This old but excellent Discard Studies post demonstrates how, in transforming choices for greater sustainability, our focus should be on infrastructures that produce waste etc or lock in unsustainable consumer choices further down the line. In contrast, our usual focus on making individuals ‘aware’ – despite its merits – depends on many steps, reaches a limited number of people and has to battle against those same infrastructures. “Focusing on these systems for change actually scales up to the scale of the problem.” Continue reading “msb ~063 The problem with awareness”
I’ve mentioned the book Anticipatory history and how I keep returning to it. The term also describes a loose collection of approaches that extend beyond the book’s collection of texts, each a means to open up conversations about change in places we feel deep attachment to, now facing uncertain futures.
To help us bring in new perspectives when we try to make sense of change, ‘anticipatory history’ approaches might include:
Looking imaginatively at past changes and at the contingencies which underlined (and could have undermined) the events and actions that shaped what it is now. Examples are reverse chronologies, timelines, oral histories and artistic representations.
Taking a fresh look at the language we use to talk about the natural and cultural processes at play. The book itself provides one way into this, as a form of glossary arising from a dialogue between specialisms.
Imagining and naming unfamiliar or new ways of living with change that might be adopted in this place.
I’ve been enjoying this post looking from the IPCC 1.5C report to the next intergovernmental climate conference, COP24 in Poland next month. I think Sarah Sutton’s choice of two words has impact: ‘ambition’ and ‘bravery’. COP21 agreed the goal of limiting the global rise to 1.5C; can COP24 agree a plan? As Sarah says, “for complex geopolitical entities, and highly-complex problems, setting goals while the path remains unfocused is how you establish ambition – the contagious desire to achieve more than ever before.”Continue reading “msb ~055 Brave ambition”
It’s a slightly nervous moment when you know that work you’ve just handed over is receiving its public launch, and you’re not there to see the looks on the audience’s faces, to hear their questions coming back! Today’s the day the Waterlight Project team showed off the website we’ve been working on for a couple of months now. I’ve been handling the impressive array of materials — articles, children’s films, poems, oral history transcripts, photos and blog posts — that the team have been generating about their local river and assembling this into an integrated whole, with room to breathe. And it’s a joy to take a step back and look at it all now as a ‘real thing’.Continue reading “msb ~051 Launching Waterlight”
A few years back, I helped novelist Clare George with some of her public writing workshops, Imagine There’s a Future. Speakers shared their climate change work, writers discussed scenarios and wrote new stories. For me, this was a powerful introduction to the value of creative work on our climate predicament, for writers and readers. Clare describes how the stories came from very diverse authors working together. “Climate change campaigners sat next to climate change sceptics and openly discussed their most heartfelt fears and dreams in ways that would not have been possible without the help of fiction.”Continue reading “msb ~050 Truth and story”
Scanning notes from events I’ve helped organise, I came across this list — almost a collaborative prose poem — of evocative objects that participants brought, sharing feelings on our climate predicaments.Continue reading “msb ~042 Evocative objects”
I wasn’t able to attend GroundWork Gallery’sRestore? Conserve? Rewild?but enjoyed ClimateCultures’ review. This exploration of different responses to environmental predicaments included contentious Ecosystem Services approaches. Although it’s common ground that ‘nature’ provides benefits to ‘society’, which government, business and populations undervalue and undermine, controversy arises when we’re asked to translate these into a common value: cash.Continue reading “msb ~035 Ecosystems and Boundary Objects”
Work continues on Waterlight, the new local community environmental website about the river Mel in Cambridgeshire. My role is to bring the inspired work of the project team to life on the website — going live in October. One advantage of behind-the-scenes work is spending time with both the overview and the detailed look at what’s going on. In this case, poet Clare Crossman, filmmaker James Murray-White and historian Bruce Huett are exploring the particular stories of people and places along the river, taking school parties out to make their own films, and delving into intriguing past associations, such as composer Ralph Vaughan Williams collecting folk songs among local communities.Continue reading “msb ~022 Waterlight”
It’s great to see Creative Carbon Scotland putting the case for the arts in helping society anticipate, adapt to and tackle the impacts of our changing climate. Their latest event seeks to bring creative practitioners into the heart of the debate, with a consultation event on 27th August. This builds on the work CCS did last year, responding to the Scottish Government on a Cultural Strategy. Among the many excellent points (and demonstrations of good practice) in their response, what stood out for me was the short section that started with this declaration: “There is an absolutely essential role for art to ‘get out of its box, into other boxes, and get other people into art’s boxes’.”Continue reading “msb ~014 A duty to collaborate”
It’s a foolhardy non-artist who puts his childish art on public display. The great drawing on the left isn’t mine, but a real work by a real, talented child artist. But I’ve drawn my morning online ‘learning to draw’ exercise for one of three great courses offered by artist-coach Jane Beinart (thoroughly recommended to anyone who thinks they ‘can’t draw’ and wants an unpressured, relaxing way to ignore that inner voice).