. Art can speak in a way that statistics, presentations, and political rhetoric can’t. Art can create momentum and fun around something – can elevate and transform. Art can be ritual and connection, a place for us to understand ourselves and nature. And art can be a space to really feel something. And from feeling – to act. The arts industry is navigating a lot right now as we deal with the consequences of Covid-19 and the pandemic on our sector; however we can’t lose sight of the crucial role we can and must have in climate action. We need more initiatives like the Climate Beacons project to create the space and means for artists and arts organisations to engage in and shape the discourse and action.

(Top image: A sign surrounded by greenery reads “Welcome to COP26.” Photo Credit Catriona Patterson)

The post Guest blog: COP 26 – overwhelming, alienating, inspiring and moving 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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Green Tease Reflections: Climate/Class/Culture

14th October 2021: This Green Tease event provided an opportunity to explore the intersection of climate, class and culture, thinking about how climate change is exacerbating existing inequalities, the need for climate policies to be socially just, and the importance of cultural organisations addressing their own barriers to participation in order to effectively help address climate change. 

Speakers

Our two speakers for this event were Francis Stuart, Policy Officer at the Scottish Trades Union Congress and Katharine Wheeler, artist and representative from The Stove Network, the first artist-led development trust in Scotland. You can watch a video of their two talks here or read a summary in the text below.

Francis Stuart discussed how the climate crisis intersects with issues of poverty and inequality, highlighting some key examples playing out in Scotland right now. He showed how the wealthiest countries are responsible for most of the world’s emissions but are less heavily impacted by the impacts of climate change. This inequality also plays out in the UK where the emissions of someone in the richest 1% is eleven times that of someone in the poorest half of the population.

In Scotland, transport is the sector responsible for the largest portion of emissions with the majority coming from road transport. 29% of households do not have access to a car while, over recent decades, bus tickets have increased in cost while usage has fallen. This affects quality of life but also limits the availability of lower carbon transport options.

Housing is also a major source of emissions with many of Scotland’s homes being poorly insulated, meaning that energy used to heat homes is wasted while a large portion of the population live in ‘fuel poverty’, speeding more than 10% of their income on heating. Francis highlighted the need for retrofitting of buildings to jointly address both these issues.

Renewable energy generation in Scotland has trebled in the last three years. However there has not been a corresponding increase in jobs in the sector. The offshore wind sector is largely owned by private companies most of which are registered outside of the UK and are able to pay employees significantly less than the UK minimum wage with manufacturing jobs often located in other parts of the world. Francis argued that if renewable developments do not offer high quality jobs they will lose their public support making further development more difficult.

Francis finished by highlighting some key lessons on how environmental and anti-poverty campaigns can work together, giving some examples of past campaigns such as the Lukas Plan, the Green Bans movement, and the Pollock Free State. He argued that the role of culture can be to help form connections, allowing people to work together more effectively and form collectives to more effectively bring about change.

Katharine Wheeler also highlighted the role of collectivism and how the Stove Network uses the arts to connect to social issues and help members of the community to actively shape a future for Dumfries. The town has an ageing population, lower than average employment levels and the town centre is in the top 10% of Scotland’s Index of Multiple Deprivation.

The Stove Network runs events and activities from their building in the town centre working with people who are often not a traditional arts audience. They offer a place for discussion, exploration, and for local groups to come together, using art as a way to develop conversations. For example, a previous event involved bringing together diverse stakeholders to develop a ‘People’s Transport Policy’ for Dumfries.

They also hold events away from their site, such as at the Nithraid River Festival where they tried to develop debates over defences against the flooding of the river. Another event called We Live with Water invited people to imagine what a Dumfries 50 years in the future that had embraced its relationship with the river would look like.

The Stove network aims to bring about real change by allowing local voices to influence policymaking, developing skills and growing culture outside of the main centres. Further information about their approach to ‘Creative Placemaking’ is available in a recent report.

Discussion

This was followed by some discussion time where we split into smaller groups to reflect on the issues raised by our speakers and respond to some prompts – including an interview with artist John Akomfrah, a photograph of an art installation at Taigh Chearsabagh arts centre and museum, and some old political posters from the 1970s – which are available to view here. Here are some of the key ideas that came out of the discussion:

  • It’s important to consider who is best placed to create art that engages with the intersection of climate and class. We should consider who need to work and co-create with rather than speaking for people.
  • Effective art can cut through the noise by providing simple and evocative ways of representing complex or intangible issues. The Lines installation at Taigh Chearsabagh is a good example of this.
  • Artistic engagement with climate change can reach us in more direct ways through allowing us to relate to issues on a more direct human basis by showing the people effected by climate change and not just the science behind it.
  • It’s important to learn from the mistakes of the past. For example, the development of the North Sea oil industry didn’t economically benefit everyone in Scotland and there’s a risk that the transition to renewable energy could lead to the same problems.
  • Artists can have license to be direct and be clear about who is to blame for climate change in a way that other fields might struggle with. Conversely, art can also be a space to explore complex or ambiguous issues. It’s important to be clear about what role you want  your art to have.

grey oblique lines growing darker, then a green line with an arrow pointing right and overlaid text reading 'culture SHIFT'

About Green Tease 
The Green Tease events series and network is a project organised by Creative Carbon Scotland, bringing together people from arts and environmental backgrounds to discuss, share expertise, and collaborate.

The post Green Tease Reflections: Climate/Class/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

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Opportunity: Greening Arts Practice CPD Manager

Freelance contract (part time), initially to March 2023 with potential for extension.

This work is being offered as a single package based on 1.5 days per week

We wish to appoint an experienced arts professional with demonstrable experience to co-ordinate, facilitate and help develop our Greening Arts Practice (GAP) programme and other professional development initiatives. This is an exciting opportunity to work across our projects, providing advice and support for artists at different career stages and contributing to the development of new content which supports artists and audiences.

Responsibilities:
  • Contributing to the planning and implementation of CAD support programmes for artistic practice development that focus on green arts practice, environmental issues, slow art and social engagement.
  • Facilitating our GAP programme of talks, discussions and events. This programme combines online sessions with in-person events, including talks and discussions.
  • Management and delivery of other training initiatives, including a range of bespoke learning opportunities for visual artists.
  • Research and writing of online CPD information, including toolkits and other support materials.
  • Contributing to funding applications and strategic documents.
  • Providing information to artists in response to enquiries and contributing relevant content for our website, newsletters and other outlets.
  • Data collection, evaluation, follow-up and presentation of project information.
  • Attendance at weekly team meetings. These involve a combination of online and in-person sessions.
Experience:

Essential

  • Experience of environmental and climate-related issues
  • Visual arts background
  • Knowledge of artists’ professional development
  • Presentation and facilitation skills
  • Project development and implementation experience

Desirable

  • Experience of Higher Education
  • Experience of art and community engagement projects
  • Fundraising skills
To apply:

Please view the full job description and application details on our website.

Deadline for applications: Thursday 5 February, 2022.

Any questions or to arrange an informal discussion, please email Christine Keogh.

Chrysalis Arts Development is an arts development agency and national portfolio organisation (NPO) supported by Arts Council England. Current projects include Unfolding Origins, Five Hectares and our Greening Arts Practice Continuing Professional Development programme.

(Top image: A group of people sitting on chairs under the shade of a tree [supplied])

The post Opportunity: Greening Arts Practice CPD Manager 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

Powered by WPeMatico