Arcola Theatre, in association with the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, is connected with Growing Communities, an organisation that deals with the distribution of local grown produce. Growing Communities is a social business which runs community-led box schemes which can be collected from various pick-up points in Hackney, and is all local, fresh vegetables! As with Fairtrade products, local produce also have numerous benefits: supporting the local economy, reducing food miles, and enhancing community involvement and spirit.
With the concerns surrounding climate change increasing day to day, many firms, households and consumers are searching for ways to reduce our negative impact on the environment and to reduce our carbon footprint. With this in mind, the argument becomes in favour of local produce and somewhat against imported fair-trade. Thus, this raises the question: can they not both exist together?
Many of the products that we buy are only grown in developing countries and therefore it is logical to buy these Fairtrade products. For example, us Brits, we do love our tea! And tea, where does it come from? The majority of tea plantations are found in Asia, South America and Africa; places where the climate is suited to growing tea. Thus, in this case it makes sense to transport and ship over Fairtrade goods rather than growing and producing local goods. It can even be said that in some instances the level of carbon emissions is lower from transporting Fairtrade goods than producing local. In addition, the number of jobs created in tea plantations provides a boost to the local economy and their carbon footprint is reduced as they can afford to buy local food.
Buying local, however, does have its benefits and is often preferred for certain types of food. Our desire to buy local is often a result of our increasing concern over food quality and the need to trust what we buy. With local foods, it is possible to go to the Farmers market and meet the farmer and learn more about where the food comes from. This is increasingly being for advertised international foods through TV adverts and marketing, however the ease with which it occurs with local foods is unparalleled.
At the end of the day, some goods are just better suited to being produced abroad and others that we love are better made locally. A harmonious result is that balance of both types of goods in our shopping basket.
Cycle Sunday: House of Hot Breath, photo by Erica Earle
Sitting between art and activism, performance and protest, this year’s Two Degrees festival takes over the streets of East London
Two Degrees is the first ever festival to bring together over 30 radical and political artists to respond to and intervene in the public debate on climate change and government cuts.
Transcending the gallery space and traditional definitions of ‘art’ this festival is about audiences actively taking part. From bike rides and haircuts to sharing food and stories, Two Degrees is a unique series of performances, films, installations, walks and interventions by artists and activists that offer a positive, alternative response to the current financial and climate crises.
Our consumption of food is increasingly a high-profile political issue, from food miles to fair trade. For one week only a pop up café created by Clare Patey will draw attention to some of the lesser known problems we face. Crayfish Bob’s stylish eatery invites dinner party conversation whilst highlighting the damage caused to London’s waterways by the invasive American Signal Crayfish. Elsewhere in the festival, Rebecca Beinart investigates herbal medicine and natural poisons in a performance that gathers powerful plants from London’s streets and the Otesha Project lead a food foraging cycle tour.
Finding new ways of sharing ideas and creating dialogue can mobilise change. The Haircut Before the Party is a hair salon with a difference. Customers at this temporary Whitechapel salon will be offered a free haircut in exchange for swapping their opinions, experiences and thoughts with their hairdresser. Future Editions, an alternative human library at Toynbee Studios will allow you to actively engage with leading climate change specialists. Visitors to the library are met by a maverick librarian who selects for them a human book. Your book will then offer you a 10 minute conversation – a rare opportunity to ask questions or exchange views. Glasgow based artist and activist Ellie Harrison looks at our increasingly fragmented and precarious labour market in Work-a-thon; an attempt to break the world record for the most self-employed workers in one space, creating a social environment for workers to combat issues of isolation, lack of solidarity and unregulated hours.
Green transport is also part of the programme and Cycle Sunday (in collaboration with Arcola Theatre) invites audiences to participate in a range of performances, events and workshops, all made for bikes. From a grafitti tour of London to a bingo bike ride and bike powered smoothie maker– artists, campaingers, engineers and designers explore the possibilities of green technology and low carbon lifestyles.
Across the UK, protest and activism have hit the headlines in recent months, but what is the link between the economic crisis and climate change? Two Degrees asks this question, bringing together artists and activists working outside of the mainstream, proposing alternative and inspiring solutions to the problems we face today, bridging the gap between art and activism.
Two Degrees is Artsadmin’s weeklong festival of art and activism, climate and cuts. Following the first festival in 2009, Two Degrees 2011 takes place from 12-18 June in and around Artsadmin’s Toynbee Studios home.
Two Degrees takes place as part of the activities of the Imagine 2020 Network of European arts organisations who are working together to encourage arts organisations and artists to engage more with the subject of climate change. The current partners in the network are Artsadmin; Lift, London; Bunker, Ljubljana; Le Quai, Angers; Kaaitheater, Brussels; Domaine d’O, Montpelier; New Theatre of Institute of Latvia, Riga; Transforma, Torres Vedras; Domino, Zagreb, Rotterdamse Schouwbourg, Rotterdam; and Kampnagel, Hamburg. www.imagine2020.eu
Two Degrees is supported by the European Commission Culture Programme and by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Artsadmin is based at Toynbee Studios and is a unique producing and presenting organisation for contemporary artists working in theatre, dance, live art, visual arts and mixed media, also offering various support services for artists, including a free advisory service, mentoring and development programmes and a number of bursary schemes. Toynbee Studios is Artsadmin’s unique centre for the development and presentation of new work. The studios comprise a 280-seat theatre, five studio spaces and the Arts Bar & Café, all of which host performances and events throughout the year. www.artsadmin.co.uk
Sustainability embodies many facets; entwined in the common strands of energy and water efficiency and cutting carbon emissions sits food. As a nation a lot of the food we consume is non-seasonal and has to be imported. This has a tremendous impact on the environment through transportation pollution from increased food miles. We could easily make changes to our eating habits and more carefully choose the foods we eat to include more fresh locally produced seasonal produce. Making this change would have many benefits, such as supporting the local economy, reducing food miles and therefore environmental damage, involving local community groups in producing the food, and encouraging healthy eating.
In Hackney, this change is made easier for you by the work that Growing Communities does. It is a social enterprise which runs community-led box schemes that build community-led alternatives to the current damaging food system. In short, community groups grow vegetables which are delivered in boxes to various pick-up points in Hackney which you then go and collect. How does this work? You choose the size of your box, you place a standing order, and this guarantees you a box of fresh vegetables each week! This is a fantastic idea which means you are eating seasonal locally produced food, from carrots to cucumbers and leeks to beetroot, and lies at the core of the importance of sustainability.
We would like to know your thoughts of this scheme and whether you would use a Growing Communities pick-up point in the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden.